We may think Australian and American cultures are similar, but really, they aren’t. The more you hang out in ‘Straya the more you understand the subtle nuances and differences between how they live, love and eat. I’ve been living in Melbourne, Australia for three years and these are what I believe only Americans living in Australia would understand, mate.
1. You’ve eaten kangaroo and thought it tasted okay
Most Americans cringe at the idea of eating a furry fellow like kangaroo. But, living here long enough you’ll have tried it and thought it was okay, maybe even tasty. And if you’re really adventurous you would have tried wallaby and wombat, too.
2. You struggle with saying tomato
The moment you say tomato with an American accent an Australian will generally call you out. I worked in hospitality when I first arrived and customers would howl when I said tomato like an American. I quickly learned to say tomato like an Aussie, just to avoid a ten-minute conversation about where I was from.
3. You realise the letter ‘R’ is nonexistent
Car sounds like ca, bar sounds like ba, water sounds like wata. If you want to sound more like an Australian just remove the ‘r’ from every word.
4. You don’t spell realise with a ‘z’
The letter ‘z’ is replaced with ‘s’ in words like realise.
5. You know you aren’t expected to overwork
With a country motto of ‘No worries,’ you realise that Australians are a lot more laid back when it comes to work than Americans. They get four weeks vacation, instead of two, and that is awesome.
6. You understand ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is a real thing
There isn’t such a massive divide between the rich and poor in Australia as there is in the US. Australians happily live their lives comfortably, without climbing any ladders or stepping on someone to get ahead. Australians don’t care to be better than the person next to them. I found it interesting when I went to see the Lion King in the theatre and very few people stood up for a standing ovation when the cast came out. For me, that was an example of ‘Tall Poppy’.
7. You like Vegemite, when applied to toast properly
You often find Americans eating vegemite by the spoonful in silly YouTube videos. When a thin layer of Vegemite is applied to a buttery piece of toast, it’s actually delicious and loaded with Vitamin B.
8. You say ‘howyagoin?’
I find myself asking ‘howyagoin’ when chatting with friends. Americans say ‘How are you?’ and articulate their words, while Australians are happy to let it all out in one breath. The first time I asked my mom over the phone, ‘howyagoin?’, she had no idea what I said.
9. You don’t own a dryer
Australians don’t often own dryers, and I have to say I’ve learned to be okay with it. My electric bill is much lower.
10. You always have cash when you eat out, because you know restaurants do not split bills or are cash-only.
Almost everywhere you go in the US takes card but Australia has quite a few places that only take cash. Also, when you go out to eat with friends they are not into splitting bills, so you better bring cash or you owe your friend, or they owe you.
11. You make sure you like what you’ve ordered, substitutions are frowned upon
There is so much choice in the US, from salad dressings, vegetables or potato, coleslaw or salad. Australian menus are straight forward and often chefs are not into the idea of you changing anything on their menu. Take it as it is, or leave.
12. You know McDonald’s isn’t that cheap and it’s called Macca’s
$1 cheeseburgers are not a thing in Australia. A meal costs about $10 depending on where you are.
13. Not tipping feels a bit wrong, until you find out hospitality workers are making around $17 an hour
It took me a while to adjust to the fact that Australians don’t tip, but in the service industry, employees are making a pretty good hourly rate.
14. You rarely find WiFi in a cafe in Australia
You go to a cafe to eat or chat. It’s not often you find a cafe that has WiFi, while in the US you can’t find one that doesn’t.
15. You know Starbucks is not a thing and you drink flat whites
Fresh coffee made by a barista is what Australia is all about. Forget about two pumps of caramel sauce or a coffee the size of a gallon jug. Australians, especially Melbournians, take a lot of pride in their coffee expertise.
16. You use your air-con sparingly, and call it air-con
Most places in the US have the air-conditioning on full blast. In Australia, they seem to be more conscious of it. Also, most older houses don’t even have air-con.
17. You know it’s life or death when looking left crossing the road
You will only make the mistake once or twice after almost getting hit by a car because you looked the wrong way. You know your best bet is to look both ways, multiple times, just to be sure before crossing.
18. You now call your fanny pack a bumbag
Fanny does not mean butt in Australia, it means something else. You quickly learn to call it a bumbag after you get a few awkward stares.
19. You know that c*nt is strangely a term of endearment
The ‘C’ word is one of the most foul words you can use in America. However, in Australia it’s a term of endearment. If someone calls you a funny c*nt or a silly c*nt, they actually think you’re great.
20. You know you are weird if you eat out or go to a bar alone
Heading out to a bar alone to meet new people isn’t weird in the US, but for some reason you won’t ever see an Australian sitting at the bar alone. Why that is, I’m not entirely sure.
21. You figured out that dating multiple people at once isn’t cool
Americans date multiple people at once and are fine with it. Australians, not so much. You date one person at a time and don’t even think about hooking up with someone else, until that other fling is over.
22. You know thongs are worn on your feet
Cisco wasn’t singing about sandals in the ‘Thong Song’, but in Australia, thongs are actually worn on your feet and a G-string is the underwear that goes up your butt crack.
23. You realise you can abbreviate most words
University is Uni (aka college), ambo is ambulance, vego is vegetarian. The list goes on. Australians just ‘can’t be bothered’ with saying full words. Who has time for that anyways?
24. Some words you say are not what you think you’ve said
Coriander is cilantro, aubergine is eggplant. Americans say aluminum, while Australians pronounce the whole thing: aluminium. There is a whole lot of words that are completely different and mean the same thing.
25. You now use a ‘u’ when spelling certain words and have to correct your American spell check
Flavour, savour, favour, behaviour. It’s all got a ‘u’. When I’m writing something in Microsoft Word it always underlines the words as misspelled. I need to change my computer to speak Australian, mate.
26. Your friends are now your mates
Which once meant they were your significant other, but your significant other is now your partner, which usually means a significant other in a homosexual relationship. No wonder dating is so challenging.
27. You know you can sit at a table with just a coffee, and you don’t feel bad about it
Since servers make good hourly wages, there is no rush to turn over the table. It’s a great feeling to know you can have a leisurely coffee catch up with a friend without worrying about the server eyeballing you to order food or leave.
28. You respect Australian football because they don’t wear pads, and you know to call it footy
Australian footy players are rough as guts. They don’t wear pads like NFL players do. Footy is huge in Australia, same way the NFL is big in the US.
Here are 15 American habits you need to lose when you move to Australia, as well as 14 must-have phrases we should all be using.
Featured photo credit: Vincent Brown via flickr.com