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8 Rules Every American Needs to Know Before Coming to Australia

by Will Bowie May 22, 2015

‘It’s the little differences. A lotta the same shit we got here, they got there, but there, they’re a little different.’ – Pulp Fiction

Learn the subtle language differences.

Comprehension of an authentic Australian accent reminiscent of Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) is the first battle every American will encounter on arrival. There is one critical word that you do not want lost in translation. Lock this word down and alleviate unnecessary embarrassment for all.

The word thong has a surprising meaning in the land down under. Aussies love their thongs and wear them at every given opportunity, however these are NOT silky undergarments disappearing up a shapely ass/arse. We call flip-flops, ‘thongs’. This is the name given to the summertime staple casual footwear. Don’t be alarmed when you hear,’ put your thongs on, we’re going to the beach’

Put the tip away.

Tipping is not customary in Australia. Australians endure a high cost of living and we simply can’t get our heads around the whole culture of tipping. Jobs in the service industry or hospitality as it’s known here, while not paying a king’s ransom, workers still take home a decent enough minimum wage. We do hate coins (shrapnel) and our smallest note is $5, therefore leaving the leftover change in coins as a tip for the wait staff or taxi driver isn’t unusual. It is only in exceptional circumstances that a big tip would be left. Never, ever 20%.

Learn the right standard of measurements.

Please America, do yourselves a favour, get your act together, catch up with the rest of the world and convert to the metric system already.

Winter is coming. In summer.

As a simple rule, think of Australia as the complete opposite when it comes to the weather cycle. We spend Christmas out in the sunshine cooking up a barbeque feast, there may even be a Kangaroo steak grilling (not a joke).

July is the middle of winter in the majority of the country. If you’re planning on an extended vacation or working holiday, leave the winter coat in the closet, arrive in October, when it’s heating up and enjoy a year long summer.

Know your date.

It goes day / month / year. Would you count to ten like this 2,1,3,5,4,6,8,7,9,10?

Think about it for a second. Is that a more logical way of doing things, or are we just crazy?

Know your No Ball*.

Cricket is our baseball equivalent. If you think baseball is a boring and tediously slow sport, then you’re in for a real treat. In its longest form, cricket can last a full five days and 20% of the time, the game will end in a draw. Get comfortable, keep the beers flowing and don’t worry too much, you’re on vacation and don’t have much to do anyway. You will need five days to work out what on earth the rules are…and why the hell you wasted five days at the SCG.

*A ‘no ball’ is a cricket ruling. Kind of like a ‘ball’ in baseball, but not really.

You will (probably) survive.

Australia is not awash with killer animals suffering from malnutrition waiting to devour American tourists suffering over-nutrition. Switch off shark week and stop listening to fear mongering friends and family who have never left the States.

Deaths by deadly creatures are an extreme rarity. There’s an average total of less than 8 fatalities per year from all of these animals combined — crocodiles, sharks, killer jellyfish/octopi, snakes and spiders. An approximate 1 in 5 million per person chance of death – calculated on visitors and current population.

There really isn’t all that much to fear when visiting Australia, except for the bogans.

Remember Triple O.

Aussies love abbreviations & unnecessarily incorporating the letter ‘O’ into just about any word. The gas station is known as the ‘Servo’ (service station). The liquor store is the ‘Bottle-o’ (bottle shop). If your name is Robert, be prepared to be known hereafter as ‘Robbo’. Triple 0 is also the phone number for emergency services. When you’re invariably bitten by a Redback Spider, don’t dial 911. With your last ounce of strength, call 000.

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