Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Aussie life vs American life

It was really through sheer luck and circumstance that I ended up moving to such a wonderful place. Never did I picture moving specifically to Perth, when I first considered moving to Australia. I used to picture Australia as a relatively small country composed of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane with The Great Barrier Reef somewhere nearby. I also knew that there were koalas and kangaroos, that the seasons were different, and that people drove on the opposite side of the road. But above all else, I knew that I always wanted to go. And so I did.

All I initially knew about Perth was that it was somewhere in Western Australia, and I wasn't about to pass the opportunity up. So I did a little research, saw that it was right next to the ocean, and I said to myself, "why the hell not?". And somehow here I am. If we're being completely honest though, I  actually live in Yangebup which is a suburb about a 20 minute drive to the city. But Yangebup is too hard for me to say most of the time and Perth is the most relevant nearby city, so I say Perth to make it easier on everyone :).

To say that I was once naive about Australia is a complete understatement, which is why I so highly encourage traveling, because it will undoubtedly broaden your view of the world. In fact, if i'm being completely frank, I think it's something every single person can only benefit from. There are different accents, different climates and a whole slew of different people all around the country. Much like a person from California has an entirely different life experience than a person living in Tennessee. You just don't know entirely unless you go...

And so far, I like what I see.

SO, if like me, you don't know a whole lot about Australia, imagine it being a slightly smaller version of the United States. In other words, it's pretty damn big. So for those of you asking whether I visit Sydney or Melbourne on the weekends, I really am sorry when I chuckle to myself. But most other major cities are practically on the other side of the country and thus a 4 to 6 hour plane ride depending on exactly where you are going. So unfortunately, a train ride or a long drive won't get me there for a weekend trip, unless by weekend you actually mean 6 plus days.

BUT for the record, I will be visiting both of those places in the very near future so stay tuned because I am uberrrr excited to add those cities and a decent chunk of New Zealand to my "have been" list.

ANYWAY.. incase you're wondering what life is like on the other side of the world, I'm here to happily fill you in.

Perth is located in Western Australia and has a population of about 1.9 million in the city and the greater area. It reminds me A LOT of what you'd see in rich California. The houses are both modern and expensive and there are beautiful beaches and palm trees just about everywhere. I still semi stop breathing every time I drive by the ocean while thinking about how lucky I am to be here.

What makes Perth unique is that it kind of exists in it's own little world away from all of the other major cities. This also makes practically everything here an imported item though, thus making everything extremely pricey. So, it's really no surprise at all that Perth is now officially ranked as Australia's most expensive city, and as the 11th most expensive city worldwide.

And when I say that, I really mean it. In fact, I now feel that I should've loaded up on those cheap $7 beers at miller park and lambeau field all of those years, because a pint of beer now costs me roughly $11 every time I buy one. A cocktail with exactly one shot in it? Somewhere between $15 and $22. And patron shots? $95 for 5 incase you were wondering. Don't worry though, tipping is not expected ;). Although I will say that it sure pays to be a girl in a town full of rich miners looking for an American girl to hit on. And for whatever reason (I hear it's because we're fun, outgoing and we smile a lot), they love American girls. So I will gladly accept the free drinks and continue to save everything I make for future travel, if for whatever reason you find my midwestern accent adorable.

Also weird is that some bars close at midnight, and others close at 7 am. I don't get it. I just pretend I know what's going on and why.

Oh, and never in my life did I think I'd be denied entry to a strip club based solely on the fact that I was wearing open toed shoes and thus I was a liability. And then I moved to Perth.

Then again, this may or may not be true. And this may or may not be about me. But that's another story. For another time :).

Other differences between America and Australia include of course: weather, holidays, driving, currency, measuring system, the people, the food, and of course the words!


Of course you all know the seasons are switched around here which makes summer here from December to late March. Although, if you ask me, the 88 degrees I saw today sure would have fooled me! I'd say summer for me officially started about mid October, once I saw 78 plus degrees consistently on the 10 day weather forecast. February is the hottest month averaging in the 90's! This then obviously makes May through September "winter". Although, I feel that the mildness of the climate change is hardly deserving of the word "winter". The lowest average temp all year reaches around 55 degrees. In Wisconsin, this is usually my time to bust out the shorts after a long and bitterly cold and snow filled 6 dreary months of me coping with seasonal depression by eating big macs once a week (or more). So really, it's not too shabby. Just some random rain spouts throughout the day and a bit of chilliness, but certainly nothing to whine (whinge) about. More random words below :).


Instead of a 3 month summer, Australians spread their time off throughout the year. The school year starts in late January/early February followed by 2 weeks off in April, in July, in October, and 6 weeks off in December for summer break, with various holidays in between. It seems to work well for people here, and it definitely works well for me. I had a trip to Cairns in October, am able to take 3 weeks off in December for personal travel, will be traveling again with the family in April, and will likely be leaving during one of the two weeks in July :(. But let's move on before I start crying about that...


Of course the driving is something I alwayssss get asked about. And truthfully, it's actually pretty great and quite easy, although I do find myself consistently walking to the wrong side of the car and nearly getting killed every time I cross the street on foot. I'm still not entirely convinced that this won't be the way I end up dying, so there's your warning. But really, it's the exact same concept other than there roundabouts are everywhere and I've seen only one stop sign in the 2 months I've lived here. But really, follow traffic, use your brain, and you'll survive.


In Australia we have the following: $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and coins worth $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c, and 5c. I only had a 50, 20 and a 2 dollar coin to show. Sorry. But look at how pretty it is!

Measuring System

I still have noooo idea why we haven't converted to the metric system. Honestly. It makes SO much more sense. Remember all that time we spent converting our crazy, illogical measuring system to the metric system back in science classes? I suppose at this point, it's too much work to convert, but it sure would be useful to have the entire world on one measuring system that actually makes sense.

1000 meters equals 1 kilometer. Easy. Makes sense.
5280 feet equals 1 mile. Not easy. Makes no sense.

And luckily for me I have a specialized converter app on my phone which lets me convert degrees, currency, lengths, volumes, etc., because for whatever reason, I was taught to use the most confusing measuring system on earth. I know that as Americans (and human beings), we have this incessant need to be stubborn and always be right, but really, this is one of many things that we could all benefit from by changing.

The People

The people here remind me so much of the midwestern friendliness I often see back home, which is so extremely refreshing. I have always heard that Australians were super easy going, which made my decision to make this my home that much easier. But boy, were you all right! Maybe it's my accent, or the fact that I strike up conversation with everyone I meet, but the people are sure nice here. And what I find incredibly endearing is how beautiful everyone seems to find the world here. Really though, this might be a big generalization, but in my experience, everyone and everything we see, eat, and drink here is "beautiful". It's an adjective that people use for everything. The curry is beautiful. The beach is beautiful. The beer is beautiful. And I agree!

The Food

In my family we eat much of the same things I'd eat at home, with somewhat of a twist. A few things I'd never touch again (okay, just vegemite). And a few things I'll be buying by the jar full (aka nutella).

Breakfast and Lunch are simple. Toast, Cereal, Sandwiches, Fruit, etc. And for dinner a typical week looks something like this: spaghetti bolognese (meatsauce with veggies), tacos, curry, soup, chicken and veggies, lamb and potatoes, etc. And although I'd never had curry until I moved here, I'll definitely be quickly adding it as one of my favorite meals once I get back home. And through lots of trial and error, I've become quite the master chef at this point. In reality though, I just follow the directions, but still, it tastes good and I haven't killed anyone yet. So, it's a win in my eyes.

BUT if you think all of your pinterest meals will be possible over here forget it. I went to the store asking for italian breadcrumbs and ranch and italian seasoning packets and the store clerks looked at me like I had a third eyeball. So be prepared to get creative or to learn to cook different things. American pinterest recipes will do you no good unfortunately :(. And bye bye crockpot cooking. I miss you and my beloved pot roast and chicken tacos.


And the best for last. Words. I still laugh daily at the funny things people say here, or maybe it's because I now catch myself saying them in sentences without even flinching. Or maybe it's because my brutal American accent is rubbing off on little Emilie. She said "water" the other day and we all burst into laughter tears over the fact that she sounded just like she was from good ol midwestern USA. So here we go.

  • jumper = sweatshirt
  • whinging = whining/complaining
  • how are you going? = how are you doing? (still mess this one up daily) 
  • heaps = a lot
  • bogan = white trash
  • shires = counties
  • holiday = vacation
  • knickers = underwear
  • hair lackies = pony tails
  • nappies = diapers
  • chips/chippies = fries
  • no dramas = no worries 
  • rubbish bin/bin = garbage/garbage can
  • cheeky/cheeky monkey = goofy?? still can't figure this one out. although I use it all the time.
  • arvo = afternoon
  • sunnies = sunglasses
  • brekkie = breakfast (seriously.. they shorten everything)
  • lollies = treats
  • biscuits = cookies or special yummy crackers (still don't really know what fits into this category and what doesn't)
  • thongs = flip flops
  • mcdonalds = mackers
  • son of mac = mac jr. hahaha. still laugh at this one. 
  • petrol = gasoline
  • mate = friend
  • bloke = guy
  • pardon = what? I have horrible manners here apparently. Just feels too cutesy for me to use.
  • toilet = bathroom. For example, "Do you need to go to the toilet?" vs. "Do you need to go to the bathroom?"
  • uni = college
  • chewie = gum
So that's what I have so far as far as differences go. Note: I've only been here just over 2 months and have quite a bit of time to get more accustomed to life as an Aussie girl. It's been quite the amazing ride so far, and I'm looking forward to the many adventures ahead in this happy, beautiful, and wonderful life of mine.


  1. This was awesome!
    I would love to know more of their slang! :)

    Also..NO CROCK POTS?!

  2. So many wonderful anecdotes! I recently got to visit Wisconsin, and I can assure you I well and truly stocked up on the cheap beers at Miller Park. It was the off-season as far as football goes, but I did get to sit in Curly's for lunch and drinks after I did the Lambeau tour!

    Definitely needed to be careful on the whole flip-flops thing as well...

    Great blog, welcome to the country!

    1. You visited Wisconsin eh?! Can I ask what for? It's not a place people typically see. I used to cringe at the though of $7 beers, as I was used to drinking all night long on a measly $5 at various bars in La Crosse. But now that I'm paying a minimum of $10, I've learned to appreciate each beer a little more :). I'm bummed you missed a packer game at lambeau though. They are LIFE CHANGING. If you're ever back in the area, I promise to take you to one!

      HAHA. yeah watch the thong talk in the states, people will definitely judge you :).

      Thanks for the sweet comment and for welcoming me here. Australia is beautiful and the people are so lovely. I'm heading to Sydney for New Years (my birthday) this year. Any tips for things to do besides to obvious things??? Thanks :)!

    2. I went on a small vocational exchange through Rotary International. All through Wisconsin and then a bit of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan (Uppers aye?).

      I am a bit sports mad, but have only ever had a passing interest in US football. Tell you what though when I was standing on that field I could only imagine how it would come alive. Having a stadium with a capacity almost as big as Appleton gave me an idea of just how committed the community must be.

      Tips! Definitely.

      We have an increasing number of small (but wonderful) bars. I would recommend trying Baxter Inn or Shady Pines. You can do tall ship cruises on the Harbour which are fantastic, but expensive. I would assume the obvious includes climbing the Harbour Bridge, but definitely get on that if you can!

      If an when I get back to Wisconsin I will take you up on that Packer game :P

  3. Hahaha I love this! we Aussies have so much more slang than that! and your right! we do shorten everything :) Im enjoying your blog xx

    1. hahaha I know! I need to update the list soon. there's so many I missed the first time. Thanks for reading the blog. I'm very much enjoying this beautiful country of yours. Love it here. Never want to leave.