Before moving to Australia I had only a basic idea of what life down under would be like. I had the basic expectations like most foreigners have of the place. I thought they all say “G’day Mate” on the reg, consume “shrimp on the barbie” every weekend, and ride kangaroos to work. Okay, maybe not that last one.
I knew the main cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Alice Springs, however I had somehow never heard of Brisbane, the Gold Coast, or Perth. I knew the Great Barrier Reef was somewhere over here, but was not aware it lined over half of the Queensland coast. I also knew that Australia was its own continent, however I had no idea that is only slightly smaller than the US. So it’s pretty freakin huge!
To say I was naive about this beautiful country is a massive understatement; which is why I decided to dedicate a blog post to the differences between Australia and America that I have noticed within 5 weeks of living here. I’m happy to fill you in on..
- Aussies drive on the opposite side of the road – the left. It’s really not that difficult, but does take some getting used to. And roundabouts. Lots of roundabouts.
- Weather. The seasons are opposite to what all of you in the Northern Hemisphere are used to. The temperature in Rockhampton has averaged around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) since I arrived. Supposedly there is even a whole in the ozone layer somewhere around here, which would make sense seeing as I am peeling at the moment and have never done so in my life. The storms in Rockhampton have also been something to note. The heat lightening is absolutely insane, and I have never had the feeling that thunder could actually cause a building to collapse.
- Slang. To keep it brief, Aussies basically shorten everything with either “o” or “ie.” For example, brekkie (breakfast), arvo (afternoon), chewie (gum), footy (football), and so on. Some words I now use everyday are: togs (swimming suit), nappy (diaper), plat (braid), serviette (napkin), lollies (candy), Maccas (McDonalds), and my favorite, bogan (Aussie version of a redneck).
- Sports. Cricket… sorta like baseball? Rugby… sorta like football? No. And definitely do not assume they are anything alike or you will be in trouble. Both are complicated, as are the leagues for both sports, but I am starting to figure them out a bit.
- Wifi sucks. There is very little free wifi, and even when there is it is most likely not going to work or have three bars at best.
- Food and drink is expensive. Especially Maccas; the girls and I went for brekkie the other day and spent over $30 on just the three of us (see what I did with the slang there). I am also guilty of spending $18 on a poolside pina colada. But it was Valentine’s Day sooooo… treat yoself.
- Drive-thru liquor stores (bottleshops). Yes, they have them here. And they are awesome. However, probably not the best idea to introduce in Wisconsin given the highest rate of OWIs in America.
- Air conditioning. Or “air con” as they call it. I have yet to enter a household that has built-in vents to cool the house faster and more efficiently. Every house and most buildings only have one or two main cooling fans that are supposed to cool the entire building. Queensland experiences over 7 months of above 80 degree weather. Midwest USA spends 3 months at best with weather above 80 degrees, yet has this situation managed significantly better.
- Kohl’s ≠ Coles. Kohl’s = department store. Coles = grocery store. Especially confusing when Coles and Target are in the same shopping center and your’e asked to “grab some milk from Coles on the way out.”
- Money. Aussies utilize the Australian Dollar. Currently $1 Aussie dollar = $0.71 American dollar. The “notes” are color coated and waterproof, which is genius. They don’t have pennies or anything equivalent, and it is amazing because pennies are simply a pain in the ass and useless. Tax is already accounted for in the listed price, so this makes things much easier as well.
- Tim-Tams: Maybe not the most important difference, but is absolutely necessary to be mentioned (in my opinion). These little rectangular chocolate cookies are like crack cocaine. Once you eat one; you WILL eat the entire row of them. I can proudly say I am 6 days clean of Tim Tams and am hoping to stay sober for at least another week.
- Beer. It doesn’t taste like water here. Therefore, no “fridge races” will be taking place anytime soon.**UPDATE** I have now consumed so much beer that even aussie beer now tastes like water. I underestimated myself when I first published this post.
I’m sure I missed some things and will continue to discover more, but this about covers some of the key differences I have noticed thus far. I am happy with these differences. To me, understanding these patterns of doing things differently means that I made it. I made it to Australia, the place I worked so hard for so long to make it to. I’m not only here, but I am experiencing the culture first hand. I may have been naive before leaving Wisconsin, but I’m slowly but surely getting better. This is one of the best parts about traveling; perspectives are broadened, comfort zones are shattered, and lessons are learned about oneself. It’s inevitable. Thanks for stopping by!