I am sure we all have our cultural stereotypes about the way Aussies speak and act, like we do with our own and other cultures. We hear the goodday mates and how you goings. And probably it has crossed some minds that they walk around with a jar of vegemite, with a kangaroo on a leash. With all these Aussie motifs swimming in my head, I never really thought that the Australian accent and diction would be that difficult to understand. To my dismay, I was incorrect. I was checking in at the airport in Chicago and an older Aussie man was in front of me in the queue. He made some sort of joke about the weight limit on baggage and I nodded my head and chuckled pretending that I understood him (his accent or his meaning). When I returned to my parents to say good-bye, I told them the story and we all laughed at what lay ahead. Not to scare anyone, talking with everyone is not as difficult as talking with that man but it does take some getting used to. In fact, it was never so apparent until my family popped in for a visit and unfortunately were not there long enough to pick up on things. Being friendly Wisconsinites, they were happy to make small talk and wish everyone a “good’day”. The troubling (and of course funny for me) thing was that they had a hard time understanding the responses. They always looked towards me with quizzical brow and a held breath, to interpret and respond. A tour guide asked my brother, 23, if he fancied some tucker? Which, as my brother learned, means was he hungry. Thankfully, Aussies are friendly people who gladly repeat and answer questions.
Nicole Graf is studying abroad at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.