Late last week, the internet went into a semi-meltdown when non-Americans discovered something baffling about people in the United States: they don’t have kettles. If they want boiling water for a cup of tea, they boil it on the stove or (THE HORROR) they microwave it.

America flag

Obviously, a blanket caveat of #NotAllAmericans needs to be applied. I know, because some Americans do, indeed, own kettles. It seems more common to have the old-fashioned stove-top kettles over there, but still, it’s a kettle, right? However, discussing this with Americans has lead to some startling discoveries (for me, anyway) about small differences between America and Australia that I had no idea about. Here’s some of what I’ve learned, in no particular order:

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Am I a Neighbour Snob?

I know that  some people mourn the way we used to live. Remember when we knew all our neighbours so well? People miss the ease of making friends based on proximity. Relationships rooted in cheery waves and coffee invites. The comfort in knowing a neighbour will water the plants and check the post while you’re away. Every house with a “Neighbourhood Watch” sticker on the front gate and the implication that everyone keeps an eye out for each other. That whole close community vibe.

Personally, I’m not big on socialising with neighbours. I don’t mind a wave or nod but that’s about it. I’m not terribly shy but I do value my space and privacy. In the past, I’ve wondered if I should make more of an effort to get to know my neighbours. Am I a bit of a neighbour-snob? I’m not the only one in my household. Why are we so reluctant to get to know the people that live around us? The experiences we’ve had recently have only reinforced our feelings.

neighbours- scott and charlene

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Today is Australia Day.

Except that for many, Australia Day is known as Survival Day or Invasion Day- the anniversary of white Europeans invading the country we now call home. On this day, in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip took possession of the colony of New South Wales and raised the British flag for the first time in Sydney Cove.  Along with a British flag, they brought weapons, diseases, their own laws, religion and more. Those first invaders cast a long shadow; the legacy of their actions still impacts the lives of Indigenous people today.

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Many of us will be hitting the shops this week, clutching lists of stationery to be purchased, among other things. How would you feel about buying a few extras while you’re there? That’s exactly what I’m doing and I’m just gonna throw it out there- I would love it if you did too. It turns out that basic stationery is something many kids simply don’t have access to. There are so many barriers to a good education faced by children across Australia. We can actually help with that, thanks to Natalie Panzarino and her best mate, Lauren McCormack Sundstrom. Together, they’ve started Got A Pen? and Natalie kindly told me all about it!

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