Three years in Australia: FAQs

As I checked the calendar I realised I left Italy for Australia three years ago. Three years and a week, to be precise. I blame my poor blog-scheduling skills for my lack of official online celebrations. It feels like yesterday when I was laying on the grass of my garden with my cat; but here I am, on the other side of the world, trying to do the adulting thing, not draining my phone battery before noon, and celebrating my newly received Medicare. That's one small card for Australians, one giant leap for expats. Now, it’s time to address some of my most frequently asked questions.

Australia FAQs

  • Where is your accent from? Can you speak Italian? 
Being born and raised in Italy I can speak Italian pretty well. I am also truly from Italy, unlike majority of Italians in Melbourne. My accent is clearly, as I like to call it, exotic, but not many can pinpoint the origin. I have been asked multiple times if I was Scandinavian, Persian, German. All taken as compliments, considering the poor reputation Italian accent has pretty much anywhere in the World.

  • When’s the last time you went home? 
That would be three years and a week ago. The reason behind my prolonged stay is simply a series of unfortunate events. First, my Working Holiday Visa expired and, as I wanted to stay longer, I applied to a new Visa, which took almost a year to be granted and during that time I could not leave Australia. By the time I could effectively leave and come back, my passport expired and people at the Italian Consulate aren’t famous for the speed of their bureaucracy. Once I got my new Passport it was time to apply for a Permanent Residency Visa, which put me on an even longer waiting list.

  • Do you miss your family? 
The short, fun, and easy answer is: I miss my cat. Everyone loves cats, they think I am joking, we all laugh, and move on with the conversation. The long answer would be that I don’t miss my family, wait for gasps from the audience, but in the end it’s a good thing. Imagine how lonely and miserable I would feel if I moved to the other side of the planet and deeply missed my family. I don’t miss them because I know they’re fine, and they don’t worry about me because they know I am fine as well. But I do miss my cat.

  • Do you think in English or in Italian? 
This is possibly my favourite question of all times. I think and process what happens via storytelling, so the language of my internal speech would vary according to whom, in my mind, I am telling the story to. Also, I am not used to speak Italian anymore, and when I do, English Barbs can hear Italian Barbs speak and it’s just weird. Almost like listening to your voice on a recorder. Before you ask, I can't remember the language of my dreams, but I will keep you posted on that one.

  • When are you coming back to Italy?
This is not technically a question I get asked a lot, because finding a time where both me and my Italian friends are awake and not at work at the same time, is incredibly hard. And I am sure those who knew me quite well have always known, deep inside their heart, that Italy is not the right place for me. Ever since I 'discovered' Japan, my small mountain town felt like a waiting room for something more. So, I will come back to Italy, once my Visa allows me to, but only for a Christmas Winter holiday. What a foreign concept for Australians!

  • What's the hardest thing about living in Australia? 
One of the things I find the hardest to overcome is probably hard just for me and my personal experience: I find it extremely frustrating when I really want to act as a particular character for an improv scene or a joke, be it historical or just from a different career path, and I can't find the right words to use. In Italian I would have no problems coming up with accents, specific lingo, old fashioned grammar, and so on. Do you know how smart I am in Italian?

  • Have you tried all Aussie food staples? Do you like Vegemite? 
The first time I tried Vegemite, I cried. That pretty much sums it up. To this day, I haven't had a 'chicken parm(igian)a' and I can't wrap my brain around the concept of 'spag(hetti) on toast'. On the other hand, I am a massive fan of 'fairy bread', which is white bread with butter and rainbow sprinkles on top, and 'lamingtons', sponge cake coated in chocolate and coconut. Also, when it comes to dessert: if it's green, is mint, never pistachio. Which is a proper bummer when you don't like mint.

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