A pommies’ guide to the unexpected cultural differences – Australia vs UK

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We’ve talked about the most common questions we receive in terms of moving to Australia for work, but there are still other factors about moving overseas that really need to be considered, before you pack your shorts or bikini and head down under.

Moving to a different country can be quite overwhelming, and using Google to help you understand what “your new home” is like to live in isn’t always effective. It’s never an easy transition and whilst people know Australia is on the other side of the world, often many don’t expect the cultural differences that they experience.

Here are a few of the bigger differences we’ve personally experienced, from the perspective of one of the English members of the team.

1. It’s NOT always sunny in Australia
Woah, did we really just say that? Erm, yes, sorry, we did. Australia is a beautiful country, and in some parts it does seems to have that eternal sunshine that we’ve been promised by Neighbours and Home and Away, however, it’s not always sunny and dry. We’re based in Sydney, and we have a winter, and it gets colder and all year round we do get rain. It’s a gorgeous place to live, and when it’s hot, it can be outrageous (tops of 47 degrees this summer), but it isn’t constant, so pack your jumpers and get realistic.

2. People don’t really care about what’s on the tele
In the UK shows like X Factor are talked about all the time, we all want to know what the presenters were wearing, who went, who won, etc. It’s something people always have an opinion on, whether they hate or love that type of show. In Australia (and I can talk for Sydney), TV really isn’t a huge part of day to day life, at least not in the same way as in England. There isn’t a cult following for shows like Coronation Street and there’s a different standard of TV here, it’s not quite what you get at home. Basically, shows here tend to be American shows, British shows, or Australian versions of other reality tv shows, i.e. Australia’s Got Talent. Australia has a huge outdoors culture, there are a lot of different things to do, and watching the TV just isn’t on the top of the list here.

3. Supermarket shopping
In Australia we have two major supermarket chains, there isn’t really the competition we have in the UK. Things are more expensive in the supermarkets here and there isn’t the ready meal culture that’s so rife in England (less horsemeat then ;)). It can be the same cost to eat out as it is to cook a meal, so watch what you’re buying as it can add up.

4. Cheque, Savings or Credit? Eh?
It’s strange to say this now, but when I first arrived in Sydney I got quite confused by the cheque, savings and credit options there are available. Basically, when you put your card into an Eftpos machine (card machine) you have to select the account you’d like to debit, something that just doesn’t happen in the UK. The standard option for a debit card seems to be ‘Savings’, but this doesn’t mean the money comes out of the savings side of your dual account, it means that it comes out of the day to day account that you have. Second option is ‘Credit’, where the money is being credited from your account and leaving your account in a few days. Cheque is still, to this day, one I haven’t grasped, though one of the cards I have asks you to use it the same way as savings is for other cards. Go figure.

5. Rushing
Leave the house, grab your bag, run for the train and rush to work, sound about right? Well, not for your typical Sydneysider. People here get up early, work out and then head into work, with the majority of people choosing to stand on the escalator at the train station. It’s a casual, relaxed start to the morning and for me this is something I’ve really struggled with, I still can’t help but rush every single morning.

6. It was heaps good but.
Confused by the header on this one? Yep, that type of phrase used to really confuse me too. I wondered mainly, what was going to be said next, what was the but? To translate this one, it means “It was really good though”. Heaps is a term that is used frequently in Australia, it’s quite a lot of fun getting to learn the lingo here.
Another thing that really puzzled me was dates being referred to as April 24, not April the 24th.

There are lots of other differences. Expect to be referred to as a whinging Pom, and regardless of how much sun cream you wear you WILL get burnt on your first beach trip (actually you will often get burnt), it’s a whole different kind of UV! I could think of many other differences, but it’s fun to discover them for yourself.

Australia is an incredible place to live and our best advice is to embrace the differences. Stop comparing everything to life in the UK/ wherever you came from and enjoy the privilege of living in such a beautiful country.

If you’ve got something you experienced when you moved to Australia that you’d like to share, please feel free to get in touch with us by saying [email protected].

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