I have to admit, I am really enjoying being Australian in an overseas country. As the only non-European exchange student this semester at Hogeschool INHolland, I get quite a lot of attention from people wanting to learn more about my country. And I’m ashamed to say, I’m really having a lot of fun with this!

 When people find out that I am Australian, the first thing they want to know about are the animals, or more specifically, the Kangaroos. People seem to find it hilarious that Kangaroos are hopping around everywhere. It’s almost like they think Kangaroos are just a myth! The funniest thing by far is telling everybody about all the not-so-nice creatures of Australia, i.e. snakes, spiders, sharks, stingrays etc. On my first day in Amsterdam, I was staying in a hostel. When the guys behind the counter discovered where I was from, they started talking about Australia and how amazing it would be to go there. However, they stated that they never would, as there are “too many things to kill you over there”! Watching people’s reactions when I tell them that I have been bitten by a snake is also extremely amusing, as a snakebite is something of a horror story over here!

 But aside from the wildlife down under, I find that many people already have very high opinions of Australians. Often in bars I receive high-fives merely for telling people that I am an Aussie. This works out well for me, as I don’t have to make much of an effort to make friends! One of the most popular bars in Amsterdam, Coco’s is an Aussie bar. Sure, it is a little over the top, with the benches made from rotting wood, Aboriginal artwork covering the walls and the toilets labelled with “Sheila” and “Blokes”, but it plays good music, serves good food and sells cheap drinks!

 I do, however, get a few laughs here and there as my accent is incapable of pronouncing many words. Also, when I talk about wearing thongs and togs I get extremely strange looks! Many times I have had to back up and repeat myself, as I use a lot of slang, or catch phrases. For example, “Charter boat? What charter boat?” and “Not Happy Jan!” are definitely only used in Australia! Once or twice I have accidentally used the “Ya Mum” joke, for which the only response I got were blank stares.

 I’ve learned that a sense of humour differs from country to country. Sometimes I’ll say something sarcastically, and some of my friends will believe it. I then have to tell them that I was only kidding, only to be responded with a confused look and “Then why did you say it?”

 All in all, it’s a lot of fun being an Aussie and travelling to Europe, as people automatically want to be our friend. I’m having an awesome time teaching my Euro friends about Australia, but am also enjoying learning about countries much different from my own.