When I was picking a place to study abroad, I had a few requirements: a good marine biology program, great weather, and English-speaking. This lead me to Australia, which at first I was worried would be too similar to my home in California.
While there, one of my friends described Australia as “exactly different” from the US. Everything is almost just like in the states, but then it’s slightly off. Some examples….
THINGS THAT ARE THE SAME IN AUS AND USA
1. Everyone is obsessed with coffee. Coffee culture is HUGE here. Which is great, because as a college student, I need the caffeine. But I only saw like 2 Starbucks while I was there, allowing more opportunity to try local coffee shops and order different drinks.
2. The language. Like I said, everyone speaks English! Sure, they all have accents, but it’s still English.
3. The weather. It was winter when I got there, but it’s really similar to winter in San Diego, aka NOT WINTERY. It was 70 degrees daily, but it did get pretty cold at night. Spring was beautiful though, if not a little bit too warm!
THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT IN AUS AND USA
1. The things they order when getting coffee. What is a long black? A flat white? A chai latte literally comes as a pot of hot chai tea, with your own milk to pour in, not the foamy sweet drink Starbucks serves. I ordered a lot of coffee while I was there, but I still couldn’t figure it out. Also, when making coffee at home, everyone does instant coffee. It’s so much more wallet-friendly to buy a massive thing of instant coffee then some grounds.
(For the record, a long black is espresso over hot water, like an Americano, and a flat white is steamed milk over an espresso, like a latte but BETTER.)
2. The language.What is a Jumbuck? Why is a pub called a hotel? Why does everyone say “good night Irene,” why is cotton candy called fairy floss, why is a group of kangaroos a mob, why is Brisbane referred to as Brisvegas? Australians seem to have slang for everything and none of it makes sense.
3. The weather. It’s so humid (unlike in California). Doing anything to my hair was pointless. Also, 70 is cold for Australians. I was terrified for when it got to be summer, because Aussies were walking around in sweaters and boots and I was sweating in shorts and a tank top.
4. The clothes. In Australia, guys wear short shorts and it’s totally normal. The girls also tended to dress nicely all the time. To go into uni girls would dress up like it was an important occasion, which was a nice change from the pajamas we sometimes see at Berkeley.
My experience abroad made me realize that there were tons of differences between Australia and the US even though I wasn’t expecting there to be many! It made me appreciate my host country and my home country so much more.