11 Things Americans Ask (and Get Totally Wrong) About Australia

Australia Entertainment
by Kellie Donnelly Aug 19, 2015

1. Do you see kangaroos wandering around daily?

There’s a conception that the kangaroo in Australia is equivalent to the squirrel in America — but kangaroos do not, in fact, roam the cities of Australia or beg for food outside restaurant patios. Living on the Gold Coast, the only time I saw kangaroos was at the zoo… just like in America.

I know we’ve all seen the viral video (below) of the two kangaroos fighting in the street, but that would be like asking me if horses walk around my neighborhood because I am from Indiana and there are lots of farms. Yes, it can happen; and if it does, there likely is a viral video associated with it — because it’s rare, or we wouldn’t all be watching a video of it.

2. Do you encounter deadly animals on the regular?

Yes, there are deadly animals in Australia, and lots of them. But I lived in a city, just like most people in Australia, and giant spiders don’t tend to bother you in big cities. Funnily enough, crocodiles and sharks typically avoid city streets too. It’s the same as anywhere else in the world — don’t be stupid in the natural habitat of a deadly animal, and usually you’ll live. Cities aren’t natural habitats for most deadly things.

3. Do you visit the Outback often?

Speaking of deadly animals, this is where you would find a lot of them — mostly because it is so uninhabited. Ninety percent of Australia’s population lives on the coast (I mean, who wouldn’t?), so it’s pretty expensive to travel to the Outback. In fact, it was cheaper for me to book a round trip to Asia than it was to visit Uluru, so no, tthe majority of visitors to Australia don’t strap on their safari hats and hop on horseback like Nicole Kidman Australia to gallop across the red dirt.

4. Do you eat vegemite every day?

There are some cultural boundaries you cannot cross, and vegemite is the definition of an acquired taste. Yes, some travelers learn to love it, but I could never spread that warm, salty, brown substance over a piece of bread… just like Australians can’t bring themselves to deep fry Oreos at the State Fair. Everyone has their limits.

5. Is Foster’s really Australian for beer?

I’m curious to learn where this concept comes from, because I rarely saw Foster’s on tap at the pub or sold by the can at the bottle shop. You could order a Budweiser at more places than a Foster’s beer.

6. Does everyone hate you because you’re American?

This is a concept many of us struggle with as Americans; but one of the most important things you learn after traveling is that most people aren’t thinking about us. Do you think about if you like Australians or not? No, you wonder if kangaroos really do fight in the streets.

There absolutely are places in the world where Americans are disliked, but from my experience these typically are politically-oriented opinions and the everyday person in Australia, just like in America, is pretty much unconcerned with politics. Do you know the reaction I heard the most when someone heard my accent? “Are you Canadian?” and when I said “No, I’m from the States,” it was “Were you a cheerleader in high school/was your high school like the movie Mean Girls?”

7. Do you live in Sydney?

No. Do you live in New York or LA?

8. Isn’t it super expensive to live there?

Yes, it is, but here’s the thing — they have a livable minimum wage. In Queensland, the state I was living in, minimum wage was upwards of $15 an hour. As an Australian friend told me, “You can be a receptionist in Australia and drive a BMW.” The relationship between what you earn and how much everyday life costs is so much more even and fair in Australia that I was saving money without trying, even though rent, alcohol, groceries, hair stylists etc. were pricier Down Under.

9. Do they speak English?

Not kidding, I was asked this more than once. Yes, Australians have a different accent from us and their slang can be pretty confusing, but I can assure you, they speak English.

10. If the seasons are opposite in Australia, what month is it there right now?

My all time favorite. I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.

11. Why did you leave?

Ah, the toughest question to answer. For most people who travel to Australia, leaving isn’t a choice — it’s a necessity of your visa. At some point, the beautiful beaches, warm, sunny days, high wages and high quality of life come to an end because, to put it simply, you weren’t born there. Most of us would give anything to go back a little longer, even if it weren’t permanent; but unfortunately that’s not the reality for most Americans.

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