Challenges You'll Face Moving From the US to Australia

Friday, 27 March 2015

I have wanted to write about my time in Australia for quite a while now. I’ve finally found a chance to sit down and write about this crazy, fantastic experience. I feel I had a very skewed idea of what living in Melbourne would be like. I assumed living here would be like living in SoCal but with sexy Aussie accents. While I’ve been told the Gold Coast is very similar to SoCal, my experience in Melbourne has been a little different. By different, I literally mean four seasons in a day.  Seriously, if you haven’t packed sunscreen, an umbrella, flip-flops thongs, boots, and a scarf, you’re doing Melbourne wrong. Besides the bipolar weather, there have been quite a few adjustments I’ve needed to make. Here is just a small list of some of those things:

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1.     Driving: Obviously! It’s on the opposite side of the freaking road. Oh, yea and everything is in kilometres. I always felt like I was driving WAY too fast. It honestly took me about two months to walk to the correct side of the car and look the right way at a crosswalk. Besides the fact that I’m driving on the left side of the road, there is no difference. The pedals are still in the same places. It's kind of like riding a bike.

2.     Metric system: Celsius, not Fahrenheit, kilometres not miles, meters not feet. You get the picture. It can be insanely confusing. When someone says, it's going to be 26 so wear shorts…my initial thoughts are you’re either a. crazy or b. from the Midwest of America. But no 26 is almost the perfect temperature for a day!

3.     Tipping: It’s not a thing here, and that is absolutely fantastic! However, it was the hardest habit for me to give up. It took every fibre on my being not to leave a tip. It did get easier as restaurant service is nowhere close to what it is in America. Be careful, though. Some places will give you weird looks knowing that you’re American and do not tip. I’ve also had the experience multiple times asking if I was supposed to tip where my friends said no and the person serving/driving/etc. said yes. Dear Australians, please do not lie about the tipping thing. Chances are, American’s probably will still tip. Simply say it's not standard but is always appreciated. Sincerely, Annoyed American.

4.     Food: Since I’ve just brought up tipping it seems appropriate to bring up food. There are similarities. You can find McDonald’s (Maccas), KFC, and Hungry Jack’s (the red-headed stepchild of Burger King. Please, dear god please do NOT make the mistake thinking this will taste just like Burger King even if they are the same company), as well as burger joints and some American products in stores. The first couple times shopping at the market was completely overwhelming. I broke down in tears all because I couldn’t find stuff easily because it was either branded differently or wasn’t a thing in AUS. Have you ever seen a grown woman ball in a supermarket? Not my finest moment. But here are my biggest shocks:
a.     Pepsi and Mt Dew taste awful here! I completely understand why most of the world prefers Coke to Pepsi. I’m American; I should be able to do sweet, but dear lord Mt Dew and Pepsi here take sweet to a whole other level.
b.     Ranch dressing…NOT A THING HERE! You can get bottles at the market, but it's not the good, homemade, buttermilk ranch dressing. You can find the Ranch packets but only at the American market and they’re like $5 in comparison to the 2 for $1 back in the states.
c.      Butterfingers, cookie butter, girl scout cookies, peach rings, Hershey and Hershey with almonds (although you can find the cookies and cream kind), double stuffed oreo’s (cuz ain’t nobody got time for regular Oreos), and other types of candy are borderline near impossible to find or nonexistent. If you do find it, be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for it. If people want to send me care packages of anything listed above, it is greatly appreciated!
d.     Good Mexican food. As a Southern Californian, I have been insanely spoiled with good Mexican food. I have had good Mexican food at one place…just one. Never should I ever order a carne asada burrito at a Mexican restaurant (fast food or otherwise) and be greeted with a look of pure shock like I just spoke French. But it happens, and I’ve tried to adapt. But what I wouldn’t kill for albondigas soup, menudo, tamales, or a lengua burrito from time to time.
e.      Meat Pie:  OMFreakingGOD I have become insanely obsessed with meat pies. In America, at a baseball game, you get a hot dog. In Australia, at a footy match, you get a meat pie. It’s all the amazingness of a chicken pot pie but with beef and no veggies. Just pure meaty goodness!!
f.      Bottle Shops: They have drive-thrus…America, please step up your alcohol selling game. Thank you!

5.     Words: There are a variety of different slang words used here such as: a lot heaps, afternoon arvo, redneck bogan, speedo budgie smuggler, sick crook, crybaby sook, breakfast brekkie, liquor store bottle-o…. Basically, shorten everything or add an "O"/"ie" and you’re pretty much golden. Oh yea, root means something completely different in Australia. I got some peculiar looks when I said I root for the Red Wings….I support the Red Wings….

I’m sure there're heaps of things I haven’t mentioned and will continue to write about in the upcoming posts. If you've ever moved from the US to Australia, what was your experience like?
Until the next time…
Stay curious!