How Australia Surprised Us
Study abroad students share the things about Australia they didn’t expect. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
1. How friendly everyone is
“I found people to be friendlier than in Europe. For example, I was always greeted with a smile in grocery shops and in public transport. People also readily helped me find my way when I was lost.” — Laura, University of Queensland (home university: University College Maastricht)
2. A less work-heavy lifestyle
“People [here] value wilderness and travel as much as they value work and education.” — Sukanya, University of Queensland (home university: University of Hong Kong)
3. …And more partying
“How much they like to party” — Frank, University of Queensland (home university: Komazawa University)
4. How abbreviated Australian words are
“I was surprised by how many words were slangily abbreviated and how universal these abbreviations were. Arvo, dino, bottle-o — even South Sydney’s professional rugby team is called the Rabbitohs.” — Brad, University of New South Wales (home university: Syracuse University)
No idea what these words mean? Check out our Down-Under Dictionary!
5. How much the classes vary in difficulty
“The college courses I took that were intermediate and high level were extremely easy compared to the classes I took at home. I was actually really frustrated. They just felt like a total waste of time and like we could have learned the info in a more efficient and engaging way.” — Erin, University of Queensland (home university: Tufts University)
“How difficult the classes were.” — Becky, University of Queensland (home university: Northeastern University)
Either way, at least the universities here are gorgeous, right?
6. How easy it is to get around
“How easy it was to get around, given it was my first time in the country. It was also similar to Canada in nearly every way, except hotter.” — Kylie, University of Queensland (home university: University of Western Ontario)
7. Differences in TV shows
“That they didn’t have all the modern TV shows that we do.” — Cara, University of Queensland (home university: State University of New York at Geneseo)
8. The amount of public green spaces
— Jared, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)
9. How large it is
“How large and diverse it is and how far it really is from New Zealand.” — Sydney, University of Auckland (NZ) (home university: George Washington University)
10. Cyclone season
“That I experienced a cyclone for the first time. I knew Queensland was tropical, but when you hear about Australia, you hear about sunshine and heat. No one really talks about the cyclone season. (For the record, all we really got in Brisbane was some heavy rain and a bit of wind, but I still had school off!)” — Erica, University of Queensland (home university: Syracuse University)
11. Lack of grocery brand options
“When you’re from [America], you can go to Target or Walmart or something and there’s entire aisles for different kinds of cereal. Then you go to Australia, and there’s like five choices. If you don’t like those five choices then you just don’t like cereal. That’s just it. That really took me by surprise.” — Katie Lofblad, **Working holiday (home university: Syracuse University)
**Katie traveled to Australia on a working holiday visa just a year after graduation. Read about her experience here!
12. How much there is to do
“I was surprised by how much there is to do and see in Australia, and how different each area of the country felt. Even after being in Australia for five months, I felt like I had barely touched the country and that there was so much left to explore.” — Kristin, University of Queensland (home university: Perdue University)