By Rhian.Cahill On Aug 31 2012, 2:00 am
In the last few weeks (and for a few more I'm sure) I've been hearing all the 'back to school' talk across the net. For me the idea of back to school mid year is foreign. You see, in the land down under we're gearing up for the end of year and summer vacation. Well okay winter isn't quite over yet but an author can dream, right? This year in the Cahill household we've got one teen in her final year which means exams, assessments, stress, tears, crankiness, oh wait, that's teens in general. Better multiply those by a billion-trillion times. Yeah, it's been that bad. *sigh* But we're on the downhill run. Princess & the pea has only weeks of school left before graduation assembly. Of course it ain't over then. Nooooo……. We have to put up with a month of study (picture that previous teen behave multiplied by a billion-trillion more) and then three weeks of exams *kill me now*. These are, I think, the equivalent of the SAT's but from what I know ours a little different. Although the education board seems to change how they push our kids into the world each year so I'm not sure how the system is working this year. I do know I'd never ever want to go back to school. With each of the Cahill progeny the system has changed, gotten a little harder, definitely more confusing and it's a wonder most students make it out with their sanity. Although teenagers aren't known for their sane behavior….
Anyway, all this back to school talk got me thinking about the other differences between down under and pretty much the rest of the world. Our seasons are upside down, Christmas is hot and smack-bang in the middle of summer and don't get me started on the language barrier. Yes, I know, we speak English but we speak an Australian bastardize version of UK English which means to write 'American' I have to learn a whole new language! And don't laugh, it's not funny. I almost fell out of my chair the first time I saw 'fanny' used in a book. Fanny doesn't mean the same thing down under. Nah-uh, you're in the general direction but think women only and come a little more forward. Then there's 'thong' or 'thongs'. You would think this would be the same thing, right? Nope. A thong is a g-string and thongs (note the s on the end) are what you Americans call flip-flops. There are many more but as I said earlier I don't want to go back to school so I tend to set my stories down under and hope my editor lets me keep the Aussie spelling. But if that fails there's always the nifty language thingy in word, right? Ah, no, I've tripped over that one many a time before so I now have three dictionaries on my desk. An Australian, a British and an American one. Even then I still get somethings upside down.
With all these differences you can imagine what it's like when I attend a conference in the US. I've started using this phrase when I find myself confused or getting some wrong – "I'm sorry, but I don't speak the language." You'd be surprised how well that works. You'd also be not surprised that it often doesn't. So what other things are different in our two worlds? Or should I say planets? Because I have to admit sometimes if feels like we're from completely different universes.