As an American expat living in Australia, everyday tasks have a certain twist to them. The first time I went to the grocery store when we were living in our temporary place, I felt like I was blindly buying food because I had no clue how much anything really cost. Well, I could have stopped to figure it out, but the initial mathematics of it all was causing steam to spurt out of my ears. Plus, I was hangry. (And my friends and family have urged me not to talk when I get this way.)
Pounds to Kilos
US dollars to AU dollars
Then I made it home, proud I had—at the very least—figured out enough to make pizza for that night, only to hit another hurdle with the oven. No words on the paneling, just symbols that didn’t quite make sense to me, lots of circles and squiggles. Tim & I googled the brand online and still didn’t find much to go on. Then there was the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion. I opened the door and tossed the pizza in. The clock on the stove was in military time and figuring out the timer (another button!) on that appliance was not going to happen at that moment. Every step seemed to have an added layer of difficulty. I set the timer on my iPhone for 12 minutes, nervously warned everyone that this might not taste exactly like we have it at home and we’d just have to see. I kept an eye on the crust. At 12 minutes, it looked OK. I added a few more minutes. When I thought it was good enough, I pulled it out. We ate. I stopped being hangry. Everything turned out just fine. Good enough. Sometimes you just have to wing it and hope for the best.
I still have days when I feel this way, even 3-ish months in. Sure, I’ve got the US to AU dollar conversion down and the pound to kilos, too, but the other half of the time I’m just guessing. Funny phrases that pop up in conversation, different names for everyday items, it all kinda makes sense and kinda doesn’t. And then I think, isn’t life always this way? Aren’t we usually just trying to make or fake our way through it and does it REALLY matter if I cook the pizza for the exact recommended amount of time? I mean, it’s good enough.
Those two little words keep circling back my way, day in and day out.
I’m working hard at learning to laugh at the awkwardness of being in a foreign country and looking at all these little moments as chances to embrace the oddness. Things don’t always go perfectly. Directions—if even available—aren’t always clear. Things get lost in translation. But I’m finding my way and trying not to spend too much time and energy on the silly little stuff. And in the end, striving for good enough some days is a pretty big accomplishment!
(Side note on the featured photo. It’s a funky little spot in Bondi, NSW, we came across the first month we were here. I have no idea what the story is behind this colorful spot, but I do wonder what their neighbors think!)