don't die wandering

Last week was International Student Orientation, which commenced for international undergraduates and postgraduates in Hogwarts Hall, or what the University of Sydney likes to call their Great Hall. Well, it’s great all right – all that was missing was Dumbledore and the geek in the glasses with the scar on his head.

Instead of being greeted by Dumbledore, rather we were greeted with an Aboriginal welcome song by a professor of Aboriginal descent. I’ll take that over flying broomsticks.

Orientation was two full days of informational sessions on anything and everything that could prepare an international student for school, Sydney, and Australia. During one of the first sessions (of few I attended…I admittedly skipped out on most), a speaker gave an introduction to Aussie slang or “Strine” as it’s called.
Here is your Strine 101 Lesson:

How ya goin? = How is it going
Good’on ya/Good’on = Hey, how’s it going
Tucker = food
Boot = trunk of a car
Jumper = jacket
Takeaway = take out
Holiday Home = cabin
Enroll = register
Ground Floor = first floor

Not all of these are Aussie slang per se, but all I’ve had some confusion with. However, there was one particular saying I had not heard before that clicked with me – “don’t die wondering.” As the speaker explained, it means – if you don’t understand something, ask. Simple enough and a welcome reminder, thanks…but I heard more…

“Don’t die wondering” is a motto I think everyone can live their life by, and thought it specifically related to my current adventure. It would have been easier for me to stay in Seattle, continue working, and never challenge myself … but I always would have wondered what if. The saying also relates to continuing education – I believe in the power of wondering, learning, and knowledge. If you are interested or curious, discover and learn – don’t just wonder.

On the other hand - “don’t die wondering” also made me realize that I may just die wondering why Australians do things the way they do. Granted, for the most part they are pretty sane…but there are things I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

For example, why do they not pronounce “R’s” in some words or names, and add “R’s” to others? Ie. Melbourne they pronounce “Melben.” But every word that has a vowel (specifically “A”) at the end they add an “R” (or ER I should say)…ie. Diana = Dianer, Melissa = Melisser, pasta = paster, Australia = Australier…

Australia is also the only country that actually eats the animals on their Coat of Arms - Kangaroo & Emu. Granted, maybe if bald eagles were not near extinction we would eat them too. There is a burger in Sydney that I am dying to try called the “Coat of Arms Burger,” you can go ahead and assume its ingredients.

The call fries “chips” and chips “crisps.”

They have penguins. Did the penguins lose their way from Antarctica?

They call flip flops “thongs”…which come to think of it…the US may be the only country to call them flip flops…maybe we’re the backwards ones here. But, “thongs” reminds me of a story. At another orientation session, a speaker was discussing renting in Sydney and suggested not to wear ‘thongs’ to an open house. All I could think about was a bunch of bare buns in thongs looking for a place to live. Haha.

And finally, why have an entire university of 45,000 (Sydney Uni) register in person, by paper, mere weeks before school starts??? I start school Monday March 1, I stood in line for almost four hours waiting to register Tuesday, Feb 23…less then a week from the start of classes! Tell me…how does that make sense? I’m dying wondering…

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