WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, I thought all Australian guys had sun-kissed skin, blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, and lived their lives on their surfboards. And then I found myself dating an Australian who, for the most part, really couldn’t be fussed going to the beach. He didn’t even like the sand all that much. Each summer I’d be up and ready for the beach, swimmers on and sunblock spread thoroughly (re: not wearing enough for Australian sun), and he’d want to go the mall or to the hardware store.

I was flabbergasted. An Australian who didn’t want to go to the beach?! It seemed like blasphemy, but such is the case when you grow up with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches right at your doorstep every day.

Not only did I learn that not all Australians live their lives at the beach or surfing, but they also don’t use the word “shrimp”…which ruins every American attempt at pretending to be an Australian by saying, “Throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate!”

Here are some other things I learned from dating a True Blue:

1. There is no time more sacred than footy time.

That amazing realization you had at work that day about how yellow is actually your favorite color? It will have to wait; keep any and all conversations to a minimum when footy is on.

You: So excited to hang out with you tonight! xx
Your Boyfriend: Footy tonight!!!. Woo hoo!!!!!

2. Chicken is a vegetarian meal.

I remember pleading for a gradual re-introduction to red meat before I moved to Australia, and I soon learned that I’d have no choice but to love it. Australians love their steak, their snags, their rissoles, their lamb, their meat pies — the list goes on. And on those rare occasions when we didn’t eat red meat and instead went with chicken, I would always hear, “So we’re going vegetarian tonight are we?”

3. Seeing a huntsman spider doesn’t warrant a blood curdling scream.

I remember the first time I saw a huntsman spider. It was the biggest, hairiest spider I’d ever seen, and it was sprinting across the bedroom wall. I screamed like I was being murdered. I may have even blacked out for a second. But a huntsman — though it’s basically the size of a small child — is harmless (duh!), so screaming is totally and completely unnecessary.

4. Kangaroos are pests.

I was — once again — flabbergasted. Kangaroos are pests? But Australians aren’t all too fond of kangaroos. They tear up gardens and farmland in the countryside, and they make nighttime driving dangerous. Whatever. I still think they’re awesome.

5. You’ve gotta embrace the bush.

No, I’m not talking about your bush. I’m talking about the great outdoors. Some love going for hikes or bike rides, and some may love trips “up to the farm,” but if you’re dating an Australian, you’ll learn you’ve gotta get your hands dirty once in a while.

6. Quit your whinging.

There’s no whining or whinging when you’re camping out in the bush or when you don’t want to watch The Footy Show after just watching hours of the actual footy game.

7. Not all Australians surf.

Sadly, ladies, it’s true. Not every single Australian is a surfer.

8. You learn to love — or endure — cricket.

Seriously, what kind of game goes on for days and days and days? But when you’re dating an Australian, you’ll learn to nod when he tells you some really (I mean like really) obscure score, and you’ll learn to live with this never-ending game.

9. Bledisoe, The Ashes, and State of Origin are no joke.

Footy game, cricket match, footy game. Life stops for such events, and you’d better hope Australia (and in the case of State of Origin, your preferred team) wins, otherwise your boyfriend will be one unhappy sports fan.

10. Long words won’t work.

Afternoon (arvo). Suspicious (sus). Flip flops (thongs). Devastated (devo’ed). Darling (darl). Spaghetti bolognese (spag bol). Chicken schnitzel (chicken schnitty). Alexandra (Al). The list goes on.

11. It’s all about Triple J

The only station on in your car ever (if it’s not talk radio about footy of course) will most likely be Triple J. And come Australia Day (one of the holiest days of the year), your entire day will be in synch with the Triple J Hot 100, or a countdown of the 100 best songs that year.

12. He’s true blue.

By the end of your relationship, you’ll learn that your Australian boyfriend is a true blue (and if you’ve ever dated an Australian, cue the True Blue drinking song in your head) always and forever.