Australian Oddities (From the Perspective of an American): Part 2

Since it’s coming to the end of my Australian adventures, I figured it was time for the second (and final) post about how Aussie life is different from America. Lets jump right to it, shall we?

6. Holidays

There’s something strange about seeing Christmas trees and swimming suits appear in the department stores at the same time. I walked into K-Mart the other day, and holiday greenery’s were being set up straight across from an entire bikini land.

From what I’ve seen and been told, Halloween goes largely uncelebrated here, and Thanksgiving (obviously) is non-existant… so all of the usual reds, oranges, and yellows of fall never made their appearance. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the leaves will still be on the trees, and I’ll be able to get my dose of fall colors when I get home! It’s October, probably my favorite month of the year, but it’s missing that October feel! (That and there’s no Edy’s Slow Churned Pumpkin Ice Cream… or anything pumpkin flavored for that mater… Oh, the humanity!)

They also obviously have their own national holidays, such as Australia Day, ANZAC Day, and Sorry Day.

7. Calendar Dates

Don’t get me wrong, they still have the same calendar and it still works the same way, but it’s as if someone jumbled up the dates and pasted them where they saw fit. The first Sunday in October, the clocks are turned ahead an hour, and the first Sunday in April they’re put back an hour. Daylight savings time is not the same as it is in the US, and makes figuring out the time change to talk to family and friends a jumble sometimes. The world clock on your phone will become your best friend! To complicate things further, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia do not observe daylight savings time.

Father’s Day is also on a completely different date. Fathers are celebrated on September 7th, while mothers get a relaxing day on May 11th (the same as in the United States).

8. Addressing Professors

In the USA, unless you’re very familiar with your professors, have a close relationship with them, and/or they have explicitly told you to refer to them by their first name, you generally address them as Professor or Dr. So-and-So. Here, you call your professor by their first name. It’s a very casual and open relationship. Oddly, I find it can make them somewhat more approachable. In a sense, there’s no formality to worry about. Walt Disney might of been on to something when he decided Cast Members should all display their first names on their name tag.

9. Terminology (Round 2)

And yes, more Aussie slang… I’m going to miss the confusion of the English language… Who’s to say one is right and the other wrong? I must admit, I’m still entertained by listening to some people talk…

Catch ya…= See ya’ later/Goodbye

Fair dinkum= true/fair/genuine

Fair enough= Oh, okay/I get it/That makes sense

Sunnies= Sunglasses

Stubbie holder= beer koozie

Macca’s= McDonald’s

Capsicum= red or green pepper

Bench= countertop/desktop/kitchen counter

Lollies= suckers or candy

Brekkie= breakfast

Practical or Prac= labs

Trolly= shopping cart

Nappie= diaper

Half past= 30 minutes past the hour

Bathers= swimming suit

Mum= Mom

I’m going to miss all the fun linguistic word play!

10. Time Zones

Yes, we have time zones back in the US. The time of day changes by the hour as you drive east to west and vise versa, but in some places in Australia, you have a 30 minute time difference. When I went to the Outback and drove up to Darwin, I had to set my watch a half hour ahead of Melbourne time. I always thought time zones changed by the hour, but Australia proved me wrong.

I learned a lot about the culture and the beauty of the land (and sea). I’m sure there are things I missed and/or forgot to cover, but those are the “major” things. All in all, the differences between Australia and the United States are rather miniscule. It has been a lot of fun though to compare and contrast. So very different but so very much the same!


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