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.

Late Reflections on My Usyd Experience

Miranda Cundall/University of Sydney/Politics and International Relations

It may have been a while since my last post, but since coming back to Manchester I’ve had some time to reflect and reminisce about my semester abroad at the University of Sydney.

It’s really weird to think that it was this time last year that I would have just got to Sydney and it weirder to realise that I’m jealous of my past self. It’s a cliche but my time in Sydney did go so quickly, its as if as soon as I got used to the Australian lifestyle I got snatched away and taken back to Manchester (even though Manchester still is 10/10). It might be because now I’m in Third year and the essays/dissertation/terrifying future plans are coming thick and fast but the Syd blues are real.

Another cliche but I have no shame, studying abroad is an amazing and once in a life time experience which I would recommend to anyone. Even if you don’t go as far as Sydney, I think that studying abroad is an excellent opportunity to try something completely out your normal comfort zone and see the world from a different angle, whilst making friends and travelling along the way.  Also, since coming back I’ve noticed how much I’ve grown as a person as now I’m much more proactive and confident in daily life, which I think will be incredibly useful for my unplanned future. Finally, although its scary to leave Manchester at the start, I can tell you now nothing will be massively different when you come back apart from you’ll have an amazing audience for your tantalising study abroad tales.

Admiring the views at Lake Tekapo during Easter in NZ

For me personally as I never took a gap year, it was the ability to travel whilst studying and to live somewhere completely different that hugely appealed to me. Not that the UK isn’t banging and all, but being able to go the beach after uni, the Blue Mountains/Melbourne on weekends and New Zealand during Easter was hard to compare Plattfields Park with. To try travel within a budget, I would heavily advise checking Jetstar frequently as they often have flash sales on flights, especially on Fridays, which ended up saving me a lot of money over the 6 months. Also a heads up that Sydney airport has a late night flight ban operating between 11pm and 6am, which cost me a lot of delayed flights before I realised. Therefore in hindsight, I suggest booking flights from /to Sydney in earlier times of the day to make sure you actually end up getting them.

I have to keep this post brief as I have an essay dying for some attention but I just want to stress if you have the opportunity to study abroad, Sydney or elsewhere, you should DO IT! Travelling, making new friends, new experiences, new cultures and growing as a person – I could bore your ear off about it all. To me, the only downside of studying abroad is that the UK might look a bit greyer on your return.

My list of Sydney Do’s and Don’ts

Miranda Cundall//Politics and International Relations//University of Sydney

Sorry for the delay in blog posts! It seems I was too caught up with fighting Kangaroos, throwing shrimps on the barbie, and all the other things Australian, to sit down and take a breather. However, since settling back in to the normality of Manchester and overcoming the heartbreak of completing my semester at Sydney , I thought I would compile a quick list of ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for potential  future Sydney study abroaders.

It may seem like alien advice now, but trust me it’ll all make sense soon.


  • Prepare for the brutal (but undeniably worthwhile) journey to Oz

My journey out took around 28 hours and it does get a bit painful towards the end. Be prepared to watch enough TV to make your eyes go square and bring an eyemask.

  • Work hard, play hard

I had a bit of a shock when starting uni work at Syd, as I had to do different forms of assessments that I wasn’t familiar to back in Manchester (for example I had no clue how to do a website review of the Australian Labor Party). Take time to look over course outlines and ask your tutor for guidance if you’re struggling with anything – the quicker you work hard, the sooner you can play.

  • Go to the beach

A self-explanatory, yet necessary, point. Beach days after uni are the best days. Slap on the factor 30 though, maybe even factor 50 if you’re blessed with pasty skin like me. My favourite beaches were; Bronte, Shelly Beach (just round from Manly) and defo Camp Cove. There’s more to life than Bondi Beach.

  • Day trips baaby

On Sundays all travel on Opal Cards (the Australian equivalent of Oyster Cards – be sure to get the concession Student one) is capped at $2.50! Head to the Blue Mountains or Wollongong for some scenic adventures. Even if you’re feeling lazy explore Newtown in Sydney as it definitely has some hidden gems. pic competiton 2


  • Fall in love with Melbourne

Seriously its a trap. It may lure you in with its graffiti alleyways and hipster cafes, but don’t be fooled – Sydney’s the best obvs.

  • Forget you can travel outside of Aus too!

For Easter I did a roadtrip round New Zealand whilst some of my other friends went to Bali or Fiji. If financially possible try make the most of living amongst the Pacific Islands.

  • Ignore your mum

Honestly, listen to your mum and bring the weird things she suggests. I spent 6 months wishing I had listened and brought my portable speaker/travel towel/flashlight as my mum suggested. Yet, I also spent 6 months being too proud to admit this to her.

Overall, studying abroad is an amazing experience no matter what way you go about it. I made some lifelong friends scattered across the globe and some incredible memories that will stay with me forever. I’m going to have to stop now as thinking about my semester in Australia is making me all nostalgic and mushy, not a good look for me. Feel free to message me if you want an extended list or any advice about  Sydney, and if you’re on the fence about studying abroad I can’t stress enough, do it!!


Aussie Adventure

Miranda Cundall/Politics and International Relations/University of Sydney

It’s hard to believe that its only been  just under a month since I left my friends, family and comfort zone in Manchester. Travelling to Sydney on the 25th February was a bit of a blur since the 24 hour journey to a new continent left me feeling a bit dazed and confused, however since that point Australia has been treating me well. Having not really looked into my university accommodation before arriving in Australia, getting out of the taxi and seeing the Queen Mary Building was a massive surprise, its definitely no Owens Park. qmb

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