You’re Not From Round Here: The Pathway to Connections

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It takes me a moment to register every time.

There’s this look that passes over their face when I first speak. You can literally see some kind of switch flip in their brain.

Their eyes show it. It’s a small movement. A widening perhaps, or a gentle flick back and forth.

The brain is registering.

You’re not from round here.

But each time, it happens, for a brief moment, I wonder, “Do they know me? Did I say something strange? Do I have lipstick all over my teeth”

And then it clicks.

“Where are you from?” they ask. Or, “Well, you’re not from round here.”

Some don’t even ask the question, they just listen. You can tell.

There’s a slight smile and the hang comes. The hanging off every word until finally they feel brave enough to ask.

Then comes the questions and the, “I just love your accent.”

My favorite was the young girl we met lining up for the water slides at Great Wolf Lodge. She kept talking to me and showing all the signs that she knew I was different until eventually she asked,

“Do you speak a different language or something?” I just can’t understand what you are saying.”

I laughed.

“Not a different language but a different accent. I say words differently which is why you’re having trouble understanding. “

“I’m so sorry,” she’d say, “but I just don’t know what you’re saying. Maybe if I talk to you for awhile longer, I might finally get it. “

For the remainder of the conversation, Kalyra, with her American accent became my interpreter.

heart of mobile

We are quite the novelty in Minnesota so far. I’m not sure a lot of Australians come here (and they should!) so the exposure to our accent is probably minimal.

I saw that click and then the smile and the hang with every single person who worked there that we interacted with. It meant that we chatted to every single person we interacted with.

And it led me to say to the General Manager, “You have the friendliest staff here. I’ve never experienced such warmth and kindness before.”

I love how travel allows me to have these experiences. Sometimes I feel like it might place me in a little bit of a bubble, but why not live in that kind of a bubble if it help you to believe, and experience, that people are mostly kind and good.

Why would you want to pop out of that bubble to see anything different?

But, these are conversations we’re not just having in Minnesota. We have them a lot in the US.

It seems so strange to me as I feel Australians have such a slow and drawn out accent. It feels like every word is easy to understand, but the USA is the country we’ve had the most difficulty with people understanding us.

I’d love to hear what they hear so I can understand why we’re so hard to understand.

Aussies, be warned, when you visit the USA and you’re thirsting for one of their delicious craft beers, make sure you pronounce that ‘r’ on the end or you might not get it!

Or better yet, drop the ‘r’, drop the Aussie accent and allow it to open up a fun conversation.

It’s one reason I love living and traveling in the US.

We are a novelty, especially when you get away from LA and New York.

That might sound completely vain, but I’m not talking from the perspective of everyone has their eyes and strained ears on me, but of how much being Australian opens up a path to conversations and connections.

Once they know you’re Australian they just want to talk.

They want to know everything: How long does it take to fly here. Why did you move to Raleigh? How come so many things can kill you in Australia?

And of course, I love talking about Australia and convincing Americans to take that long flight to their dream destination.

If it wasn’t for our accent we wouldn’t have half the enjoyable and fun conversations we have.

We wouldn’t experience the incredible warmth and curiosity of the American people.

We wouldn’t learn more about their own culture. It’s in talking with people who are different to you that we learn how not to be afraid.

We learn to rejoice in the differences and find similarities amongst them.

So when I see that look pass over their face, I get excited.

I’m about to have an exchange that helps me warmly and openly connect with another human.

Do you experience this much when you travel? What has been some of your favorite connections that have opened up because you sound different?

12 thoughts on “You’re Not From Round Here: The Pathway to Connections”

    1. And then there’s people who assume you’re a certain nationality by your looks. We’re constantly asked if we’re Scandinavian (before they’ve heard us speak) I’ve had several people walk up to me and start talking in Norwegian or Danish.

  1. I am a Bulgarian living in the US and Canada for the last 15 years. I can relate to all these things. English is not my first language and it was difficult in the beginning understanding all accents, and vice versa. I am often told that I have Russian or American accent.
    And yes, it is a good conversation starter, as most people don’t have a clue where Bulgaria is. So I start by explain that we border Greece to the south (everyone knows where Greece is:) ).

    1. I had to stop and think for a minute where Bulgari is!! Thank you for sharing your experiences. With such a strong and different accent I can imagine all the fun conversations you’d have

  2. Hi Caz, What a great read, and so true. Recently we were in hawaii (kailua) and i went to order in star bucks. Everyone lining up and the staff just stopped what they were doing and looked at me. I felt proud, not uncomfortable. Because it would always happen. When checking into a hotel in san fransico the hotel clerk was holding my australian passport and said “are you from switzerland”. I just laughed and i said no Australia!!

    1. That’s funny! We were in Waco today and had soooo many people talk to us because of our accent. It helped make the day so wonderful.

  3. We had the same experience when visiting the USA for 6 weeks last year – Americans seem to be fascinated by Australians. Although I would go further to say they are fascinated by all foreigners.

    We travelled a lot last year and hands down the US people were by far the friendliest and chattiest we met. They love a good yarn, which we were more than happy to oblige with. It adds so much to your travel experience when you can chat to the locals and share experiences. Even when half the time you know they can’t understand you!!

    1. I agree. I think they are the friendliest people we’ve met. Especially when you move away from the big cities like LA and New York. I even found them quite friendly in New York

  4. Love this post! I’m in a tiny town in Northern England right now and everyone keeps saying they love my accent, which is funny because normally people don’t care about American accents at all. I have to say, it’s a great conversation starter! 🙂

  5. Living in the US, this is an every day thing, just like for you guys! There seems to be an obsession here with the Australian accent 🙂 I have to admit I use it to my advantage from time to time! I’ve never thought that the Australian accent is particularly attractive, but having people tell you on a daily basis that they could listen to you all day (seriously, the number of times I’ve been on the phone to pay my water bill or talk to my bank) is pretty nice!!

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