There’s a running joke in Australia that goes (roughly): Everything down under will kill you – except for Hugh Jackman (the Australian actor)…apparently, he’s really nice.
Aside from being flat-out untrue (minus the Hugh Jackman part – he is actually very nice), it’s also a touch on the funny side as there is plenty in Australia for expats to be wary of – but that’s if you don’t take the time to learn a little bit about the culture of this truly unique place. And while there’s no way to cover every nuance of life down under, there are plenty of websites and articles that can help you get even more acquainted.
Here are a handful of phrases that we’ve chosen to get you started on your path to integration into Aussie life:
“Bring a plate” – Australians are known for their generous hospitality. It seems like they’re always having a get-together to celebrate a sports game – or just for the sake of having friends together. If you’re invited, it’s possible that you’ll be asked to “bring a plate” and be left wondering why Australians are so inviting, but not willing to let you eat off their dishware. Truth is, being asked to “bring a plate” means you’re being asked to bring food to share among the other guests in sort of a pot luck style.
Cooking on the “Barbie” – Aussies love their barbecues and they’re famous for it around the world. In fact, many Australians use their outdoor barbecue for cooking meats and their indoor stoves for baking and cooking non-meat dishes. It’s very common for them to cook the meat for Christmas and other celebrations outdoors regardless of the temperature – as it’s one of the best ways to cook meat. The term ‘barbie’ has become one of the most common terms associated with Australia by those in other parts of the world.
“Watching the Footy” – It’s possible that Australians are even getting confused about this term – let alone expats who have made their way down under to love. “Footy” has traditionally been slang for Australian Rules Football, but has grown to encompass rugby, soccer and even American football. So when someone invites you to their house for some “footy,” you should either clarify before you get there or expect to be pleasantly surprised.
“Holidays” – Holidays are the Aussie version of the Western tradition of “vacation.” However, it’s apparently an Aussie thing to NOT take holidays in Australia. It seems that making your way off the island-continent to another location for rest and relaxation is more popular than being a tourist in your own country. That still doesn’t stop others from flocking to Australia to vacation in some amazing spots that rival any location globally.
A Mini-Glossary for Expats in Australia
You can never know too much about a culture where you’ll be an expat. Here are a few other words that may come in handy when it comes to living in Australia.
Lollies = candies
Chemist shop = drug store
Footpath, pavement = sidewalk
Lift = elevator
Primary school = elementary school
Skip = dumpster
Bottleshop = liquor store
Car park = parking lot
Life in Australia – As Beautiful as it is Funny
As funny as the language can be to someone who isn’t from Australia, the truth is that Australia is one of the most wondrous places on Earth to visit and live. For expats, it may take some time getting used to, but the experience of living down under can be fun and rewarding – fortunately there’s no Aussie slang term for shipping a container overseas – we’ve got that covered for you.
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY Intl. Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.