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An American reminisces after living in Australia for a year.
1. How to “go green”

In America, going green means you make Instagram posts about recycling and follow “Wake up America” accounts on Twitter. In Australia, going green isn’t a social fad — it’s a way of life that’s completely normal. We didn’t have a clothes dryer in our apartment in Australia, there was only air-conditioning in one room, and everyone rode their bikes everywhere even though it took them longer to get there than driving would.

2. How to eat

I didn’t see one restaurant menu in Australia that wasn’t loaded with avocado, pumpkin, fresh fruit, and tons of other delicious things that weren’t fried. And the steak in Queensland is to die for. I know you can find these things in America, but they typically are in more expensive / exclusive restaurants (and aren’t anywhere in Indiana, where I’m from).

My favorite dish at the Coffee Club, a large breakfast chain in Australia, was toasted sourdough with feta and sliced avocado, drizzled in balsamic. Not quite IHOP. Maybe Australia has its own problems with obesity, but I’d rather overeat on these foods than at Taco Bell.

3. How to drink

When I first got to Australia and realized alcohol was expensive, and happy hour / drink specials were rare, I was disappointed. Then I realized Australians are so good at drinking (seriously, I don’t think hangovers exist in that country) that for their own safety, drinks are expensive at all times. There’s no socially unacceptable time to drink in Australia. Which is great, but the cheapest beer in pubs is typically $6-$8 (cases are rarely cheaper than $40 in a “bottle shop”), and if you find spirits for under $10 per drink, it’s a steal.

One of my favorite bars, Waxy’s Irish Pub, had a $3 Budweiser special on Sundays; however, if you didn’t get there before 10pm, they’d run out of beer after your first round. Weirdly enough, though, wine is cheap in Australia.

4. How to take vacation time

Or should I say, how to secure adequate time to take a vacation. Not two weeks, but four to six weeks paid vacation. Enough time to actually go somewhere.

One of my good friends in Australia is currently in the middle of his six weeks’ paid vacation to Europe that he goes on annually. I went to Wisconsin for five days last week, so 50% of my vacation time for the year is already used. Vacation time may seem unimportant in America, but it’s a valued part of Australian culture that Aussies take full advantage of.

5. How to attend “Uni”

College, but not the American way. For one, you don’t have to go. It’s just not that big of a deal. And if you do, it’s common to enroll after a gap year of traveling out of high school. Uni is also cheaper in Australia — my public relations degree would have cost me $22,000 (total) at Bond University, the school down the street from my apartment in Australia. I had a full ride to the University of Indianapolis, and still have more than $22,000 in student loans because of the cost of living, eating, buying books, breathing, etc, on top of the ridiculous interest on student loans and the whole “I had to defer my student loans after my unpaid internship that gained me nothing” issue.

Furthermore, neither of my managers at my Australian job had degrees — they were in their positions because they were the most experienced, and the best at those jobs.

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#MatadorN reader @nathanwhiteimages catching the #sunrise in #RosslynBay, #Queensland, #Australia. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!
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#nature #ocean #water #colors #travel

Millaa Millaa Falls, #Queesland. Photo by #MatadorN reader @gregorsnell. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!
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#waterfall #australia #nature #green #outdoors #travel

Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia. Photo by #MatadorN reader @_markfitz. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!
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#queensland #whitsundays #whitehaven #aerial #ocean #beach #blue #summer #travel #australia

10 signs you’re an Australian country kid

1. You know exactly what roo shooting is.

It’s Saturday night and you’re dressed in your best farm clothes. You’ve got an esky full of beer and a Ute full of friends. The working dogs are tied to the back and the guns are loaded. Welcome to roo shooting, social highlight of the week.

2. You call everyone mate. Even if you hate them. Actually, you’re more likely to call someone mate if you’re arguing with them.

Your best friend is your mate. The guy who makes your coffee is your mate. The random chick in the bar is your mate. That stupid drongo that didn’t indicate at the roundabout is your mate. As in, “Nice bloody indicating, mate!”

3. You love country music, even if you’re ashamed to admit it.

Growing up in the country and listening to country music goes hand in hand. However, as you move away from home and into the big city, you hide your roots because country music is massively uncool.

You give your country music playlists code names, and your old CD of Garth Brooks is hidden deep in your drawers. The fact that you know the words to “Texas QLD 4385″ by Lee Kernaghan will never be exposed until you’re safely in the premises of your local pub.

4. You tell everyone you’re from Sydney, even if you’re nowhere near it.

Coming from a small country town in Northern NSW, I’ve made the error in assuming people know Australian geography well. Even mentioning my state of New South Wales results in blank looks. It’s way easier to tell people who haven’t been to Australia that I’m from Sydney than trying to explain I live an hour south of the Queensland border, about three hours inland, in a town with a population of 10,000 people.

5. You have at one stage in your life ridden a horse, tackled a chicken, or tried your hand at bull riding.

It might have been a small calf that didn’t even buck, but you still rode it like you were Lane Frost.

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A famous white whale appeared off the coast of Australia last month, and notably did not terrorize any monomaniacal sea captains before biting off their legs and sinking their ships. Because yes, world, there is more than one famous white whale.

Migaloo, unlike Herman Melville’s famous Moby-Dick, is not a dick, and is generally thought of as a relatively friendly cetacean. Migaloo is Aboriginal Australian for “white fella,” and is one of the world’s only known albino humpback whales.

On moving from Kentucky to Australia

1. Kentuckians are nicer than Australians.

In Kentucky, everybody is always friendly no matter what. It’s almost as if people trip over themselves to say hello, or call you “partner,” or hold the door for you. In Australia, it seem like the reverse is true. You’ll get a lot more icy stares and avoiding eyes. The meaner friends are to you, the more they like you (“taking the piss”).

Kentuckians live by the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Aussies are happy to shit all over your weaknesses.

2. A Kentuckian takes 30 words to say something an Aussie can say in one.

Kentuckians spend hours and hours talking. Whether it’s in line at the post office or at the grocery store, it’s a contest for who can tell the longest story. A completely uneventful trip to grandma’s can be retold for three hours.

Aussies are famed for being laconic. Every single word gets shortened. Even though it has the same number of syllables, breakfast has to be “brekkie.”

3. Kentuckians eat like shit.

In Kentucky, people believe that authenticity can be bought and bought for cheap. Want authentic Italian? Head down to the drive-thru, where a “real” Italian meal is $5. And it comes with a five-megalitre plastic cup of Coke. Are you a parent with a picky eater? No problem! You can choose from an array of frozen mini corn dogs and pizza chips. Or what the hell, just feed your precious little darling some popcorn and chocolate cake for dinner.

Plenty of Aussies eat junk food, and McDonald’s (Macca’s) is quite popular, but the average Australian has a better grasp of the five basic food groups. An Aussie understands that a salad tastes better when it doesn’t come in a plastic container. And apples don’t need to be pre-sliced for convenience.

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Who knew you could ride camels on the beach in #Australia? Photo by @paulmichael via @thekimberleyaustralia. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!

#sunset #summer #cablebeach #camels #silhouette #reflection #clouds #travel

Kalbarri National Park in Western Australia. Photo from #MatadorN reader @gregorsnell. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!

#nature #westernaustralia #kalbarri #australia #travel #adventure #landscape

2. You accept that places like East Redfern are real suburbs. Gentrification has brought great things to Sydney. The explosion of cool new pokie-free bars and pubs, a burgeoning set of top-notch restaurants and cafes, and greater scope for the city’s creative community. Gentrification has also displaced original residents and seen the creation of faux-suburbs by real estate agents looking to further price-gouge your already inflated weekly rent. But hey, it’s ok. You think East Redfern sounds pretty cool, and the Norfolk does do great tacos. (via 18 signs you were born and raised in Sydney, Australia - Matador Network)