Things to know before coming to Australia.

The top 20 (good and bad) things you should know before coming to Australia.

1. Bacon

The absolute number one thing you should prepare yourself for. There is no real bacon, here. And they all refuse to admit it/are in denial. Honestly their bacon is pretty good it just tastes more like ham.

(Mom please stock the fridge with real bacon for my return)

Fake bacon. Ew.

Fake bacon. Ew.

Good, American bacon

Good, American bacon

2. Birds

You see those birds everywhere? Yeah, they aren’t afraid of you, probably because most of them could eat you. Beware of the birds, even their noises are menacing, often resembling something closer to a screaming child than a songbird.

3. Politically Incorrect

This is a big one and can take some time to get used to. The way it was explained to me is that Aussies make fun of everyone equally, and without filter, but in fun, real intolerance is frowned upon. Basically it’s ok to poke fun or use vulgar language, but actions of bigotry are not tolerated.

People are very casual. Emails are friendly and informal, and everyone goes by first names. Even uni professors prefer their students to address them by first name.

In Cairns we took a bus tour through the rainforest and our tour guide was a great example of Aussie humor; she was blunt, outgoing, and hilarious. At the beginning we did introductions and she told us to “say your story: your name, where you’re from, why you’re here, are you single if not I don’t really care, and how do you wipe your ass? Do you stand? Are you a scruncher? A folder? Ah, these guys are from Germany, they’re definitely folders!”

She was right.

It took awhile to get used to the brashness of how people talk, but after awhile it’s rather refreshing. People here genuinely don’t get offended easily and the laid back lifestyle is prominent.

4. The sun really is hotter

Nobody believes it at first, but the sun is noticeably stronger here. Apparently the ozone is almost non-existent above Oz and there’s not much filtering the sun from your skin. I’m here for the winter and still managed to burn my cheeks on a relatively nice day. If you’re coming for the summer (switched seasons remember) get out the sunblock.

The government launched a charming little cartoon public safety campaign in case you’re still not convinced…

5. Kangaroos

Aussies don’t like kangaroos. This one shocked me. kangaroos are an overpopulated nuisance and in rural areas are real problems on roads. They also eat kangaroo, which, although delicious, still doesn’t sit right with me.

Kangaroo Crossing

6. GST

What a smart country to include General Sales Tax in advertised prices. Everywhere. When you see something listed at $5, that’s how much it will cost you. Beautiful.

7. Tipping

Another great thing is that people here rarely tip. With a minimum wage around $17/hour, even for servers and taxi drivers, it’s not really necessary. If you feel you’ve received incredible service feel free to tip, but it is never expected. With how expensive everything is, this helps.

8. Takeaway

“Take-out”, “to go”, and “doggie bag” are foreign terms and using them will get you a blank stare. Takeaway is offered almost everywhere and can sometimes cost you less than sitting down. It’s tricky because they don’t really broadcast that anywhere, some places you’ll just find a sit-in fee tacked on to your total.

9. Opossums

My first week in Oz I was sitting on a bench with a friend waiting for a bus, and a cute little furry guy came over to say hi. The friendly little thing even let me pet him before scurrying away.

Later I was explaining this to an Aussie and they said “oh yeah, that was an opossum.” No way that adorable little creature was a snarling ugly opossum, it took a thorough google search to realize that American opposums and Aussie opossums are completely different animals.

Freaky American Opossum

Freaky American Opossum

Adorable Aussie Opossum

Adorable Aussie Opossum

Talk about evolution.

10. Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King)

When Burger King tried to make their way to Australia, they found there was already a Burger King restaurant that had rights to the name. They offered them a very large amount of money…but McDonald’s offered them more to not give it up to BK and they accepted. So Hungry Jacks was born, same menu same logo and look, but still being laughed at by McDonalds (Mackie’s).

11. Lemonade

Lemonade is Aussie word for Sprite. Whether in mixed drinks or plain they call sprite lemonade. What’s even more upsetting is they don’t have real lemonade so they don’t even know what they’re missing.

12. Toilets

If you ask someone for a restroom or bathroom they will either look back confused, or lecture you on why you’re resting or bathing in there. I know it’s hard to ask where the toilet is, especially at a nice restaurant or work, but just man up and say it. It’s not weird to anyone but you.

13. Preservatives

The food here is a lot fresher and they use much less preservatives than in the states. The only thing I really noticed is that bread molds very quickly (like 3 days) so beware.

14. Count your coins

Rather than notes, Aussies use coins for $1 and $2, also the $2 one is really small and deceiving. It’s hard to use if you’re not familiar with it, so keep track of how much you’re carrying in change and don’t be afraid to pay with it.

Australian Coins

15. Domestic Air

Air travel around Australia might be my new favorite thing. There are no lines, no security from hell, and no worries. Both times I’ve flown here I’ve been sitting at my gate with my boarding pass around 10 minutes after entering the airport.

16. Really expensive everything

Everything costs a lot, like a ton, so be prepared for the extra expenses. Average dinner out I would put at around $30. Alcohol is the worst, even from bottle shops (liquor stores) it’s hard to find a 6 pack under $20.

17. Coles and Woolworths

Your cheapest options for groceries are Coles and Woolworths (Wollie’s), IGA is everywhere but you’ll be paying a bit more. Coles also does free delivery on Wednesday, which couldn’t be more convenient, and I’ve found lower prices on their online catalog than in stores.

Another confusing thing: in the states Khol’s is a department store and Meijer is a grocery store, in Oz, Coles is a grocery store and Myer is a department store.

18. Hotels

Hotels are not hotels; they are actually bars or pubs, some of which have rented rooms upstairs. Motels are the places people stay at. Point is, if someone asks you to meet at a hotel, it’s not weird.

19. Tim Tams

Tim Tams are the oreos of Australia and are honestly pretty amazing. Rumor has it that they’re introducing a peanut butter line of Tim Tams but that might be too overwhelmingly delicious so we’ll see.

For an extra kick try the Tim Tam Slam: bite off the tips at either end and use it as a straw with hot chocolate (or coffee if that’s your thing), then put the whole chocolate-soaked goodness in your mouth. You will not be disappointed.

Tim Tam Slam!

Tim Tam Slam!

20. Learn to speak Aussie

In general, Aussie’s are pretty lazy with speech and like to add vowels to the end of their words. There are tons of differences, here’s the most essential that you should familiarize yourself with.

American – Aussie

Fries – Chips

Flip Flops – Thongs

Rednecks – Bogans

Bar – Hotel

Speedo – Budgie smuggler

Bell Peppers- Capsicums

Candy – Lolly

Butt – Bum

Fannypack – Bum bag (fanny pack has a VERY different meaning here)

Hiking – Bushwalking

Drug Store – Chemist

Duvet – Doona

Mosquito – Mozzy

Drunk – Pissed

Wall outlet – Powerpoint

College – Uni

Australia – Oz

Cookies – Biccies

Chocolate – Choccy

Cotton candy- Fairy floss

Popsicle – Icy pole

Shrimp – Prawns


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