Sydney Expat Interview Series Question 8: Questions About Your Home

Sydney Expat Interviews

We all carry perceptions of other places – places we’ve visited briefly or only know from stories and media. Moving abroad, one starts to detect patterns in the line of questions about our home country, revealing what those perceptions look like in our new country. 

This month, for the Sydney Expat Interview Series, I asked the expats what questions they hear most often from Australians about their home country. I think the responses reveal something about both countries.

Stay tuned because next month, I’ll flip the script on this one.

(*I should add that I asked these questions before the start of the U.S. Presidential campaign. If my experience is any indication, I’d suggest that many of the Americans would have a particular candidate on their list of most-asked questions!).  

This is the 8th in an 18 part interview series with expats living in Sydney. Please make sure to visit the fantastic websites of the participants here, and follow me on Facebook for much more on expat life in Sydney. Sydney Expat Interview Series - What Do You Get Asked About Your Home Country


Question 8: What do you find Australians think of your home country? What questions are you asked most frequently?

 

Name: Debbie
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 10 years

I find that Aussies associate really closely with England, most usually still have family living there and either have been or would like to go for a holiday. In the UK, going on holiday to Australia was always classed as one of those ‘holiday of a lifetime’ type things, so flipping it over to have Aussies view England and London as the same always makes me chuckle a little bit, especially as I hate London. The question I get asked the most is ‘where are you from, what city?’

Name: Victoria
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 5 years
Victoria blogs at The Freedom Travellers

Generally it’s ‘whinging poms’ and that the weather is always miserable.
I guess I get asked why I would want to go home to the UK at all because the general consensus is that Australia is the best country in the world!

Name: Julia
Country of origin: UK
Lived in Sydney: 6 years

They always joke about how bad the weather is in the UK – but I normally get quite defensive – as I’m not a huge fan of 40 degree days here!!
They think that all Brits want to move to Oz, but there are a lot of things about the UK that I dearly miss – like the culture and history.

Name: Caitlin
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Caitlin blogs at Where’s Wallis

Mainly I get asked about European travel and why we Brits don’t travel more given Europe is “so small”

 

Name: Rachel
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 3 years, 10 months

Pages could and have been written about the Aussies thoughts on the England. The majority of my friends here are a mix of English, Canadians and Irish. Australians always mention the cold English weather and they couldn’t hack the cold temperatures. But from my personal perspective, I usually get asked the obvious question of how long have I been here, swiftly followed by how long am I planning on staying for. Call me cynical but sometimes I feel like a broken record, but obviously don’t mind if they’re curious. Others, I sometimes sense, ask for the sake of asking and are not necessarily interested in the response. Rather it’s an automatic question for an expat.


 

India

 
Name: Dido
Country of origin: India
Lived in Sydney: 1.5 years

India is moving fast and moving ahead, why is there poverty in India?
Where do you get the best Indian food in Sydney?
What is traditional indian food compared to what we get in restaurants?
India is a colourful country, which Bollywood movies and music can I see and hear and where?


USA

 

Name: Mollie
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 4 years

Do you own a gun? Second only to, are you a Canadian?

Name: Erin
Country of origin: Texas, USA
Lived in Sydney: 6 1/2 years
Erin blogs at TexErin-in-Sydneyland

First off, I think it is hilarious that I regularly get asked if I’m from Canada. I’m from Texas…the furthest point from Canada except the tip of Florida and Hawaii. The questions I get asked most often when I say that I’m from Texas are about guns and George Bush. I moved here December 2008; Obama had been elected but wasn’t in office yet; everyone from cab drivers to friends of friends wanted to discuss American politics.

Name: Melissa
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 10 months
Melissa blogs at Leche Love

George Bush usually gets brought up.
We usually get why did we pick Newtown to live, and what brought us here.

Name: Ashley
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: 2 years (in Newcastle)
Visit Ashley on Instagram

I’ve heard a lot of Americans saying Aussies bad mouth America but to be honest, I haven’t really received much feedback like that. Luckily. I’d say the main thing people ask me about is the schools and guns.
I get asked about the cafeterias frequently. It’s just so uncommon here because you’re actually allowed to go outside and have lunch. At my high school, we weren’t allowed to leave the building at all.
And the guns. It seems a lot of people think Americans own guns and they sort of can’t believe the lax gun protection laws we have.
I also think they would all LOVE to visit a Walmart!

 

Name: Shane
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Shane blogs at Sea Salt Secrets

That Yanks are loud and uptight. My friends think I have mellowed out heaps since I’ve been here.

Are the college parties as crazy as they look in the movies? My uni was centered around Greek Life, so in my case, very accurate depiction.

Why don’t Americans travel more? We aren’t blessed with near the amount of leave from work but I think we need to do it more while we’re young and able!

Guns…in grocery stores…why? Good question, I ask myself the same thing…

What is the point of tipping? In theory, you should get better customer service if it is compensation based… not always the case in my experience… I’d say Australian wait staff is more friendly and nice that they’re not bothering your table every five minutes.

Name: Kirstie
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: Since September 2013
Kirstie blogs at Venga Vale Vamos

I get a lot of negativity about the U.S. from Australians, often based on stereotypes and coming from people who haven’t even been to my country. It’s probably the thing I like least about being in Australia, but, hey, you can’t win them all!


Serbia

 

 

Name: “Bushranger”
Country of origin: Serbia
Lived in Sydney: 6.5yrs

Something like this: “This mob is fully sick mate. They fight wars, wear black hats, have black beards and eat kids for breakfast…and Djokovic – he is a legend!”


 

What’s the most common thing you’ve been asked about your home country when living or travelling abroad? What’s the funniest?


Read Part 1: Expectations vs Reality
Read Part 2: The Most Memorable Sydney Day
Read Part 3: Your First Day in Sydney
Read Part 4: Drinking Like an Aussie
Read Part 5: The Birds of Sydney
Read Part 6: Australian Christmas
Read Part 7: Off the Beaten Path