I have a friend who was born in Canada, but immigrated to Australia with his family in his early teens. Consequently, he knows a lot about what might surprise Canadians coming to Australia for the first time. When I first talked about visiting Australia, he told me that Australians would most likely shorten my name, Teresa, to “Tezza”. I was skeptical at first, and thought this was ridiculous. Sure, Aussies shorten a lot of words, but the idea that they would call me Tezza painted a caricature of Australian culture rather than a realistic image in my mind. I figured my friend was making a joke and forgot about the issue.
It wasn’t until my third trip to Australia that people really started calling me Tez. I may have heard it once or twice before then, but it wasn’t until I lived in Jindabyne that I heard it enough to internalize it. I don’t even flinch when I hear it anymore. In fact, I quite like having an Australian moniker. It’s almost like having a different identity for a different continent. I wonder what people will call me if I ever visit Asia or South America?