The Major Differences Between Australia and the U.S.

Biology: Pre-Medicine major Shannon Campbell ’23 studied abroad in Australia in the spring of 2022.

A girl in a blue hooded sweatshirt takes a selfie in front of a beach in Australia

Their accent/slang

Before arriving in Australia, I couldn’t tell the difference between a British and an Australian accent. That is no longer the case. Australians not only have their own unique jargon, but they also tend to add an ‘r’ to the end of most words. For example, their ‘no’ sounds like ‘nar.’ As for their distinct slang, they call the fast-food restaurant McDonald’s, Maccas. They indeed say, “G’day mate!” I cringed the first time my professor greeted me that way. Also, instead of asking “How are you doing?’ they say, “How are you going?” I’m good, I’m not going anywhere. Lastly, my favorite, Australians don’t call ketchup, ‘ketchup.’ They call it ‘tomato sauce.’ Tomato sauce is what you put on pasta, not something you dip your French fries, sorry, chips, into. 

They drive on the left side of the road

I never had the opportunity to drive in Australia. But I cannot tell you how many times I got into an Uber and thought I was going to die. I would be sitting in the backseat thinking all is good with the world when the Uber driver would cross the intersection to make a right-hand turn. My American brain thought we were going to smash head-on into oncoming traffic, but we were fine. Also, I would attempt to sit in the driver’s seat when I was aiming for the passenger seat. Yes, folks, they drive using the right side of their car. They also have half car half trucks that they call a ‘ute.’ I was extremely fascinated by how ugly they are. Lastly, Australia made me hate hatchbacks. I don’t know why, but Australians don’t enjoy owning normal cars. They operate solely on hatchbacks. 

A girl wearing a shirt that says "Just do it" poses for a picture in front of the clear blue waters of a beach in Australia.

The wildlife

Instead of deer signs, there are kangaroo signs. Unfortunately, the first kangaroo I ever saw was roadkill. It was sad. But I eventually saw a pack of live kangaroos hopping around Grampians National Park in Victoria. They were cute. What is not so cute is I saw wolf spiders in the Grampians as well. I know 90% of the American population jumps at the sight of a tiny spider in their bedroom (don’t take that literally, I don’t know how many people are actually scared of spiders) but imagine sticking your finger down a wolf spider den and having it crawl out on you. Yes, I screamed. Simply put, Australian spiders would eat American spiders for dinner. Fun fact, everyone thinks that when you go to Australia you look up and see koalas hanging from trees. They are actually very rare to sight. The only time you may catch a glimpse of one is deep in the jungle, miles from the human population. I did get a chance to see one in a zoo. They are also extremely cute. 

Their lack of ranch dressing

I am dead serious in putting their lack of ranch dressing as one of the major differences between Australia and the U.S. I cannot tell you how many times I had chicken nuggets and just wanted to dip them in ranch. But I couldn’t because Australia does not have ranch, and, if they do, it’s not real ranch. It’s 90% mayo. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Do better Australia. 

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