Before I start, check out the illustration above by Melbourne, Australia artist Jimmy Gleeson! It's apparently part of a book, and I want it.
Since changing my life from a regular US citizen who stayed in Florida for most of her life to an other-side-of-the-world traveler who uprooted her life to live abroad in Australia, I've learned quite a few things that are different than the US over the years. Some of the things I've shared with friends shocked them when they realized how things are different, but seem so similar.
Here's just a few things I've learned recently:
1. How to Drive on the Left Side of the Road & Other Driving Rules
This was one thing I was dreading having to learn. If you know me at all, you'd know I hate being out of my comfort zone and trying new things that are scary. This was highly nerve wrecking at first, especially since I thought I would have to learn driving on the other side of the road in a manual, which I don't know how to do. Oh, and in a massive SUV too. However, we were lucky enough to borrow an automatic for almost a full year and I was able to learn in a small automatic car. *phew* This still didn't take away all the nervousness, it just took some getting used to. I was constantly veering too close to the left side oddly enough, most would veer to the right more. I had to learn to "hug the right line" as best as I could. Roundabout intersections took some getting used to, especially the multiple lane ones. (Basically, an intersection where you yield, or give way, to the right without traffic lights.) There is no left on a red light, unless you have a give way lane. (It's basically like US "No Turn on Red," but like all the time.) Oh, and in case you didn't notice, they say "Give Way" instead of "Yield."
2. Aussie Footy/Football is NOT the Same as American Football
They call it footy here, which is basically short for football. It's not like soccer, which is football in almost all other countries besides the US, and it's not American football. The Aussie's have their own football. It took me going to a footy game in person and with someone who is a footy agent to help understand the goal of the game. I've watched it quite a lot the past 3 months because of my boy, and I'm understanding it better. I won't go into detail, because you'll just get confused if you don't watch it. However, the field reminds me of a Quidditch field and you want to kick the ball into the middle section of the poles.
3. There are Widely Used Nicknames for Anything
Slang in Australia, this is something that's taking a while for me to figure out. You've got words that majority of the people use, like footy (football), bogan (Aussie redneck basically), arvo (afternoon), brekky (breakfast), and such. There's also nicknames for places in the city, like suburbs. My boy was telling me we need to go to "Subi" and I was getting so confused, then I found out he mean "Subicao." (Can we just use the real words?) Seems like everyone has their own nickname and almost sounds like a foreign language when they all get together, even though we all speak English.
4. You Will Get Laughed at for Your Accent, But All in Good Fun
Yep, we sound completely different to them and the Aussies pronounce words not like us and not always like the British. I'm always mispronouncing places because they don't sound like they're written. The biggest difference I've noticed, and been teased about a bit, is Americans over emphasizes the R sound in words and the Aussie under emphasize them. But the teasing is all in good fun and never meant to be cruel, so no worries.
5. It's a Very Laid Back CultureLaaaaaaid back and easy going. Majority of this country, from what I've noticed, is an extreme of this than the US. In the US, I was always paranoid of locking all doors to everything, observing my surroundings, make sure I'm not being followed, always staying on brightly lit roads, etc. Now in some areas in Australia you would want to keep precaution like that, but I've been mainly in areas you don't have to worry as much. (As opposed to me being paranoid everywhere in the US.) I always go on about taking precaution and double checking things, and my boy just laughs. I've had to learn to ease up a bit, but I'm paranoid by nature.
Hopefully nothing I've said has scared you off and only encouraged you to visit this lovely country. It's different, but in a good way and not a culture shock.