It can be argued that Australia has its own unique culture. Some say it's comparable to the Westernised lifestyle of Americans, or that we're a carbon copy of the UK (I guess that's what happens when a nation sends its rejects to a large island in the 1800s), but I think it's entirely different. We've taken inspiration from our predecessors and morphed it into something new.
Over time, we've created our own culture that is nothing short of a mystery to the rest of the world (not for much longer — I'm about to give you the rundown). It's the result of 24 million lazy, stingy, strange people living on a large island, isolated from the rest of the world.
Here, I present to you three simple steps to becoming more Aussie:
1. Shorten every word in the English language
The first thing you must know about Australians is that we are possibly the laziest creatures you will ever meet. We're so lazy we can't even be bothered to speak. Instead, we've created a secret language, made up of shortened versions of the words which just take too much effort to say completely. I wish I could explain the look on my professor's face when I said "see you this arvo" to him for the first time. Absolutely blank. I may as well have been speaking a foreign language (I mean, I kind of was). For those who aren't sure, "this arvo" is the easy way to say, "this afternoon."
I'm not complaining, our technique does make things simpler! Why would I bother telling my boss I'm going on a lunch break when I can just call it "smoko"? And I'm definitely not going to waste your time saying I'm filling up at the gas station. I'm just heading to the servo! Oh, and my personal favorite? Maccas. That's short for McDonald's. This one is so widely adopted, even the advertisements refer to it as "Maccas" now.
Not to mention the random words that have absolutely no relevance to their original meanings. I'm certain someone made these up one day when they were bored and it somehow managed to stick. Here's an example: we don't say bathing suit, swimsuit, swimming trunks or anything along the spectrum of logical descriptors. The things you wear in the pool? They're togs. No clue how we came to that conclusion, but that's all I've ever called them.
I highly suggest you adopt a couple of these phrases, it will save you so much effort – imagine all the spare time you'll have from ignoring a few useless syllables!
2. Take all the free food you can get
When have you ever seen an Australian say no to free food? That's right, NEVER. Food just tastes so much better when it's free. If you are looking for a way to hang out with an Aussie, just offer to pay for their meal and I can guarantee they'll be there. They may have just eaten dinner, but that won't stop them.
I'm pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to find a feed in an American College — pretty much any event has at least a table of "nibbles" provided (I know nibbles isn't too exciting, but professionals like myself can easily make a meal out of them… it's all in the strategy).
I guess this one really ties in with the whole 'stingy Australian' stigma. For some reason, we are all so protective of our money. We won't spend our money unless it's absolutely necessary, and we will chase you up for every dollar and cent you may owe us. In saying that, we'll be extremely hypocritical and expect you to pay for a bunch of our stuff, then take forever to pay you back. Just a warning: if anyone of us asks you to pay for our meal, promising we'll "pay you back straight away!" DO NOT trust us. You will most likely never see that money again.
Getting things for free is way too much of a thrill to us, we're money-saving adrenaline junkies.
3. Thoroughly enjoy the heat and handle the cold poorly
As you may know, there's only two seasons in Australia: Hot with the occasional cool breeze (winter), and so hot you think you're going to melt (summer). There's no autumn or spring, and winter is simply a more comfortable version of summer. In conclusion: Australia is HOT… or at least it is where I come from.
As you can imagine, this makes us really good at handling the heat. If you've got a true-blue Aussie bloke for a father, you know that they thrive most in warmer weather, sometimes refusing to turn the air con on (oops, there's another shortened word — "air con" means "air conditioner"). They welcome the dripping sweat, the sticky leather couches, and the sting from hot seat belts. Nothing reminds me more of an Aussie summer than driving my car with a single finger because the steering wheel is practically on fire!
Sure, the heat is great, and it means we can do outdoor activities year-round, but it also means we are severely unprepared for cold weather. Traveling overseas is risky business, a constant gamble of whether or not we'll freeze and die in temperatures we've never witnessed before.
When I was packing for Tuscaloosa, I stupidly thought a small corduroy jacket and a thin converse sweatshirt would cut it — I even thought it might be overkill! How cold could it possibly get? I'm heading to the South for goodness sake! I was rudely awakened. Turns out Tuscaloosa can reach some pretty low temperatures. It wasn't long before my Aussie pal and I were desperately purchasing winter coats on Amazon so we could walk to and from class without losing feeling in the majority of our body parts.
To sum up, if you're planning on visiting Australia any time soon and want to blend in a bit better, you'd better start shortening those words, stinging off your friends, and wearing way too little clothing out in the cold.
Wow, just realizing we sound like an awfully stupid group of people. Eh, it's way more fun to live the carefree Aussie way!