26 Things Australia Taught Me

Yesterday was the 26th of January, the famous (for the aussie people) Australia Day. It’s been almost a year since I got to this country to study here, with an exchange program. But more than things at Uni, Australia has taught a lot and gave much more experiences than I thought I would have. It’s almost time to get back to my country (Brazil), so I decided to write 26 things I learnt  during my time in the aussie land.  (sorry for any possible English mistakes)

1. There are a 1000 of shades between friendship and being in a relationship
I don’t even know how to begin this one. Well, when you’re in an exchange program you see all kinds of ‘relationships’: people hooking up shamelessly (single or in a relationship with someone in their home countries) with everybody, people in a relationship not cheating, people who have a fuck buddy for ages, people that hook up with friends, people who share the same bed but are not in a relationship and people who have done all that (aka: ME). When I got to Australia I was in a 3-years relationship with my ex-boyfriend in Brazil. I decided to broke up with him in the second week here. Simply because it was no longer worth. The point in making a connection with someone is to have something good for you. Yeah, it’s supposed to make you feel good! And if it’s not, there’s something wrong with it. And it should be good for the other person too. But I’ll tell you something. Sometimes you just don’t care too much about the other one. Yeah, it can sound really selfish but only you are the only one who really cares about yourself. Or should. So keep things that makes you feel good, doesn’t matter what ‘kind’ of ‘relationship’ it is. And you are the only one who can tell if it’s worth or not.

2. Goon is happiness in a box
It’s not just about getting drunk. It’s about 4L of wine for $12. Which means you can easily share with your friends (so you’re more likely to be drinking with people around you and you don’t mind to share with the guy who has just showed up and want to join you) and save a lot of money pre-drinking before going to the clubs (which are terribly expensive here).

3. Fun is physical
I heard that for the first time from an aussie guy. At the beginning it didn’t make much sense because you can have fun, like, watching a movie or something. But when it comes to physical it just makes you feel alive. Running, hiking, riding a bike, dancing and other, hum, ‘activities’. Being active. There is something about releasing chemical substances that makes you feel good but it’s also about making things happen, telling your body ‘hey, I exist!’. Yeah, it feels good.

4. Yes, it’s possible to be free-spirit
When I was living in Brazil all that I saw were friends going straight from school to the local Universities, then waking up really early everyday, working their asses off in some internship just to have a chance to be promoted and maybe get a higher position to get more money, more money, more money and STABILITY. Well, there is nothing wrong with that if this is the life you always dream of for you. But that’s not the life for me.
I wanna spend my 20’s traveling around, maybe working in what they call ‘backpacker jobs’ to have the chance to know new places, new people, different lifestyles. I don’t see that happening in Brazil. There, if you work as a barman, for example, the only thing people will think about you is ‘ohh, he/she didn’t have the opportunity to go to University and can’t get a better job’. But in Australia, I met A LOT of people from EVERYWHERE doing that kind of job, not because they had ‘less opportunities’ than the others, but because they wanted the experience of living somewhere else, no matter what. And yes, it’s possible to live like that if you want. And that sounds like me.

5. Road trips
Camper vans, trailers. Putting your stuff in a car and hitting the road. Yeah, I love the spirit. Unfortunately, in Brazil is just too dangerous to sleep inside your car. And after driving an old manual camper van in the left for the first time (in Brazil, we drive in the right) I definitely feel more confident as driver. But anyway, road trips are great fun, it’s not only about the destination, it’s also about creating funny playlists and talking shit with your friends for hours until you reach your next stop. Sleeping in the car can make you have controversial feelings if it’s hot as hell like when I went to Queensland in November. But yeah, it’s great fun and it seems it’s kinda of a lifestyle here in AUS. I just love it and wish we had the same thing in Brazil.

6. There’s no problem in being smelly and dirty if everybody is in the same situation
First month in Australia and me and my friends went to a camp promoted by the waterski club of my uni. It was my first time ‘really’ camping, with tents and whatever. It was 3 day so when we got to the place (the middle of nowhere by a river) me and Brazilian friends asked one of the guys there where the place to shower was. He looked at us and laughed. There were no showers. We were like ‘what?!’. And then he said: ‘there is no problem in being dirty and smelly if everybody is in the same situation, nobody can judge you’. It was shocking for us in at that moment but it kinda made sense. It was a funny and somehow freeing experience.

7. They are not bad friends, they are just drunk as you (or worse)
It’s the typical Saturday night. You and your friends go to a party and sometimes drink a little bit too much. You’re not sure what is happening around, one just left with a partner, the other just disappeared and then you find out you’re ‘alone’, all your friends are gone (or somehow are not with you). You ring them, they don’t answer. They are not bad friends. They are just as drunk as you. They don’t what they are doing. How many times wasn’t I the one who left the party forgetting to let my friends know? It will happen to everybody someday, unless you have the ‘sober’ friend and he/she has nothing better to do than ‘taking care’ of you. And it probably won’t work because 1 sober friend for 4/5 (or sometimes even more) non-sober won’t be enough. So you, take care of yourself.

8. Drinking water straight from the tap
Ooooh, it feels so good! When you feel really thirsty, that pleasure of opening the tap, watching water flow and just putting your head into the sink and opening your mouth feeling that water flowing inside you. That’s just perfect. Especially when you’re hangover or just lazy enough to get a glass. Many people do that in Brazil as well, but the water there is just not recommended because the bad quality of tap water there. But here in Melbourne, where tap water is clean, you just don’t need to worry about that. When I was living in university halls where we shared the kitchen, some people just found it weird, me drinking just straight from the tap. Maybe because everybody used the same sink. But I just didn’t care, it was my ‘guilty please’, god it feels so good.

9. Go with the flow
When I was in Noosa, QLD, I had such a good time with random people I met in parties and bars. One night I met a guy at the hostel party and we danced like motherfuckers until the party was over. Then, we went to the main street, where everybody was going to after the party and I asked him: ‘so, where are we going now?’. He simply said: ‘I don’t know, I just go with the flow’. I wasn’t expecting for that answer, but I felt so free. And it was really fun, just having no destination and wandering around having good laughs. But be careful not to let ‘the flow’ lead you to dark alleys or whatever. I didn’t drink that night, so I was aware about what was happening around me. First rule to enjoy life is to be alive.

10. Use a good brand of condoms
Too personal to explain. But the lesson is there.

11. Walking barefoot
Australians love to do that. Sometimes even on the streets, supermarkets. When I was in Byron Bay, I was impressed, almost everyone in the supermarket was walking barefoot, just relaxed. I loved that vibe. In Brazil, if you try to do that, the security guy will probably kick you out, assuming you’re homeless or a drunk idiot. And people will judge will and you’ll get a lot of weird looks.

12. Dance like everybody’s watching
Dance, dance, dance. Just don’t care if you’re being watched or not. And if you feel you are, just don’t care if you’re doing it good or bad. If you love it, fuck the rest. Yeah, yeah, everybody likes to impress. But if impressing the others is your first motivation to do something, I would say there is a big chance it won’t work and you’ll get frustrated. Why? Because you’re depending on someone else’s approval. If you do something, do it first to yourself, do it because you love it. And if you feel confident enough, don’t be afraid to rock! I love seeing people doing things with passion, that is what really impress me.

13. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid
Onesies. They are fantastic. It’s not just about them. It’s about people wearing it and not giving a shit about what others will think. (if you don’t know what they are, google it)

14. Size matters
Take that as you want. But ohh, it does matter, mate.

15. Most of your friends will be just ‘temporary’ friends
There’s nothing wrong with that. People make friends mostly because they are somehow in the same context and when this context changes, you lose not only contact, but it kinda doesn’t make too much sense anymore. It’s just natural. I can sound obvious but it’s so much clearer to me now that I’m my last weeks in Australia. But it doesn’t mean that the friendship didn’t make sense at that time. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t reach these people someday and remember your good times. But there are always the special ones, that you know will last and will be at your wedding party if you get married someday. And you know who they are. Keep in touch with these.

16. People like to be close to you not too much because of your moral values, but because of what you can add to them (like, if you’re funny or pretty or you were a good listener when they needed that)
Okay, let me explain that. There should be many people in the world that are lovely, honest, kind, helpful… and a lot of things that a ‘good person’ would be. But… sometimes you see people like these just more lonely than loud, not that honest or not that respectful people. Why? Just because the world is unfair? I don’t think so. I’m not saying that the first kind of people doesn’t have many people around because of their morals. No, it’s because, most of time, this is not necessarily that what makes people connect to each other. I’ll give an example: There was time I was feeling bad about something stupid and someone, who wasn’t even that close to me sat by my side and listened to me and encouraged me. I don’t care how she was to other people but she helped me in a situation that I needed and that made me connected to her. And I really like to have funny people around me, like friends who, for an example, ‘cheat on their girlfriends/boyfriends’ more than ‘good and right’ people who don’t add anything to me. Yeah, of course, this is not 100% (what in life is?), of course I wouldn’t feel good walking with people who likes to steal (I could be the next) or obsessive liars or all that crap. But my point is: just ‘being a good person’ won’t make people connect to you.

17. Let people go
Well, this can be used for many situations in life. If someone wants to be around you but for some reason you don’t want them close, let them go. Don’t keep pushing away them and then letting them back to you. It’s not fair to the other person and it won’t be good for you when you don’t want them around and they try to get closer to you again, because you let it happen before. Just be honest and let them go. Otherwise, it will suck, for both.

18. Your family is important
Yes, we, exchange students love to ‘adventure ourselves’ and go to a place really far being independent and self-sufficient. But sometimes you do shit. And sometimes you feel like shit. Your family will be there to help you, no matter what. It’s not a shame to have their help sometimes. You doesn’t mean you’re ‘less’. It means you’re human.

19. The meaning of ‘multicultural’
In this one, talking specifically about Melbourne. Everyday you can have a meal from a part of the world you didn’t even know that existed. Different people everywhere, different things everywhere. Brazilians are a very mixed population, but it seems like everything got together into the Brazilian culture somehow. Here, we can have the cultural stuff not put together, but varying a lot and accessible to you in your daily life. And accents from all over the world (especially from Asian/Middle Eastern countries). I love it.

20. Lie to avoid misunderstandings
When I got to Australia, I came with my mind and heart open and instead of asking myself ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things, what I had in mind was ‘why not?’. That leaded me to a lot of experiences, some good, some not that good (but no tragedies) and started to let people get close to me. So, for example: a guy came and started to talk to me on a train, and I just let the conversation go on, even if I wasn’t interested in ‘something more’. Normal stuff, like weather, study, travel or whatever. And then the guy asked for my phone number and I gave him, thinking ‘why not?’. Well, later he asked me to go on a date with him and I said ‘no’ simply because I didn’t want to date him. And then he kept sending messages like begging me to meet him again, that he needed to see me again. Then I started to get really upset with the situation. When we met I was just being nice but that didn’t mean I was into him. And then I did the obvious: lied and told him that I had a boyfriend (even if I didn’t). And then my conclusion was that I should have lied straightway to avoid this ‘misunderstanding’. It sucks because I made a lot of friends with conversations just like that, with no lying. But that’s the truth: lying is sometimes the best way to avoid these ‘misunderstandings’. We we all know that. We and do it all the time.

21. The more you think you can, the more you can
Motivation is power. When I got to Australia I told myself I would make 2013 the best year of my life. And I did. I believed that I could make a lot friends even speaking a different language. In some situations, I believed I could impress and I did. People like self-confident people. But this is not an excuse to be arrogant, nobody likes arrogant people. So, relax! Don’t care too much about anything. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will.

22. Stupid things can be fun
There are many things in the Brazilian culture that I used to think they were ‘too popular’ for me. By ‘popular’ I mean, common sense, that had nothing intellectual in it, or whatever. But after sometime in Australia I started kinda missing that. Sometimes it’s fun to hear a music that has lyrics saying to you just dance/drink/don’t think too much. Because sometimes it’s fun not thinking too much! No, I’m not stupid, no I don’t want to be dumb but sometimes it’s just good to relax and not having to be someone better than that. I said SOMETIMES. Of course, if your life is based only on that things, that wouldn’t be good. At least not for me. But I just let myself be stupid sometimes (but I know I’m letting it happen), I don’t really care.

23. Stop it before it’s too late
If you a really strong feeling that something is not gonna end up well, stop it while you can. I’m lucky I’m Australia so I didn’t put myself in situations too dangerous as they would be if in Brazil. But most of time things go wrong, you usually felt it before it happened. Fortunately, nothing that I could say ‘a really bad thing’ happened to me while in Australia. But you never know.

24. Your boyfriend watches porn
It doesn’t mean you’re not hot, you’re not pretty or whatever. That’s just what they do because they like it. Almost 100% of my male friends (single or in a relationship) watches it. Well, maybe there’s no news in that but I just realised how common it was when I was here, no matter where in the world the guy is from. And they all (or almost all) do that.

25. Make the most of it
Life is now. Don’t be paranoid about problems that don’t exist (or exist only in your mind). Make the most of each opportunity because time will pass anyway. So relax and enjoy your day, today. Aussies know how to enjoy life.

26. Your intuition sometimes deceives you, but it more hits than misses
Well, the famous quote ‘Follow your heart’. In a different country you are always learning how things work, and I don’t mean how to get a train or to buy a ticket. I mean things you don’t see but they are there, in the air. What is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. Speaking about intuition is hard because most of time, there is no logic, it’s just something you feel. And this can be for many situations. Most of the times I got disappointed with something, it wasn’t really a surprise, I kinda felt it before it happened. And sometimes it the only thing you can rely on. When you’re alone, really far from your home and have to make decisions. I can’t explain using words but I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.


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