Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Apples and Oranges

OK kids, it's time you all ate your daily serving of fruits and vegetables.  You must eat the right balance of food everyday to grow up to be healthy and strong.  You must not eat too much of....wait a minute, this isn't a nutritional blog.  I would be the last person to give  you advice on eating healthy, as I often like to indulge in sweets, junk food and alcohol.  I am using a literary metaphor to introduce some of the differences between Australia, which I deem to be the apples and The United States must then be the oranges.  I have been amazed and sometimes even culture shocked at some of the total Aussie-isms that I have encountered.  Hopefully you are like me and find these cultural differences to be very intriguing.  Here are some that come to mind but not in order of importance.
  • In an emergency, dial 000 not 911.
  • Voting for political parties is compulsory once you register to vote.
  • Judges and other court officials wear powdery white wigs when court is in session.
  • Attorneys and lawyers are referred to as solicitors.
  • There are drive-thru liquor stores, but of course they are called bottle shops here.
  • The legal blood alcohol limit to drive is .05 rather than the .08 in the States, which really makes the previous point ironic.
  • Driving is done on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car.
  • Australia uses the metric system although I've sometimes heard the expression that something is miles away.  I have an awfully hard time getting meat at the deli since I don't know grams.  I will ask the person to "feel" the bag so I know if I am getting enough.  
  • Australian youth are raised on Vegemite, a yeast extract highly rich in Vitamin B.  Personally, I think it looks and tastes like motor oil for your car and am nearly sick to my stomach when Michael eats it.  Another Aussie favorite is Weet-bix cereal.  With only 3% sugar, this is not your typical Frosted Flakes.
  • Tomato Sauce is the same thing as Ketchup although they do not taste the same.
  • Hungry Jacks is the same fast food restaurant as Burger King, whopper and all.
  • Mc Donalds is referred to as Mackers in OZ and Mickey D's in The US.
  • There is KFC however I won't go there but would kill for a Chick-fil-a sandwich and waffle fries.
Surprisingly, Australia and The US are comparable in size.
  • The mail box at your house is only for mail delivery.  Outgoing mail must be dropped off at the post office called the Australia Post.
  • The mail delivery person zips around on a motorcycle and drives through your yard to deliver the mail since most mailboxes are about half way up the driveway and not in the street.
  • I have not seen a standardized mailbox system, although it doesn't mean that this doesn't exist.
  • Grocery store shopping cart wheels have "all wheel drive" capability.  They move forward and back as well as side to side.  I still have trouble operating them.
  • The school year in Australia begins in January, after the summer/Christmas break.
  • All kids are required to wear uniforms which include a broad brimmed hat.
  • Parents are responsible for the children's uniforms, school books and transportation to and from school.  There are no big yellow school buses here in OZ.
  • Football refers to rugby or rugby league sports.  Football in The US is called gridiron.  Aussies love their cricket.  I find it as riveting as watching baseball.
  • The seasons are opposite of those of The US because we are South of the Equator.  However, I am sure that all of you knew that one.  Currently it is summer here and The US is experiencing blizzard like conditions across most of the mid-west.  
  • OZ is just after the International Date line and always one day ahead of The US.  I constantly use this world clock website before I make any calls home just to make sure it isn't too late.
I think that just about covers all of the points that I had in mind.  I'm sure I will add some more when I think of them. Until then, you should all come Down Under for a visit so you can experience these cultural differences for yourselves.  I would love to see ya!

Now enjoy this song:  Men at Work,  Land Down Under

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