caitlin-us

My name is Caitlin and I live on that Ditto-shaped continent at the bottom of your world map. Yes, my homeland looks like a Pokémon.

Whenever I meet a foreigner, I fight the urge to talk about my pet kangaroo or namedrop Hugh Jackman. Truth be told, we Australians like to feed our own myths. It’s as if we’re Big Foot and we’re the ones drawing massive footprints in the snow.

We love how mysterious we seem –being 10,000 miles away and all– so we spread these rumors like the Vegemite we all apparently love. Suddenly, the world thinks we’re sunkissed surfers who wrangle wild animals into our utes. Crikey.

I can’t speak on behalf of all 22 million of us, but I’d like to share the life of a real young Australian. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t live in a Billabong advertisement (and we are definitely not tan by default).

My high school was filled with a myriad of different nationalities. English, African, German, Scottish, Brazilian, Japanese – name any country in existence and I’m sure I could find an ambassador in Math class. With such a multicultural population, we draw influences from anywhere and everywhere.

Come college, we don’t make an event of moving across the country à laThe OC. Most of us go straight to university in our hometowns, which really isn’t as boring as it sounds. I study Law and Journalism in the city, which means I can stroll down to the shops, cafes or arcade in between my lectures.

Travel a few suburbs outbound and you will find pockets of human resistance –just joking– pockets of insanely cool cultural pioneers, who wear trilbies at night and hold random dance parties in the middle of the street.

Unfortunately (or not?), sororities and frat houses are a thing of legend down under. Those college red cup parties aren’t the most common occurrence here, but we compensate with a bustling nightlife downtown.

It’s embarrassing to admit that most of my Friday nights are spent in my room watching reruns of ‘90s sitcoms. But when the situation arises, I will crawl out of my snuggie and hop it to the Valley.

Me and my friends love the thriving local music scene. We love going to gigs and we love knowing that our cousin’s ex-best friend plays bass in some band that nobody’s ever heard of. We love that.

The weather is almost as impressive as our musos. But when it does decide to be a bitch, it’ll be passive-aggressive – like the time our neighborhood was flooded and the sun was still doing show tunes in the sky.

As summery as it is here, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of you hip folk across the Pacific Ocean. Everything seems to be a subway stop away.

American TV has influenced my day-to-day life on an unhealthy level. From Daria to Empire Records to Freaks and Geeks, I would like to thank your beautiful country for changing my life and bringing Jason Segel into the world.

Plus, every teenage adventure film I’ve ever loved has pointed me in the direction of NYC’s jagged skyline. Being saved from an incoming taxi by Gosling himself? That’s just a pipe dream.

I hope my musings have shed some insight into the cultural identity of a not-so-typical young Australian.

We’re just like you, but on a faraway island completely girt by sea.

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April 22, 2013