Moving to Australia? Come Humble or Be Humbled

Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey. We walked into a Maccas (Mac Donalds) in Yanchep (a beautiful small coastal town about 15 minutes’ drive from Clarkson, where my family – the Venter Four – resides). The store manager (if I had to guess I would say he was Filipino) took my order, “What will it be, Honey?”

Marlize Venter

And I immediately thought, “My maat, ek is nie jou honey nie!

I smiled, placed my order, turned around to my beloved and said, “He’d better watch out who he calls ‘Honey’.” I continued watching patrons placing their orders and one guy with his dreads and tats stepped up to the counter and lo and behold he was ‘Honeyed’ as well! He took his order, turned around, walked to his squeeze and thought nothing of being reduced to another man’s ‘honey’.

That is what I love about this country, Australia!

They get away with calling even the most hardy blokes ‘love, honey and mate’ even when they are getting ready to grab each other by the throat. Ok, maybe not ‘love and honey’ but definitely ‘mate’. (I have been witness to that.)

Last week a dear friend, who still resides in South Africa, posed the question why some people who have degrees think they have the right to speak down to other people. She wondered why it was that they think a piece of paper makes them better than others. In that moment I was so glad that I am in Australia, where a degree is just one of the roads to a job.

I was thankful that I have been introduced to the Aussie way of being given a fair go (mostly). I think that people, all people, compare themselves and wonder if they measure up. And don’t we want to pat ourselves on the shoulder – sometimes, at least – when we see certain people, and think, ‘Thank goodness I am not like that”? I must say however, that I have found that tendency to be to a lesser extent here in Australia.

Back to my friend and the question she posted. Another mutual friend of ours, who resides in the magical land of Oz, quickly quipped, “Come to Australia, that is not an issue here.”

How true! This mutual friend has a couple of degrees, one of which is in chemical engineering. He has however decided that he would much rather be a chaplain/carer. And so he has become one.

That is how it is done here. If you have a dream you can, if you really want to, make it a reality. I am not saying that it will not be hard yakka (work), I am saying that it can be done.

Dear Migrant to the Great Southland,

If you think having a degree makes you a bit better than others, you are going to be cut down to size fairly quickly. If I could give you advice? When you pack your bags, leave your ego outside. Do not pack it.

We in Australia are not impressed by how big your home is, or what series BMW you drive. Though you have a choice of cars here, most people, especially in the smaller towns, go for a Holden or a Toyota (because that’s the dealers who have set up shop there), and often times a buggered up 4×4. A car gets you from A to B and enables you to go driving on the beaches and have a view of some of the most exquisite places on earth.

We are not impressed by what positions you held, or how many businesses you operated. And we are not intimidated by it either.

You do not have to convince us of your reasons to come – whether it be for adventure, because you want to get away from the crime of because of BEE and your children’s future – we who are here get it. But leave it behind when you come. Arrive here with an attitude of new journeys, new adventures, new cultures and above all, a new you.

Your senses will take a beating (a good one). You will see all sorts of people – those with lots of tats (tatoos), with dreadlocks, those from other countries, bikies [motorbike riders], tradies [tradesmen], people in business suits, homeless people, old people, young people, people who do not share your religion, people who have no religion – do not bring your pre-conceived ideas with you regarding ‘those’ people. Everyone here has a story to tell – some show it with tats on their bodies, because their words do not necessarily do the stories justice.

Come humble or you will be humbled. Come with a ‘can do’ attitude and you will be accepted.

And remember – as jy kan lees kan jy presteer – and do not forget to bring your ‘ruggraat’ because that is the only ‘graad’ that you will really need.


Read Marlize’s original post on her blog here.


  1. Well said Marlize. I’ve lived in Australia for nearly 28 and married to a “true blue bloke” who calls everyone “honey”, much to my horror sometimes but it’s never meant to be offensive.
    You also hit the nail on the head about Aussies not always being out to impress everybody, if anything, it’s the opposite, lol!
    I have a degree but have never considered myself better than anyone else and was brought up to treat others how I would like to be treated myself.
    That said, I still have family in S.A. and visit as often as I can, usually every 12-18 months (was just there for Christmas and New Year and loved every minute!) I love my visits, there’s nowhere like it. When I’m back in Oz though, I worry for my family and the future of the country and am so grateful to live in a country where I can come and go at all hours of the day in relative safety.
    I particularly enjoyed your positive comments about Australia, I’ve read too many negative feeds from people who clearly don’t want to be here but have left Sth Africa for a better life. They almost don’t want to assimilate, for whatever reason, and think that gives them the right to criticise the country they chose to make their home.
    Anyway, I really just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your post, didn’t mean to prattle on….

    • Thank you Elaine, much appreciated feedback. My husband and I are the first and only ones of our family here and I do miss my folks terribly. Have not seen them in almost four years. I find that people who have negative things to say about Aussies are often those who always had negative things to say about other cultures as well. Very sad.
      This is a global village after all and there are new things to learn every day.
      Once again, thank you for your comments. I hope to “meet” up with you via my blog as well. And who knows, maybe even one day in person.:)

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