Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Aubree's Observations About Australia Part IV

Aubree (me) observing Australia!
Well, these are always popular posts, so I figured it was time for another round of observations about Australia. Several of these are seasonally or holiday-related. Enjoy!

1. The sun is stronger here. Though I'm not advocating this (I know it's bad), I rarely ever wear sunscreen. I've always been one of those people who maybe gets a slight burn at the start of summer and then just gets darker for the next few months. Not the case in Australia. I've gotten burns on top of tans (that's never happened to me!) on cloudy days. Craziness.

2. Serviette (try to pronounce that!) is the term for napkin here. A napkin is a feminine product. Go figure.

3. There are some Australian terms we definitely plan to use for the rest of our lives. Some of my personal favorites include "heaps" and "full on." For example, we saw heaps when we went to Wilson's Prom. The wildlife sightings were full on!

4. Holidays are much less of a big deal in Australia than they are in the United States. I knew this at Halloween, but I really realized it with the upcoming Christmas holiday. This makes me kind of sad, because I like to decorate and get in the spirit of things, but it's not really easy to do over here. I especially miss Christmas lights (called fairy lights over here-and they're not used much).

5. There are different types of desserts over here. Pavlovas are big, as are puddings and custards (especially at Christmastime). Also, it seems like fruit mince pies are Australia's equivalent for the Christmas fruitcake. Christmas cookies aren't really a thing at all.

6. Eggnog is not the same here. Zack "must" have eggnog at Christmastime, and I was happy to find some at the store. But it's kind of a watered down version, which is actually how I like it (not so thick). Zack's not happy. I might try making our own.

7. Nobody runs with their dogs here, at least that I've seen. Maybe it's a Colorado thing, but we always saw people exercising with their dogs (not just walking them) back in the US. When I run with the dogs I take care of here, I feel like I'm the only one in the whole country doing it.

8. The post office is not open on Saturdays. Regular stamps cost 60 cents. International ones cost $2.35-ack! This is why if I'm sending you a Christmas card, it's going to look like it came from Michigan. It was cheaper to send the whole box of them to my brother to have him send out using US stamps. And the St. Nick package my mom sent me over two weeks ago has STILL not arrived here-argh!

9. Summer is not really summer like I'm used to (where it was nice and hot for several days in a row), at least not in Melbourne. Yes, some days are gorgeous and sunny and warm, but the very next day it can be gray and miserable and rainy. And some Australians will claim that last summer was unique or this much rain is abnormal or other such nonsense. I've stopped believing it and have come to terms with the ever-changing weather over here.

10. Australia isn't as concerned about being politically correct, at least compared to the United States. I was surprised to see a nativity scene prominently displayed as part of Melbourne's downtown Christmas display. That would cause an uproar in the US; I remember a controversy in Denver where they wanted to change a downtown sign that said "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays."

11. The change in the price of bananas has been an interesting phenomenon to observe over the past few months. At one point, they were $13 a kilo, which is like paying over $3 for one little banana! It was because of a cyclone that hit part of Queensland and caused a shortage of the fruit. Now we're down to around $2-$3 a kilo. I can handle that!

12. There aren't really any advertisement billboards on the sides of the roads in Australia. There also aren't really rest stops or lots of fast food places to stop at while you're driving. Every now and then you'll get a McDonald's and maybe a KFC, but that's about it besides gas (sorry...petrol) stations. The only "billboards" are more like public service announcements about not falling asleep while driving, slowing down, not drinking while driving, and motorcyclist crashes. And those are some graphic signs!

13. The United States does not have reciprocity with the healthcare system in Australia, so we don't have access to Medicare, which is their free national health insurance for citizens. That means that we US expats have to take out private health insurance, which doesn't really cover much unless you pay a pretty high monthly premium. I think we'll be hoping to limit our visits to doctors while we're here!

14. It stays light outside until past 8:30pm nowadays, which is awesome. We even had Daylight Savings Time back in October, which I didn't know existed here. On the days when it actually is warm and summer-like, it's pretty nice to hang out outside until late at night. And it also means that even when Zack works late (which is always), he doesn't always come home in the dark!

15. Speaking of work, pretty much every expat we've met who has gotten transferred here for his/her job mentions the incredibly increased workload in Australia. We all thought that Australia would be more laid back and people here would work less. Definitely not the case. Zack has never worked so late so often (with some weekend work), and he's not the only one doing it. Pretty stressful.

16. You don't hear too many Christmas carols over here. In the US, you can easily get over-saturated with them playing at every store, on every radio station, etc., but here, I've barely heard any. I kind of miss me some good ol' "Frosty the Snowman" or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

Well, that's all I can think of for this round of observations. Stay tuned for Part V in a few months when I've collected some more in my brain!

Yeah, I dunno. I felt like you needed some sort of picture here.
I think this is my attempt at a handstand on the beach. Don't judge me.


  1. I hope your Christmas camping trip is full on and filled with heaps of exciting adventures!

  2. Regarding # 15, I think that the Aussies DO have a lighter workload, it's just the poor expats that have a lot more work to do! My husband's job also transferred us here and he works like a dog. I worked a contract job for about 6 months earlier this year and I did get the impression that the Aussies aren't pulling the same 12+ hour days that my husband is. I think expat assignments anywhere just come with a lot more work (unfortunately!) Cool blog!

  3. Mom-good one! Laurie-sorry to hear your husband works so much too! I'll be keeping up with your blog as well and stealing some ideas when we head to Taz and NZ.

  4. Hi, great blog. Currently living in Chicago, but fed up with where our country is going especially Illinois. I am not sure I understand your #13. Can you explain more, please? So, if I move from US to Australia I will not be able to get their free healthcare? Not that I need it, but with kids you never know...

  5. Greg-No, you can't get their free healthcare unless you become a permanent resident (not the visa we're on, which is the subclass 457). That's not the case with other countries, but the US is different. With our visa, you are required to have private health insurance. We use IMAN, only because they cater specifically to people on our visa. You can check out their website and see the different options and what they cover. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. That explains, if I move, it will be a permanent visa. It is funny, because I consider either some nice, family friendly Denver suburb or Melbourne to move from Illinois, both places you know...I am doing my research...thanx