I am getting pretty close to spending 3 months in Australia. Over this time, I have noticed some subtle differences between here and the states. I would like to take some time to acknowledge some differences and similarities between the two:
Little Differences Between Australia and America
(1) Well the obvious, Aussies drive on a different side of the road than the states. I have finally gotten used to looking in the right direction when I cross the road. I am in so much trouble when I finally do come home.
(2) Aussies very rarely dry their clothes in a dryer. Everything is air dried. It’s a pain when it’s raining but makes so much sense when it’s nice out. Think of all the electricity that they save!
(3) There’s a definite sensitivity towards water usage here. I have learned to wash my dishes differently here than at home. Most homes I have stayed at have two sinks: one to fill with warm soapy water and the other to rinse. Short showers are also emphasized. Oh - and the toilets here have two flushing buttons. One is a half flush and the other is full flush. I think you can figure out which is for which J
(4) Want tea? Use the electronic kettle! Actually this is what most places in the world do for hot water. I don’t know why us Americans are so old school putting our kettles on the stove to heat our water. It is so much easier to use these electric ones. Mental note: purchase one of these when I get home.
(5) Less free wifi then other places in the world. It can be a bit annoying when you travel.
(6) Salvation and charity shops galore! No matter what town I go to I can always count on a charity and secondhand book shop. Very nice for the backpacking budget.
(7) Spelling/pronunciation of words and slang. Words are spelled here as they do in England. For instance honors vs. honours. I know I have been here a long time because I am staring to look at the American spelling of words and thinking that they aren’t spelled correctly. I am also starting to spell words in “proper English” as well. As mentioned before, I am in a heap of trouble when I get back. Also, I could go on and on over all of the abbreviations Aussies use. They like to shorten a word and put an o or ie at the end of it. To list a few: Salvo (salvation sarmy), Povo (poverty), pressie (presents), chrissie (Christmas), Maccas (Mc Donalds), Sunnies (sunglasses), cozzies (swim costume), uni (university) and so on and so on. Other words that sometimes throw me are “docket” for a receipt and “serviette” for a napkin. I have also learned some great insulting slang such as calling something “shithouse” if it sucks or telling someone to “take a teaspoon of cement and harden the f### up” if they are being a pansy.
(8) Aussies use their cutlery different from Americans. In fact, most of the world does. Perhaps you will understand this if you have spent time with non-Americans. When us Yanks eat a meal we will use our knife to cut, then put it down and put our fork back into our right hand. Most other people keep their knife and fork in their hands all the time, rarely putting it down. Often they will try to combine the different food on their plate on their fork at once instead of eating the food separately. If you ask me, it’s a much more polite way to eat your food. I have started to attempt to eat like that as well just because I think it’s fun to eat differently. I know, call me a tool.
(9) Usually the food is of high quality when you eat out....although you do pay for it.
(10) The beaches here are, hands down, some of the best I have seen in the world. I always defended the Jersey shore growing up. Sorry Jersey, but your beaches have nothing on the golden brown sand and deep blue water of the Australian coast. And they are free.
(11) It’s more expensive here. Especially beer, even if you buy it at the bottle-o (liquor store). Petrol is over five dollars a gallon.
(12) Baseball is nowhere to find, it’s all about the cricket. I have watched quite a few cricket games. They are really long. I am trying to figure them out.
(13) The bugs are insane. They are either massive like the huntsman spider, or painful like the bull ants. I don’t think I have ever been bitten so many times by mossies (mosquitoes).
(14) The birds here are more exotic – and make funny noises. All fine and good until you hear the squawking of kookaburras at 4 in the morning.
(15) If you are a new driver on the road you have to have an extra square plate displayed on the back of your car. It has a P or L on it depending on how long you have been driving. So when a car comes flying up the road and cuts you off you can blame it on their provisional driving skills. I heard they were thinking of doing something like this back in Jersey.
But there are a lot of similarities between the countries as well. More so than I would have guessed. Some similarities are:
(1) You are screwed if you don’t have a car. If you live in a major city you are okay. If you don’t, forget it. You can bus it to an extent but even getting around in a smaller town can be quite difficult if you don’t have wheels.
(2) Australian TV = American TV. Pretty much all of their shows and sitcoms are American, with exception to the news. Scratch that - I can even catch the American today show here in Australia. Let me tell you, Matt Lauer never looked more glorious J Similarly Australian films = American films. I have no problem keeping tabs on what is going on at home here. As I write this I am watching an NFL game.
(3) Many American restaurants and shops are here. I can get Subway, McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, and Burger King (even though they call it Hungry Jacks here).
(4) The weekends are the big nights out. People love to go clubbing.
(5) Families are especially important here. People love to get together and have barbeques with the family on the weekends.
(6) Smoking is banned everywhere inside. This is good because I am pretty sure all the second hand smoke I got in Europe and China has taken a full year off of my life. Good to come home from a bar and not smell like an ashtray J
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge all of the amazing food that I have had in this country (another thing to blame for the weight gain ha ha)
(1) Tim Tans: These rectangular chocolate cookies covered in icing that are to die for. They are like crack cocaine. Seriously, once you start you cannot stop. I am proud to say I am now 2 weeks off of the Tim Tams. Let’s see if I can go longer.
(2) Vegemite/Promite: Okay, at first I hated the stuff but I learned it’s because I didn’t eat it properly. You put butter on your toast then put a thin spread of the stuff on. Not a bad brekkie (breakfast).
(3) Pavlova: Delicious meringue cake with a sugar coating and fruit on top. Sickingly sweet.
(4) James Boags Beer: In my opinion the only decent mainstream Aussie beer worth drinking. And it’s Tasmanian!
(5) Lamington Cakes: These small chocolaty, rectangular cakes covered in coconut shavings. Yum!
(6) Crunchie Bars and Violent Crumble Bars: Honeycomb covered in chocolate.
(7) Honeycomb and chocolate Supa Shakes: Comes in a carton, you shake it up, instant delciousness.
(8) Northern Territory Iced Coffee: In most places you can buy coffee falvoured milk in any convenience store. My favourtie is the Northern Territory because it tastes just like the Starbucks Frappuccino drinks you can get at the supermarket at home.
(9) Gala and Fiji apples: Okay you can get these at home but think about where they usually come from: New Zealand and Australia! They taste even better here.
(10) Chicken parmesan. Yes you can get it at home but it tastes so much better here. And the size of it is massive. There are so many places that advertise the biggest or the best in the country.
(11) Meat pies and sausage rolls: Whoever thought of combining pastry and meat was a genius.
I’m sure there are other things that I am missing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking America. There are quite a few things at home that I have come to miss. But I have come to really like all these little differences. There are many times where this country seems very similar to the states, but then I catch a glimpse of the Australian flag waving in the wind and I can’t help but have a sensational emotion run through my body. Looking at that flag reminds me that I am here, in this country, thousands and thousands from home on the other side of the globe. I am so glad that I made it here.