5 Cultural Differences Between Australia and the UK

Miranda Cundall/University of Sydney/Politics and IR

It’s been a while since I was last in Australia (even though it still seems like yesterday </3) and I was struggling to think of a captivating final blog post, however, having taken some time to reflect (and some inspiration from another recent post) I’d like to lay out a few cultural differences I discovered between Australia and the UK…

  1. Brunch

Although a worldwide love affair, brunch in Australia is really something else. Without a baked bean in sight, Australians really know how to smash an avocado and crumble some feta like no one else, trust me I’ve had more than my fair share. Brunch also seems like the correct answer to any possible mood. Happy? Brunch. Celebrating? Brunch. Bored? 100% brunch.

2. Coffee

I guess tied to the love of brunch is Australians (in Sydney and Melbourne especially) obsession with coffee. Forget Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero or Starbucks, when Australians talk about their most recent Colombian/Peruvian/Argentinean blend of fully flavoured yet subtly mellow coffee beans they mean the real business. My suggestion – get involved or get extremely caffeine jacked trying.

3. Jail

I thought it was necessary to raise awareness that Australian’s spell ‘jail’ in the Old English way of ‘gaol’, as it first came up in a course reading and had me stumped for a while. I also wanted to save people the painful experience of having to ask one of your tutors what ‘gaaa-olé’ means.

4. Slang

Again, the ‘gaol’ fiasco highlights a wider cultural difference, that Aussie slang is pretty different from the UK. Sometimes it feels a bit like talking in real life text speak as words are shortened to the bare minimum verbal requirement. Take ‘arvo’ for example, the popular shorthand for afternoon, which I thought meant avocado for over a month (probably because I always had brunch on my mind). Other common Aussie slang are the terms ‘heaps’ and ‘keen’ which mean along the lines of ‘looking forward to’ doing something, like ‘keen to go beach today’. Sometimes both these phrases can be used in conjunction as ‘heaps keen’ which means someone is realllly looking forward to doing something. And with that, I conclude my brief Australian urban dictionary guide.

5. Shoes are always optional

Unlike UK when shoes are an obvious must, in Australia its more of a choice as its more than normal to see people leading their daily lives barefoot. I also wanted to add shoes as a point to mention that flip flops are often called ‘thongs’ which I promise will be my last slang related observation.

To not break the habit, like all my other blog posts I want to finish by saying that studying abroad is a phenomenal once in a lifetime experience that I think everyone should be at least encouraged to consider. Whether Australia or closer to home, I think that studying abroad gives students the opportunity to explore out of their comfort zone, which I can tell you first hand is incredibly exciting and rewarding. Although my time at University of Manchester might be coming to an end, I’m more than happy for people to contact me with questions (about this list or otherwise) on my uni email miranda.cundall@student.manchester.ac.uk. My last piece of advice is if you’re thinking about studying abroad, just do it!! I’m sure you’ll all agree with me afterwards.

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