Hearing the Australian accent when over seas

Picture this, you are on an amazing holiday in let’s say Thailand. You have enjoyed mixing with the locals and hearing the different languages. But now it’s time to go home and you are waiting at the airport. The last thing you want is a reminder that you are going home when from somewhere behind you hear “too fuckn right mate, I reckon I could have skulled three more beers if I wanted”. Your heart sinks, it’s an Australian.

On the other hand picture this, you are on a holiday in Norway. You have just got off a train at 11 pm and you have no idea where your hotel is. There is noone around and the few people you have tried to speak too don’t understand English. Suddenly to your left you hear “Yeah no worries mum I’ll give you a call tomorrow”. Thank God, it’s an Australian!

Hearing the Australian, or your own countries accent over seas can either be the best or worst thing that happens to you on a holiday. On the one hand it can be the comfort and assurance you need in an uncertain place and on the other it can be the reason you left in the first place.

I recently had a friend return from Japan. When they heard their first Australian accent again on the journey home it was enough to prompt the planning of the next trip immediately. But last week I had some Australian friends visit me here in Koblenz and to me hearing their accent was like the singing of angels.

So why does an accent invoke these reactions?  Well I think an accent is so easily identified with everything you either love or hate about home. For me the Australian accent can be a reminder of what we call a “Bogan” (see end of article for definition) back home. When you are abroad sometimes you need to take a break from the more unsavoury aspects of the society you live in, and an accent can remind you of what you hate. But at the same time the Australian accent reminds me of my friends and family. It’s a comforting and familiar tone, if a little unrefined and obnoxious at times.

I find that when I’m overseas I like to try and promote the best aspects of the Australian stereotype. So there is nothing worse than hearing an accent and seeing someone displaying the worst. Whether it’s the Englishman starting a fight over soccer (football), the American complaining about everything or the Australian exaggerating every story. We all cringe a little bit and then try to avoid those people at all costs. At moments like these the national pride goes away instantly and an excuse like “oh they must be from Queensland or something ” comes out.

For some Australians going over seas is like a challenge to assert their Australianess on other people. Therefore their accent becomes extremely Australian not unlike crocodile Dundee. For me the opposite has happened. I have refined the way I talk subconsciously because I know people have trouble understanding me. I really fear if I do run into other Australians they may mistake me for being English no matter how much I insist I am Australian (I have already been accused of having a more English accent in Australia at times. So this isn’t a stretch).

But there are times when abroad where your feelings are neutral and yourself and other Australians seek each other out. Australia day is a great if not rather obvious example. Whenever I feel like there is something going on back home that people here might not understand I get the urge to seek out my Australian brothers and sisters. Another example is the Australian football grand final. I feel like my German friends just couldn’t understand why I’m yelling at the TV or why the players are picking up the ball. “Why is this game called football if the players pick up the ball?”

For those who may not have heard an Australian accent before, I think Australian comedian Adam Hills does a great routine on it.

And for those who don’t know what a Bogan is, please see below:

bogan1

ˈbəʊɡ(ə)n/

noun

AUSTRALIAN/NZinformalderogatory

noun: bogan; plural noun: bogans

an uncouth or unsophisticated person, regarded as being of low social status.

“some bogans yelled at us from their cars”

I’m definitely proud to be Australian. And there is no doubt that I’ve been enthusiastic to fly the flag of my country over here living in Germany. But we have all been somewhere else and felt like this at least once on our journeys.

What it’s like to be an Australian in Germany

With Australia day just gone, I thought I would write a little bit about what it’s been like to be an Australian in Germany so far.

When moving or travelling abroad, a really strange thing happens to your identity and the way you present yourself to others. It’s like your identity and your nationality become intertwined and accentuated in a very peculiar way. Maybe it’s because it’s forever apparent that you are different to the locals, or maybe it’s because no one understands the things you say and do like they do back home. What this means is that if you are an Australian, you become a SUPER Australian. It’s almost as if my national pride increased by a factor of ten the minute I landed here.

Being a super Australian can be described as being extremely proud to be Australian, whilst somehow trying to conform even more to the stereotype. When I was back in Australia I liked Australian football, but I wasn’t exactly the most enthusiastic fan. I might have watched a game here and there but it wasn’t very often. Since being here I’ve told every person I have met about our national game and shown them YouTube clips to convince them that Australians and their sports really are the toughest. If I had a jar of Vegemite here I would definitely be guilty of running around excitedly trying to get every German I know to try it (and probably filming their reaction). I proudly displayed the Australian flag on Australia day and told everyone I knew it was our day.

So what is it like to be an Australian in Germany? Well, at times its downright hilarious. Everyone who has heard about Australia has heard about the wildlife and environment that works tirelessly to kill you. I’m forever being asked how many shark attacks I have survived and if Kangaroos can be kept as pets. It’s become apparent that I’m also instantly someone who lives on the edge just by leaving my house in the morning to battle the snakes and spiders that will surely greet me on my morning journey to work. And this is where the national pride mentioned above comes in, because rather than destroy the misconception I’m telling stories instantly about my battles with the Australian nature.

Another thing about being an Australian in Germany is the Australian attitude. Germans are fond of rules and regulations. Anything that threatens the perfect order the Germans have made here is bad. For example, the little red man when crossing the road. To a German this must be obeyed, it represents safety and an assurance to all that you will make it across the road at the appropriate time. For an Australian it’s a challenge. Australians have a natural cultural tendency to break rules or to care a little bit less for them, It’s easy to see why the Germans could be perceived to be a little more rigid and strict.

But the Germans are definitely not as rigid and strict as they appear. They know how to have a good time and to relax. But in Germany there is a time and place for everything. When you are working you are always professional and dressed well. In a nation of people known for being on time and organised, the “She’ll be right” attitude doesn’t sit quite as well. The casual attitude of an Australian like me has had to be slightly adjusted to the more business type attitude of the Germans.

An interesting observation made by a friend of mine was that I dressed like a hipster. The interesting thing about that is that I think every single person in Germany dresses like how hipsters dress back home. So now that I’m wearing skate and surf brand clothing apparently I’m the hipster.

The main challenges for me as an Australian though have been in learning the language. Most people I meet here in Europe speak at least two languages and maybe understand one more. It makes me feel extremely lazy as an English speaker to have never had to have bothered learning any other languages. And it turns out that learning to communicate with people in another way is extremely fun and satisfying, although just has hard and exhausting.

All in all Germany has been kind so far to this Australian. I love the lifestyle here and the people who have made my time here so awesome so far. I may have had to ditch the thongs and singlet for a warm coat and a beanie but it’s been worth it to see life from another perspective.

Moving to Koblenz and Job Searching

I have not had time to post a lot lately as I have just moved from Trier to Koblenz. At the same time I have been furiously attempting to find work in Germany, not an easy task when you don’t speak a lot of German. It has been quite stressful and until recently I had not felt like I had been having a lot of luck, that is until I actually got here.

Job searching in Germany is no easy task when all jobs are advertised in German and you don’t speak the language. Furthermore because Germans are insanely over qualified (at least from the perspective of an Australian) they can sometimes pass over you application even for jobs you have a lot of experience in, but maybe not the right (German) qualification. To make the situation even more complicated, the Germans who don’t study at university often do a three year traineeship in even jobs like sales meaning you often can’t get a role doing that.

It is easy to see how after a while of not hearing back from anyone for more than 5 months I was starting to stress a little. I work in information technology and I have a fair bit of experience before that as a draughtsman and with CAD systems but I have never been to university. I do have some vocational certificates but I’m not sure how much they mean in Germany. I was starting to think the situation was becoming hopeless.

2 days after moving to Koblenz I ran into some luck. I had a job interview in a kitchen (not my dream job but it’s a job) and I got it despite my interviewer not speaking English and I not speaking very much German. The day after getting this job I received an email request for a telephone interview for some IT work, definitely more in line with the type of work I was hoping to get. And today I received a message from a friend that their company is hiring IT staff for roles I am qualified in and I should apply. It seems my fortunes are turning around finally.

So how about the new city? Well I have to say Koblenz is a much nicer and more happening place than Trier. For me at least, Trier always looked dark and down and the people seemed unhappy and rude. This is probably not the case and it was probably more to do with the fact that I’m used to a bigger more happening city. Koblenz is definitely that bigger and more happening city.

Situated right where the Rhine meets the Mosel, Koblenz is a perfect blend of the old world and the new. It has history plenty but is perfectly at home in the new modern world. There is a buzz about this place that I never felt in Trier. It feels like something is happening every time I walk out the front door and that it’s just waiting for me to find out what that something is.

So now that I have a little bit more time to sit and write, you can expect some more photos and some things on my new city. If I manage to get a job you might just see some photos and other things on my exploration around Koblenz and the rest of this state as well.

Things I am missing about home

Travel is an amazing way to open your mind to new things and experience all the world has to offer. But no matter where we are in the world we will always miss our home country and the unique things about it. I myself am from Perth, Western Australia and here are some of the things I miss the most since moving to Germany.

1) The humble Australian meat pie – This is one of the things I miss the most about home and for some reason I have been unable to find anything that compares to the taste and availability in any of my travels. On a trip to Norway in 2012 myself and a friend went to great lengths all over the countryside to find a pie like back home. We were unsuccessful and extremely disappointed. Now a few years and living in Germany I once again find myself desperate for my meat pie fix. What makes the Australian meat pie so unique is the size and the fact that you can get them almost everywhere. It’s not uncommon to see an Australian munching down on one of these pies even in the morning for breakfast.

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2) The weather – This has to be mentioned again. When I moved to Germany I had no idea how bad the lack of sun could affect a person. I also didn’t have any idea how winter can make a person so tired and take away your drive. One thing is certain, there is a reason Australians are so happy all the time. The sun is usually shining and even the winter is filled with sunny day’s and reasonable temperatures. Back home if someone was grumpy there was an actual reason and you couldn’t just blame it on winter blues.

3) The beaches – Perth in summer is an absolutely amazing place to live. There is a buzz and a feel about the place that you can’t help but be a part of and much of that revolves around the beach. Perth beaches are some of the best not because they are the prettiest but because when you combine the weather, buzz, people and scenery you have something very special. Something very special you won’t find in Germany unfortunately.

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4)  Wearing regular clothing – Another thing I miss about Australia is not having to put on and take off layers of clothing to do very simple things. Going for a simple walk outside can involve  looking like the Michelin man just so you don’t freeze to death. At the same time when you walk into a bar or shop, the heat is so intense you’ll find yourself scrambling to take it all back off again. If you don’t manage to get it all off or on again in time you might find you start feeling sick from one of two extremes, surface of the sun heat or Arctic blizzard.

5) Vegemite – Something stereotypically Australian and man do I miss it. Like many things since moving here I only realised how much I would miss this since being here. If you have never tried Vegemite it’s probably not something you will immediately enjoy and is more of an acquired taste. Please see the video below for reactions of people trying Vegemite for the first time.

6) The abundance of fast food – Not having easy access to this is probably a good thing to be honest. In Australia fast food is everywhere. I really didn’t realise much fast food there was until I came to Germany. Obviously fast food is still available here in Germany but the frequency and variety is much much less. I miss being in walking distance from every type of junk food you can imagine no matter where I am. And in particular KFC.

7) Family – You only begin to comprehend the huge distance Europe is from Australia when you get here. Before you do things like “it’s only a plane ride away” make it seem like it’s not a big deal. Not just being able to see your family with ease is definitely one of the things I miss most about home.

8) Communication – People in Germany speak fairly good English but if I speak with my real dialect people have a great deal of trouble understanding me. It’s for this reason I’ve sub consciously developed a new hybrid dialect that sounds like a cross between a posh Englishman and a computer. It does get frustrating not just being able to speak naturally and with the language I’m used to. Further to this the region I live in has a high volume of people who don’t speak English. I’m currently learning German but until I get a lot better I imagine this feeling will be with me a while.

9) Being able to find work – I’ve been looking for a job with varying degrees of effort since coming here. I honestly thought it would be a lot easier to find work without being fluent in German but this does not appear to be the case. The question I now have is how does any other immigrant to Germany find work? I’d certainly love to meet some of these people because I could use some advice.

10) Christmas in the sun – Whilst Christmas in Germany was extremely special for many other reasons I can’t help but miss the sunny Christmas experience my home has to offer. It may not have as much meaning or be as magical as iv’e found the Christmas here but its Australian and I miss it. Whether it’s soaking up the sun at the beach or enjoying a BBQ with my family there is something awesome about the silly season in the sun.

11) The Australian sense of humour – Germans are nowhere near as humourless as the stereotypes would have you believe. But one thing I can say for certain is their sense of humour as a generalisation is quite different to mine. Everyone is an individual and i’ve met some extremely funny people here but it still isn’t like home. The Australian sense of humour is much like the British in that it is extremely sarcastic and dry and there are many jokes that would get a laugh back home that will simply be wrong in Germany.

12) Familiar products – I just assumed that everyone around the world used the same stuff. Obviously I was wrong and now I have to work out what everything is again. For this reason I miss being familiar with the day to day products we use in life. When I was home and I needed something I would simply go to the store and I already knew what I needed. Shopping in Germany has basically become on par with some of the pre mission planning I got used to in the military.

13) Shorts and no sleeves – I hate pants. I really really hate pants with a passion. I cant even remember the last time I had to wear pants besides work when I lived in Australia. I also really hate long sleeves and jumpers. They make me uncomfortable and I feel like something is trying to strangle me. Its obvious that in Germany there is much more of a requirement to keep warm due to the weather often seeming to mimic the opposite hell and I have therefore had to take measures to ensure I am warm.

14) Casual attire – Australia is a pretty relaxed place. Looking back on some of the things I was allowed to wear to work (and thinking at the time how formal it was) I have realised that we pretty much just dress casual all the time. Even the things I thought were pretty formal or teased colleagues for wearing (Think “are you going to a wedding or something?” comment) were pretty casual. I guess in a way Germans are pretty casual dressers day to day but when it comes to work people here like to look nice.

15) Not being a hipster – In Australia the hipsters tend to dress like what normal Germans seem to dress like. Large black framed glasses and unusual coats, things that stand out compared to the casual dress sense most Australians adopt (Thongs, singlet and Australia flag shorts for example). Oddly since being in Germany I have been accused of being a hipster quite a few times now. It appears that wearing casual skate and surf clothes, a beanie and having a skateboard more than qualify me for the German hipster position. I guess if you add the fact that I speak with a “cool” accent and don’t quite fit in here yet I can see why they might think that.

That is really all I can think of at the moment. But I can definitely say i’ve reached a point where i’ve started to feel slightly homesick. I have no intention of leaving Germany in the near future but luckily I have a whole bunch of Australian friends coming to visit me in 2015 to remind me of the things I love and miss about home. It will be a much needed injection of Australia!

Unique Opportunity: Summer Job as Viking Ship Høvedsmann/ Captain

Given that my family is originally from Norway and I have an interest in Viking history, this is absolutely my dream job. Im currently searching for work in Germany but this would be amazing for someone like me. The only question I have is, to what extent must I speak the second language? I can speak a little Norwegian and I can speak a little German but neither I have a great command of.

ThorNews

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The Viking ship “Lofotr” needs a new captain the coming summer. (Photo: Lofotr Viking Museum)

Have you ever dreamed of being Høvedsmann (Captain) on a Viking ship? This summer, you have the opportunity to apply for the position at the Lofotr Viking Museum in the Lofoten archipelago, Northern Norway – if you have the right qualifications.

There are two Viking ships at the museum. “Lofotr” is a full-scale reconstruction of the Gokstad ship dating back to the 800s. Like the original, “Lofotr” is an excellent seagoing ship which has won several regattas.

The Viking museum which is located on the beautiful Vestvågøy island is searching for two captains the coming summer.

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Lofotr Viking Museum Longhouse Norway

The reconstructed Viking longhouse at the Lofotr Viking Museum is the largest ever found. (Photo: Lofotr Viking Museum)

Here you will find the job ad translated into English. Notice that there is no requirement to speak Norwegian…

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