I know that Australia may not seem like a place that will have vast cultural differences, but in my first week alone, I have noticed a few cultural differences between Sydney and the Northeast. Whether it is food, colloquialisms, or general character, there are certain aspects that have made me realize I am no longer in the States.
1) For starters, Aussies walk on the left side of the sidewalk, which is something I need to get used to considering I am always passing people on the right when walking to class on Comm Ave. Jaywalking is also a huge no-no in Australia, so there is no running across the street to get to class on time, like many do in Boston.
2) In general, Americans are faster walkers and talkers, especially when you are from New York like me– we tend to jump into a conversation. In Australia, if you walk up to someone (whether or not you are in a store or asking for directions) and immediately say, “I have a question,” it is considered extremely rude and it will not get you much help. Australians will warm up to you and are more likely to help you if you start a conversation with them and take the time to talk to them before you jump right into asking for what you need. I definitely would like to bring that mindset back with me to the States.
Australians call us “loud Americans,” which is a stereotype I unfortunately fall into. I never realized how loud we actually talk until coming to Australia. You most likely will never hear a local when they are talking to their friend as they walk down the street, but you will undeniably hear the Americans. This stereotype is even more present against the contrast of Australians’ relaxed and mellow attitude compared to us Americans’ loud volumes and high-strung way of life.
3) Australians really do speak their own language! They shorten almost every word they say. My favorite examples include:
- “How you goin?” in place of “Hi, how are you?”
- Afternoon: Arvo
- This afternoon: S’arvo
- Breakfast: Brekkie
- Chocolate: Choccy
Essentially, an Australian slang sentence would be: “I’m going to have a choccy biccy for brekkie and maybe an avo in the arvo.” Translation: I’m going to have a chocolate biscuit for breakfast and maybe an avocado in the afternoon.
4) The portions of food are much smaller than in America and they refer to the courses by different names. In Australia, the appetizers are called entrées and what we would typically consider an entrée is called the main dish.
5) Australians, in general, are very sarcastic and like to poke fun at others, but this actually means that they really like you. If an Aussie is making a joke at your expense, you are fitting in with the group.
Even though I’ve experienced some cultural differences, Australia is an overwhelmingly welcoming and relaxed place. We could learn a few things in America from our friends down under about being friendly!
Laura Jeshiva, Study Abroad Correspondent
Laura Jeshiva is a junior at Boston University studying advertising. She is currently studying abroad in Sydney, Australia where she looks to travel, try new food, and have an internship at an advertising agency. In Boston, Laura is an ambassador for the College of Communication and a member of AdLab.