9 Things an American Learns After Visiting Australia

Ameristralia? Please. After spending five weeks in Australia, I can definitely consider myself an expert (okay, not really) when it comes to the differences between the United States and Australia and how each has its perks and pitfalls in its own right.

1. “How are you going?”

When my cousin first asked me this, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I don’t know – I’m walking right now? After some confused stares, I realized this meant, “How are you doing?” This is a very popular country-wide phrase, I assume, as I heard it in Melbourne, Sydney, and Darwin.

2. Australia has beautiful wildlife.

When I first landed in Melbourne, I was astounded by the rainbow-colored rosellas and bright white cockatoos. They made American cardinals and blue-jays look like cuckoo-clock pieces. Australia has other famous wild animals, of course, such as koalas, kangaroos, and kookaburras, but the country is also loaded with wild emus, wombats, dingoes, buffalos, and the world’s happiest animal: the quokka. The main point that I took away from Australia’s wildlife is that these animals would only be found in the zoo in America.

3. Australia isn’t “welcoming”

Don’t take this the wrong way, Australia. I love you and you’re definitely welcoming. But why oh why doesn’t anybody ever say, “You’re welcome”? Any time I thanked a server, their first response was, “No worries.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that… well, I do find it a little annoying. Just say, “You’re welcome”, okay?

4. Americans say, “Excuse me” or “Pardon” a lot.

Another bone to pick with Australia: Why doesn’t anyone ever say, “Excuse me” or “Sorry” when bumping into another person? I can’t count the number of times I was in a crowd in Sydney and acknowledged an accidental bump without getting anything in return. You hurt me bad, Australia. You hurt me bad.

5. America is very… America.

Being in Australia made me think about how strange America is to the rest of the world. Most other countries aren’t obsessed with peanut butter (I mean, Americans add peanut butter to everything and consider it an improvement!) nor do they use dryers for their clothes. Thankfully Australia is mostly warm/ungodly hot and can use good old Mother Nature for all their clothe-drying needs. It amazed me how necessary it is to have a dryer in my life when the majority of people don’t even own one let alone use it. And can you get on it with the metric/Celsius systems, USA? Jeez.

6. Australia’s toilet water doesn’t spin.

I was all excited when I finally got the chance to see which way the water spins in Australian toilets. It’s a huge urban myth in America that its spins the opposite way. So I was completely surprised when the toilet water did the exact opposite of what I expected: it just seemed to shoot down very quickly. There was no spinning that I could detect – the hole just opened and down rushed the water. Talk about a let-down.

7. Australian shopping centers close at 5PM most days.

This just seemed crazy to me. What do you mean the Chadstone shopping center closes in ten minutes? Then it hit me: America doesn’t care about you spending time with your family. America wants to milk you for all you’re worth until 11PM every day.

8. Australians are generally thinner than Americans.

Most people already know that America is full of… big-boned people. I guess I’m just so used to seeing such big and tall men and women that it was like a breath of fresh air to be around people who can actually fit into skinny jeans. Even the customers in Macca’s (McDonald’s) were pretty fit.

9. America is obsessed with its girlfriend Penny.

The coin with the lowest worth in Australia is 5 cents. When your payment is an amount that doesn’t end in a 5, the business either rounds the total up or down to the nearest $.05 – and everybody wins. If the penny were done away with in the US, there would be chaos. Utter chaos.

Looking at all the differences, I think America could learn a lot from Australia!

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