Ozzie in Oregon
Last updated: February 19, 2015 (PST)
When I was still in Canberra, Steve told me that life in Oregon would be just like living around the corner. Well, it was not that simple! There were so many little differences and new ways of doing things to learn. And just when I'd feel that I was getting the hang of "life up over", something else would come along and make me feel like a new arrival again.
Fortunately, Ozzies are well-liked over here. The accent is a pleasing novelty, but don't expect to be understood on the phone or when ordering drive-thru fast food. And Strine and American are two different languages, especially when it comes to food, clothes and parts of a car!
These pages highlight some of the differences I encountered in my five-year journey from alien to citizen and beyond.
You know you're in the US when ...
Separated by a common language
Oregon through Ozzie eyes
Getting from Oz to America - the good oil on immigration
VisaJourney.com - Place to find out how to go about the scary immigration stuff, get tips on how to prepare the paperwork, and support each other while you wait for USCIS to do its thang
ImmigrationPortal.com - Has loads of info and forums on all types of visas, permanent residency, citizenship and any type of US immigration query
USCIS Case Status Service Online - Find out how your application is going (or not!). Don't forget to read all the other stuff on this website for your particular situation. Contains all the forms and lists all the fees, too!
newcitizen.us - What's next after you're naturalized? This site has info on what to do after the oath ceremony, passports, voting, jury duty and various citizenship topics.
Living in America - how to survive and even enjoy it!
Mates Up Over - Place for Ozzies and Kiwis to hang out, swap yarns and learn to live "happily ever after up over". I'd probably have felt much less alone and disempowered had I known about this place earlier.
Aussie CastAways - Another home away from home for Ozzies and Kiwis living "up over". Very welcoming place where you can have a chinwag about anything and everything!
Yanks Down Under - See what it's like when the shoe is on the other foot. This forum is for Americans living in Oz, but it gives interesting insights into the things we Ozzies take for granted. For instance, I hadn't realised that Americans in general are scared of "bugs" - thought it was just my husband!
Australian - American Dictionary - I used this to help translate in the early days, when Steve had no clue what I was saying or to prove that I wasn't making this stuff up. It helped with friends, too.
American and British English differences - The mother of all articles on the language differences, and the grammar section is particularly useful. For example, did you know that Americans don't say "in hospital"? After looking here, you will realise that the difference in speech that is currently driving you nuts is not just in your head - it has been documented!
Stories from Expat Australians - More stories that didn't fit in the Southern Cross Group book.
WikiHow: How to Order at Starbucks - Start here to make some sense of that bewildering language they talk there, and follow the links to more secrets explained, such as How to Order a Subway Sandwich!
Google - Is your friend when your partner has grown weary of answering your questions, especially if you have asked them more than once because the answer didn't sink in.....
My Facebook groups for ex-pats
Books which help make sense of it all
An Aussie In America: Laughter And Lessons Across The Cultural Divide, by Anne Maxwell High
Wish I had known about this book earlier than late 2007! However, I had dipped into Anne's aussieinamerica.com website a few times before I left Oz. I can now relate to and chortle at most of the differences she mentions, and am now better prepared for more or them. It's like having the answers to a hard crossword puzzle at last!
I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away, by Bill Bryson
Ditto comments above, although I've just started reading this. I'd found out about "spackle" just a fortnight, er, two weeks before I read it in here! Looking forward to seeing how Bill adapts to this place. He made me realise that over here I'm defined primarily as being an Ozzie (and not a stamp collector, mum, etc).
Australian Expats: stories from abroad, by Southern Cross Group (SCG)
See how other Ozzies survived their expat experiences in a variety of countries.
In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
Comforting read about travels in Oz, with Bill playfully poking fun but always in a nice way. I had to laugh at the comments about Canberra. Boy, was Steve lucky I was there to show him around on our trip in June '07, or he'd still be lost!
Survival Kit for Overseas Living, by L. Robert Kohls
Aimed at Americans living overseas, but still a great help to me to see what defines American culture. Discusses skills that help us adjust more easily to living overseas. Did you know that the ability to fail and low goal/task orientation are two of the three key ingredients of being able to adapt to a different culture? (A sense of humour is the third.) I stopped being so hard on myself after I read that.
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