There’s No Place Like Home…

Moving to LA has given me a new appreciation for Sydney and Australia – one I almost certainly wouldn’t have developed if I’d never left.

Having been born and raised in Sydney, I spent my first 33 years there, and – especially recently – certain things were starting to grate on me. The increase in crowds seemingly EVERYWHERE (Seriously, do people have nothing better to do than drive around for 45 minutes looking for a parking spot, only to then line up for an hour to order an overpriced and overhyped gelato?!), the endless traffic (It’s Sunday, people! Get off the roads!), unaffordable housing (So, I guess I’ll just live at home forever…), the high cost of living (“$16 for a toasted cheese sandwich?! Is it cheaper if you don’t toast it?!”), the high rise apartments popping up everywhere (Oh, look – another crane…), expensive and unreliable public transport (Signal failure? Again? Really?), the pretentious douchebags mixed in with our heavy drinking culture (“I’m gonna get really pissed tonight!” said no American ever), and an out of touch government (If we all ate less avocado smash, we’d be able to afford houses apparently. Problem solved. You’re welcome, Australia!)

You get the idea… Sydney was beginning to feel incredibly hostile. I was drained, exhausted, and tired of fighting a battle I felt destined to lose. It was time for a change. Time to step out of the bubble, get off the treadmill and set off on a new adventure…

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What I didn’t expect though was just how much I would actually miss Sydney. It turns out my old foe was actually also my friend. Let’s just call us frienemies… And while I’m sure all the things that aggravated me about Sydney haven’t changed, putting some distance between us has made me able to appreciate the good things!

For one, it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, something which is easy to take for granted when you’re constantly surrounded by it. It’s also clean! That was one of the things I found most shocking when I first arrived in LA – there’s so much rubbish littering the streets here.

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Collectively, we’re also incredibly laidback and friendly. No problem is ever too big for Australians (except for legalising gay marriage and accepting refugees, but that’s another blog post…). I noticed this while attending a movie screening in Hollywood with my Aussie friend, Tade recently. The lady on the door was being especially snappy with all of the guests. Her rudeness was actually shocking to me.

“Well, she seems delightful,” I murmured to Tade.

“Are people still nice in Australia?” Tade replied excitedly. “Oh my God! They are, aren’t they?!”

Tade has been living in LA for two-and-a-half years, and in that time, she hasn’t gone home once. She said even just listening to my accent was making her homesick.

“I’m going home in January, and I can’t wait!” she told me. “The first thing I’m going to do is stick my head under the tap and drink the water!”

“What’s wrong with the water here?!” I asked her, a rising level of panic in my voice.

“You haven’t been drinking the water, have you?!” she shot back.

“Yes!” I practically shouted at her.

No one drinks the water in LA! Everyone drinks bottled water!”

More than an hour later, I was still obsessing about the water situation… No wonder I’d had a funny stomach for the last four weeks. What the f***, America?! This is a first world country!

“I just ran into Nicole Kidman in the toilet!” Tade told me after returning from the bathroom.

“That’s great… Seriously, what’s wrong with the water?!” I asked her again.

The film just so happened to be an Aussie movie called Lion. There was a scene where one of the characters says, “Australia is a great place!” That was it – I was gone. Tears started streaming down my face, as I silently told myself, “It really is.” I cried even more when the camera panned across the iconic Australian landscape.

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A few days ago, I went into Bath & Body Works – a shop in the US.

“Are you Australian?” the shop assistant asked me.

“What gives me away? Is it my accent or my Akubra hat?” I replied.

Despite the fact I was being a smart ass, we spoke for a bit, and she told me how she’d lived in Sydney for seven years. I asked her if she’d ever move back there.

“No, because my family and friends are here – this is my home,” she explained. “This is where I belong.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” I told her.

I’ve met some amazing people in my short time here, and I know I’ll meet some more along the way, but they don’t erase the family and friends I have waiting for me back home. As cheesy as it sounds, home is where the heart is, and – much to my surprise – my heart is still very much in Australia.

So while I’m determined to make the most of my adventure in the US, I know that one day I will return home, and Sydney and I will just have to find a way to get along. Because even though you’re beautiful, you don’t have to be a bitch about it, Sydney…

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My So-Called Glamorous Life

An update of what I’ve been up to in LA over the last week…

1. I’ve been watching a lot of Friends. You know, because no one told me life was gonna be this way…

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2. I’ve also been watching the new Gilmore Girls series, and it’s freaking me out how relatable Rory’s life is to me right now. (Especially because everyone is like, “Get your shit together, Rory.”)

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3. I’ve spent a lot of time applying for jobs in the hope that I will land one soon. Mainly because I really like money, and it makes me cry when I don’t have any.

4. I’m also starting to wonder if maybe I should have ticked “yes” instead of “no” on the visa application form where it asked, “Would you ever engage in prostitution?” Looking back, it seems like it could have been a job opportunity. Plus, things worked out okay for Julia Roberts – she met Richard Gere and eventually won an Oscar.

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5. I did some washing, but I didn’t have enough money left on my laundry card to dry it, so I had to lay my clothes and towels out all over my apartment, open the windows and let the sun and air dry it. I think the neighbours think I’m running a laundromat out of my apartment, which is probably one of the best business ideas I’ve had in a really long time.

6. A guy pushed in front of me at Starbucks, and my instinct was to cry. In hindsight, this was probably a gross overreaction. I should have just kicked him in the groin and run away. But I was feeling lonely and I’d just received a bill addressed to “Gemeter Stamell”, so I was extremely vulnerable. Also, I really hope Starbucks screwed up his order. Karma, bitch!

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7. Immediately after this, I went to the supermarket to pick up some milk, bread and bagels. I handed the lady at the cash register a $20 bill, and she snapped at me and told me I needed to unfold it for her. I told her that I’d be able to unfold it for her if my arms weren’t full of milk, bread and bagels, but since she wanted to charge me for a plastic bag, she’d have to unfold it herself. Then I lugged my groceries home. Without a bag.

8. I went to my friend, Rachel’s 30th birthday, where I got to talk to some of her lovely friends. I told them it was the most face-to-face interaction I’d had with anyone since talking to the cashier at Best Buy on Wednesday. Rachel’s party was on Friday night.

9. I had the following conversation with Rachel’s friend, Eliza…

Me: “What am I doing with my life?!”

Eliza: “What do you mean?! You’re taking a chance! Do you know how brave you are?! So many people don’t have the guts to do this! When I was 18, I decided I wanted to move to Israel, so I did.”

Me: “How did that work out for you?”

Eliza: “Hated it. I moved back after a month. But at least I tried! Just give it a go!”

Me: “Well, I didn’t buy four plates and four glasses for nothing.”

10. I realised just how Australian I really am (I’d seriously never noticed before), when I dropped the terms “budgie smuggler” and “goon bag” within minutes of each other while having lunch with my new American friend, Amanda. (And I’ve never been prouder.)

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11. I broke down in hysterical tears again while FaceTiming with my friend, Sarah in Australia. I seem to be crying a lot these days. It’s like whoever is in charge of my emotions is punishing me for hardly ever crying over the last 33 years. I’ve seen Inside Out. I know how this works.

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