Observations from abroad: Australia


Melanie Marino, writer

This past Fall Break, I made the long journey to Australia.

After the exhausting 20-hour flight, we arrived in Australia, and I was surprised to see that the general appearance of the area was pretty similar to America.

As I continued my stay, however, I realized that there are a lot of stark differences between Australia and the good ol’ USA.

Here are some observations and some cool facts I leaned about the land down under.

Australians drive on the “wrong” side of the road. No matter how many times I rode in a taxi or bus, it was just so absurd seeing the steering wheel on the right side of the car and the passenger seat in the left. After learning to drive in America, I think it would be insanely hard to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road.

How ya going?” When I first overheard someone saying this phrase I was pretty confused, but I learned that it’s just the way that Aussies say “how are ya” or “how are you doing.”

Watch out for kangaroos on the road! Living in Tennessee, it’s common knowledge to watch out for deer while driving and to be careful not to hit the occasional possum or skunk crossing the road at night. In Australia, especially in the more rural/country areas, kangaroos and occasionally koalas venture out on to the road during the later hours of the day.

There are penguins in Australia! When you think of penguins, you probably picture them living in icy Antarctica, all huddled up in the snow. Most people often forget that penguins live in warmer weather too. St. Kilda beach in Melbourne, Australia, is one of the places that you can go and see penguins in the wild for free! It is easily accessible and rarely crowded, so it’s a great place to visit if you ever take a trip to Australia.

Australian slang. While in Australia, I leaned some new words. Brekkie- breakfast, Macca’s -McDonald’s (that’s how it’s written on the signs too), toilet- the bathroom, lift- elevator, Chemist- the pharmacy, Aussie- Australian, Kiwi- New Zealander, thongs- flip flops, barbie- barbecue, chips- French fries.

“G’day mate!” Although it seems kind of cliche, people actually say “mate” a lot in Australia. They also use the term “love” when talking to women and girls. Those terms are used when talking to a friend or even to a new acquaintance.

European influence. If you’ve been to Great Britain or places around Europe, you’ll find that Australia shares many similarities. Many of the terms and slang that I’ve mentioned from Australia can be found in Great Britain as well, and the European influence is also clear in the food and architecture. Much of this influence came about because Australia is a commonwealth under Queen Elizabeth.

Overall, traveling to Australia was an amazing experience, and I recommend it to anyone who loves adventure and learning about new cultures.

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