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Australia and America: 14 Differences That Can Get You in Trouble While Traveling

Published by Eliza Worner in Travel
May 5th, 2008

The USA and Australia are great countries to visit, but beware the unexpected differences between the two cultures. There are many and they could get you in trouble.

Travellers to foreign countries will always notice how different other cultures are. We often expect some differences, but may still be surprised when we get there and discover just how diverse the world is. Nothing could have prepared me for the first time I stepped off a plane in South-East Asia, but the biggest surprises always come when I travel to the USA, expecting no surprises but receiving many.

As it turns out, no two countries are alike. Some of the greatest culture shock that travellers experience is when they travel to a country and don’t expect any differences. People jetting between the USA and Australia are likely to experience some of the greatest culture shock of all.

USA and Australia: The Similarities

The physical geographical size of Australia is almost exactly the same size as mainland USA (without Alaska).

Both Australia and the USA have coast lines on the Pacific Ocean.

Both countries have deserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, islands and snow. Yes, it does snow in Australia and many Australians are keen skiers.

USA and Australia: The Differences

Iced Coffee

An iced coffee in Australia is a tall glass of cold milky coffee topped with whipped cream and icecream, and served in a sundae glass. It is more like a dessert than a beverage.

An iced coffee in the USA is a tall glass of cold black filter coffee served with ice, much like iced tea.

Milkshakes

An Australian thickshake is an American milkshake. I don’t think there is an equivalent of an Australian milkshake in America, and by that same reasoning Americans don’t have thickshakes, either.

An Australian milkshake is made by mixing milk, flavour and sometimes a very small scoop of ice cream in a blender. The result is a froth-filled milky beverage, sometimes served with whipped cream on top. An Australian milkshake can easily be consumed through a straw.

An Australian thickshake, and an American milkshake, is mostly ice cream. This “thick shake” is difficult to slurp quickly through a straw. Thickshakes are much colder than a milkshake due to all that ice cream.

The Thong

A thong is an iconic piece of Australian strappy footwear often constructed from rubber and sold cheaply in supermarkets (known as flip flops or jandals in other parts of the world).

An American thong is a strappy piece of underwear worn (preferably) by slender, tanned women with Brazilian bikini waxes (also known as a G-string).

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  1. TC
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:16 am

    “most Australian businesses will give change if they have it in their till” — Not in my experience. Most of them want you to buy something first. Sometimes you will see a sign, “Haven’t bought anything? Sorry – no change!” or similar.

  2. Tora3
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:41 am

    How do Australians treat black Americans?

  3. Cian
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Interesting article, but Halloween originated from Ireland, not Great Britain. It comes from Samhain, a pre-Christian festival. It was also celebrated in Scotland, but is believed to originate from Ireland.

  4. Mil
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Australians don’t really have much exposure to black Americans except in music/sports/movies. So rap/basketball fans would tend to idolise black Americans to some extent. Apart from that, they treat black Americans like any other tourist. Black Americans are so rare here that it’s hard to generalise. They might find themselves getting quite a few stares due to the novelty, outside major cities.

  5. shrek unit
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

    i think your poisonous animal tid-bit needs some updating. i seen more red back spiders hanging from power lines and sprawling trees than your article would lead a person to believe. the red back, also known as the black widow, is all over sydney and surrounding suburbs.
    you should also add something about the obnoxious cockatoo skreetch…
    and anything that comes in between two ‘hamburger style buns’ is, indeed, a burger – chicken burger, fish burger and not to be confused with chicken sandwich and/or fish sandwich.
    fair dinkum!

  6. Amber
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Not sure when the last time the author rode an American Greyhound was, but not all Greyhounds are ‘rolling trailer parks.’ As a college student myself, I’ve encountered a lot of other college students on the bus. There are also a lot of Amish and Mennonite people who use the bus system.

  7. MHotel
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 10:39 am

    “A Greyhound bus in the USA is a mental asylum on wheels, or at best a trailer park on wheels.”

    Depends on where you catch it. Bus travel is hitting a resurrgence in the US right now because air travel is getting prohibitively expensive. Bus fare from Boston to New York is about $20US! As such, it’s a good option for students or anyone else who values money over time.

    Your comment does highlight the existence a general class divide in the American travel system, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that “American Greyhound passengers are toothless, unwashed, uneducated, incredibly strange and downright scary.” It seems this comment stems from a bad experience you had when you were thirteen, and it’s not fair to generalize the entire system from that.

  8. Jeff
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:26 am

    What do you mean that “fanny” refers to a woman’s “private part?” Do you mean, her vagina?

    Does that mean both Australians and Americans are afraid to use the word vagina? I know Americans like to use it; something I’ve always found a bit odd.

  9. devadas
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Funny. I met a Brit once who was very proud of her Valley Girl impression. Must be the most extreme and fun accent to impersonate, just like Americans who belt out, “Aaaaloooo gub’ner!”

  10. Justin
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:50 am

    “If you go camping in the USA there is, however, a good chance you will attacked by a bear if you fail to hide your food properly at night. Bear warnings should be taken seriously in the USA.”

    After reading this I realized you’re an idiot that has no idea what’s going on.

  11. La
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Great article! I’ve been telling a similar “fanny” story for years (only this involved a large group of shocked Australian youths at an international dance festival, and a subsequently very confused festival announcer who’d just invited the room, via a microphone, to “sit your fannies down so we can get this party started!”

    I will agree that in Los Angeles, clearly a place of which you are familiar, the bus system, including Greyhound, is frightening at best. From Manhattan though, to all along the East Coast, it carries all types to and from all kinds of destinations. Once of the best, normal, stress-free traveling experiences I’ve ever had was going from Grand Central to Philly via Greyhound. Not one single toothless person on the bus.

    Also, if you know where to look, you will find all kinds of wild animals in Los Angeles. I’ve seen everything from deer and coyotes walking down main roads a mile or two out of downtown Hollywood, to a little lost bear in a tree, to wild cats on the hiking trails, to raccoons poking their noses out of trash cans after sunset at Universal Studios.

    And I’m glad to hear that I won’t be attacked by a human-eating bug while visiting Australia. That being said, Southern California has the Brown Recluse Spider, an innocuous (looking) but dangerous spider that likes to live in nice, warm, dry homes, and that can cause flesh necrosis/loss of limbs if you’re unfortunate enough to get bitten by one (which, when it happens sometimes does so while one sleeps, and thus without their knowledge). I would recommend all travelers familiarize themselves to what they look like, and what the symptoms of a bite by one are, before they visit.

  12. Roosh
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    But do you know where the australian “root” comes from? I tried to dig it out of some australians but they had no idea.

  13. jack
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    The best advice is, of course, to get to know the *specific* place you are visiting. In theory, bears live in forests all over the U.S., but in practice, there are places where you are much more likely to see them while camping (e.g., Yellowstone) and places where there are very few bears but plenty of wildcats. Elk and moose can be pretty scary, too — those things are *big*. There’s great camping in the desert areas of the western U.S., but invest a little time learning how to identify and handle snakes and scorpions.

    Perhaps more importantly, in the western U.S. especially, find out beforehand whether the water is drinkable! That clear mountain stream may be infested with giardia and other nasties.

    I understand why the article needs to rely on some generalizations, but keep in mind the part about Australia and the continental U.S. being a similar size along with the fact that the U.S. population is spread across the whole landmass. There is a *lot* of variation here, in social habits and geography and fauna and accents…

    The accents part is funny. I try not to do this because British and Australian people always sound so silly when they try it. :) Even famous actors/actresses who’ve lived for years in the states and worked with dialect coaches have noticeable strangeness in the cadences of their speech, probably because they’re concentrating so hard on their vowel sounds. :)

  14. BizCoach
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Fanny in Australia (and other British speaking countries) is a much more crude term than vagina. It’s like the C word for vagina.

    Australian drivers typically stop for pedestrians to cross when there’s no traffic light. US drivers don’t. But Aussies and Americans drive on opposite sides of the road so you have to look to the other way first when you’re crossing the street.

    In Australia tuna fish comes without mayonnaise, in the US it’s mixed in. Coffee in Australia generally means espresso in the US it means filtered coffee and don’t get me started on hamburgers. Aussies top theirs with an egg, pineapple and/or beet rood while Americans put lettuce, tomato and/or pickles.

    Speaking of food, servers in Australia are paid a normal wage so tipping is not nearly so high as in the US where servers are paid almost nothing.

  15. axus
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    How about the differences between tomato sauce? And all the variations…

  16. Trip
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    “In response to the question how they treat Black Americans?” Like Rock stars, lliterally.

  17. West Los Angeles
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Lots of wildlife in west Los Angeles. There are many opossums in my neighborhood, about three miles from the ocean. We also have giant squirrels, about the size of large house cats. I do not need an alarm in the mourning since extremely loud birds start chattering away before my alarm clock goes off.

    BizCoach mentioned pedestrians crossing the street. In many parts of Los Angeles County, pedestrians have the right of way. Drivers are ticketed by the police for failing to yield to pedestrians. Most of the rest of the U.S.A., pedestrians cross at their own risk, but on the westside of Los Angeles, drivers beware.

  18. Scanner
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    To the comment by Justin : actually, your comment (sorry chum) seems pretty ignorant. I’ve been camping many a time and have heard other campers having issues with bears, I myself as a child while camping with my parents and grandparents had a bear actually dig into PROPERLY sealed foods, and even dig it’s fingers into a large juice can and drink it. How it even knew it was something to drink is beyond me. Can’t say as I’ve heard of campers being attacked unless they did something stupid by drawing attention to themselves, but stupidity is often rewarded badly. Anyway, try to refrain before jumping on the “clueless” bandwagon, friend.

  19. Mike
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    You are wrong about Los Angeles. Totally.

  20. G2D2
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    From the flag section:
    “Where this sudden blind-patriotism has sprung from is anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping it dies off as quickly as it appeared.”

    Thanks for your opinion, but the subject of your article is differences and similarities between America and Austrialia, and not your leftist/pinko attitude toward patriotism.

    @Jeff:

    So would “fanny” refer to vagina (the canal) or vulva (the lips)? I think most people say “vagina” when they really mean vulva (or labia).

  21. Gordon
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I went to Australia in 1986 as an exchange student. I went to school proudly wearing my Canadian “Roots” Sweat Shirt. I don’t know why my host parents did not say anything. In fact my host Mom had a smirk on her face all the way to school. The school principal (and a much more conservative Rotarian) had a bit of a fit about it. He threw my school uniform at me and told me to change. I showed all my new friends the sweat shirt and was taking orders for weeks!

  22. sid
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I think another thing worth mentioning, drive on the left in Australia.

  23. DOCTOR HAN SOLO
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    AUSSIES CAN HAS SHOT FIRST PLORX

  24. Frank
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    The toilet swirls in opposite directions.

  25. Chris
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    If you think that saying “Koala bear” will make us look stupid, you might want to re-examine our most passionate national pastime, football. There is no such thing as an American Footballer, there are Football players. You might think it cute to paint us as sissies for the pads, though a quick check of my sources shows medieval knights wore slightly more protective material. Soft knee and thigh pads, cup, plastic shoulder pads and a helmet.

    If your footballers tried to play our game without protection there would be a line for the emergency room stretching halfway to Brisbane (ruling out, of course, instant death from blunt force head trauma). The NFL is so rough the average career is only 3 – 4 years; those lucky enough to play for 10 – 20 years often suffer from severe arthritis, chronic pain, limited mobility, or all of the above. It’s a bit sadistic, but hey, we Americans sure love a train wreck.

    I could care less about our flag. Don’t DARE desecrate my sport! You Aussies are sports fanatics too, right? you understand, I’m sure.

  26. Jim Frost
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Regarding bears:

    There are definitely areas where you have to be very careful of bears, eg the Rockies in Colorado and in Alaska. But the US is large and bears are uncommon across much of it, especially near populated areas (eg the whole east coast). Further there is a range of aggressiveness across bear species. In New England, for instance, bears are not generally dangerous and are fairly rare anyway. If you leave food out at night it’s way more likely that you’ll attract raccoons. There is a strong incidence of rabies amongst raccoons, making them far more dangerous than they might appear. So: Properly seal up your food and trash. And make lots of noise, it lets bears know where you are. They don’t want to be near you, either.

    Moose are actually more dangerous, at least in my opinion. They can be extremely aggressive and are common in many northern areas. They are especially troublesome in that you’ll be in a world of hurt if you run into one with your car. You won’t find them near populous areas, though, and in most areas moose would prefer to leave people alone.

    In terms of random risks in the US you might be concerned with rattlesnakes, especially in the southwest. Even so I’ve never run into one, even in areas where they are relatively common. Some areas, especially on the west coast, have had wildcat issues in recent years but attacks are still very rare.

    Generally speaking I just go camping and enjoy myself without getting worked up about the wildlife. There’s not very much that’s really dangerous.

  27. Someone
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Most of this article is very bland, maybe if you have no idea what goes on outside the US or Austrailia this stuff will be news to you. However most people with interest in going to either will most likely known the genneral differences, and will stumble around the more specific nuances of the particular portion of the country they chose to go to.

    I agree, you did peg LA wrong, you must not have spent much time there.

    Also as someone who has used the Grey Hound system extensively I both agree and disagree with you, again it depends a lot on where you are ocmming from and where you are going. E.G. here in Pittsburgh you are likely to find college kids on the bus, but that has a lot to do with the huge number of college campuses in this county and it’s surrounding areas. Though when I took the bus from Chipley Florida to Naches (sorry I have spelled this phonetically) well let’s just say, I had the sinking feeling I was sitting around a group of people who were avoiding the law and transporting meth…

  28. rob
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Oh, yeah. Do you guys snatch people off to undisclosed overseas locations for “enhanced” interrogations? Because we are apparently fond of doing that. You might want to watch out for that… and the bears.

  29. marlen
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    @Tora3

    “How do Australians treat black Americans?”

    Almost everything the average Australian knows about black Americans is from TV. Therefore if you are a black person planning on visiting Australia please note we will expect you to:

    1. Be as funny as Eddie Murphy (Bill Cosby will do at a pinch)
    2. Able to slam dunk like Jordan
    3. Have an amusing catchphrase like the little kid from Different Strokes
    4. Bust out the MC Hammer dance at will

  30. jack
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    > In Australia tuna fish comes without mayonnaise, in the US it’s mixed in

    Uh, no. This has to be a case of generalizing from a small sample. I’ve seen tuna for sale attached to its own little packet of mayonnaise, intended as a sort of quick-lunch kit, and you can buy fresh tuna salad (that is, mixed with mayo and other ingredients) by weight in many delis and such, but the general format for tuna purchase in the U.S. is in a tin can, packed in your choice of oil or water. There’s a whole rack of them right next to the sardine tins and kippered herring in every grocery store I’ve ever been to.

  31. jhenz
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 1:36 am

    I enjoyed reading the article (including some of the comments) — quite funny! Some of the people here are sooo serious! :D

  32. Brandon
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 1:41 am

    A little thing I noticed in Australia is unlike in the USA is it polite when walking on a sidewalk or in a mall to stick to the Left side. You see in the US we walk on the right side of the sidewalk when we can. I guess it has to do with what side of the road we drive on. Just a little thing but messed me up for a few days. By the way I love Australia and her people.

    Also one more thing. Most Americans don’t have a clue about the metric system. If you tell one of us that it is 23 degrees outside we will grab a large Jacket and some gloves and a kilometer is the little number below MPH on a speedometer that we don’t pay attention too.

  33. Aaron
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 6:59 am

    @Chris: Please, you think American Football is tough? Have you ever watched an Aussie rules Football game? Its harder hitting than American Football and there is no pads – idiot.
    American Football is the biggest joke sport in Australia/Europe, see we play real sports like Aussie Rules or Rugby, and we don’t need pads. Not like the pussies who play American Football.

    And as for baseball, how boring can a sport be? Complete snorefest!
    But I do have to ask, why is the American Baseball championship called the WORLD series when no teams from other countries are invited to play?

  34. vestral
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 8:05 am

    re american football – to me a rugby scrum looks the same as the start of any american football play. the difference is rugby players do it without any ‘body armour’. Don’t agree? then watch little george gregan in any rugby match. Small guy, no protection, kick arse captain.

  35. vintage-af1
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 9:49 am

    awesome article! didn’t know that much coz im a citizen of none lol

  36. Annettenasser
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for your very important information, these really helps me coz im planning to travelling in two weeks time so this kind of information makes me more aware of things to consider.

  37. Rana Sinha
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Very nice article with a wealth of information. Thanks.

  38. Carolyn
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Funny, thanks for the laugh. I’m an Australian, if I read something called ‘humour’ I expect it to be tongue in cheek at the very least, and not to be taken seriously. Honestly, how can football raise the emotions like that? Carn the Crows!!

  39. Wolfe
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Oh I loved the fanny/root comment! Classic!

    Wolfe

  40. Rookie
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Nice article – well written, informative n funny at times!!
    Best wishes,
    Rookie

  41. Rachel
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Hi Eliza
    great idea here. i hardly get more than 4 comments for my articles!

    Rachel Faye

  42. shaun ashcroft
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Good work Eliza. As a humourous piece, it provided that. As an entry into the Masters textbook on the sociopolitical idiosynchrocies between New World super powers in the wake of the breakup of the Commonwealth it did not quite get there. Thanks heavens! Three cheers for a good laugh.
    And another thing, root bear in the USA is a drink whereas in Australia, beer leads the drinker to really want a root.

  43. Sonja
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 3:41 am

    This made me giggle, Australian’s are so NOT! patriotic like the Americans…

    I’m Australian, I went to New York in 2007. I got mistaken for English 99% of the time. When you order coffee in Australia you say “can I get a coffee” then you’re asked what sort? in the USA they promptly go and get perculated coffee, if you want a latte you have to specifically ask for one. If I didn’t have enough change for the bus they let me ride for free if I got lost with trains they let me back in for free.

  44. nobody should wear a thong
    Posted June 9, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    not as underwear. sex wear ok. but i am so sick of seeing women with their whale tales hanging out

  45. ignite
    Posted July 25, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Aussies are not patriotic, unless they find out you’re a Kiwi XD
    And it’s not football, it’s Rugby, tyvm!

  46. Stu
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Aaron (no. 33 May 6) – fair go mate. Don’t think you speak for all Australians or Europeans when you say that the NFL is a joke. I personally love the NFL and find it much more entertaining than our League or Union games. I mention league and union, because they’re much closer by comparison to American Football than Aussie Rules, which even some Australians call “airial ping-pong” (although, don’t get me wrong, I do like the game)

    There’s no need to call someone, who really enjoy’s their nations favourite national pastime, an idiot either. Just because you don’t agree with their opinion doesn’t make you any better than them.

  47. D366
    Posted September 13, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Well im a Aussie going to the US in 09, Thanks for all the tidbits. But ill wait to make an oppinion. And nobody is an idiot for stating what they percieve to be true they are just mislead……. I love my country…. but our government has made it hard for us with all this politically correct interpretation. Now we are giving away our own identity because it may offened many of our internation residents.

  48. V
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 6:27 am

    I watched NFL for the first time on Monday night and it was awesome! I think people who enjoy a bit of AFL, as I certainly do, would find it entertaining.

    As for the comment above, I’d like to think Australians were more racially tolerant than most, but our experience might be a little more limited by our demography. I was in the US last year, and I’d certainly never seen a hispanic person in my life before! Aside from that, because of the high levels of US content on our televisions, I found everything eerily familiar.

  49. V
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Also, every bird and furry little animal is adorable and straight from Bambi!

  50. V
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 2:49 am

    If i make a random coment about sport or bears will everyone go agro agian.

    Check out this crazy website about Cultural Differences between US and AUS, theres some crazy generalising going on. Its hillarous.

    http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/yankaussie.htm

    Just a warning though it’s not trying to be funny which makes it a bit scary.

    P.s don’t think all australian can’t spell just becuace i can’t

  51. V
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 2:50 am

    I totally stole that other persons name. I’m not V MWHA HAHAHAHHA

  52. RF
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 9:09 am

    first of all most of your american “facts” make us sound like sissys
    which of course we arent. you dont mess with america
    and all youre doing is trashing us.
    this is all a bunch of crap

  53. Dustin
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Having grown up in the US (New Mexico, to be specific) and then marrying and Aussie girl and living down here in Brisbane for the last 6 years, I think I need to translate some things. Firstly, football. Rugby and American Football are different sports. Think of it as Chess and Checkers. Played on a very similar field/board, but that’s about it. With American Football, the pads were brought in when the death and paralysis rate got too high. Rugby didn’t go with pads, they went with rules limiting how you can tackle, hit, ect. Also, compare the size of an American Football player to an Aussie rugby player. The Americans are quite larger, (and before the ensuing comments about how fat Americans are come, keep in mind that as of January 08, Australia became “the fattest nation”, beating out the US….)where as Australians as a rule, aren’t. I’m only 6′1″, 126kg and have been asked if I play rugby here as people would hate to go up against me on the field, and it surprised me, as in the States with my family and friends, I’m one of the smaller people…. Just an example.

    As to the bears while out in the woods. I worked for the US Forest Service before getting married, and was in scouts my entire life. I came across 3 bears in those 23 years….. and all of them ran as the were more scared…. that was also while I was in some VERY remote locations…. normal tourist campers will have no problems.

    Also, you will find the service in resturaunts in Australia a lot more lax that in the US. In Australia, the waiters and waitresses get paid the same amount no matter what they do, where as in the US, they are paid a minimum wage, which is very low, and then rely on their tips for most of their money, therefore encouraging them to give better service….

  54. rdrjo
    Posted October 13, 2008 at 3:02 am

    I think that too many Australians try to make broad generalizations about the US. Most Australians that spew ant-American rhetoric have never been there. I think tht some Australains are too concerned with what’s going on in the US. Believe it or not there are some serious issues here in Australia that need to be resolved.

    Most Americans are more concerned with what is going on in their own communities instead of worrying about what is going on in another country thousands of miles away. That doesn’t mean Americans don’t care about the rest of the world or are dumb. I just think there is a lot going on the US, and you should be more concerned with the issues in your own country. The reson why Australians may be aware of so many things about the US is 75% of the news,tv, and movies are from the US. Some Australians like to believe that they are smarter than Americans, but I think a lot of what Australians know about the US is taken from tv and not from school.I have been surprised at the low education requirements here where I live.
    The US is too large and diverse to make accurate and correct statements about it. Going from one state to the next can be like going to a different country.

  55. rdrjo
    Posted October 14, 2008 at 12:21 am

    I think in general that customer service in Australia is worse than it is in the US. It isn’t just about US workers being polite for tips. It is the same pretty much all throughout the customer service industry. Here in Australia it seems like a lot of people aren’t trained in the finer points of customer service like smiling and being as helpful as you possibly can. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been told “I don’t know ” in response to a question, with no further attempt to find the answer. I have greeted a cashier with a hello several times to only get a grunt or in most cases no response at all. My wife who is Australian lived in the states for many years agrees that customer service here in Australia is terrible in comparison to what she experienced in the US. Remember anything I say is only based on what I have seen. I am not trying to jude a whole country.

  56. Geoff Plumridge
    Posted October 24, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Rdrjo I agree that the service in Australia can leave a lot to be desired but my experience in the US (I have been for business & pleasure at least a dozen times) is that the whole service with a smile thing is as fake as the cream in the coffee. Watch that smile fade when you don’t tip enough. I’d rather speak to a geniune person having a day at work than an over made up woman trying to schmooze dollars out of me just because she is serving me some food. And another thing that whole fake thing seems to apply to the whole country that I’ve seen. It’s a little like a big movie set.. all flash on the surface and then decrepit and fake underneath.

    And another thing.. I’ve found that straight talking Australians having business dealings in the United States have a lot of trouble because no-one seems to really speak their mind. There are layers of political correctness and hypocrisy that need to be scraped off a conversation before the real issues are addressed. And WHAT is it about every American I’ve met reading me his/her bloody resume and stating his/her business title like I even care? In Australia we aren’t impressed with titles just ability. I’d rather deal with Canadians they seem more well.. real.

    I’ve had great fun in the United States I love the food and even the beer and the people are really friendly if a little slow sometimes especially when it comes to having an idea what is going on outside their borders. But I always leave feeling some pity for the local inhabitants and sheer relief that I have somewhere better to live.

    NB* One benefit of knowing next to nothing about the outside world is not knowing how much better it is to live in the other English speaking countries. They do say that ignorance is bliss…

  57. yazmin
    Posted December 15, 2008 at 5:40 am

    You say that most greyhound buses in the USA a mental asylums on wheels..almost like you hold yourself in a higher esstem, yet you dismiss the importance of Australian partiotism.
    Quite contradictory.

  58. AndyPandy
    Posted January 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Im from Northern Ireland and i just want to say i think both nations are great.Ive never been to australia but i just want to say that i bet it is extremely similar to america.

    i must admit coming from northern ireland to america was a big culture shock when i was 12 but the more time you spend there the more similar to home it starts to seem.you start to notice more similarities than differences after a while

    i loved the states anyway and felt it was the kind of lifestyle i wanted. In fact i hate rainy northern ireland compared to the states.

    I do hate however when people bad mouth eachothers country. We are all part of the world and we all bring great things to it.i also hate stereotype which is what most of this article is.It is a bland stereotype of both nations.we are all stereotyped.Im sure u think im a red haired little leprachaun who lives in a cottage but no i am an average dude who goes on the internet and listens to his ipod.leprachauns dont even exist believe it or not!lol

    i just want to say that you shouldnt generalise because everyone is different.i also want to let people know that there is more than meets the eye to all places.

    and another thing i feel annoyed about is that people seem to love to bad mouth america for being a proud nation.they are not saying they are better than us they are just proud for what they have done so dont be cruel to them for that, afterall they have done so much for us and i thank them for that.

    P.S.lets just remember we are all part of the world and we all rock!

  59. Abby
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Pretty hilarious article; I certainly enjoyed reading it.

    One note about the restroom differences. There are plenty of places to use the restroom in most US areas, except for, it seems, New York City. I visited my cousin in Chelsea for about 4 days. One day I was out touring around and I had to use the restroom. I looked for about half an hour for a restroom and came up empty handed. I ended up having to buy a ticket to a tour of the Empire State Building to use the bathroom on the top floor. Most expensive toilet I’ve ever used!

  60. Amy
    Posted March 3, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Actually Halloween is an ancient Irish Pagan festival which involved the belief in faries. It had nothing to do with the British or Americans. They stole it.

  61. andrew
    Posted June 13, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    in response to elle’s comment, while i can’t really compare what australia’s clothing is like because i have never been there [although i desperately hope that i can visit one day], i can say that ,rest assured, america is definitely not lacking in the scantily-clad girls! And about American football, while i’ve never played rugby in any form i can personally say that after playing a neighborhood game of football and being flattened by a 300 pound boy named Darius, that I WISHED I was dressed in full mail knights armor! But seriously, ice hockey defeats all sports. By the way, I have been camping multiple times and have never had any bear troubles, but its a great article nonetheless!

  62. Cassie
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    what a load of crap. while a lot of your article was fairly on the money, a lot of it made it seem as though you have been sheltered away from people outside of major cities for a big part of your life in australia

  63. me
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

    cool

  64. Steven
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 4:08 am

    “shrek unit
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 10:28 am
    i think your poisonous animal tid-bit needs some updating. i seen more red back spiders hanging from power lines and sprawling trees than your article would lead a person to believe. the red back, also known as the black widow, is all over sydney and surrounding suburbs.
    you should also add something about the obnoxious cockatoo skreetch…
    and anything that comes in between two ‘hamburger style buns’ is, indeed, a burger – chicken burger, fish burger and not to be confused with chicken sandwich and/or fish sandwich.
    fair dinkum!”"

    That comment about the burger is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I have news for you Americans invented the hamburger! A hamburger consists of groundbeef grilled or fried between 2 pieces of bread! That is the criteria and the short term is just a Burger! This also means hamburger! Once could have a cheese burger. Note that if one were to have a cheese burger one would get not a sandwich with just cheese but one with grilled ground beef topped with cheese. The easiest way to see how foolish your comment is would be to admit that using your rational you would be required to call a peice of boneless chicken breast between 2 pieces of bread or a bun a chicken hamburger!!! this is because you are trying to replace the ingreadiant in the burger with chicken however if you look carefully at the word hamburger you will note that not one piece of ham goes into it!! Everything besides grilled ground beef between bread is a sandwich! Oh by the way Filete is pronounced Fill-eh Not Fill-ett. its a word with a french root. Do you say Fill-ett Minion??? hmmmmm yeah I didn’t think so! Food for thought.

  65. Shush
    Posted November 16, 2009 at 9:30 am

    ^^^
    Are you really calling Australian’s stupid for having another name for burgers?
    It’s just what they call them.

    Americans say “ketchup” instead of “tomato sauce” when logically I’d say tomato sauce is right since it is typically a sauce made out of tomatoes.

    People need to stop being so judgemental/serious in this thread.
    We’re completely different countries but when it comes down to it we’re all people and we are not all determined by the stereotypes given to the country we live in.

  66. Casey
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 2:00 am

    OK seriously – this was SUPPOSED to be a funny article…and quite frankly you people don’t need to take every little detail to heart – so what if the author generalised – it was funny! have a sense of humour and get over it…or as one of Australia’s favourite icons – Chopper – says “HARDEN THE F**K UP!”

    *PS* If you want an example of how stupid americans can be: I once went on an excursion when I was in the Australian Navy Cadets – and during that excursion we got to see some weapons used by the US army. On the back of one of these weapons was a sign saying “back – face towards from you” and on the front of them was a sign saying “front – face away from you.” Now that’s funny – as if you need a sign telling you which way to face a weapon!

  67. KATEE
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I read all the comments, and having never left australia most of these things surprised me. The one main thing I noticed was how “up tight” americans are, like with the football thing. If someone said that to an australian we would just laugh and move on. I do totally agree that amerian football is a sport that should be played by girls, its too safe, and boring.

    Also, spelling is different here.
    eg. mum and realise

  68. Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:58 am

    oh yes thats right because u are full of it really full

  69. Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

    lol
    go AUSTRALIA

  70. robina creaser
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Great topic, very enjoyable responses overall.
    Geoff, I think you have it about right mate from what I saw in a year there. Lots of nice stuff, but horrible poverty and a level of isolation from the world, that is breathtaking at times.
    My general assessment `Americans are too ignorant to know how badly off they are`.

  71. manda
    Posted May 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Ohhh goodness. I found myself yelling at this page. Americans are not ALL fat ignorant morons with no hygein. And though I havn’t been to aussi yet, I’m sure they aren’t ALL ass holes who hate americans , smoke at 6, have old ass boyfriends, and no education. Really people? Can we stop with the ignorance please?

  72. andrew
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 2:05 am

    this is pathetic you dont know anything about australia. we are almost the same as america and half the words that are meant to be australian slang is a total load of crap we may have used them words 50 years ago but not now. take a look around australia and get the right facts. btw love americans so cool :-) and black americans wont get treated any different here in australia we dont really care about the colour of peoples skin its not a big deal we treat everyone the same, we are all equals.

  73. Anders
    Posted August 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    This article is very offensive. Many of the things in here are complete stereotypes.

  74. Tiffany
    Posted August 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    This was a poorly written piece. Though the intentions of this article are much appreciated, the naive stereotyping and obvious bias hurts the legitimacy of the article. This article is not even recognizable as a humorous article, and I am sure that it may offend future readers.

  75. y.
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 12:52 am

    UMMMMMMM YEAH.

    FIRSTLY, Australians do have a lot of respect for their flag and NO we do not have tattered old flags left on flag poles, i dont know where that came from. Flags are extremely highly respected here, and we dont need americans to have a say in how much we care about our national flag, because we do.
    SECONDLY, There are all sorts of places to use the bathroom, we have council operated public facilities that are free to use 24/7 and yes there are convenience stores that also have this.
    THIRDY, Australia does have the worlds deadliest animals however its very rare that you will come across any, especially if you are staying in a metro area. DUH. so perhaps take those camping books a little more seriously, becuase its usually american tourists that get into trouble here, like the ones that ignored the danger signs while hiking. ignorance.
    FORTHLY, Australian roots come from Europe, just like America, so whoever you asked about australian roots, they were probly either american or foreign born.

  76. Ed
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I say each to ones own. You can’t please everybody.

    Fact: There are no Poisonous snakes in Australia.
    They are all Venomous snake.
    There is a difference. Poison goes through the blood; venom goes through your lymphatic system.

    When in the USA I was asked several times what language do you speak in Australia? Even after talking and working with the people for weeks.

    I found a lack of customer service and back up service on the companies I dealt with. But to be fair it was during the GFC.

    I think a lot of American shows stereo type Americans to be not too intelligent. eg Amazing race.
    While in Europe the American shows I watched there were even worse.

    So it’s the American TV that is shown to the world that gives people that opinion.

    Aussies love Black Americans. Top people. Down to earth!

    But Americans can be very angry. Say the wrong thing and they snap.
    As you see here in this forum. No diplomacy or reasoning, just straight out blind anger!

    Like if I said the Government is going to take your guns off you.
    What is the first feeling that you have?

    The page was designed to point out differences to would be travellers.
    Not to have a go at anybody.

    Great page!

    Did you know Rock Band ACDC is Australian!

  77. virginia
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 6:34 am

    ang galing mo

  78. The Runmaster
    Posted December 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Calling a koala a koala bear is stupid and ignorant !
    This is because they’re called drop bears damnit !!!

  79. Posted February 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    If you’re interested in more of the ways, phrases, and words that can get a “Yank” in trouble “downunder,” you might want to pick up a copy or kindle of “IDIOM OF OZ.” Incredibly awesome and funny book about that very topic. I truly hope you enjoy it.

    Jake

  80. angels.arent.far.from.here
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Oh my god! Are you for real? Australians wear the Australian flag and have it tatoo’d on to us to prove, we love this country. Ever heard of “Aussie Pride”? no probably not with the way your going… and just to clear the record to those not awaire at the moment. Aussie women dont all get pregnant at early ages, and i don’t know anyone that is dating someone older then 4 years older then themselves. i do not believe that americans are fat an sloppy. definately need to update this woman.

  81. Kate
    Posted March 17, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I had a laugh at some of the comments here especially the comments about different accents and international misunderstanding about different words. I remember a hilarious experience I had when I went to Russia and was asked if I enjoyed travelling on “C*nt A*se” – it took me a very amusing 10 minutes to realise that my Russian host was referring to QANTAS!! Look, some of the people contributing on this site need to lighten up. Both countries are truly sensational – I am an Aussie but have lived and travelled extensively and have travelled throughout the USA. The anti-Australian rhetoric espoused by rdrjo is based in absolute ignorance and is NOT typical of the way most Americans feel about Australia and Australians. When he says we let murderers off, obviously he has forgotten about OJ Simpson?? Anyway, his comments should not be taken to heart.

  82. Aus15
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Firstly, australia only has a higher obesity
    Rate because America has over 300 million
    People to spread the weight percentage around
    Whereas Australia only has about 23 million
    People to do the same.

    Secondly with the legal system, at least we don\’t
    Go and kill people that are in jail, just coz we can.

    Thirdly, all you Americans don\’t go judging Australia
    When you guys can\’t even get your own country out of debt.

    Finally, learn to bloody talk properly instead of talking like idiots.
    Seriously WTF is with \’y\’all\’ thats just lazy.
    And before you try and pull the G\’day card.
    We don\’t say that, we havnt said that since like the 1980\’s. We just say around your lot as a joke.

  83. Justin
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Damn, lighten up people. Have pride in your country, but dont bash others because for being different. why so serious??

  84. Live your life to its fullest
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 6:39 am

    And yes I am american. I love my country, even though we have made some stupid mistakes. We are all human. But we do need to stop this nonsense about smoking some weed. 420 BITCHES!!!!!

  85. Paige
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Hahaha, I remember when my sister and I were watching the Simpsons when we were younger and Marge mentioned her fanny and we what like, “Umm, what?”

    I do think we’re pretty good at accents. I test it out sometimes in different countries by pretending to be from there and then asking if they suspected I wasn’t.

    This article is sometimes funny but other times too stereotypical.

    Also, we have less accent variety than for instance the US or UK. We have three main variations of the accent, which is not regionally based. There are minimal regional differences.

  86. Posted November 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I am amused by some of the comments here. Not everyone in America drives a large vehicle. Many places in the US have recycling. I have never lived in an area with smog. I’ve never been on a bus, because we have always lived in the country, too far away from bus service. My family watches educational television and enjoy programs about other countries. The US is so large that many states feel like different countries, so it is hard to compare Australia to America. A person would almost have to compare Australia to each individual state within the United States. I lived in Pennsylvania and moved to Oklahoma. I couldn’t understand anyone in Oklahoma, because of the strong accent and I found so many cultural differences. There are extreme differences from the East Coast of the US to California to the Midwest. We are frequently referred to as ignorant, but the stereotypes that have been written here show more ignorance. We care about the rest of the world, but there are so many problems and issues here in the US that we don’t always have the time to follow the rest of the world. I am surprised how many other countries take an interest in the US. Are we that interesting? I don’t think so. Many people in the US don’t take long trips overseas, because most people only receive 1-2 weeks vacation per year. Many of our friends use that time to visit their family in another part of the country during summer vacation or Christmas. Many people in the US actually need guns to protect their livestock from mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, and bears, not to mention their families. I just had a bobcat in my backyard yesterday. Alaska and many other parts of the US are still very wild. There are many Americans that never eat McDonalds food. Many people in the US try to eat healthy and make home-cooked meals. As Americans, we love to meet people from other countries and ask them lots of questions. People must separate the American from American politics and policies. They are two different worlds also. We are the melting pot of the world, so there are many different languages, cultures, and beliefs here. We have friends from Australia and I find many things we have in common. We love to get together with friends over a nice meal. We love our families and spending the holidays together. We love our countries. We love our sports. We all want the best for our children and see them succeed. We all want to find love and happiness. We really aren’t all that different. I hope this “ignorant” American has enlightened you.

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