It’s our 3-month Canniversary!! Yes, it’s been three months since we landed, chilly and travel-weary, in then-snowy Saskatoon. Yes, you’re welcome to steal that terrific pun.
I’ve repeatedly heard that 3-6 months is peak homesick time, and I have to say, I hope it’s true. I’ve been missing home a lot over the last few weeks – I had my first birthday away from home, I got sick, and I’ve been missing the people that mean the most to me (y’all know who you are).
So I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I miss from home – and it’s more than this. But since I think this is the kind of list which might change over time, I really wanted to document them. To be honest, I also wanted to share a few of them, so that you can all lament with me. Btw, if any of you are planning on sending a care-package, let this be your inspiration!
Foods I miss more than Vegemite and Tim Tams
Alright, it’s kind of cheating, since we’ve actually been able to get a hold of both of these wonderful Aussie treats here and satisfy our cravings. But I’ve also never been more acutely aware of the other delicious things that make up my Aussie food culture.
Yes, Tim Tams are iconic Aussie chocolate, but what I’m really missing is a good old Curly Wurly. That light, chewy sweetness, straight out of the freezer! For those of you who are not acquainted with this delight, it’s simply a hard caramel lattice dipped in chocolate. Our local BP sold them at 3 for $2, and they’re just the perfect after dinner treat. Nothing all that special I guess, but home nonetheless.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of delicious Canadian chocolate literally sitting in my desk drawer*, because my colleagues took pity on me and my naivety. So I’ll live with this one.
*EDIT: It’s no longer in my desk drawer… It’s in my tummy 🙂
Dim sims, potato cakes and chicken salt
Preferably sitting on a jetty, eating directly from the paper. Ideally wearing bathers so that you can wipe your hands on your leg and then dive right into the ocean to rinse off.
I have to give a quick shout-out to the best fish and chips in Melbourne’s north – Union Street Fish and Chips. They’re nowhere near the ocean, but that doesn’t stop them being amazing.
Something I had previously considered to be an integral part of the work day is a semi-formal “break” at 10.30am, during which one might drink a cuppa, have a snack, and gossip about the weekend just gone/weekend to come (depending on the day of the week). It’s not something we do in my new office, and I’m uncertain whether it’s a thing in the rest of Canada, either. Instead, the prairies have their own food schedule, which includes a work day which goes from 8am – 4pm, lunch at 12pm, and “supper” (dinner) at 5pm. Whilst I thoroughly enjoy having such an early lunch, if I eat my evening meal at 5pm, I’m ravenous again by 9 pm…
“Going for coffee”
The other daily tradition I’m pining for is that of “going for coffee”. Since I began my Ph D in 2010, “grabbing a coffee” with friends and colleagues has been part of my morning routine. And whilst having an office espresso machine is totally brilliant and saving me a bunch of petty cash, I do miss the friendship and solidarity that comes with walking into campus and sharing a morning brew, and whinging about all the difficulties of science, studentship and life. Shout-out to my Botany peeps andthe fabulous crew at Writer’s Block Cafe :).
The Herald Sun Cryptic Crossword
Now, to those who don’t know – the Herald Sun is a terrible newspaper. Like, truly awful. So much so that I HATED giving News Corp my precious dollars to purchase a copy.
Unfortunately, I really like their cryptic crossword. I’m not good enough to approach the one in the fancy paper (yet?), and the HS cryptic is great for learning (eternally indebted to Erin for introducing me to this.)
Between submitting my thesis in November and leaving Australia in March, I spent many a morning bent over those cryptic clues. However, since I didn’t want to buy the Sun for my daily crossword needs, I would be forced to wander down to my local cafe and, sitting in the window and sipping a long black, do the crossword in the Cafe’s copy.
It was a tough existence.
Those of you in Victoria, if you happen to be passing by a copy of the Sun, and you’ve got your phone and no ethical opposition to reading-but-not-buying (remember, it’s only News Corp you’re ripping off), please feel free to snap me a pic of the crossword page!
I’ve put Ural at the top of my list of “things I wish I brought with me”. If you’ve never needed it, you don’t need to know about it. But when you do need it, you need it. Turns out it doesn’t exist here – I found out the hard way.
I did make a fairly good (albeit revolting) substitute out of bicarb soda and lemon juice – desperate times, desperate measures. But like I said earlier, if you’re thinking of sending a care package…
Bunnings sausage sizzle
To be honest, I miss sausages in general. There aren’t many options for sausages here, and the ones we can source are more wurst-y than sausage-y. I guess it’s the local Ukrainian heritage and cultural influence.
But I felt a particular pang last weekend when we visited Home Depot – and I felt keenly the absence of that sausage sizzle smell. For my Canadian readers: Bunnings is our Home Depot equivalent, super-sized hardware store. Every weekend, every Bunnings store in the country hosts a BBQ event run by a community group (a school, a local library, a brownie guide club, etc.), where you can buy a sausage in bread (with onions, tomato sauce and mustard – an Aussie delicacy) and a can of soft drink (see below for Aussie terms I need to explain) for under $4. This is affectionately known as a sausage sizzle. Bunnings supplies the BBQ and other furnishings free of charge, and all funds raised go to the participating community group.
Drinking water from the tap
Maybe I’m a sook, but Saskatoon water tastes a bit gross. Actually, really gross. Like Puritabs (does anyone remember those?!). It’s perfectly safe, it’s just highly chlorinated. When we first arrived, I would leave Pepsi bottles of water open on the bench overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate before I drank them the following day (a trick I learnt from owning a fish-tank!). Now we use a Brita filter (and most days I just fill up from the drinking fountain at work before I go home…)
But every now and then I forget where I am, and fill a glass from the tap. Ew.
Speaking of being a sook – I used the phrase “hit the frog and toad” today in public, and was (surprisingly!) met with blank stares! What, does the rest of the world not do rhyming slang?
Other words I can’t use and expect to be understood: sook, chock-a-block, thongs, bikkie, esky, brolly, Maccas, postie, servo, mince, soft drink, lollies, chooks. There are probably thousands of others, but these are the ones I have noticed so far.
I also say “g’day” much more than I thought I did, and I have to say, people love it. So I’m going to keep that one up. I also feel like it’s a nice way to flag your heritage to strangers – I’m almost sure I heard someone on campus say g’day to me, and I wish I’d run after him and confirmed his Australianess. Next time, Gadget.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I also miss swearing. Not big-time, angry, kicked-your-toe swearing – that’s almost acceptable here – but casual swearing. For emphasis, for fun, for description, or because sometimes the only thing you can call someone is the c-word. (In my own defense – even in Australia, I would save this one for very, very specific circumstances. I don’t use it lightly, or frequently. But like Ural, when you need it, you need it).
Eucalypts, magpie warbling, and cockatoos
Because nothing says Australia like this sound.
Except maybe some of these guys.
I miss my little house. I miss my suburb. I miss Zataar’s cheese pies and Half-moon falafel and Wild Timor coffee. And I miss sitting on my back step in the morning sunshine, sipping a cup of tea and hanging out with Morgan.
And I miss all of YOU. And as much as I believe this list might change over time, I know that that particular item won’t budge.
Visit us*! (*Bring Ural and Curly wurlys!!)