Immigrants Explain What Shocked Them Most About Aussie Culture

Australians are the kings of small-talk. They can talk about the weather, their car, their weekend, the foam on their coffee…and if I’m gonna be trapped in an elevator I’d like them to be Australian.

It’s always refreshing to gain the perspective of those from outside of the bubble in which you live, to see things from a different point of view. Take Australia, for example: Is it necessary to call our mates c*nts, and c*nts mates? Is vegemite and meat pies the only food we’ve got going for us? Why are we still listening to Pauline Hanson?

Look, the point is the list could go on forever…but the fact of the matter is, it’s kind of important to take a look at the world around you from time-to-time, so not as to develop a single-minded view of normalcy. In fact, if you look around, you might find yourself questioning why we do the weird shit we do, that say, only those from a different culture may notice.

To delve a wee bit deeper, we interviewed people from around the world who’ve emigrated to Australia, on what first shocked them most about our thong-wearing, abbreviating, BBQ-cooking culture.

“Sport seems to be very important. Not just football but any sport and there are so many. Australians drink early – Seeing people in bars from 5pm was beyond me until I got used to it. In France, pubs are not even open at 5pm! Also, not gonna lie but the accent, the slang and the way Australians shorten words was pretty surprising and confusing too. Took me 5 weeks to understand the word “mozzies”. I was also confused because I’ve been told that the c-word was a horrible word not to say because it’s so rude yet I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it more than I should have…” – Chloe, France

“Although Australians live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, they seem to have the urge to get blind drunk to completely forget where they are. Like, are you guys so unhappy that you have to drown your sorrows with alcohol? How can you be unhappy in a place like this? Also they definitely have a BBQ culture (which goes conveniently well with consuming alcoholic beverages).” – Zarah, Germany

“How important it is to be polite. I remember being shocked at everyone going “How are you?” “Good, how are you?” “Good thanks”. In Norway, if someone asks me “How are you?” I’d presume that they are selling something or that something is wrong. But here you just have to be ready for the person in the register to ask about your plans for the day. You have to say please for every single vegetable when you order at Subway otherwise Australians get sad. Also, what’s typically Australian is to give long speeches about values, aboriginals, refugees, climate change and then go home and vote for someone like Tony Abbott. It takes a lot of apathy to see the indigenous and asylum-seeker situation and still not being fucked to vote. This apathy is very Australian and that’s a bad thing. Especially when everyone is competing to be the most politically correct: To quote Paul Keating, Aussies are sometimes “all tip and no ice berg”.” – Sivert, Norway

“How similar it is to Canadian. It’s pretty much what I expected: Canada, but more laid back. And different vocabulary. Learn something new everyday. (The dating scene) is fucking shit. Just kidding, I’ve only dabbled in app dating…but that’s fucking shit. Can’t totally comment on real life dating!!” – Candice, Canada

“The Australian culture is very diverse with a lot of influences from all around the globe which is very interesting. If you compare it with Europe, Australia is a laidback surf and chill country where people live most of there time outside. This has obviously meteorological reasons. I wish we had public barbecues too.” – Felix, Belgium

“I was surprised how friendly people in Australia are! Strangers talked to me everywhere. When my host father and I were having a BBQ in a park, a kind of park ranger yelled to us, ‘Good day!’ from half a kilometre away! It wouldn’t happen in Japan…Maybe we are too shy?? You hate americans, and always thinking of next holiday.” – Mayu, Japan

“You eat Vegemite … No seriously, I like how people are most of the time really friendly even if it’s you’re boss or an adult. It’s crazy how people that you’ve never see before come and talk to you easily or even when you go anywhere you can easily have a discussion with people. You never use “mister” or “miss” or “doctor” as you have in France, this notion of superiority. I remember the first email with my Australian mentor, I sent him an email where I really took care of being professional and he answered me, “Hey Buddy, no problem!” I really liked it! – Matthis, France

“The social scene with the laid-back vibe of just going to the beach and just hanging with your friend. Also the dating scene in Australia is usually through friends or uni, whereas HK follows the American style of picking up partners at the club.” – Julia, Hong Kong

“I was very surprised to see how open everyone is and are extremely comfortable with swearing and being themselves around people they don’t know. Another thing that surprised me was how much people drink compared to other countries i’ve lived in, yet it seems to be part of the culture.” – James, UK

“What surprised me most about Aussie culture is just how people can be so laid back. That beach mentality is in many places that are public and everyone sees really laid back. I think that in general Canadian and Australian people get along and understand one another. Historically they can relate and kind of try to understand their identities as somewhat new countries.” – Nick, Canada



Watch a bunch of clueless Aussies try to define what ‘Australian Values’ are….


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