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Book Review - 'How To Be Australian' By Ashley Kalagian Blunt

I must admit, I don’t read many memoirs or biographies, but I am certainly glad I picked this one up. ‘How to Be Australian’ is a wonderful book.

Ashley, a Canadian expat, writes about her experience of deciding to move to the land down under. She persuades her reluctant new husband Steve to make the big move from snowy Canada, to Australia. Ashley feels this move would be an easy transition. Both counties are part of the Commonwealth, so surely Australia is just like Canada with way more sunshine, right?

Ashley soon discovers they are both in for quite a culture shock when they arrive in Sydney. Her husband struggles with the move, and has difficulty finding work. This plays on Ashley’s anxieties and she worries that her husband will leave.

Ashley knows she must find a way to understand this strange culture she now finds herself a part of. After many years travelling and living in different parts of the world, Ashley is surprised to find that adjusting to life in Australia is one of the hardest challenges she has ever faced.

This book asks these two questions. What is home? What does it mean to belong? Being an Aussie myself, who was born and raised in Sydney, it was fascinating to get a glimpse into how we are perceived by others.

I learnt an interesting fact I didn’t know about one of our cheeky native birds, appreciate our great quality coffee, will never again take our beautiful beaches for granted, will never again look at an Iced Vovo in the same light, or thanks to my Scottish heritage inspired fair complexion, ever leave the house without 50+ sunscreen ever again (Thank you Ashley for reminding me to smother myself in it when I leave the house).

Ashley learns ordering a soy decaf coffee will result in strange looks from the barista, a caramel slice tastes like pure heaven, the immigration process is a total nightmare, a lot of Australia’s history is not something to be proud of, and ‘no worries’ is the Australian motto of choice.

The book is full of humour, but it also touches on relationship problems, and Ashley’s struggle with her own anxiety. An honest and open account of her very personal journey.

I enjoyed this book. I give it 4 stars !

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