To Bimble

Australasia VS US Culture

I am currently backpacking through New Zealand. I've also visited Australia while I'm down here, but only for a week and only Sydney, so there's a kiwi bias.

The Australian/New Zealand/ American cultures are similar enough, but there are still differences. These are the notes about my trip with things I have noticed.

This is an ongoing post, unless I've learned everything about New Zealand in my first two weeks.

  • Calories are measured in kilojoules. You can eat 8700 of those! (Don't eat 8700 calories.)
  • No one in Australia said "G'day" to me :(
  • You know what they do say all the time? "No Worries."
  • Australian parks have no problem sending you down a somewhat difficult hiking trail with no warning.
  • Takeaway instead of to go. Although I did see a sign that said '2 go.'
  • The credit card machines handle non-pin-and-chip cards better than in England, but my card still sometimes requires a signature. I've seen people enter their pin as well. I don't really know what kind of system they have. I'm lucky American switched to at least having chips recently (like, six months ago) or I wouldn't know what to do.
  • If a store only has a number for a name, it is a brothel. They aren't allowed to have formal names. This is true in both Australia and New Zealand.
  • Convenience stores sell soda and candy. Pharmacies sell beauty products and drugs. Never the two shall mix.
  • Lots of Chinese writing on everything. It then occurred to me that's because we're pretty close to China. Where I'm from in Minnesota, Hmong and Somalian are our most common foriegn languages.
  • All modern art museums look the same on the inside. White interiors, multiple stairs in unique places, and black, bold writing on the walls. This isn't a difference; I just think it's funny.
  • "Freephone" for a toll-free number.
  • Pedestrian crossings are marked with a blue circle and white arrow, when not at a stoplight. The crosswalk itself is not marked.
  • When at a stop light, Australia and New Zealand have a consistent tapping-like tone that plays when the light switches. In America, sometimes, the light will speak to you ("Wait...Wait...Walk Sign is On"), but not usually, and only in big cities.
  • Hot Spa or Spa Tub instead of hot tub.
  • For the love of all things sacred, do not order a milkshake. A milkshake is lukewarm, frothy flavored milk. The best thing I can compare it to is if you left ice cream melt but gave it the consistency of a head of a beer. You want a thickshake.
  • Cider is far more popular in New Zealand than in America. Which is great for me: I hate beer.
  • Licensed establishments can sell alcohol. Although we require busineses to have a liquor license in America, they would never advertise with this information.
  • Some establishments also let you BYO (bring your own) alcohol. I have yet to try this.
  • No problem selling liquor in the grocery store, but they also have dedicated 'bottle stores.' Selling liquor at a grocery store is illegal for beverages over a certain alcohol percentage in Minnesota. My local grocery store opened up a separate liquor store in the same building to get around that law. The laws are looser in Wisconsin, but I think it still needs to be separated.
  • On that note, they can sell alcohol on a Sunday, which is illegal in Minnesota.
  • I saw a McDonalds selling Macaroons in Sydney. I regret not trying that...
  • First thing I ate in New Zealand was a Kiwi Burger, because it was the choice between McDonalds and some Chinese food. It had an egg and a beat on it. It was the messiest thing I've ever eaten, but it was good.
  • I've also seen Pizza Hut, Dominos, Wendy's, and Carl's Jr. I haven't gone to most of them, but they're here. We don't have Carl's Jr. in Minnesota; it's only in the southern US.
  • "Brekky" for breakfast
  • I don't know what Sky TV is exactly, but it's everywhere in actual hotels.
  • USA has Craigslist. New Zealand has TradeMe. Australia has GumTree.
  • 'Wi-fi' tends to come with caveats, especially if it's free. Like data caps or time limits. I haven't had as many problems as I was warned about, though, but I've been mindful of choose hostels with free wi-fi.
  • There's usually hostels and city-to-city transport where you're trying to go. You won't find that in America.
  • The major grocery stores are Countdown, New World and Pak'N'Save. In Minnesota, it's Cub, Festival, or in the country Coborns. I don't think there's a nation wide grocery store chain in America, unless you're going to count Wal-Mart/Target (which sell more than food). Grocery stores are regional. Aldi is widespread everywhere, I guess that's the closest.

There will likely be a part two..