After living in Europe for 18 months I was ready to come back to the big old sunburnt country I call home. As a patriotic Aussie, I would proudly tell people my heritage, only to be bombarded with proclamations about how lucky I was and funny things they love about Australians.
What I hadn't counted on was losing my Aussieness as I adopted the characteristics of the people around me, and it wasn't until I landed back on Australian soil that I realised how much I'd changed.
Here are 11 things you'll do when you've lived away from Australia for too long:
1. You hesitate before pulling out onto the road because you can't remember if the right side is right or left.
After mastering driving on the wrong (or I guess I should say right) side of the road and entering roundabouts completely backwards, getting back to the left on Australian roads can be a shock to the system. You'll find yourself triple checking which way the traffic goes and scaring the wits out of your passengers.
2. You nearly choke at the price of food in cafésand restaurants.
After buying coffee for as little as €2 every day, coming home to Oz and paying up to $4.50 hurts your over-caffeinated soul. Paying $15 for brunch absolutely crushes you when you used to be able to get your smashed-avo fix for €8.
3. Likewise with alcohol.
Gone are the days of the €12 bottles of Jägermeister. Thanks to the Aussie alcohol tax, your drinking habits are about to become a whole lot more expensive.
4. You're super cautious walking in the bush.
Despite growing up in the country where snakes and lizards were a part of life, after being away for months in a place where the worst thing you could find is a spider, it can be a little daunting to get back to the great outdoors. After talking up how dangerous Aussie wildlife is to your new European pals, you start to believe the bulls**t you have been feeding them and are overly cautious of what's out there.
5. You find the buzzing noise of flies literally the most annoying sound you've ever heard.
Imagine a summer without needing a fly swat on hand at all times. European countries lack the droning soundtrack of flies and mosquitoes that our wonderful country Down Under has during the warmer months. The serenity of a fly-free country such as the Netherlands seems like a distant, and quiet, memory.
6. You start picking up local catchphrases.
Even if you turn on the ocker Aussie accent when needed, you will find yourself parroting what your European friends say. "Yeah" becomes "Ja" and a "bogan" can also be known as a "f***in' knacker". This does work in reverse and you will find yourself becoming a professor of the Australian language to your European pals. I've never been more proud than when my workmates started answering questions with "yeah nah yeah".
7. You're appalled at the severely limited free WiFi in cafes.
What is this? You want me to talk to my dining companion? And this NBN rubbish, it moves at a glacial pace compared to the super-fast Internet in the Northern Hemisphere.
8. You go out in the sun for more than 10 minutes and wonder how you got so damn sunburnt.
If there is one thing you don't miss about Australia, it's that big hole in the ozone layer that has the ability to roast you tomato red within minutes. In saying that, you're grateful for the huge range of quality fake tan that is available in Aussie shops -- the European version still leaves you looking like a tandoori chicken.
9. You wince walking outside barefoot.
After being cushioned in winter boots for so long, protected from the frigid Euro winter, your baby-bum-soft feet can't deal with the blistering-hot sand or asphalt. Even wearing shoes inside doesn't feel like total sacrilege anymore.
10. You're offended when the security guard asks for your ID at the pub.
You haven't even looked at your ID for months, beer is like water for Europeans and if you look a smidge over 16 you'll be grand for a pint.
11. You're gobsmacked by the sunset.
While the polluted haze of the Northern Hemisphere made for mysterious and gloomy sunsets, the colourful, clear skies of Australia turn on a show nothing short of spectacular. While European countries have beautiful, old architecture, there is nothing better than Australian nature -- it truly is the most picturesque country in the world.
No matter how long you've been away, nothing feels as good as the sand between your toes on an Australian beach. It may take a while to accustom yourself back to your Aussie self, but once you do you realise that the words of Peter Allen are immortal and why you still call Australia home.