18 Strange Observations of America

(from an Australian Living in the USA)

Statue of Liberty, USA
America! You’ve seen it on TV, in the movies, you think you know the USA but you really don’t until you live there. I’ve seen a few of these articles floating about but usually written from an American perspective- for example an American might move to a small European country and write about it, or perhaps an American might even visit Australia and write about the strange accents and the wildlife. That kind of makes sense, because after all the USA is a very populous and very vocal country. But I thought it might be interesting to write about what it’s like for a foreigner (in this case an Australian, ie, moi) to live in American society. I’ve lived in the US now in two separate areas, firstly in Delaware (Dela-where?) where I did a research project at the University of Delaware and lived the college life for a while. More recently I’ve worked setting up solar cell production lines in Portland, Oregon on the US West Coast. Believe me when I say that the US is one of the most amazing, diverse and strangest places. Here are the things that surprised me as an Australian living in the USA.

There is a follow up article to this article:  My Close Encounters with Australian Wildlife: Part 1- Spiders and Snakes

18. They Still use Cheques

Or as they call it, “checks”. I remember when I was a kid, my dad had a cheque-book. “What are you doing there Dad?” I’d ask. “I’m writing a cheque,” he’d reply. By the time I was old enough to have my own bank account, cheques had gone the way of the dodo. But when I moved to Portland, I was surprised when my property agent told me I had to pay my rent by cheque. “Let me get this straight,” I said. “Every month, I have to put a cheque in an envelope, go to the post office and post it to you?”
“That’s right.”
“Why can’t I just set up an automatic monthly transfer from my internet banking?”
I was met with a blank stare. “Hmm. I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of such a facility. We always pay our rents with a cheque.”
A couple of times, I got late fees because my rent cheques didn’t arrive on time. I was pretty mad about this. “How am I to know that the post office was going to take so long to get it to you?”
“That’s not our problem, sir. You need to remember to post your cheques well in advance.”
I often would see customers in the supermarket paying for their groceries with cheques. Definitely not something you would see in Oz. Given the US’s technological prowess, I was surprised that their banking was still in the stone age.

California, USA
Somewhere in California, USA

17. They Have Loads of Dangerous Animals but Worry About Australia’s Snakes and Spiders

In the US, you can be gored by a grizzly bear, trampled by a bison, torn to shreds by a coyote, bitten by a bobcat, chowed on by a cougar, or disembowelled by a panther… yet they kept asking me how I deal with Australia’s “dangerous wildlife”! Yeah, those kangaroos and koalas are pretty scary…

16.The Internet is Fast… Really Fast

The US has the best internet in the world. And why not, since they invented it. And nobody from the internet company will ever ask you how much you need your download limit to be. It’s always unlimited. Brilliant. I realise though this says more about the shoddiness of Australian internet than anything else…

EDIT: This point has caused some controversy in the comments, not about which country has the fastest internet but about who invented it. If you think the British invented the internet, you’re wrong. Tim Berners Lee, a Brit,  “invented” the World Wide Web, while the Internet grew out of a network built by ARPA in the USA. If you don’t know the difference between the web and the internet, how on earth did you manage to be reading this now?

15. People are Super Friendly and Polite

I don’t know why, but I assumed that they might be brash and brusque. When my first American waitress called me “darling” and was nice as pie, I thought she was just angling for a better tip. But then the lady at the supermarket was nice, and so were people at other places where you don’t normally give tips. Then I got in an elevator and a man said “It’s a lovely day isn’t it!” And a bum yelled to me as I walked past on the street, “Hey mister! Your shoelaces are untied! You don’t wanna trip and fall do you?” In Australia, or at least in Sydney, an stranger that talks to people randomly is safely (and sadly) assumed to be insane, or annoying. In America everyone talks to you. It’s the norm. I love that. Americans that I met at work or college would be instantly inviting me to parties or on snowboarding trips. They might sometimes end up being flaky or unreliable in the long term, but at least you have the opportunity to make friends early. Some of those friends have given me more love and support than I ever knew back home in Australia. Also, America is the only place where I’ve sat in a park (in Portland), feeling glum and lonely and depressed, and had a homeless man walk up to me in his rags and say “Don’t worry man. Everything’s gonna work out.” That blew my mind.

14. People Want to Know Your Political Opinion Right Away

Statue of Liberty, New York City, USA, America
America…… America….

As the old saying goes, “opinions are like anuses- everyone’s got one”. But Americans are REALLY opinionated. And they want to know what you think about the government, about politics, about current issues. A typical conversation might go like this:”Hi I’m Matt. Nice to meet you.”
“The name’s Bob. Where you from Matt?”
“Sydney, Australia.”
“Oh I see. You’ve come a long way. So what’s your take on Obamacare?”
During my driving test to get my Oregon licence, the examiner said “There’s a lot of bums in Portland huh. Obama wants to give ’em all a handout.” I sat there in silence, not knowing quite how to reply. “I don’t think some people in this country understand just what socialism really means,” he continued. Oh no. Now I really had to bite my tongue lest I jeopardise my test outcome. “Anyway,” he said finally, “I’m not supposed to have an opinion. Congratulations, you passed.”
In Australia, I’ve known blokes for years and been shocked when they mentioned something about voting for John Howard at a previous election. “You voted for Howard?” I’d ask incredulously. “I thought you were progressive?”
“Yeah but I dunno, he seemed like a good politician.”
Needless to say there are many things that come into conversation long before politics in Australia….. beer, the surf conditions, the football results, girls (not necessarily in that order!)


13. People Think Owning Guns is Normal

I worked for a solar company. You might think that people that work for a solar company might lean slightly to the left on most issues. But I never caused such an office brouhaha as the day I brought up the issue of gun control at work. Half the office argued in favour of greater controls, the other half wanted to wring my neck for even mentioning that better controls might be a good idea. There was one guy at work who had a screensaver on his computer with beautiful photos of ducks. Beautiful colours, beautiful feathers, ducks in the pond, in the air, ducks in different settings. How nice, I thought, this guy must love ducks. He probably has some as pets or something. No, it turned out he loved to SHOOT ducks! Nothing thrilled him as much as seeing a beautiful duck in the air, as seeing that same duck lying motionless on the ground minutes later. Oh, and going back to my driving test- I read the test manual and was amused to see the sentence “No firearms are permitted in the car during the test.” How funny, I thought, that’s something you wouldn’t see on an Australian test manual. As it turned out my car broke down on the day of the test and I was forced to borrow my colleague Dan’s car. I was backing out of the parking lot at work when I noticed some rags in the door pocket. I looked underneath to find two pistols and a load of bullets rolling around! I went back inside the office and dragged Dan out. “Don’t worry”, he said, packing four or five rifles into the back of the car and covering them with a towel. “Just don’t let the examiner look under the towel.”
“What if they go off?” I asked.
“Gee relax!” he said, “None of them are loaded! You Aussies are so up-tight!”

12. The Toilets are Full of Water

I know everyone notices this but it’s really quite strange and I’ve never seen this type of toilet anywhere else. A veritable swimming pool of water greets you when you open the toilet lid and when you flush, it all goes down the drain in a huge rotating whirlpool. For all the guys out there, who try to find the “silent spot” on the bowl in the middle of the night, you can forget it in the US. When you get up in the middle of the night it will sound like Niagara Falls and ALL of your roommates will know you’re having a slash. My Uncle Rob swears that in his older age his undercarriage hangs low enough to get a wash when he flushes in the US. I’m not sure whether to believe him.

11. They Eat and Drink Like There’s No Tomorrow

Burger time fast food USA
Burger time USA

In the USA, with every second TV show having the word “food” in the title, it’s not hard to tell that eating is a national obsession. It seems like every restaurant, diner and fast food place is competing to have the biggest portions and the biggest of everything. This is in stark contrast to Australia where going out to dinner seems to involve a huge almost empty plate with two mouthfuls of food on it. And in the US you never run out of iced tea or coke because the waitress dutifully fills it up again if she notices it less than half full. Again not something you’d see in Australia- if you want another (usually tiny) glassful, you’d be expected to pay for a second one. Not that you really need a second glass in the US, because the sizes of soft drink/soda are HUUUUGGE! What the rest of the world would call “large”, is the smallest possible size in the US. And the large has to been seen to be believed. I would consider it more a bucket than a cup. But people do buy it, and they do consume the lot – I would see work colleagues slurping back the cups of Coke or 7Up or Mountain Dew at work. They’d slurp and slurp for maybe an hour, but they’d finish it. I shudder to think of the calories ingested. If you order a soft drink the US, do not order anything larger than the smallest size!  The massive amounts of food and drink is both refreshing and horrifying- the value is great, but the scary thing is that after some months you realise that you’re managing to finish everything that’s put in front of you… you’re becoming American!!

10. The Food is Actually Good!

I realise this one might be a little controversial. But it’s true. Yes they have every form of artery-clogging fast-food fare known to mankind. But there’s so many levels of eating out in the US.There are three main “food groups” I miss when I’m back home in Oz. The hamburger, for one thing, is a national artform and you can get it everywhere from the crappiest cornerstore to the highest end restaurant. But you will never have such a good burger as you can get in the US. The crispiest bacon, the freshest ingredients, cooked exactly how you like it, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I also miss American style barbeque. If you’ve ever been to a Buffalo Wild Wings you’ll know what I mean. Ribs, wings and fries with barbeque sauce. And celery sticks and ice tea. Yes, yes, you can get this sort of food anywhere in the Western world but again, you can’t get it as good anywhere as the US has it. (And this is coming from a guy from a country with a strong barbeque tradition.) Lastly, I miss the Mexican food. Ok ok, this is not by definition a US food item, but it’s so bloody good. Especially when you can go and get a bunch of fish tacos at just about any bar during happy hour for a few bucks. In the US I nearly always have an empty fridge because eating out is so cheap and good. Oh and if you want to eat healthy….. it is possible. And they even have some good beers…. I swear!

Food, a favourite American pasttime, Food, Rockaway Beach, California, USA
Food- a favourite American pastime.

9. They Call Flatmates “Roommates”, Main Courses “Entrees” and Regular Pasta Sauce “Marinara”…

Ok everyone knows that America has invented its own version of English but these are the doozies for me. In regular English, a “room-mate” is someone who lives in the same ROOM as you. Hence the name. Entree is French for “entrance” or “starter” so how the Americans have managed to confuse it for the main course is beyond me. And as for Marinara… it needs to have seafood in it. I’m sorry- but containing the sub-word “marine” is a BIG clue. “Oh- I never thought of it that way before!” The cute blonde waitress giggled after I helpfully brought this to her attention. Ok, ok, I must admit there are a million Aussie words that nobody understands… I got blank looks whenever I talked about my fair-dinkum mates having smoko at the servo..

UPDATE: There is some argument in the comments about the origin of “marinara” from people who sound somewhat credibly Italian. Since I’m still not quite ready to admit I was wrong, maybe it’s best to read the comments and make your own mind up!

8. The Girls do Like Aussie Guys, but…

I was so excited about this one. Loads of people said this to me when I was going to the States for the first time. “You’re gonna have the best time there mate.” When I met American guys, they said “You’re gonna have the best time here dude.” Even American girls I met would say that to me! The reality of course is somewhat different. Thankfully, American girls ARE curious about Aussie guys. However it’s more of a curious fascination as if you were a bad biker dude or a venomous snake or something. They’re afraid you’re going to bite. Or maybe just fly across the world once they’ve fallen for you. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it’s very helpful if you know something about their hometown when you speak to them. Eg, the local baseball/football/basketball team is a good one. Then they feel more comfortable about you instead of just eyeing you from a distance. Remember this tip guys!

7. They Attend University on the Other Side of the Country

Many students you meet at US universities are from other parts of the country. It seems something of an American tradition to broaden ones horizons by applying to study in a different state. This is handy because it allows you to meet people from all over the country in a short period of time. But at the same time, I met many Americans who, once their studies were done, were happy to settle somewhere and not travel again, despite having never left the country. In contrast, Australians tend to go to uni in their home city, and embark on an international trip during a gap year or over summer or once studies are finished. I seem to run into Australians wherever I go in the world. Many of them have never travelled outside their home state within Australia though!

College Football, Delaware, USA
A massive festival? Nope- just your average college football weekend in the US

6. College Football is HUGE and Cheerleading is a Sport

In Australia, college rugby or soccer would entail a local grassy field with maybe 20 curious spectators standing around on the sidelines. I’ll never forget rocking up to my first college football event in the US and the stadium was full of about 40,000 screaming fans. The whole town was there. Not only that but there were brass bands, baton twirlers, and cheerleaders. Now these cheerleaders are not your run of the mill pom-pom shaking girls you might find at half-time in Australia- they are bona-fide expert acrobats packaged up as lithe freshmen. I gasped as they were flung high into the air by beefy cheerleading dudes (yes, males), flipping and spinning. I thought of all the things that might go wrong and honestly some of these girls were better than your average circus performer. Another tradition that deserves a mention is tailgating before the game. This involves drinking beer out of the back of trucks in the parking lot. It’s a total party, until the game starts and security comes to move everyone into the stadium. Speaking of partying, it goes without saying that football team or cheerleader parties are well worth attending…

Tailgating before the college football game, Newark, Delaware, USA
Tailgating before the game
Cheerleading in Delware USA - not just a few chicks waving pom-poms!
Cheerleading in the US – not just a few chicks waving pom-poms!

5. They form Fraternities and Sororities

Excuse the pun but this tradition was all Greek to me… until I got invited to a frat party and then I realised it was all a cover for getting wasted and laid with the help of a bunch of elite friends who you’ll contact for jobs or legal advice years later.

4. They have Drive-Thru ATMs

This is not a joke. The country that brought you the drive-thru fast food restaurant now brings you the drive-thru ATM. After all, it’s a drag to actually have to get out of your car and walk up to the hole in the wall! I took some German work colleagues on a little tour around Portland and this was the thing they took the most photos of.

3. They have the Most Stunning Coastline

Now being Australian I have to admit that I still don’t believe anywhere really beats the Australian coast, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that America’s coastline matches it. You probably think that the dreariness of the Jersey Coast or the boring sandy expanse of Huntington Beach is all they have, but that’s because you haven’t seen the stunning scenery down Oregon highway 101, or Big Sur in California, or the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s epic. And they have a truckload of other epic scenery too from beautiful forests to rocky desert wilderness to thermal supervolcanoes.

The US has some of the world's best coastline... Looking south down the Oregon coast not far from Portland. Oregon Coast, USA
The US has some of the world’s best coastline… Looking south down the Oregon coast not far from Portland.

2. They Build some of the Ugliest Towns in the Most Beautiful Locations

I was surprised that the country that brought us such beauties as Boston and New York and Portland and Savannah, Georgia would desecrate some of their loveliest natural areas with some of the most hideous man-made affronts to Planet Earth. A rubbish dump here, a bunch of overhead freeways here, some derelict buildings, parking lots, toxic factories, smokestacks, drainpipes… I could be in awe in the morning driving through a charming little place and then choking on my pretzels in the afternoon at the concrete jungle I was negotiating. The same extreme diversity in attractiveness occurs within cities too.  One block an urban paradise with art galleries and quaint houses and cafes, the next a disaster of vacant lots with crack heads sitting around. I don’t want to single any smaller places out (that would be just plain mean) but I’d nominate Los Angeles as the mother of all ugly US cities (though it does have small nice pockets and a thriving cultural scene).

Urban Wasteland, USA
America- not always known for its urban beauty…

1. They are DIVERSE

If you’ve never been to the USA then you probably believe some of the cliches about them being loud, obnoxious, ignorant, religious nuts. I’m not going to say that these type of Americans don’t exist, but for every religious nut there’s a religious moderate or an informed atheist, for every ignorant radio jock there’s a scientist performing world-leading research, for every suburban hick there’s a dude that has travelled every continent and learnt 5 languages on his own. For every army of right-wing crackers there’s an equally vocal army of left-wing pinkos. There’s a wealth of of cultures from all corners of the globe. Many of the largest cultural movements had their start in the USA, particularly in music and film. Living in the US I often feel like I’m at the centre of the world, and I miss that feeling whenever I’m elsewhere on the planet.

The USA - a melting point of cultures, creeds, religions and philosophies. Grand Central Station in New York City, USA.
The USA – a melting point of cultures, creeds, religions and philosophies. Grand Central Station in New York City.

What’s your take on the US? Got anything interesting, funny or unusual? Leave a comment below!
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Matt Edwards

Australian solar power scientist travels the world for 15 years, takes photos, writes stuff, has toothpaste confiscated. I like adventures that involve art, history, science, music, technology and partying. Sometimes all at once...


258 thoughts on “18 Strange Observations of America (from an Australian Living in the USA)” :: Leave yours →

  • May 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I wanted to explain why Americans would be more frightened of coyotes and bears than snakes and spiders. For the most part, coyotes and bears do not attack humans. Coyotes can be driven off by making loud sounds, and bears will usually leave you alone as long as you don’t bother them or go near their cubs. However, poisonous spiders and snakes aren’t as predictable and have a greater potential to sneak up on you. America has a few poisonous spiders and snakes too, but not nearly as many as Australia does. Australian spiders and snakes so tend to be much bigger than American variations, so there is a huge “ick” factor.

    • May 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Hi musictarian, yes that is true. I think you tend to be more worried about those animals that you aren’t used to… when I went to Alaska I couldn’t stop worrying about bears whenever I was away from town, and hiking in Washington or Oregon I was always thinking about cougars and such things. In Australia I’ll stamp my feet cos I know that scares snakes. Spiders are more unpredictable but also very scared of humans. Having said that, I’ve been bitten by spiders twice in Australia, once on the butt when one was inside shorts I left outside, and another time (literally my first day back in Australia after a year in the US) one walked across my bed and I rolled over onto it! Luckily both were not venomous. I still prefer to take my chances with a spider than a bear though!

      • May 27, 2013 at 2:26 am

        I live in America and I can safely say that I have never rolled over in bed, unsuspectingly on top of a grizzly bear.

      • May 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

        Also with bears and cougars you can carry pepper spray and/or a firearm of your choice so even when the large animal attacks you can defend yourself. Whereas once when I was in Australia hiking, I didn’t shake my boot out properly, put my foot in and found Mr. Scorpion had taken up residence in it. It’s much more pleasant to point a rifle at a bear than it is to screaming at your friend for the anti-venom.

        • April 7, 2014 at 10:23 am

          Hahaha – nice try, but we dont have scorpions in Australia. Spiders, yes, scorpions, not so much.

          • June 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

            Actually we do, In fact every continent except for Antarctica has them.

            We have 29 species most small though those up the Top End can grow to 12cm long.

      • June 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm

        For backpacking, it is advised to carry bear spray, which is a large variation of pepper spray with a lot more thrust and volume. Plus, as you mentioned, most Americans know how to shoot a gun and carry one so we (or I) know how to protect ourselves.

        But for all the years I’ve backpacked I’ve come across a few grizzlies and black bears and they have done no harm. My father has actually fished for salmon in Alaska among 20 grizzlies and never had an issue :)

      • May 29, 2013 at 5:28 am

        Being the father of two competitive cheerleaders over a period of 14 years, I’d say that cheerleading is a combination of sportsmanship, gymnastics, choreography and dance, weightlifting, synchronized movement and theatre. It’s not only a sport, it may be defined as something bigger and more complex. Most competitive cheerleaders train at least 10 months a year, showcasing skills and promoting good sportsmanship and fansmanship on behalf of an athletic team. But that’s only what the pundits see. In the other waking hours, these athletes turn to the mattes on competition day in front of hundreds to be judged on all of the above by peer athletes. I have a t-shirt that says, “If cheerleading were any easier it would be football.” Often I caution, don’t ever tell a group of competitive cheerleaders that they aren’t athletic competitors. They are among the most strong, fit and defensive… the the point of making a boxer shy away.

    • May 27, 2013 at 9:57 am

      As a once competitive cheerleader I have to whole-heartedly disagree with you. I was never in better shape in my life as when I was cheering. It’s also one of the most dangerous “sports”, with more catastrophic injuries than even football. If people consider driving a race car a sport, cheerleading is most definitely a sport!!!

  • May 26, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Dude, if you think the college football game you went to with 40k people is impressive, you have to see a game like LSU vs. Alabama. That would blow your mind.

    • May 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Yea, LSUs Deathvalley stadium has seating for over 90000 people and it is FULL for every game. Then, hundreds of people show up to tailgate the quad on campus for the entire day.

        • May 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

          The Big House in Ann Arbor – 100,000 would be a disappointment! The last home game of 2012 marked 244 consecutive home games for Michigan Football with more than 100,000 in attendance – 30 some odd years!

          • May 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm

            Unfortunately the ‘Big House’ is in-fact located in Ann Arbor. If you went there, I suspect the kind words expressed about America would require a re-write. :) Go Bucks! (You had to see this coming Ethan…)

          • June 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm

            PSU – Largest american football stadium in the world

          • August 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm

            Still has nothing on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. 325 consecutive sellouts since 1962, and an expansion project that will raise our seating to 92000. And you can bet that every single one of them will be filled. And if we expanded further to more than 100,000, every single one of them would also be filled.

    • August 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Amen and Roll Tide! As an Alabama alum living in Germany, I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed by the pre-game festivities at the season opener of the local football (soccer) team. But I DO have a new appreciation of and respect for the intensity of football (soccer) after watching the Euro’s last year.

  • May 26, 2013 at 1:22 am

    American here. Only one I can’t agree with at all is the talking about politics comment. I’ve never noticed that.

      • April 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

        Yeah I think most people actually find it very rude to ask outright. It’s even banned in schools for teachers to share their political views or say who they voted for. It’s highly discouraged most places since it starts arguments easily. So I agree, politics is not your first choice on things to talk about.

        • June 11, 2014 at 7:09 am

          More common to talk politics in Australia. For us its simple,
          Bloke 1 “Did you see the election”
          Bloke 2 “Yep, Bunch of wankers”
          Bloke 1 “Too true, Beer?”
          Bloke 2 “You Beaut”

    • May 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      I think maybe it is the fact that he is Australian that makes people want to talk about politics. People think Americans are xenophobic and self centered, but the average American does want to know what the outside world thinks. Of course, they still might disagree with them and dismiss their opinion, but I do think they are interested in knowing about public perception on those types of issues.

      • July 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

        …………..’dismiss their opinion,’……………. how rude………..why bother giving a well thought out opinion to someone from a culture that is well known sociologically to be narcissistic and whose population has such a high percentage of mental illness.

      • July 10, 2013 at 7:25 am

        Australian here, and it’s not the fact we aren’t interested in politics. It’s just that we view politics (and religion) as something you don’t talk about in a casual conversation. So I’d know what one of my buddies opinions are , but not typically that of a classmate or an acquaintance. It’s considered rude to ask straight off of the bat.

    • February 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Australian who’s been living in the US for 3 months. Americans absolutely are extremely quick to ask me about my political view. Like the writer, I’m extremely cautious in my replies

  • May 26, 2013 at 1:43 am

    From California, however, I’m going to school in Oregon (about two hours south of Portland) and I can’t agree with you more about the coastline. I’ve been going to the Oregon Coast every summer for ten years now, and I can’t tell people enough how beautiful it is, and how unlike San Francisco beaches they are. The Oregon Coast is literally breath taking. Thank you for pointing that one out in particular.

    • May 26, 2013 at 10:12 am

      It really is. I should get around to posting more pics of it. Good waves too (but coooooold!!)

  • May 26, 2013 at 5:19 am

    I love this! So much I never noticed like our toilets! You are so right about ugly towns in gorgeous places. I don’t get that either! I notice that about politics with foreigners. Not as much right away with fellow Americans, but it always goes there eventually! Glad you like the food, sorry the ladies are scared.

      • August 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

        So sad, I bet Mason is not from Detroit. It’s called the Paris of the Midwest for a reason; the building architecture downtown cannot be beat for hundreds of miles around (and yes, these buildings are both occupied AND productive). That said, Detroit is still heavy in its revitalization movement… if you ever plan on going in the near future (next year or two), I would suggest a tour guide and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Michigan in general is an incredible place; outside of Detroit, you have the Lake Michigan coast, Mackinac Island, sand dunes, farms (cherries and apples), wilderness, microbreweries… it cannot be beat!

        • November 6, 2013 at 1:17 am

          Being from Michigan, I agree. I’ve noticed that a lot of things that are Aussie and supposed to be different are not in the Midwest. Watching a youtube video I recall most of the Aussie words I identified with. Words we us in the Midwest. like thongs. Thongs were always what we have to call flipflops now. living in the midwest you dont have that felling of being in the center. Things are happening in the east, west, south. The Midwest is maybe 10 years behind the rest of the US and Australia maybe 15 Being in the north by Canada we get Aussie TV. I grew up watching flying Doctors, Neighbors And when Mick Dundee Said “good on ya Skip”, when he used a roo to shoot at the poachers we knew who Skippy was, the bush kangaroo! Never knew what a Bidget was either in that movie. So Aussie’s, want to feel at home come to the middle of the US, where the rest of the country thinks were too laid back ect..Like someone once said said on Country Practice “Wanden Valley reminds me of the US Midwest, I think he’s right.

  • May 26, 2013 at 7:50 am

    As a French who has lived in the US, I agree with you on most points except:

    -The Internet. The Internet is pretty slow in the US. It’s faster in Europe and much much faster in Korea/Japan.

    -Food: if you think American food is good, I never want to even try Australian food. In my opinion US food is the worst I had ever had… And I spent seven years in the country and had plenty of time to try many different things. Only Barbecues and cheesecakes are good, all the rest is crap.

    • May 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Haha the food is always going to be controversial. Plus you are French, where the food is better than almost everywhere

      • May 31, 2013 at 9:55 am

        Let me correct you: “where the food is better than everywhere”.
        You had a superfluous “almost” most likely a typo. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        However, despite that fact, there are many countries that have a culture of food. Where food matters and can be good, even delicious. Not the US. But once again, I’ve never been to Australia, so maybe it’s worse there (which is sad, but I really wanted to visit Australia… :-) ).

        • June 1, 2013 at 11:53 am

          OK, as an American “foodie” who has spent quite a bit of time in France and elsewhere, I’ve got to take exception to this. There is a lot of crap food in the US, but there’s also some of the very best food in the world. On any list of the world’s best restaurants you’ll find multiple New York restaurants in the top 20. I’ll grant that if you just pick a random restaurant in the US you have a much higher chance of getting something bad than you would in France, but I have had bad food in Paris too. And if you eat at places like “TGI Fridays” that some people view as “typical American” then you deserve to eat crappy food. In my experience, stopping at a random non-chain place in the US has a much higher probability of being good than stopping at a random place in England or Germany.

          There are an unfortunate number of restaurants in the US that taste like they buy microwave meals and zap them in the back to bring to the table. But there are also places that work with local farmers and bring you exquisitely fresh and excellently prepared food. Go to the local farmer’s market in the morning here and you’ll find chefs selecting what is fresh and best for the menu of that day. Be careful where you eat here, and you will have phenomenal food!

          • June 5, 2013 at 4:24 am

            That was pretty much my experience. I didn’t find it hard at all to find really good food in the US. And yes, I’ve eaten in plenty of different countries across the world (including France!) and I still say the US is up there with the best of them. Of course, it’s easy to find crappy food as well, but the US is nothing if not diverse…. as mentioned in the post.

          • August 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

            As an American foodie, I disagree as well. Growing up in the Southern US, Southern cuisine, is my favorite region of American food (i’m biased I know). But you have to take into consideration the racial and regional diversity, to break down American food. New Orleans has a very distinct style of cooking different from the rest of the South and BBQ! Pullease, that depends on the region!

            French food means more to me than just croissants. Haute cuisine is good but being a country girl, I prefer the more peasant cuisine out in the country of France. And better than everywhere? Some of the greatest known names in French cuisine give credit to the Italians. IJS.

        • August 5, 2013 at 5:34 am

          You are very rude and condescending. RationalMatthew was only stating his opinion on the food in the USA. How can you argue with someone’s taste and tell them they are wrong about their opinion! I think soccer is better than football. That is my opinion, it is neither right or wrong.

      • August 16, 2013 at 1:20 am

        Everyone has their tastes. I did not have a great experience with the food in France, and I ate at several places people raved about. My favorite cuisines tend to be Asian though, particularly SE Asian food and a few other cuisines above most others for me.

        The US does have amazing food. the thing is since the people are from everywhere you get a huge diversity in the cuisine. I’ve had some better food in the US than I did in the originating country, and it was the same food because it was from immigrants who brought their recipes and skills to the US. The US also have some really crappy food but I find that in many places too.

        Thing is, food is controversial, everyone’s got their tastes. Even when I go away or travel a while to another place I find my tastes change even! You start to adapt to the cuisine of another place.

        The speed of the internet certainly depends on where in the country you are.

    • May 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      Of course, it depends on where you lived. I love Europe but don’t recall every meal being stellar either.

    • May 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Internet speed is highly dependent on where you are and what internet service you have. Some of them are blazing fast (and I’ve seen comparisons with European speeds – the better ones make European services look slow), and some of them can barely beat dial-up.

    • June 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      I have had food in several parts of the world. I will give the disclaimer that I am an American, married to a Brazilian (so food comes up all the time and in my experience few cultures are pickier than the Brazilians, though I am of course generalizing). So I have had Indian food (home made), Italian, French, German, Brazilian (in various regions), Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, the list goes on. What I have come to appreciate about the USA after many travels (and coming back feeling like I NEED to eat like there’s no tomorrow. haha), is that most of what I could get there, I can get here. I learned to make Indian food with Indians, Brazilian food with Brazilians, American food with my family, etc. and I have found (moreso in the past 3 years than in previous years) that there are less and less exclusive ingredients. That being said, some basic ingredients were inexplicably different to the point it was hard American food elsewhere (and I challenge you to find ingredients for a good Indian daal in northern interior Brazil). Many places will have whatever you want. “American” food I would define by our cowboy past food, but today American food is for me the fantastic opportunity to be anywhere in the world palate-wise for lunch and another place entirely different for lunch. If I have Indian for lunch, I might have a burger for dinner, eggs for breakfast the next day and Japanese for lunch.

      • August 3, 2013 at 6:37 pm

        Following on from the previous (and as an American from Seattle living in Melbourne) I am surprised you didn’t mention the difference in supermarkets/ grocery stores. In AUS they are all the same – choice being Coles v Woolies.. How I miss the variety and choice found in my old locals in West Seattle… Metro Market, QFC, PCC Natural Foods, Thriftway – just to name a few!

        • August 21, 2013 at 7:43 am

          As an Aussie wanted to mention we have more supermarkets than just Woolies and Coles, we also have IGA, Aldi and we also have numerous independent stores specialising in foods from other cultures and not forgetting to mention health food shops as well

  • May 26, 2013 at 7:55 am

    the quip about marinara sauce is interesting because marinara is in fact traditionally a “regular tomato sauce” it comes from Mariner’s Sauce, and might be served with seafood but wouldn’t contain it. The Aussies are actually the ones doing it wrong, (which makes sense, because what percentage of their population has immigrated from Italy? most likely A lot less than here). There is a wiki entry for marinara sauce if you wanted to read it; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marinara_sauce

    • May 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Interesting. Thanks for the link, will check some more sources and update.

    • May 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Agreed. My mother’s family is from the Naples area, where marinara originated. I’m 3rd generation American. No seafood in marinara.

      Matthew, I love hearing what someone else thinks of the U.S.

      • May 30, 2013 at 5:06 am

        I’m from Italy. It is true that “marinara” sounds fishy somehow, but all I can recall as “marinara” is a pizza, that only has tomato sauce and garlic on it.

    • April 2, 2014 at 6:12 am

      Read this adn had to point this out ๐Ÿ˜› “what percentage of their population has immigrated from Italy? ” roughly about 5% compared to americas 5.6 % so yes america is slightly higher but not by much. There is a huge Italian influence in australia we have many italian suburbs or even whole towns such as griffith with their own mafia groups linked to italy. Also a lot of good Italian food and Italian speaking people :)

    • April 7, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Hmmmm – the Italian that I was married to, and his family, and the extensive Italian community here in Melbourne seem to think that the sauce you refer to is known as napolitana sauce. You’d be surprised at how many Italians have immigrated here, and they’re not second or third generation, but first generation or actual immigrants.

      • May 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm

        Ok I am a Sydney girl who lived in Germany for 2 years and the US for 3 and still here. Was in SD Cali for 3 and just moved to Savannah GA. On the marina sauce I too had the arguments and after taking to a number of Italian friends from Germany ( they too call it marina sauce) and here I gave up the seafood fight lol. But let me add another if you have ever had Italian NJ friends they call it gravy – yes another whole argument there!
        SD has hands down the Best Mexican ever…full stop!
        Germany and America have shown me what steak is! One thing we cannot do in Australia is cook steak – I think we export all our good stuff. I have eaten it in some or the best restaurants from Quay, Est etc and they cannot cook it!
        How ever in my opinion Australia is the best for seafood! Most I have had here is covered in spices and batter. I miss popping of the head and opening a shell of a fresh tiger prawn – and France cannot beat that! I have traveled the coast of France and also felt let down by their seafood. Oh and America oysters are terrible, I have had over 17 varieties and to me none beat a good old Sydney rock oyster and do I need to mention Balmain bugs yummmm!

        But the as for fresh fresh and Veg – I left Oz in a drought and had not eaten a apple for years as everyone was floury and dry. Europe and Cali had the best fresh produce I have ever tasted. German strawberry’s are to die for and Sol cal avocados are so perfect!
        I could go on and on in regards to me personal findings.
        But as a sum up – each country has it’s specialty, trick is finding it and savoring it!

  • May 26, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Great Post, Australia is on my bucket list. I have been to Europe, Central America and South East Asia. I can’t wait to experience Australia. So far my only experience has been Crocodile Dundee and covering Australian Horse Racing. I love the names of the towns in Australia. Currently, I am building up my frequent flyer miles for the trip.

    • June 6, 2013 at 12:56 am

      Haha, I’m from Morro Bay and this is so true. The scenery is phenomenal, but the town is pretty drab and the smoke stacks are the worst, especially because they’re located right next to Morro Rock, which is the most impressive part of the scenery. Growing up there, I’ve come to have a certain fondness for the power plant, but sometimes I look at it and think “what were they smoking?!”

  • May 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Great Article, I’m really happy someone else knows what it is like to be an Aussie over there. Texas was definitely an interesting education especially as I’ve lived in Europe for a while. Beer?

    • May 27, 2013 at 10:22 am

      The craft beers in Portland are pretty good if a bit over-hopsy.

      • June 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

        You are in Portland, Oregon. I would expect the beer there to seem extra hopped, but I would argue that the reason they seem that way is because Oregon is the prime place to grow the BEST hops in America, so it is probably because they are sooo fresh when added to the stock.

          • June 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm

            Then the solution, as with fresh herbs in a sauce, would be for the brewer to use a proportionally smaller amount of the fresher hops so as not to overwhelm the brew’s flavour. I agree that American Northwest beers are often too hoppy (“over-hopsy” is a great term). They taste like pencils half the time.

  • May 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the laughs. As an American about to travel to Australia, you’ve made me sufficiently nervous about eating in the land of Oz. =)

    • May 27, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Ha ha ha well we do have good Asian food (Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese etc)

    • August 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Try the “roo”, meat pies and sausage rolls. DEElish. You really can get good food in Oz, don’t be afraid to have a go. OOOOHHHH don’t forget to try TIM TAMS!!!!!

  • May 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Great article. Written with the naivete and innocence of a teenage boy during his first time with a girl.

      • March 2, 2014 at 1:55 pm

        Yeah ….. it’s a bit like the story of Ferdinand the bull.


        Things are good in the land of oz. When things are good your concerns are more about the finer things that life has to offer and you’re apt to wonder why others don’t quite measure up to the standards that you’ve become accustomed to.

        There may come a day when the dragon becomes the most dangerous creature on the Australian continent.

  • May 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    switzerland invented the internet (google it :P) also their internet is very slow, americans complain all the time oline (google fiber excluded)

    • May 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Er, no. The first message sent between two remote computers was over ARAPNET, with the two nodes at UCLA and Stanford.

    • May 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Switzerland developed the World Wide Web, which allows one to navigate the internet. The internet itself was launched by the US seven years prior.

      Why would you tell people to Google that information when a simple Google search reveals that you are wrong?

        • March 13, 2014 at 11:26 pm

          No, he never said that. He said he supported the initiative in Congress that allowed the internet to happen. Which he in point of fact did do. Easily discovered by doing a 10 second search on Snopes.

  • May 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve always thought drive-thru ATMs were more for safety than just convenience (or laziness). Though I’ll admit I’ve used them in broad daylight when there was also the option of a walk-up ATM with a security guard standing nearby…

    I mean, it is super convenient.

    -Lazy American

    • May 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      In Ohio we have drive-thru convenience stores. You pull up and you can get beer or snacks without having to leave your car.

      • June 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

        now that’s what I call convenient!
        We have drive thru bottle shops in Australia. I guess beer’s one thing we need to be convenient with.

  • May 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Okay…I’m still trying to translate “Ok, ok, I must admit there are a million Aussie words that nobody understandsโ€ฆ I got blank looks whenever I talked about my fair-dinkum mates having smoko at the servo.” Please help!

    • May 27, 2013 at 10:27 am

      In american it might translate “my good buddies chilling at the gas station”…… of course you’d never actually say such a bizarre thing, I was using it for purposes of demonstration……

      • August 30, 2013 at 7:34 am

        When you are having something to eat. “Smoko” means to have a short break and eat. Well that’s what I grew up knowing it as. Similar to morning or afternoon tea. “Smoko time”….

      • September 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm

        haha funny you should say that when we southerners are famous for hanging out around gas stations

    • May 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Tim Berners Lee “invented” the web but not the internet.

    • May 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      My goodness, it’s epidemic!

      The Web is not the internet. The internet existed prior to the Web.

      You are using the Web to navigate the internet.

  • May 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I still use my cheque book in Oz. very convenient when credit card charges are OTT for paying some bills, but am graduating to using postpay at the local PO when I have cash. I’m amazed at how many Aussies have never used EFT on their computer. They’re afraid of skimming by hackers.

  • May 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    18: I hadn’t used checks (“cheques” if you prefer) for years until last month I bought a new pickup. I went online to make the first payment only to discover a ten dollar “convenience fee” for paying online. A fairly long, well-reasoned argument on my part with a representative did not result in the charge being waived, so I ordered checks from my bank and will now be sending those assholes a payment on paper each month.

    17: Rest easy, you don’t have to worry about being gored by a grizzly. They don’t have horns.

    13: Our “heritage” is John Wayne, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry, The Rifleman, Bonanza, The Rebel, Branded, and countless western shoot-em-up movies and TV shows. Of course we think guns are normal; it’s all we’ve ever known.

    12: Um… what do toilets have in Australia, trapdoors?

    9: What’s even stranger than “roommates” is that we park in the driveway and drive on the parkway.

    • May 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

      I’ve just realised we do the same thing here….. bizarre.
      Regarding the toilets, you should check them out in Australia/Europe… it may well prove an epiphany.

  • May 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I just returned to the US after 10 years in OZ. Guns, mate. I hunt and I still don’t get what they’re on about.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • May 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I just have to take slight offense at the Jersey Shore being dreary. I’m a Jersey girl, and we love our shore. I think it’s beautiful, and for those who grow up visiting it each summer, it holds a lot of traditions. Boardwalks, frozen custard, sunrise over the beach. I’ve seen the Outer Banks, and yes, they’re lovely, but I would never think my shore is dreary by comparison.
    Drive through ATMS seem safer to me — I can get my money without getting out of the car and risk being mugged in certain areas or times of the day.
    How do your toilets flush if there’s no water? I assume you mean it’s in the tank but not the bowl. I always assumed that water had to be there to function, but I guess not.
    Overall, fun and enlightening article to read. I would love to visit Australia one day.

    • May 27, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Ok just to clarify, we do have water in the bowl, just *less* water….. toilets in the US are more pond-like.

      About the Jersey Shore, don’t get me wrong I have surfed there several times and also been to Atlantic City and I did enjoy all the boardwalks and the food and fun times. And ocean is ALWAYS better than no ocean. All I can say is go check out the US West Coast or the Australian East Coast and you will see what I mean :)

      Thanks for reading Sara.

  • May 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    As a fellow Aussie living in Texas for 14 yrs, I’d agree with you on basically everything. Although, I’ve been here so long I forget about some of the phrasing differences = #9.

    #11 – the portion size at most restaurants is outrageous. That combined with the number of times most people “eat out”, makes you understand the obesity problem here.

    You could expand #4 to include dry cleaners, pharmacy and more :). Convenience is key when running “errands”. And the fact that pretty much all the little shops (newsagent, deli, butchers, bakery, florist etc) are combined into giant grocery stores/supermarkets makes shopping very convenient.

    One thing that I still get after all this time are the incessant questions about Australia based on the limited facts they know about the country. “Do you know the Crocodile Hunter (when he was still alive)?” “Which do you like better, Australia or the US?” “When was the last time you were back?” “Do you want to move back?” “Have you ever had a pet koala/kangaroo etc?” “Does your family still live there?” “Where were you from? Although I only know Sydney.”
    Or the best one (I don’t get it as much anymore since my accent has morphed) “Say something for me”.

      • June 5, 2013 at 9:37 am

        I am an American living in Australia. Been here for the past 7 years in Sydney. Trust me. Australians do the same thing to Americans. I went to uni in Miami and I always get, “Is it like CSI Miami?!” Or during the Bush years, “But isn’t everyone a republican?” Or “Everyone goes to church every Sunday, right?” I have even heard some people here refer to African Americans as “negros” which I found quite alarming. Although, they were from the north and described by other Australians as “bogans.”

        • December 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

          hahah, “from the north and bogans”… this is something I only found out after moving to the UK from Queensland. Apparently Sydney-siders think of the north coast and Queensland as all being bogans! Odd, coz when I went to Sydney I couldn’t believe how many bogans I saw in a big city! ๐Ÿ˜› Also, being from Brisbane, we’d consider rural areas bogan but not the city. Outter Ipswich, maybe Cabooluture, but Brisbane itself was definitely not bogan. Also, NSWelshmen, you have far more bogans to the west of your cities than to the north. On the topic of “negros” I’ve noticed a large amount of young people in both Aus and the UK use the word “nigger” as a part of everyday speech now, whites and blacks and all in-between. Something I think we can thank American media for. Given both the UK and Aus do not have the social environment to advise them that only a nigger can call someone a nigger etc, thus, being heard as a popular term on certain tv shows, movies, and music, it’s mimicked. It shocks Americans, because they have those social queues in place and have grown up knowing how inappropriate it is. That said, my younger American relatives also seem to use it more than their parents did.

  • May 27, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I enjoyed this article. My husband and I spent 3 happy weeks 10 years ago exploring Queensland, and I wish there’d been more time to see other parts of Australia, but it’s interesting to see the converse perspective on us. We came back home telling our friends about the beets on the burgers instead of dill pickles, which was a new one (and, for my beet-hating husband, an unpleasant one ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Didn’t see any snakes or spiders or crocs except at the Australia Zoo.

    I live in a pretty suburb of big, ugly LA, and I have to say that no one uses checks down here for the majority of our payments anymore, it’s all online or ATM/credit cards. I write checks to the piano teacher and that’s about it. We spend every summer in Montana, and I’m always surprised to see people writing checks to pay restaurant bills, buy gasoline, etc – maybe it’s a Northwest thing.

    • May 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      I now eat my burgers with both beetroot AND pickles ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • May 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    God, it is such a relief to hear from a foreigner who doesn’t hate us.

    • May 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Too much hate in the world. Love is the language of travel!

  • May 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    In most of the western US folks tend to go to university in their home state. This is because most of the western states have extensive state university systems and doing so is significantly more affordable (as in a factory of 5-10) than going out of state.

    Then again, in california one can go to an In-state university and still be hundreds of miles away from “home”.

  • May 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    How I LOVE that you’re basing most of your observances on the haps in MY city! You’re welcome back to Weirdsville anytime, kind sir! We’re a friendly sort here..

  • May 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Great read! Hope to write one of my own from Australia some day…

  • May 27, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    How you enjoyed your time in Delaware although your Delawhere? joke wasn’t funny #gobluehens

  • May 27, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I have to say, I think you have pretty much missed American BBQ if you think anything served at Buffalo Wild Wings is BBQ ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know you guys use the term to BBQ like we use the term to grill, but actual BBQ here is meat that is smoked over indirect heat for long periods of time. You can’t BBQ a steak or shrimp, for instance, it would be completely inedible after 8 hours in a smoker ;). I’m a KCBS Certified Master BBQ Judge, so if you ever have BBQ questions, I’m happy to help!

    • May 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      That’s very interesting, as I knew there was a difference but not being chef-like I couldn’t work it out. Actually I don’t really go much for Australian BBQ- apart from the “mates + beer” aspect. Sounds like you are a BBQ black belt. Might well use your expertise for an article in the future.

  • May 28, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I agree with most of these except the checks thing. Maybe it’s because I live in a big city (Chicago) but I haven’t used checks regularly in years. I have a checkbook that I got 3 years ago when I opened a new bank account and have only used 5 checks out of it. I own a place that I rent out and my tenant pays her rent online, I pay my own rent online and all of my bills are set up to pay online.

  • May 28, 2013 at 11:42 am

    As an Australian who moved to the US 6 months ago, I have to agree with almost everything here. I would add two more things:
    1. The respect given to military service. I think most Western countries have a deep respect for the sacrifice and bravery of their armed forces but I’ve never seen such an everyday acknowledgment of it in all aspects of life (sporting events, flights, on the street). I fly a lot for work and, as well as the standard pre-boarding offered to military in uniform, I also regularly see other passengers offer sincere thanks to those in uniform, even giving up their business class seats to uniformed servicemen. I’ve never seen this in Aus or at least not as overtly.
    2. Fashion, or should I say lack thereof. Australia tends to be very European in its approach to fashion but the US seems to be stuck in an ill-fitting time warp. I’m generally thinking of men when I say this but women can be just as bad. This is particularly obvious at work where too-large sports coats with baggy suit pants and odd coloured shirt seem like the norm and anything “fitted” is ridiculed. I will say this was much worse in middle America and outside the more international/cosmopolitan cities like LA and New York.

    • May 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      I have to agree actually, particularly with your second point. Hockey jumpers worn out to a bar on a Saturday night, by BOTH sexes, even when no hockey game on. Pants so big that you can see the guy’s underwear. Grown men wearing baseball caps whilst not playing baseball, and sometimes even at night. None of these are good looks…

    • October 2, 2013 at 3:12 am

      In response to your second observation on clothing styles, there is a cultural reason behind that. The center of the country, i.e. the “heartland” between the cosmopolitan cities/areas like L.A. and New York, generally have a more conservative culture, and traditional business suits have a more conservative style than their more tightly-fitting counterparts oftentimes seen in less conservative cities on the East and West Coasts. The traditional “looser” style of attire is much more prevalent throughout American society as a whole. Fitted clothing is usually associated with teens and those in their early 20’s.

  • May 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I love this post. Being an American I laughed out loud at a few of them. Now I live in Budapest and I miss those drive up atm machines. I love it that your German colleagues took photos of the atm. Your right the coast is gorgeous, and yes, the ugly construction and strip malls are god awful.

  • May 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Great article and I enjoyed reading it. As a foreigner, I’ve learned a lot today as all I know about the country and its people is from American movies and from reading American blogs. I like American people as I think they are very kind and helpful.
    A rhetoric question that has been bothering me for years, is why do the American people continue building houses made of wood, which are blown away every time a tornado strikes the coasts? I live in a country which has a lot of earthquakes. Imagine if we lived in houses made of clay. We know about the quakes and modern houses are reinforced to endure any quake. Why can’t they do something similar about their houses?

    • May 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      I so very much agree in regard to tornado proof houses. They should be low dome shaped and made of thick-walled adobe, waterproofed inside and out with a silicone skin so that the wind would flick right over them. This article is spot-on and now that a few people are importing Vegemite and making meat pies, life is almost perfect. Now if only lamb were cheaper …

      • May 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        I just found a British bakery in Savannah they do all types of meat pies and sausage rolls and SUGARLESS bread woot! When I left CA there was a Aussie bakery called Pie Not that won best takeaway in the OC and they do flat whites! The meat pie is doing a take over!!!

    • August 27, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      wood is durable and very light weight for earthquake prone areas as it absorbs shock and vibrations better than concrete, brick and stone…Imagine being on the first floor of a brick, concrete or stone building during a large earthquake…During the 2001 Seattle earthquake, several people died after being crushed by collapsing brick buildings and during the 1994 LA quake, several concrete slabs and sections of freeway overpasses collapsed killing a few morning drivers as the fell to their deaths in their cars or were crushed by the falling concrete sections…google image it, it’s pretty scary looking…also, during the 1989 San Francisco quake, the concrete pillars on the double-decker freeway system collapse crushing drivers to death in their cars…For the midwest, it’s cheaper for insurance companies to just rebuild the homes after a tornado or flood and wood is abundant and cheap…you can by brick or stone houses but they are more expensive in the Midwest but brick and stone are about as common as wood houses on the Eastcoast…

      • March 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        I’ve been in the building trades for over 30 years and a contractor for the last twelve so the subject caught my interest.

        So much of what you see in the international news media doesn’t represent the way things really are. It’s their job to keep you entertained and informed when something dramatic is going on. Things like planes flying into tall buildings, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, & tornadoes will hold your attention for awhile but they’re not the norm.

        We have a pretty well regulated system of building here. It used to be something called the BOCA code which was a building code for the United States but awhile back we adopted the IBC which is an acronym for the International Building Code. The idea behind it is that architects, engineers, and builders should have a universal building code to work with no matter where they are in the world.

        We are also a very large and diverse country. On the west coast builders have to think about building their homes to resist earthquakes, landslides, and wild fires. In the Southwest it gets very hot in the summer. In ” Tornado Alley ” they have to build their houses to resist high winds. The Southeastern U.S. has to contend with violent hurricanes and flooding.

        Here in the Northeast we have cold winters. ( It’s expected to be – 20 C. tonight ) Roughly 70% of our homes are heated with fuel oil and every drop of that has to be imported from other nations. Energy efficiency is an important consideration when we’re building a new home here.

        Construction is mostly common sense. You build according to the location & the environment that you’re in. Most of the time it works out just fine.

  • May 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Great reading an Australian perspective. So much I could comment on but here are a few things. Yes we have LOTS of food and drink. We are also the most obese nation in the world. Has a lot to do with that food thing.

    Politics suck. I know I may be in the minority here but I hate discussing it. Americans put WAY too much emphasis on what goes on in DC. The system is corrupt and politicians are more concerned about winning the political game, power, and beating the other side. I hate the whole thing. Both sides are horrible.

    Ah, college football. Now we’re talking. I grew up in the South and love college football. I eat, sleep, drink, and breathe it in the Fall. As a traveler, I created an entire series called the College Football Travel Tour (which was featured on Expedia last year) as I combine the culture and passion of college football with traveling to college towns and cities throughout the US. I’ve been all over the country to watch games – from Miami to Seattle. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve been in a stadium with 100,000 people screaming, stadium shaking, and it’s so loud you can’t think. It’s awesome!

    • May 29, 2013 at 12:47 am

      Jeremy, I agree that politics is a nasty business, but Big Pharma and MultinationalCorps are taking over the world. If we hide our heads in the sand and pay no attention, then we are giving them permission to have their evil way with us on their own terms. We need to vote, and to be able to do that intelligently, we need to talk about what’s happening in our country and in our world. Even if we hate it.

  • May 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    One reason for the drive through ATMs, is added security, people aren’t just too lazy to get out of their car and withdraw a huge sum of cash from the ATM, they’re also worried about someone robbing them at said ATM for said huge sum of cash.

  • May 29, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I welcome you to Florida. Born in Poland, have lived here 20 years and traveled a few times to different states (Yellowstone is amazing). Florida has some of the worst of everything you listed. People are not nice, but very artificially nice, including tipped staff. Everyone hates everyone with an opinion. It’s very diverse but not in the way you describe it. I can’t even fathom having a disagreement with someone without everyone immediately hating each other.

    • June 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      That’s not true about Florida. I’m 30 and a native Floridian – in fact, my family has been here for at least six generations. There are plenty of nice people here. Yes, some may be artificially nice, but you can find that in every single place.

    • August 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I think it depends on what part of Florida. I’m a native Aussie, lived in Texas for about 13 years, and moved to Florida this year. Miami is very superficial, and very nouveau riche, and full of dickheads. It’s super flashy, and people judge everyone based on their watch/cars/job, etc. Palm Beach on the other hand is full of old money, and people here are totally down to earth. They don’t care about anything. I’ve never felt more at home anywhere overseas that I do since moving here. Everyone here has been super nice, and I don’t hear any backstabbing at all.

  • May 29, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Great read my Aussie! Its always interesting to see how the rest of the world sees you.

  • May 29, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Re the dangerous animals: Don’t forget that in addition to the mammalian dangers, we also have a couple of poisonous spiders (black widow and brown recluse) and at least three categories of venomous snakes (copperhead, cottonmouth, and rattlesnake).

    • June 5, 2013 at 4:46 am

      I know! I swear there’s just as many scary animals in the US as in Oz… if not more!

  • May 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Enjoyed your piece! I’m an Aussie myself, and (coincidentally!), I’ve been a prof at the University of Delaware since 1999. I agree with just about all of your observations (not sure about the politics one). I’ll add a few more differences. First, about sports. Australian sports tend to be continuous, whereas US sports is stop-start (surely not just to make room for TV ads?). And US pro sports winners are always “World Champions”, whether anyone else is playing or not. Second, about style of speech. I’ve really had to tone down the Aussie irony here, because folks tend to take what I say literally. Third, about beer. US domestic beer is swill, only with less flavo(u)r. But US microbeers are like wines: you can get just about anything, and a lot of it is damn good. Fourth, there’s hardly any overhead lighting in houses here (and the switches go the other way: up for on…) Fifth, they don’t use the metric system (a local actually told me “Oh, yeah. We tried that–it didn’t work”).

    By the way, like you I’ve always been blown away by the physical geography here. We’ve travelled a lot, and just about every famous place we’ve visited is way better than I’ve expected. The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park, and about a thousand others. The exception? Plymouth Rock. (In my mind I had imagined a huge flat natural rock that a ship could rock up next to and disgorge the pilgrims onto. The reality? It’s a moderate-sized boondy with a big crack in it that you could just about wrap your arms around.)

    • June 5, 2013 at 4:48 am

      Hi Richard, no kidding you are at UDel? What’s your area?
      You’re spot on about all those things! It’s a big ol’ funny world isn’t it..

  • May 29, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Also being Australian, and living in Canada for over 12 years, I could relate to many of the things you mention… I wish I had a ‘loonie’ for every time I got a blank look from someone I was talking to, because I had inadvertently said something ‘strange’..It took me a very long time to get used to looking the other way before crossing the road! I love Prime Rib nights at the local restaurant – hardly anyone in Australia knows what they are – especially the Butchers! And forget about ordering a ‘Caesar’ at a bar in Australia…Tim Horton’s coffee, and the best donuts in the world! Perogies are to die for, eating soup with crackers all crumbled in, and having Potato Chips (crisps) served beside your sandwich, with a dill pickle on the side…real Hot Dogs with all the trimmings… I loved how, no matter where you live, you have access to cheap cable TV, and cable internet!!! And WiFi is available everywhere! And the scenery is BRILLIANT!

  • May 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

    When I lived in Australia in the late 1980s, I loved the burgers with egg and beet…er, sorry, beetroot. The chaps I knew did some good barbequeing but SO MUCH MEAT. I loved the beaches of Queensland but thought there was very little culture. I almost kissed the sand when I founda bookstore. A tiny little used bookstore but a bookstore nonetheless. I loved pub lunches and all the expressions: journo for journalist, brekky for breakfast, and nappy for diapers. I still cackle when I see “Nappies Food Service” trucks here in Pittsburgh

    … I like your take on America, which is a hard nut to crack since it is so variable from place to place. What fascinated me about my own country on roadtrips was the many towns, especially in the southwest, that do not have chain retail.

    • June 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      You should visit again Diane… we’re a bit more into kulcha nowdays. A bit! Come to Sydney or Melbourne ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • May 1, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Oh what makes me laugh are the plumber trucks that have Emergency Rooter service painted on the side.

  • May 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I can only say thank you. As an American, thank you for focusing on the positive.

    • June 5, 2013 at 4:49 am

      The US is surprising in so many ways. Don’t believe the hype!

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  • May 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi”…..aussie got america right-on -)

  • May 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    What good uplifting thing to read.
    Raised in a some-what MORE European-like style, as a native USA born Californian, sometimes some of us are down right embarrassed to find out what people from other lands think of us.
    We sometimes feel VERY apologetic and feel like telling visitors “I am truly sorry, we aren’t ALL like what you’ve heard…”
    I forget how we have good points, and some of our land and culture is fine and even good.
    Thanks for positive feed back. Felt like someone liked us more than they hated us.
    p.s. we will make you BBQ anytime and make sure only brave kind women approach you and that all your visits are California awesome…We have the tasty micro brews too!

  • May 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    If you’d been in the US in the late 60s, you wouldn’t have seen much respect for the armed services. It is MUCH better now, in part, I think, because of the on-going war but also because people finally realized how horribly veterans had been treated back then.

    • January 20, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Completely agree. In fact, I think it began after September 11th. Same with all the flags everywhere.

  • May 30, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Great commentary, thanks for taking the time and effort to share. It’s a big old goofy world, isn’t it?

  • May 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Great read! Am a former Brit who has lived in the US now for 22 years the US is truly the best place ever (and we have travelled to many other countries)! Would not live anywhere else! Have visited 44 of the 50 states and it’s like 50 different countries rolled into one with such beautiful scenery and great food (you can get any type here,including French). One of my first observations was why does the Secret Service have their phone number listed in the phone book? LOL, aren’t they supposed to be “secret”? Never saw MI5 listed in the UK:) Although this was in Seattle years ago. Your variations on the OZ English to UK and US English rang a bell. Many words have different conotations. First day at a US school our 11 year old son asked the teacher for a “rubber”! He’s a bit of a “wag”, he was told beforehand they are “erasers” here:) At least he made new friends at school first day as they all rolled around laughing. Hope to visit OZ and NZ this Fall (Autumn)and take a look at life down under, will watch out for the spiders! Where we live here we have aligators that come up into our back yard (garden), thankfully they usually push off when they see us. Thanks again for the read and listing many of the observations which we share as foreigners here. Also for reminding me of how lucky my family is to live here. If I ever hear anyone denegrate the USA I always ask the same thing, “have you ever lived anywhere else”? Best.

    • June 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Ha ha my sister innocently asked for a rubber at Disneyland when we were kids…… was very funny to see their reaction

  • May 31, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Great article. Being an American who’s visited Oz, I appreciate the reciprocal view.

  • May 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Haha, brilliant article, really enjoyed it. Just reading the titles is hilarious enough. One comment, though, I wonder what an Australian would have said about normal or abnormalcy of gun ownership had they been speaking on it 20 or 30 years ago (whenever it was before gun confiscation occurred in Australia). Whatever the case may be there, no doubt there are many parts of the world where owning a gun is not strange in the least.

    • June 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      I was in my teens when the gun buyback occurred. I can honestly say that even before that, it was not a normal thing to own a gun. Only the police had them. In fact I’d never even seen one outside of a police belt until I spent some time on a farm in my late teens. Apparently when my Dad was a kid, it was more common. He tells stories of getting onto the bus with his high-school army cadet mates, and they all had their rifles with them, and nobody on the bus used to think it was weird or anything. You definitely couldn’t do that now. As for the gun ownership thing, I’ve been to nearly 40 countries, and nowhere in the Western world is it so normal as in the US. Really.

  • June 1, 2013 at 10:01 am

    oh, great… especially loved the backhanded swipes at conservatives.

  • June 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Great article! Quick note – Last picture is Grand Central Terminal (not Grand Central Station) A station allows trains to run through it. There are no “through” trains at Grand Central – therefore it is a Terminal. Peace and Love! – An American who visited Australia once.

  • June 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I never realized the rest of the world didn’t have water in the toilet (Mexico does) or didn’t use checks (I like em because you can “pay” before you actually get the money in your account and it gives you an undisputable receipt).

    One of my favorite things to do with foreigners is take them out in the desert and let them shoot my AK-47 (I’m a liberal BTW). I’ve yet to see one that didn’t get a big smile from having more fun than they knew was legal. That’s why we all have guns (well, not the city dwelling weinies) – it’s fun.

  • June 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Wow….thank you so much for your comments. I do get very tired of people coming here and then slamming everything American. I think all your observations are spot on and very honest. I especially appreciate what you said about the diversity…ugly towns with beautiful landscapes. It baffles me too.
    Marinara is a light tomato base sauce with chunks of tomato. No seafood.
    We have very dangerous animals, but they are usually places that people are not. Either high mountain, desert or in sparsely populated areas.
    Yes, we do eat, drink and are very merry, but face it, Ozzies can out drink us in a heart beat, and generally behave much better. When my friends from OZ came to visit we lasted three days. We then cried “Uncle” and had to ring out our livers.
    America has very provincial ideas about drinking and many impart that on their kids. Consequently, their kids go crazy when they become teenagers or leave home and usually binge drink and act reprehensibly. No one teaches them how they are supposed to handle drinking.
    Anyway…thank you for your observations. Wonderful article.

  • June 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    According to your picture, it might be that girls are intimidated by your beauty, not your birthplace. Then just when one of us gets the courage to go talk to you (probably with the help of alcohol or xanax), you open your mouth, out comes that mellifluous accent, and we are toast. Plus, we’ve been made to believe that men do not like women who are not air-brushed perfect. We can’t win. I’m sorry we’re taking our self-esteem issues out on you nice Aussies.

  • June 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Great article! As a fellow portlander I loved some of your insights, although we are really lucky in Portland that we adopt a much more “European” attitude here than many other areas of the US. Well said though about the cliches the rest of the world looks at as American, because like you said, for every loud obnoxious American there is another that is worldly and respectable. Great article though!

  • June 7, 2013 at 1:22 am

    Only have one comment – barbeque. There is no such thing as “American style” barbeque. There are three types – Texas, North Carolina and Kansas City. Anything else is just cooking something on a grill.

    • June 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Is that right. See this is why I love writing for you guys, I get free education!

  • June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Great article but you need to spend some time in the southern US. We will treat you so many ways you are bound to like one! and barbecue….you haven’t had the best till you’ve been to Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, AL! Roll Tide Mate!

    • June 18, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      I was in North Carolina for about 2 months. Does that count? And I loved it down there.

      • August 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

        No… North Carolina doesn’t count. It is southern, and beautiful too, but you haven’t experienced the Deep South until you’ve visited Alabama (TN, MS and GA as well)! If you want to experience warm southern hospitality, good food, beautiful and ever changing scenery (we have mountains, forests, ocean etc all in one state), and knock your socks off football (You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a ‘Bama football game in Bryant-Denny stadium on a Saturday in the Fall! A filled to capacity 101,821 seat stadium roaring so loudly you can’t even think!), you must come to Alabama!!! I’ve traveled all over the U.S., many parts of Europe and the Caribbean and found beauty and wonder everywhere, but Alabama is still one of the best places God created! Debbie is correct about being treated in ways you will like and Dreamland BBQ :)

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  • June 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Matthew, really enjoyed your post and would love to know where the desolate landscape pictured in #2 is. If you ever make your way to the east coast Portland, you’ll see examples of this EVERYWHERE.

    • June 18, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Hi Helene. I thought I wouldn’t mention it as I didn’t want to be overly cruel. The answer might surprise you though. But you are right, I have been to both coasts (not so much in the middle) and I have seen places like this everywhere. Ugly right next to beautiful in many cases. It was something I was really surprised about.

  • June 20, 2013 at 12:34 am


    Here are my 18 Strange Observations as an American Woman Living in Australia ( 10 years and counting)

    1. The Shopping Carts ( Trolleys ) are all really dodgy. All the wheels go around and it is not unusual to see them going down the car park ( parking lot ) sideways. I always feel so bad for the Moms struggling with the cart with a toddler and new born….
    2. Australian wines are fantastic but here they all come with a screw cap….
    3. They do not pick up mail from your home. A postman riding a motorcylce with a basket on the front delivers your mail but they do not pick up. Once in my first few months here ( I live in QLD ), I asked the postman while he was delivering my mail if he would be so kind to take in a letter for me….he said ” Lady, this is Australia…we don’t work that hard here”. Oh, gee thanks.
    4. People park their cars on the lawn…sometimes even if the driveway is empty. When you have quests come over, they too park their cars all over your lawn.
    5. Adult Shops are EVERYWHERE and they are right in your face in the shopping strips. Try explaining to your 4 yr old what an adult shops is.
    6. You have to bring your own drinks to a dinner party/party. If you don’t, you are out of luck. And not just a bottle of wine as a gift, you need to bring whatever your kids are going to drink and any soft drinks you might want.
    7. Aussies SWEAR. and the swear alot! And not just in anger but swear just to swear. For example, you might ask someone how to get to Smith Street and this might be the answer…” Maaattte, go the the next f**king traffic light and make a f**king left. Drive for about 2 f**king kilometers and Smith Street will be on your f**king left Maaaattteee. Seriously.
    8. Boring PUB meals. This is the menu for every pub you go into to: Chicken Parm, Ceasar Salad, Lamb Shanks, Roast of the Day, Lasagna. Doesn’t matter what town, this is what the Pub has on the menu.
    9. They have great hot chips ( french fries ) Fantastic and they make this amazing Hot Chip Sandwich where you put hot chips on buttered white bread!
    10. The parking spaces on about two feet smaller than the ones in America. I know this because I measured them. Parking lots are so tight!!! All this land and they make the car spaces so tiny.
    10. The roads are smaller too….highways and in the cities.
    11. When you go to a house party be sure to get there early or the food will run out. We usually eat before we go since we have lost out so many times.
    12. Shops do not restock inventory very often. Me at Target recently..” Excuse me, I am looking for some navy blue school tights for my daughter”..Clerk says ” Sorry, we are all out.” Me: ” Are you planning on getting some in?” Her: ” Ummm, no, we don’t do that”…huh?
    13. Stores do not use COUPONS….and the reason this is important…see 14.
    14. It is really expensive here. Lettuce is 3.99 today, loaf of bread at my grocery store last night was 4.20. A manicure is 35.00. Wages are high too but the cost of food is riduculous. On the positive, I stopped buying juice and soft drink as soon as we moved here because of the high prices.
    15. It is very white. Now I live in QLD so take that for what its worth but everyone is white. I went to my Aussie citizenship swear in and out of 100 people being sworn in, 100 were white and at least half of them were blond hair and blue eyed.
    16. People drink heaps of alcohol. The first few years I was here, I spent alot of time at parks with my small children on sat and sun and it always amazed me how it could be 11 am and heaps of people were drinking in the parks. Families having wine and beer all day long. It is also hard for someone who does not want to drink to be at a party because everyone is encouraging you to drink! You are better off pretending you have alcohol in your glass so you don’t constantly asked why you are not drinking!
    17. There are very little after school activities…ie: debate club, chess club, cheerleading, sports, drama club. etc. They do have these leagues but pretty much school starts at 9am and you go home at 3pm
    18. It is very safe. No guns, the government takes care of you and they are very soft on crime. It is not socialist but lots of government regulation.
    Now remember, I have only lived in QLD…..

    • July 1, 2013 at 2:42 am

      Great list Monica! Funny how you noticed the poorly-functioning trolleys. I don’t think I’ve seen a cart being pushed head-on in my nine months here. Well, here’s my 18 Observations from an American Man Living in Australia:

      1. The daily wildlife you may encounter is quite interesting. In my local suburb, I’ve seen cockatoos, colorful parrot-looking birds, magpies, blue-tongued lizards, bull ants and red-back spiders. Summer was particularly “interesting” when these massive roaches and other beetle-looking bugs overran my room.

      2. The public transport system (at least in Sydney) can get you to most places of interest. In Southern California, you absolutely need a car to get anywhere.

      3. People really like to punch on. In the 23 years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve seen a total of two bouts of fisticuffs. In the nine months I’ve been in NSW, I’ve witnessed five fights and participated in one (in all areas between Campbelltown and Sydney CBD, men and women).

      4. The skies here are vast, clear and beautiful. No noxious, purple cloud of smog hovering above (a la Los Angeles).

      5. Generally, it seems like everyone has an early bedtime. Shopping malls and most shops close at 5 pm. A handful of restaurants are open til 9 or 10 pm. SoCal shops close at 9 pm daily. Plenty of restaurants are open til 1 am.

      6. Aussie bums aren’t as gregarious as their US counterparts. The bums back home love to converse before or after they ask for some change. Whether you want to talk as well is a different story.

      7. The social stigma of pot-smokers is a bit harsher here. I’ve heard from various sources that toking up is an activity reserved for the dregs of society. Partaking in the smoking of herbs is quite commonplace among Californians and really isn’t that big of a deal.

      8. There aren’t many beer offerings at the pubs around here (Maybe I haven’t been to the right ones?). The microbrewery scene is thriving in the States, and it’s not uncommon to drink at a pub with 20+ different beers on tap.

      9. They seem to drive much slower here even though the speed limits are not far off from each other in comparison. When I would drive to work on the 405 freeway in the OC area, normal traffic was moving at 75 to 80 mph (120 – 128 km), which is supposedly unheard of over here.

      10. Generally, restaurant food is not that good. Asian and Lebanese restaurants may be the only exceptions.

      11. Cigarette packs are adorned with off-putting images of gangrenous feet and emphysemic lungs to discourage smoking. I believe the Australian government mandated this type of packaging. Nice to see a government actually care for the health and welfare of its citizens.

      12. To a foreigner, Australian lingo must be learned, f.e., “servo” means gas station. I find that American English is mostly self-indicative and can be understood by most. “Gas station” is a station that probably sells gas. “Servo” is a…what now?

      13. The Internet is slow, and free Wi-Fi (offered at cafes) isn’t ubiquitous as it is in the US.

      14. “Hardstyle” music and culture is massive here. It certainly exists in the States but is not as popular.

      15. Australians that haven’t been to the States or that do not know any Americans generally believe the US to be some kind of Wild West film with bullets whizzing by your head every couple of minutes. I suppose you can’t blame them considering the content of most of our films and the weekly headlines of mass shootings.

      16. There aren’t many choices of television programming, which I feel is great for the most part. There’s way too much mind-numbing dribble on American television. The only things I miss would be political satire shows (Colbert, Stewart), sports news and the movie channels.

      17. Most movie theatres have a Gold Class option, which is essentially a premium service movie experience. Hors d’oeuvres, full service bar, incredibly comfortable Lazy Boys. There are a handful of theatres that offers this in the US, yet so far, every theatre I’ve been to offers this.

      18. Movies are often shown much later than the showtime on the ticket. On one outing, it took about 30 minutes before they even began rolling the previews.

    • August 30, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Hi Monica

      I had to laugh at the swearing point. I could actually picture the person when you wrote that. I know what you’re talking about but not everybody is like that. I don’t swear. Ok I do say ‘bloody’… but does that count? LOL
      I don’t like the “F-bombs” and my friends don’t speak that way either.

      I don’t drink alcohol like you’re talking about. I can’t think of anything worse then going to a park in our hot Queensland sun and spend the day drinking. That is not a scene I would like my children to be around. My friends do not drink like that either. But I know there are people that do live that lifestyle. Each to their own and I am not judging. But the people I know, we go to playgrounds for our children and have BBQ’s. Or to the beach and have a picnic. Or for a country drive and picnic- all minus the alcohol.

      When we hold a party we provide everything. We ask our guests NOT to bring anything but I find that most people want to. That is when I say (as I don’t really drink) that if they want something alcoholic they could bring that. I am selective with what wine I like and can’t imagine drinking a beer you don’t fancy. So most people find it easier to bring their own alcohol. For the food we always have leftovers. I’ve got to say- love the BBQ leftovers. The steak is a bit meh, but the rissoles – yum and the different salads.

      Not everyone is white. Where abouts do you live in Queenslander? Have you ever been to Rockhampton, Mackay, Brisbane, Townsville or Cairns? To name a few. I am olive skinned, brown hair and green eyes. I am from Rockhampton and I grew up with all walks of life. I have South-Sea Islander and Aboriginal with English and German decent. I actually don’t have a friend that is blonde hair with blue eyes. My friends range from all walks of life. I am on the Sunny Coast and yes you do get your ‘surfies’ that are very much blonde hair and blue eyed but there are just as many brown heads as well. My husband has black hair.

      Ahhh the trolleys. They are a nightmare aren’t they? They really are as bad as you say but the silver lining is that you get great arms from the workout of trying to keep it straight with your baby in it- LOL. Because no matter what you do, you are not going to let that trolley go with your baby in it. There is always a positive! LOL

      I actually think the parking spots are getting smaller in major towns. I live rural and the parks out here are still bigger here.

      I was in the U.S. about 10 years ago and loved that the mail man picked up your mail. You just put that little lever up and ‘Bob’s your Uncle’. Thought that was great. I remember thinking ‘Wow, they have trucks to drive in’. Our posties (postmen) have have just their motorbikes in the heat and rain.


  • June 25, 2013 at 11:38 am

    After reading a very respectful article written by an Australian in the U.S. you decide to it’s time to list all the negatives you have found living in Australia? Maybe this is why Americans get a bad reputation abroad.

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  • June 28, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Actually there are many Australians of Italian descent, quite a large percentage of Italians migrated to Australia from the 1950s onwards, particularly from Southern Italy. Cities like Melbourne have huge populations of people with Italian blood. Some towns (such as Griffith in NSW) have populations that are MAJORITY Italian descent. Australia is a very multicultural country, particularly when it comes to migrants from the Mediterannean (especially Greek and Italian).

  • July 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I’m an American; and, an Australian; and, a New Zealander. That’s right, I have citizenship in all three countries. Born in America(northwest Washington), I left to work in Saudi Arabia. During the three years I lived and worked in Riyadh, I met and married an Austrian woman. Leaving Riyadh, we settled for a couple of years in Vienna, then moved to Wellington, NZ, where we happily lived for about 9 years, then to Sydney, where we still live. I’ve visited several European countries, and some Asian ones. In the end, it seems there are good things and some not so desirable everywhere one goes. People, however, are pretty much the same everywhere. I do think that Americans are generally more “open” than people in other countries, but, having said that, New Zealanders and Australians are right up there for friendliness and helpfulness. There is good food/bad food everywhere. There are unique customs/behaviours everywhere. Do I miss America? Sometimes. But, I also miss Wellington sometimes, and Vienna sometimes. Bottom line: Australia is a wonderful country. I love it and I’m staying here.

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    • July 31, 2013 at 2:47 am

      actually a computer scientist named tim berners-lee who is british invented the internet if you don’t believe me then you can google that

      • August 16, 2013 at 2:08 am

        While not to discount the significant accomplishment of Tim Berners-Lee and the world wide web, it does a disservice to not acknowledge others who created the technology that it runs upon. The technology for the Internet was created prior to the world wide web, Please do look up other Internet pioneers such as Vint Cert, Bob Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Ray Tomlinson, and many others who worked on protocols and aspects of the Internet prior to when a world wide web existed but technologies that still make the Internet work as it does today.

      • October 17, 2013 at 5:26 pm

        Tim Berners-Lee did invent the markup languages and protocols that allowed him to develop the World Wide Web (it’s why we have www in our web addresses), but the Internet predates the web by at least 20 years. In fact, an awful lot of people were involved, developing both ARPANET (in the US) and JANet (Joint Academic Network, in the UK) along with the French Minitel network. A lot of independent networks developed around the same time and, although it’s debatable as to whether you can attribute the ‘invention’ to one or other team, does it really matter which tribe’s cultural borders were around the concept? I mean, ‘WORLD wide web”, there’s a clue in the name.
        Brilliant article, BTW. Nice to see an outsiders view of the US rather than the usual ‘bunch of septics’ outpourings

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  • July 31, 2013 at 2:43 am

    well american girls ( i am one) all women don’t want to have there hearts broken and most long distance relationships don’t work that is probably why girls give you the your going to bite look ethier that or they think you are just faking a accent because come on what girl does not love a australian accent.

  • August 5, 2013 at 8:12 am

    As an American (Bostonian) living in Sydney for the last 10 years, I have to say I loved the article. And that I am STILL more afraid of spiders and snakes than bears.

    I remember a few years back when a boy collapsed and sadly died on a sports field after being bit by a snake and walking to get help. The DJs on the radio scoffed, “Everyone knows you shouldn’t move after being bit by a snake!” Yeah, like Sydney’s foreign born 30% all knew that one!

  • August 6, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Why did Australia get all the Italian immigrants and New Zealand get all the Poms?
    Answer : Australia had first choice.

    • October 17, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Pom here
      You’re an evil talking bar steward and I hate you

  • August 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Aw, thanks for sharing your experience in our country. As I’m sure you’ve observed, we are very proud of her, despite our disparity. :) By the way, the only place in the world besides the US I could imagine loving is Australia. Although, I would sorely miss our wildlife, our southern culture, and yes, our guns. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      You are very welcome in Australia, but please, leave the guns at home ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • August 10, 2013 at 8:49 am

    As an Australian who has lived around the US for 8 of my 20 years, I could not articulate this more accurately!

  • August 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I loved reading your blog and all the comments! I’m a New Yorker (for the past 30 years) and was born and raised in the Midwest. (so I am a New Yorker, but not a NATIVE New Yorker…a distinction often made when asked “Are you from New York?”) I agree with everything you wrote about the US. Before I moved to NYC, I thought all New Yorkers were rude and nasty…not so…many people here are kind and helpful…I have been to Florida, too, and found friendly people there, as well.

    I also learned a lot from all the comments people made! I didn’t realize there was such diversity in BBQ. We don’t have the drive through ATMs here in the city, but I have been to quite a few in Michigan (they have banking by car with vacuum tubes, too) But here all my ‘errands’ are within walking distance…no need for drive-though convenience. It has only been a year since I learned not to call Grand Central a “station”…that is an easy mistake to make if you are not a Native New Yorker.

    There is definitely a huge difference from one part of the US to the other…New York City never sleeps, and in many small towns they “roll up the sidewalk” about 6pm. I love all that NYC has to offer in culture and diversity…but never could get used to the dirty sidewalks and the cost of living is steep. I am, finally, somewhat used to kissing cheeks with everyone when you get together with friends…I think that people are a bit more reserved in the Midwest, so that took a while to get used to. I really did have culture shock when I first moved here. Now my husband is retiring soon and we plan on moving, possibly to…Idaho! We fell in love with Boise. Clean sidewalks AND cultural activities!

    I’d love to visit Australia one day…but I would also like to see all of the USA as well…not sure we’ll live long enough to do both, but we can try! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Great article! And I love your blog title!

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Thanks Stef… the US is great, but don’t forget about the rest of the world. Why restrict yourself?

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      Water, just not so much- I think this could be your reason to get out and see the world Matthew!!

  • August 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    As an American living in Melbourne, I absolutely loved this blog post! (and until I read it, hadn’t realized that I hadn’t seen a drive-thru ATM for the past 18 months…). Funny, funny stuff. Incidentally, I live here because I fell for an Aussie guy… so don’t close the door on #8 just yet… :)

  • August 17, 2013 at 8:52 am

    (1) Your “somewhere in California, USA” pic is Inglewood :)

    (2) As an American who just moved to QLD, I loved this article! I think your comment about the amount of water in toilets is hilarious because I had the opposite frustration. I was about to diagnose myself with kidney failure until I realized that things weren’t as “diluted” as in the US so I have to judge differently (sorry if that’s TMI)

    (3) What you said about the food is so true. Back home, I used to joke that when in America, when someone asks “what’s for lunch?” or “what’s for dinner?” we don’t pick a meal, we pick a nation. If you notice, people will respond with “Maybe Chinese.” or “How about Mexican?” or “I’m kinda in the mood for Italian.” At least, we did in California :)

    (4) I love Australia because it’s beautiful and safe, but I don’t know if there is anywhere in the world quite as Diverse as Los Angeles or New York. I lived in LA and you could never tell where anyone was from until they spoke, and you never knew what accent you would hear. You could easily talk to people from three different nations in a day, or ten different nations in a week. Even when not talking to people from other countries, the racial diversity of Americans is amazing because people have literally come in from EVERYwhere!

    (5) Speaking of diversity, you should check out the “little nations” in the US. In Los Angeles alone, there’s Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, I think there’s even a Little Armenia. Then there is the part of town where the traditional Jewish people live (they don’t drive on the Sabbath so they all live within walking distance of the Temple). That’s the other thing. You learn so much about so many different cultures because you get to know the people in them. It’s wonderful and amazing! :)

    On the “American observing Australia” side:

    (1) I LOVE the safety. I know crime happens everywhere, but it seems it happens much less here. I can walk from my university to my home well after dark without fear.

    (2) Australians are incredibly nice, but also incredibly tough. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. You know they’re nice, but you don’t want to mess with ’em either.

    (3) The TV shows are “lightweight”. I don’t mean that as an insult. American shows are here as well, but seeing the Aussie shows contrasted with the American ones makes me realize how “gritty” American TV is. It’s nice to see shows like “Mr. and Mrs. Murder” where there is a crime an a mystery, but not so much darkness and grime.

    (4) When Aussies say “tea” they don’t mean a hot drink served with crumpets, they mean a meal. For instance, “Morning Tea” is basically a potluck brunch with lots of pastries. If you get invited “to tea”, you’re being invited to dinner.

    (5) I know the truth about the “drop bears” LOL! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • August 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    It is so nice to hear something positive about America and her people. I think it’s funny how Australians like our accent! I love Australians accent, and would love to visit one day.

  • August 26, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Do all the Australians writing here all live in Sydney! There are other cities in Australia and we evrn have Western Australia with the beautiful city of Perth. I am from Scotland but lived here for 43 years. i have never lived in the USA but I have been there. I would say the the main thing that Americans and Australians have in common is their friendliness. Having been all over Europe, I have often been struck by how rude Europeans can be. Australians never care about how much money you have or where you came from. Everyone is equal. I love that about them.

  • August 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

    This was a great article. I had to post some comments. LOL. Just to freak you out though we had a 6 foot brown snake draped over our fence yesterday. I do live rural. It had come out of our dam and was crossing the road. Someone has hit it and then picked it up and put it on our fence so let us know what we’ve got around our dam. It was huge and meaty. At least with spiders you can drown them in Baygon spray. Not very environmental but then you could use a the broom.

    Also the toilets in the U.S. are sort of fatter and lower where here in Australia they stand higher. When I was in the U.S. apple/ cinnamon flavour was huge. I was in Oregon and yes the coastline was amazing. But doesn’t it have a pretty wild under current there? The king tides were a bit wicked too if I remember correctly.

  • September 10, 2013 at 5:37 am

    I’m from l.a. and have been asked by Europeans and austrailians if I surf to school and since proximity to Hollywood know any celebs. respectively. and findit funny the French guy on food being typical French guy attitude. los Angeles has some of the best restaurants in the world. and the best Mexican food.

  • September 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I thought I was one of the few Aussies living in California who noticed some of these things. People here are so dramatic with the snakes and spiders rubbish. I’m still alive and I lived there for 25 years! Yeah, the Drive-thru atms are kinda funny and the cheque thing is just plain backwards. Thanks for writing the blog, appreciate having another share the same point of view.

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  • September 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Well, you got tarantulas, and thats bad enough for an Aussie.
    We got them too, but they are the dinner plate size suckers….reaches for smelling salts…

  • October 1, 2013 at 7:36 am

    As an American who has lived in Australia for 2.5 years, this was a really fun read. It’s nice to see that someone who has been to the U.S. has some positive things to say about it. I’ve heard from more people than I care to count how they would never want to go to America because its unsafe, the food is terrible, and everyone is rude and up themselves. I love so many aspects of Australia and Australians, but I’ve encountered some of the most xenophobic, small-minded people I’ve ever met here, and I’ve travelled quite a bit around the world. I miss America: the great food, culturally open-minded people, places that are open past 5pm (everything seems to close early or be completely closed on the weekends here), people who are interested in the politics of their country, college sports, and yes, even drive-thru ATMs.

    I have to say though, in America’s defense, towns and cities are indeed ugly sometimes, but Australian towns and cities are notably ugly and poorly designed. Even australian houses leave me a bit perplexed sometimes: why are Queensland houses all identically square, cement, and have metal roofs? I miss wooden houses with character. Buildings in Australia are notoriously thin, without central heating/cooling, and overall aesthetically unpleasing.

    After all my griping though, I’ve got to say that good-looking people grow on trees here. And the cities are extremely clean.

    • December 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Queensland has many houses, the square brick ones are usually in modern estates, where cheap and fast is important, but we have Queenslanders, we have german inspired architecture (such as up mount Tamborine), italian, french, english etc. Queenslanders are amazing, they are built for the heat. The raised floor, high ceilings and verandah worked well. Also, tin roofs are much less susceptible to damage by excessively large hail stones, which are a semi-regular experience.

      In much the same way as a modern estate anywhere in the world has all the same type of houses, what works, works. I’ve seen many gated communities in the USA where all the houses are replicates of the next. The more expensive communities have varying designs, but when you are expanding for rapid influx you tend to stick to the norm. Also, central heating is hardly needed, and the whole point of the Queenslander is you sit back on the verandah and enjoy the breeze, open all the internal doors to let it blow through, hot air rises and cool air circulates. Also, what concrete houses have tin roofs? It’s usually only older queenslanders and perhaps some of the 70’s era brick buildings that have tin roofs. Most modern estates and houses have tiled roofs.

      I think that ugliness is dependent on the individual really. I personally find modern estates here in the USA to be ugly, I miss my big beautiful queenslander with its wrap around verandahs and plenty of storage space underneath (not to mention my man cave I built in underneath). And even though my Queenslander had been recently modified with central airconditioning, I often would open the doors to the verandahs and just let the breeze flow through. Nothing like it!

      Brisbane is notoriously bad for stores closing at 5pm, like other businesses. Except for entertainment, food and supermarkets etc. Sydney and Melbourne aren’t so bad for that. But it’s part of the life style I guess, like, why expect the shit kickers to work longer than the more educated positions? Everyone gets a fair go, everyone gets to enjoy the weather and the beaches etc. It will change as populations expand, but I don’t think it’s that much of a bad thing. Most employers will give you 10mins to pop down the post office here and there. I find it a lot more casual than employment and lifestyle over here in the USA. Everyone is constantly on the go here, it feels so rushed.

      Also, if you think Aussie towns are poorly designed, try living in the UK or Europe for a while. It’s like they’ve never tried to modernise their country at any stage in their history. Narrow roads, no parking, a distance of 100miles could take 250miles to drive because none of their roads go straight to anywhere. Australias a lot more well planned than almost all of Europe, and a lot better suited for driving. (though public transport in Australia needs a LOT of work).

      As for politics, it depends on the Aussie. We are interested but we aren’t typically interested in discussing it. We’d rather not debate and just be mates regardless, where as many of my colleagues and friends here in the USA will fall out over politics and not talk for days or weeks on end. Some even change jobs because their colleagues don’t have the same views, that would rarely happen in Australia. I personally love to discuss politics, American, Australian, whatever. But I cannot stand stupidity, and there are too many people in both countries that vote so blindly with absolutely no research or interest in the outcomes… and those some people are also the first to bitch when it doesn’t go well. This is why most Aussies refuse to get into it.

      Unfortunately I have to agree n the xenophobic thing. To a degree. I believe many Aussies are like this, but many also are not. Australia, like America, has a large percentage of its population that are just happy to sit tight and live in their own country forever. Whilst more of our countrymen hold passports, a smaller percentage of those with them actually make use of them more than once or twice in a lifetime. We have been brought up believing we have a lucky country and are blessed to live in it, so many of us never want to leave. Americans are the same in that regard. I find country folk in America to be just as xenophobic as a lot of Aussies, I believe in Australia, specially in Brisbane, you get more country folk a lot closer to town than in America. Brisbane is thought of by a lot of southern Australia as being a large country town. Also, a lot of those from families going back as far as original settlement, or further, to convict times, still have that attitude passed down generation to generation that the world has done them wrong, and they don’t want anything to do with it. I mean, imagine being shipped off to Australia with your family, seeing half of the die on the voyage across, all because you stole a loaf of bread to try and feed them. You’d despise anyone you associated with that. Which often was the world at large for allowing it to happen. I don’t believe this to be an excuse, but it’s at the very least an explanation. We have much the same thing happening with a high percentage of native aboriginal people, who choose to live in the past, and focus on the hardships of their forefathers. I know plenty of Aboriginals who are not like that, and who embrace modern life as well as the ancestral past. But sadly, there are many who will happily abuse you for being white and destroying their country. And then go on to demand that you give them cigarettes or change after they are finished guilt tripping you. It just seems to be an Australian trait for the older generations. I’ve never had these thoughts, but I am first generation Australian. I have other first and 2nd generation Aussies who are also completely not xenophobic, but almost all of our friends from older generations are xeno or even racist towards outsiders. Won’t travel, won’t try exotic foods, etc. They seem to think it is their right to be like that. Can’t see how it’s wrong etc. Does my head in but it’s just how it is. And yes, it needs to change… but unless Australia loosens its immigration laws it never will. As we will continue to keep Australia to itself. I sincerely hope this changes soon, because it is one of my pet peeves about Australia.

      Now, all that said, i see much the same in the southern states and more rural areas of the USA too. Similar attitude, sometimes even towards african americans! So it is definitely not exclusive to Aus. Brits too, can be quite xenophobic. Not so much in London, but go anywhere north and you’ll find just as much fear and lack of knowledge.

      Anyway, enough! ๐Ÿ˜› Enjoy Queensland. I miss it!

  • October 23, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    So, I’m studying abroad in Sydney next semester and I was looking for articles of what it’s like to live there. I happened to stumble across this article. It honestly made me laugh out loud so many times that I’m giggling right now at how much I laughed.

    Cheers! :)

  • October 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Thanks dude for your positive comments about my country. I live in Asia, and I must say its the most xenophobic nationalistic place on the planet. So many beautiful things I love about my U.S. I hope she never changes ) There are bad things about the U.S., you must be born and raised there to see them. The gun violence is not cool, its a new thing. But overall, the U.S. is a great place.

  • October 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I loved this article – and found myself agreeing so many times. Ive never lived in the US, but have a sister thats been there for almost 10 years and I have taken my family over twice in the past 18months. I, like most Aussies, had preconceived ideas of what the US would be like and what Americans would be like – I was pleasantly surprised. Our first trip we spent 9 weeks travelling LA-San Diego-Las Vegas-Seattle-Vancouver-San Francisco-Anaheim and our second trip was 6 weeks NY-Washington DC-Chicago-St Louis-Nashville- Orlando. Both trips we drove through and stayed as many small towns as possible.
    The biggest shocks for us were –
    1. Like you said they were ALL friendly, super friendly, be it the waiter/waitress, the walmart employee, the shelf packer at CVS – our 15 weeks in the States and not one rude person. Im serious, none
    2. Everything is so darn cheap! I know they have slightly more population than us but why do we pay $16 MORE for the same Mascara? Geez we brought back a truckload… makeup, clothing, shoes, toys…..
    3. The age of workers – we would go into a McDonalds or Jack-in-the-box and be served by a lady that would be pushing 90! You never ever see that in Australia! If you get served by someone older than 55 in Australia its because they own the place! I thought this was awesome! We got served by one lovely lady in a casino gift shop in Vegas, she carefully gift-wrapped my daughters postcards in tissue paper – and took sooooo long to serve us i was convinced we would celebrate her 100th birthday before the sale was complete! But seriously she was lovely and obviously loved her job…. I really wish Australians had that same attitude to hiring older workers.
    4. This one made us giggle to no end… the tv commercials, and print ads for medicines… all the warnings…You would have a 30 second tv ad about say a headache tablet “Mary takes &&&&& for her headaches” that part took 5 seconds – for the next 25 seconds you would hear the voice over person saying “&&&&& may have side effects including suicidal tendencies, weight gain, weight loss, headaches, violent tendencies, reaction to the colour blue, make you shrink 10 inches etc etc” Okay the last couple i made up lol, but they nearly always included ‘suicidal thoughts or tendencies’ and there was always a LONG list that included every side effect you could possibly get from anything at all – it seems like they wanted to cover all bases from being sued lol
    5. Speaking of being sued – how many billboards are in the country advertising legal firms?
    “SEXUAL ASSAULT?? – if you have been assaulted call us now, we can help 1800 555 RAPE”
    “BIKE ACCIDENT?? – if you have been involved in a bike accident call us now, we can help 1800 555 BIKE”
    “HAD A FAULTY HIP TRANSPLANT?? – if you have been fitted with a such and such hip replacement call us now, we can help 1800 555 HIPS”
    I am serious, it seemed there were lawyers for every possible situation – and no I’m not using Rape as a joke – i actually have a photo of this sign!

    My family (6 kids from 10-21) Loved America, in fact we are planning our next trip for end of next year – I love being Australian but id happily holiday in the US every single year for the rest of my life. For us there was NO downside to being over there – except maybe the limit on what we could bring home :)

    Thank you for an awesome article

  • December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Californian here. The onlh post I didn’t agree with is how everyone is friendly in America compared to Sydney. That’s like comparing people from Alabama and New York. People from New York are some of the meanest people I’ve ever met. Vise-versa with Alabama. I auppose people from California are neutral. Anyway, because Sydney is such a big city, I wouldn’t expect them to be as nice as people in suburbs.

  • December 4, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Hey everyone,

    I am 29 and live in Australia, looking to travel to the USA next year and eventually get my green card if I like the place. My goal is to do this by age 35 and spend the second half of my life over there. Totally look forward to the holiday, it terms of weather I am looking at cities such as San Jose or San Diego!

  • December 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

    G’day Matt!

    Great read! I’ve compared it to my experience in the UK thus far:

    First up, food! When I got here I could not believe now BLAND the food tastes! Now I’ve adapted it seems no biggy, until someone sends over some Aussie food. Worst thing here by far are mangoes and beef! The mangoes have absolutely no taste in comparison to picking a fresh bowen from the tree in ya backyard in Queensland! And beef! OMG! It’s all so tasteless, even the farm fresh beef from a farmers shop! Now, fair enough, back in Aus I worked for the largest protein producers in Aus, and was spoilt by wholesale access to whole cuts of prime beef, but even an expensive cut of Woolies beef was good! Here it doesn’t matter how much I spend, I can not satiate my appetite for good beef!!! To the point where I am considering importing a years supply from Aus!!! hahah

    Another interesting point on food, I’ve a number of american friends who have commented on food being horrible outside of the USA, to which I told them I could associate. But we’ve all recently decided on a healthier diet, small amounts of meet, no processed foods, plenty of fresh vegetables etc. After 3 months on this healthier diet, two of them went back home and could not handle any of the foods, complaining they were far too salty and sugary etc and thus purchased everything from farmers markets. So perhaps it’s the overabundance of flavouring that makes american food taste so good to an Aussie (where we aren’t opposed to a bit of excessive flavouring), and perhaps the same reason so many Americans either cannot stand or take so long to adapt to, in particular, European foods, where they tend to rely more on natural flavours in the combined foods (many restaurants here I’ve had to ask for salt as it’s not on the table) etc.

    Girls: Same exact deal here! Interested but its more a fascination with Australia, rather than you. It gives more opportunity to meet girls, I guess, but the outcome is as good as it would be back home. Bit disappointing after all the talk from people prior to my departure as to how lucky I would be!

    Dangerous creatures: They are OBSESSED with our venomous fauna!!! Another down side to meeting a girl here, if you plan on settling and moving back to Aus, good luck finding one willing to risk it! They literally think that around every corner there’s something waiting to kill you. Now, granted, the UK has sweet fa when it comes to venomous anything, so it’s understandable their fear. But I see more spiders indoors here (trying to escape the cold) than i ever saw in Aus. Except for, perhaps, outback properties and such. They also seem to focus on the size of our spiders, such as the bird eating spider or the huntsman, what they don’t understand is that they aren’t the venomous ones, and that size doesn’t make them any more or less likely to bite. Only spiders I’ve ever been bitten by are a couple red backs hidden in a crevice of a piece of furniture I was moving out of storage and into someones house.

    Beaches… now this is something I envy you for. Beaches here can be beautiful, but it’s just too cold to be useful, rarely any decent waves, and most are pebble beaches! Also, the Brits are horrendously filthy when it comes to beaches in summer. and parks for that matter! They leave their litter everywhere, including all over the dunes!!! So even if you wanted a nice scenic photo of the beach, it would be absolutely covered in litter. I’ve never seen an Aussie beach in such a state of disrepair. We maintain our beaches and parks and for the most part pick up our litter and bin it. But the Brits, on a good summers day, rush to the beaches in flocks and boy do they litter. I mean excessively! Their bins cannot handle the influx of beach goers, their public servants don’t work on weekends, so two days worth of rubbish ends up in the oceans at high tide. I just can’t fathom how horrible it looks.

    Internet: Britain is in the process of rolling out fibre to the node, which oddly will work fine in a small compact country like this, as a node is on every second block. Sad to hear Australia is about to go the same way thanks to the LNP’s modified NBN plan. I was looking forward to moving back to decent internet. One thing that is the same in Europe as it is in the USA, is that all plans are unlimited. Speeds aren’t so great, I had faster in Australia with Optus 100mb cable. That said, their connections to the USA seem insignificant? As in, an Xbox live game from Aus to USA would be quite common, trying to find someone to play against at 2am wasn’t an issue and wasn’t laggy. Here, as soon as it’s later than 10pm, no games available, no one online, and if you happen to connect to an american game the lag is ridiculous! But having true unlimited is great… the only issue in Europe is that they allow american media giants to monitor torrents and to control investigations into suspected illegal downloads, including having power over the local authorities. Something that would never happen in Australia, and I’m not sure about in USA.

    Drive thru ATM’s! They barely have anything drive through here, it’s crazy. And ATM’s will be sticking out of a wall on the side of a main street through town that has double yellow lines, meaning no parking. Thus you have to park in town and walk to get to your bank and it’s atm to avoid fees. But the lack of bottle-o’s here and the lack of street parking and all of that is just so unbelievably irritating. Something I doubt you’d have to deal with in the USA, where they seem to have streets even wider than back in Aus. I love driving through the country side here as it’s so beautiful almost everywhere… but give me somewhere to pull over and take photos!!! There is literally nowhere, forcing you to drive a mile or two further, find somewhere to park, and walk back to take a photo. I’ve almost resigned to getting a HD Dashcam with which to record all my trips and then go back through and crop out the images I want.

    Also, the ugly cities in beautiful locations… I don’t think there exists as many ugly cities in such a pretty country as in the UK. Their 60’s and 70’s attempts at modern cities in various locations are appallingly ugly, also they have this really bad habit of building new buildings to look as close to their 100 year old neighbours as possible, rather than employing new and modern architecture. It makes towns look ridiculous and fake. Which to me is ugly. It’s no wonder most british architects move overseas! No room to advance in a country that wants everything to look ancient.

    Ok, that ends my little comparison. Comments welcome and expected. ๐Ÿ˜› Brits do get defensive ๐Ÿ˜› Just gotta mention the cricket ;P hahah

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  • March 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

    How exactly does one get “gored by a grizzly bear”? I’m originally from Wyoming, (though I now live in the Netherlands) and I’ve seen grizzly bears. They don’t have horns. You might get MAULED by a bear…or GORED by a Bull, but bears in general have no way of goring.
    But I’m interested….if you found drive up ATMs to be odd, what did you think of the Drive thru liquor windows? And did you encounter cars with electrical plugs to plug them in at night in cold weather? Those are the things I’ve heard from friends that they found odd.

  • March 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    17 is so so true. In fact,if you weren’t male everyone I know would think you were me based on that single opinion.

    Songbird, people don’t generally find things they grew up with to be noteworthy or strange, so to us a drive thru bottle-o is scenery, a drive thru ATM is a curiosity. And BTW, drive thru ATMs are less common in the NE. Here they have little glass booths (as featured in that Massachusetts song).

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Toilets in South Korea also have the water level up to about two thirds of the way up the bowl.

  • March 28, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I found this really amusing. I am an American and I was given the chance to live in the UK last year. It was funny because a lot of people I met, hadn’t been able to know an American on more than a casual level. It seemed to me that they were under the impression that we just run around all day, being idiots and shooting guns. One asshole even laid a map out in front of me to prove my geographical intelligence. I would love to go to Australia and New Zealand and see the differences there.

  • June 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    this is actually a really great perspective. my dad’s an aussie and my mom’s a yank so i’ve always interested in my two countries of origin. similar histories, somewhat different results. there’s a lot to love about both of them honestly. thanks m8.

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  • January 7, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Matt, this is a great read for me, I’ve been living on and off in San Luis Obispo, CA for the last 3 years and I related so well to all your points. I get cornered ALL THE TIME by strangers who want to know my opinion on USA politics.
    But you did leave out the coffee situation, generally (in comparison to an Aussie Campos or Merlot flat white on soy) USA coffee is THE WORST WORST WORST!!! I learnt very quickly to just order a tea. If you insist on trying one I think I’ve figured all the tricks to ordering: if you want something kind of like a flat white for god’s sake don’t order a latte!! They’re constantly burning milk here. I figured out cappuccino as kind of a flat white, it even comes with no chocolate on top but it can sometimes come with a lot of froth, once a guy just made an espresso and spooned froth on top…. but on the other hand (another thing you left out) USA is all about condiments, you won’t have to look far for chocolate, syrup, agave nectar, 5 types of sugar and ‘creamer’, stirrers and plenty of serviettes (called napkins here, I know it grosses me out whenever I say it). So, if you order drip coffee, which most places have, especially diners, don’t order ‘black’ or ‘white’ coffee, I think I confused or offended plenty of servers with that one, just order a coffee and they’ll ask you if you want room for ‘cream’ (ie milk). And another thing: there are Starbucks everywhere, from big cities to teeny towns, my warning is just use their toilets (but call it a restroom, toilet is too literal) whatever you do don’t drink the coffee – it’s awful. To this day I’ve never even got halfway through a ‘tall’ (the smallest size, in Aus it would be considered XL), even in desperate times, when it’s been freezing cold (another thing California isn’t all sunshine and beaches, it gets really cold, just last week as we were driving out of Joshua Tree (the desert) it was snowing, it was also snowing in Vegas). The coffee thing was something I was least warned about and it still makes me the most miserable here. And yes, everyone has guns (note: plural), it still freaks me out, and I still can’t talk to anyone about it, or get a reasonable explanation why fully automatic guns aren’t be outlawed – something that seems common-sense to me is really offensive here. Just don’t talk about it, I’ve actually lost a few friends because I tried to discuss it. Hope this helps someone.
    And yes the Mexican food is the best thing about this country, hands down, the best, I’m a vegetarian and I can always get something deeeeee-licious. My favourite splurge is the chille rilleno (pronounced: ree-en-o) – it’s a cheese filled capsicum (bell pepper), battered and fried.

  • January 12, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    “Living in the US I often feel like Iโ€™m at the centre of the world, and I miss that feeling whenever Iโ€™m elsewhere on the planet.” I love this! No better compliment as far as I’m concerned.

  • March 15, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I have tried to no avail to explain american gun culture to numerous Europeans and Australians. We are a country that has been at war for almost our entire history and for the first hundred years those wars were fought domestically. We invented the rifle, the sealed cartridge, the revolver and the repeating rifle. The “Kentucky riflemen” invented modern day small armrs warfare while fighting the british. For at least two generations 90% of our land was lawless, you were your families police officer and even today the number one reason most law abiding suburbanites get a gun is for protection against all the criminals with guns. We have an almost incomprehensible number of combat veterans. Most of the rural and a lot of the suberban population hunt for both sport and meat. From the first day of school we are taught that America was founded on personal freedom and liberty above all else and that one of the most fundamental liberties is the right to “own and bare arms”.
    Take me for example. I’m from the eastern part of the state of Kentucky in the southern end of the Appalachian mountain range. A member of my direct lineage has fought in every American war. My father who is a combat veteran engaged in competitive trick shooting when I was a kid and taught me at a young age how to properly handle and shoot a firearm. I went to a military academy for high school where I was on both the marksmanship team and armed drill team. I target shoot for sport. I hunt for meat and to protect the livestock on my parents farm. I carry an automatic pistol for my job in private security and for my families protection when I’m not working. It’s common practice for men at our large family get togethers to sit in a group and pass around their ” carry pieces” for comparison. We fire our weapons on memorial day and independce day.
    Not everyone is like me but I’m also hardly a rarity. Firearms are a very pronounced part of life in America from day one, hell my eight year old son can shoot and handle an assault rifle better than most European soldiers.
    Hopefully this sheds a little light on the American “obsession” with guns.

  • March 15, 2015 at 8:13 am

    As a matter of fact after extensive research into the immigration process for an American moving to Australia (which is an uphill battle) and deep consideration I decided that I couldn’t live without the liberty to own at least one firearm.

    • March 17, 2015 at 1:28 am

      You wouldn’t need it here for protection. The other sporting/farming uses are still possible in Australia with a licence, as I understand. The laws are more about semi-automatic assault rifles.

  • March 16, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I generally agree with most of what you said, though on the friendliness thing I found Americans spanned the gamut between friendliness and rudeness: there were some super-friendly people, and some downright nasty ones. Like at immigration at LAX one of the officers was yelling at people like they were naughty school-children, and the guy scolded me for not knowing how to use the finger-print machine straight off. Also those who don’t receive tips like bus drivers, government workers.etc can be surly and grumpy. It goes to show a lot of it really is just for tips. On the upside a woman in San Diego asked if I needed help when I looked lost, and a lot of strangers did come up to me/us for a friendly chat.

    The entree thing, yeah, that’s confusing. Everywhere else ‘entree’ is like an appetiser. Food was cheap compared to here, but varied. We mostly stuck to American food since we were in America, which was pretty good. Tipping was annoying, as was using one dollar bills and exact change.

    The US is, not surprisingly, super chain dominated. I thought we were bad, but there are chains everywhere. Even on the interstate it’s just Wendy’s, Carl’s Jnr.etc, Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, Best Western.etc. There’s a lack of independent stores/restaurants compared to here, and we’re already chain dominated compared to a lot of places I’ve been to. Also so many billboards!

    American downtowns tend to be pretty dead for their size, and public transit hardly sufficient. San Diego is similar to Perth but felt sleepier.

    Of course in some ways it was similar, very suburban, car-dominated, open space, but it was weird being surrounded by American accents, like stepping into the TV or something. A bit like a bizarro parallel universe. Aside from San Diego and parts of Southern California and Texas, I didn’t feel the US was really that similar to here. The East coast is pretty different, both physically – the buildings, the trees, landscape, and culturally.

    Sure the US is diverse, but a lot of that diversity is concentrated on the coasts and big cities. Much of the heartland is mostly white, English speaking or black American.

    What’s up with those CVS pharmacies too? Look like something from a commie country haha. Plus it’s weird but we hardly saw any supermarkets there, though I know you have a lot of course. The range of snackfoods was of course enormous.

  • March 17, 2015 at 1:20 am

    I find it really funny how in one point you said “you voted for John Howard, I thought you were progressive”

    Then in your next point, you were yammering on about how dangerous guns are, and how it’s such a good thing that guns are illegal in Australia. It shows that you have absolutely no idea what John Howard stood for, as he was the one who actually had the balls the ban guns in Australia, when a large percent of the population were against it.

    • March 17, 2015 at 1:23 am

      I know exactly what John Howard stood for. Introducing restrictive firearms laws was the most progressive thing Howard did, and I am happy to applaud him on that point at least.

  • June 5, 2015 at 1:02 am

    My observation as an American that has visited Indo, NZ, Japan, Costa Rica ect ect…Its my assertion that the US has the MOST ignorant and narcissistic population on Earth, I would LOVE to trade my citizenship ANYDAY to become an AUS citizen, that would be an absolute dream to go to a country, a continent that is stable and has a future vs one that has a debt that will in debt my children and all grandshildren and great(n…) children until complete bankrutcy and collapse…., the US does not anything offer except high taxes, diminishing jobs and crime, if your from a place like AUS or NZ….You should feel VERY blessed by God for the incredible opportunity you have been given.

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  • September 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Hi, A fun article that captures the essence of your experiences. The best food on earth is Tex-Mex ; now , that’s not to mention the excellent French , Spanish, Italian and South American cuisine to be savored in said mentioned country of origin. The unique relationship of American and Australian food is the blending of cultures found in these populations. My brother moved (immigrated) to Australia , he worked in Sidney at a restaurant named Texas Steaks. While traveling through the outback he happened upon a restaurant that calmed to have Mexican food. And there in the menu was enchilada plate, upon ordering the waitress asked if he was from Texas. “Yes”, he replied and then the lady asked how were enchiladas made in Texas? After a bit of a talk and rattling of pans, The waitress brought forth a pancake rolled around cheese and onions with pork and beans. This was not a enchilada but a really good try. The chef outdid himself…

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