First Impressions of Australia

How ya goin'! (This is hopefully slightly less cheesy/cliché than G’day mates!) I’ve been in Sydney, Australia for a little over three weeks now for a study abroad program, and I’m already in love. Australia is obviously a Westernized, English-speaking country, so the immediate culture shock was less intense than it would be in other countries. However, there are subtle differences that seem glaringly obvious during the first few days here. Here are some of the first things I noticed about Australia, for better or for worse.

Sydney is so clean.

Or at least compared to most large cities I’ve been to in America. Maybe the sun shining makes everything feel bright, but I’ve seen a lot less trash and dirt around Sydney. There was a single banana peel on the train the other day, and it looked so out of place.

 

Everyone drives really fast (on the opposite side of the road).

Cars don’t look like they’re going to stop as they pull up to red lights. Twice I’ve almost gotten clipped by a bus when I was walking too close to the edge of the sidewalk. It makes you kind of glad that jaywalking is so frowned upon here.

 

Everything is so expensive.

I’ve seen a tube of sunscreen for $26 in the local grocery store and have eaten an $18 burger. Yes, tax is included and the exchange rate means it’s technically cheaper, but it’s still a shock spending $30 when you go out to eat.

 

The food is beautiful, fresh, and delicious.

Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) I’ve eaten in Sydney has been some of the best food of my life. Ramen, gyros, burgers, gelato, and more. It’s all so aesthetically pleasing as well. My Instagram is quickly going to turn into a food blog.

No one walks on a specific side of the sidewalk.

Generally, in America, we keep to the right side of the sidewalk. This makes it easier to pass slow people and keeps people from bumping into each other. Coming to Australia, I assumed people would keep to the left since they drive on that side of the road. However, there seems to be no pattern whatsoever, so a walk down the street is like a game of Mario Kart, constantly dodging people. They do keep to the left on escalators and seem to take that very seriously.

 

People drink hot coffee in 90 degrees (F) weather.

Coffee is an art in Australia (they hate Starbucks). I’m a huge iced coffee fan and was looking forward to starting summer early for that reason. However, iced coffee is less common here. Some places will put ice cream in your coffee or give you a disappointing look when you ask. If you look closely, though, you’ll be able to find it. You’ll probably just have to call it an “iced long black” and add in your own milk. In an effort to assimilate, the other day I drank a hot latte when it was close to 100 degrees F, and it wasn’t as terrible as you would think.

 

The girls all have beautiful hair.

I was wondering if the stereotype of the gorgeous Australian was going to be true, and it is. Not only does everyone have super cool style, their hair is impeccable. The humidity here is killer (it’s been 80% on many days), and yet I’ve never seen sleeker hair. At the beach and in the sweatiest of clubs, these girls look like they just stepped out of a Pantene ad. And then there's me, giving my hairband more use than it’s had in months.

The slang is almost indecipherable.

I’ve had multiple Aussies ask me if I can understand their accents. The accent isn’t the problem (in fact, I absolutely love it), the slang is. Everything can be shortened or rhymed with. There are nicknames like Jono for Jonathan or Shaz for Sharon. Apparently “flat out like a lizard drinking” can mean hardworking and having a “Captain Cook” means having a look. My two personal favorites (and ones I plan on using) are “Macca’s” for McDonald’s and “arvo” for afternoon. Still working on my accent, though.

 

I may not have been here for long, but Sydney already has a special place in my heart. 

*photos are all my own*