Blogging from Down Under

Fast Track Friends

A few days ago my lovely New Zealand friend moved out of Melbourne and back to Sydney. We hugged and said our weepy farewells while our respective children, stood staring each other out in some sort of stand off at the O.K Corral. As we waved them off I got to thinking about how different my friendships have been since moving here.

I mean I have only known New Zealand friend for a few short months, but in that time, we have really got to know each other, taking day trips, going for nights out, helping each other out practically whenever we have needed it and generally enjoying and exploring Melbourne life together. It has been really natural, not forced in any way, I’m really going to miss her and I know that we will be staying in touch even though she is no longer 10 minutes up the road. I have my first visit already in the diary.

Come to think of it, it has been the same with all of the other lovely people that I have met since moving, and now call my friends. In the short time that I have known these people we have babysat each others children, been on many a night out (a recurring theme), done crazy things together and basically been there for each other for whatever we, or they, need.

I have come to the conclusion that friendships here are somewhat fast tracked.

“Hi nice to meet you, lets exchange numbers and go for a coffee/playdate/beach together”
“sure, sounds great, do you fancy babysitting my child tonight”
“no probs – he can stay over, so you can make a real night of it”
“just remind me of your name again”
“yes that’ll do!”

Well not that fast tracked but you get the idea.

Now in the UK this would all seem very odd, if you attempted to obtain someones contact details on first meeting in Blighty, rather than happily swapping numbers and arranging another time to meet, they (and I include myself in this) would be out of the door before you’ve finished your sentence.Probably faking a phone call from a hospital to say that their pet wombat (I dunno, I am in Australia) had just been admitted so they simply had to rush off and ‘perhaps’ might see you again sometime. Only for them to never be seen again,
or worse;
seeing you again, you know they’ve seen you, they know that you know that they’ve seen you; yet avoiding eye contact at all costs, so that conversation does not have to take place again.

Yep in the UK, there is a definite ‘warming up’ period in my opinion, the softly softly approach seems to be the way to go. It does take us Brits a while to get to know someone. Over a number of weeks, we may start off with a ‘hello’ and leave it there for a month, (after all wouldn’t want to get too overfamiliar too quickly and risk frightening potential friendlet (PF) off), also mustn’t be too smiley or PF may think you have escaped from an asylum and your medication is wearing off – for some reason this also seems to scare away potential friend, leaving you back at square one. It really is quite the conundrum.
Don’t be too chatty too quickly either, a simple nod for a week or so will do, then a little hello for a few weeks (nothing more at this stage, don’t be fooled into thinking the reciprocal nod from PF was inviting you to converse – it wasn’t). Then, several weeks later move on to ‘how are you’ or ‘terrible weather’ or something equally as inconsequential for another couple of weeks before moving beyond that. Also NEVER ask their name on first meeting, you seem desperate and no-one likes desperate either. Keeping up? Honestly it is all very exhausting.

These stiff upper lip ‘rules’ that one must play by in the UK however, seem to go completely out of the window when you take a Pom and transport them into another country. I can only think that it must be because if you are speaking to fellow Poms they are in the same boat as you, not knowing anyone, not wanting to be on their own, desperate to get out and drink wine *ahem* but not having anyone to do it with and not wanting to look like an alcy on their own.
They are grateful that there are others who are as desperate to get to know people as them (and yes, I do definitely include myself in this too). Unlike the UK where there are usually a plethora of extended family and friends who would be willing to help out with babysitting duties, here in Oz it is just us . . . . . . . . . . .all alone – cue the violins.
So we just move on more quickly through the pleasantries and the unwritten rules and just get on with it, spending time with people we like and not bothering with those we don’t (harsh?!!) and it just seems to have evolved naturally. I genuinely have made some great fast tracked friends here, friends that I know will continue to be so no matter where we live, and it has been great to share our experiences here together (and babysit each others kids).

In fact it has been so great that I think I might even rip up the ‘rule book’ if/when we go back to the UK and just
talk to people.
I know I know, what’s happening to me?

On the other hand, the Aussies I have met are completely different, they actually approach you, they say hello and start a conversation – straight away! and they smile and everything.
None of these coy glances, no eye contact, mumbled hello business, they are rule breakers. . . . Renegades.
It’s like they don’t care about the rules at all.

To be honest, I am finding it a little intimidating –
“oh no whats that?
My pet wombat has been in a terrible dingo related accident you say??”
“Well yes of course I have to go right away”

Sorry must dash . . . . . . . . . .

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5 thoughts on “Fast Track Friends

  1. I think the situation you’re in is a unique but common one, if that makes sense. I have my mum and 2 sisters to call in for baby sitting before I’d have to go to family, but I have friends here who have no family around at all. So I think in that case they definitely have very good friends, and make friends fast. It helps having kids and being in a new city – lots of others in the same boat. I do love that you think Aussies are friendly, smiley and conversationalists. I like to think we are. And I like to think we are helpful and friendly to those who need us!

    • I agree having children definitely helps with the friend making, straight away you have something in common. I think it is that old British reserve that stops us just chilling out a bit and getting to know people. – Stupid really.
      All the Aussies I have met so far have been lovely, I have not had a bad experience, you are a chatty friendly lot. 🙂

  2. Haha! This made me laugh a lot – so true that we’re crap at making new friends in the UK. Since we moved from Scotland – England the only good new friends I’ve made have been other bloggers in the area who I ‘knew’ online before meeting in person. That brings a different kind of weirdness because you know all these details about each other from what you’ve read on Twitter & blog posts, and they’re things that are much more personal than you’d normally talk about with a ‘new’ friend.

    It’s a minefield! But it sounds like you’re handling it with aplomb 😉 xx

  3. Ha ha you have put it much more succinctly than me, we are just crap at making new friends. I think it is really difficult as people just don’t have room in their lives for it, they have their own set of friends and it is too much hassle to be bothered making other ones.
    I can definitely understand how weird it would be making new real life friends you’ve previously known online – there is something a little disconcerting about knowing every little thing about someone before you have even physically said ‘hello’. But then it is a good ice breaker too.
    You’re right – definitely a minefield.
    Thanks for visiting me. 😀

  4. Pingback: Listing The Blogs | Colours of Sunset

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