As an American living in Australia, I tried my hardest to have my eyes and ears open to the culture around me. But some things just have different meanings to different people (you can’t just say “I’m going to the toilet,” that’s so…direct! It’s “restroom”!) While some were culturally interesting and helped me learn how the Aussies live, others were just downright hilarious.
What they say: I’m going overseas on holiday next week.
What they mean: I’m leaving the continent for a minimum of six weeks to visit at least four different countries. Oh, and I’ll still get paid for it.
What they say: I haven’t traveled to very many places.
What they mean: I’ve only been to Europe twice, and this past year I only went as far as Asia for my holiday.
What they say: Keen for a Sunday sesh this arvo?
What they mean: Let’s go to the pub early in the day, get completely pissed off of beer, stay out until 5am, go to work hungover, and openly talk to our bosses about it.
I wish I could describe how serious Australians are about drinking on Sundays. They approach this with more enthusiasm than drinking on any Friday or Saturday night.
What they say: Merry Christmas!
What they mean: It’s the middle of summer; let’s have a BBQ and drink outdoors.
My best friend spent her first Australian Christmas with her boyfriend’s family, having a BBQ and playing beer pong in 100-degree weather.
What they say: It’s winter.
What they mean: I had to wear a shirt today, and when I went to bed I used a blanket.
What they say: It’s a bit chilly today.
What they mean: Today you can wear colors other than black or white and your sweat won’t show. But, don’t worry, it’s still nice enough to go to the beach.
What they say: What a shit day!
What they mean: It’s really windy and the sand is whipping me on the beach.
What they say: I wish I grew up going to school in America!
What they mean: I love the movie Mean Girls.
What they say: What’s uni like in America?
What they mean: Were you in a frat or sorority like in the movies?
What they say: Are you Canadian?
What they mean: You’re too nice to be American.
What they say: So you’re not from New York or California?
What they mean: Are you sure you’re not Canadian?
What they say: We’re hiring.
What they mean: We’re not sure if we’re hiring or not, but we’ll let you work unpaid tonight and then decide if we want you to come back or not. And when we decide this, we’ll send you a text at the last minute to come work the next night, and you’ll be unsure if you’re really hired, getting paid for that shift, what you’re getting paid if you are, or if they even know your name.
What they say: It’s my 18th birthday!
What they mean: I can now legally go to the bars, so put a tiara and sash on me and buy me drinks until I throw up. And, yes, I may still have to go to class tomorrow because I’m a senior in high school. But, good news, now I can throw away the fake ID I’ve had since I was 16!
What they say: What would you like to drink?
What I say: A shot of vodka.
What they say: Vodka and what?
What I say: Just straight vodka.
What they say: …Ok
What they mean: You crazy American, no one orders straight shots. Now I know you’re not Canadian.
What they say: I’m out of rubbers.
What they mean: I need to go to the store and buy more erasers.
One of my friends was student teaching in Australia and heard this one for the first time from a second grader. She was surprised, to say the least.
What they say: Rub it out.
What they mean: Erase that.
What they say: You left your thongs in my bedroom.
What they mean: Your flip-flops are in my room.
The guy I was seeing at the time happened to say this in front of his mother.
What they say: I’m after a root tonight.
What they mean: I want to have sex.
What they say: He’s a good mate.
What they mean: He’s a good friend of mine.
What they say: Hey, no worries!
What they mean: Anything. It could mean “thank you,” it could mean “you’re welcome,” it could mean they’re not stressing about something, they’re telling you to stop stressing about something — this simple phrase is the best thing about Australia and their outlook on life!
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