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20 Thoughts Every American Has When They Visit Australia For The First Time

Australia is a top destination for many and its no surprise why. If you are lucky enough to survive the long flight over, you will be welcomed with picturesque sunny days, stunning beaches and coastline, an array of wildlife and national parks, and a carefree, laidback lifestyle. It's no wonder why visitors end up staying a while.

With a country so far away from the North American side of the globe, it's almost like its own little world over in the land down under. Travelling to Australia is truly a once in a lifetime experience, and you don't realise the effect that the country will have on you until you take the leap yourself. From Melbourne to Sydney to Perth, and everywhere in between, it really is such a special place.

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If you have made your way over to Aussie land, I'm sure you will relate to a lot of the thoughts that a majority of travellers have upon arrival. The unbearable but amazing scorching hot weather. Those dreamy Aussie accents that have you swooned. The banter and slang that has you feeling as though you are learning a new language. The incredible vibe and amazing locals. The incredible coffee culture. The passionate sports fans. Tim Tams and Vegemite sandwiches (don't get me started with those). The confusion that comes over you driving on the opposite side of the road. And most importantly, the power that the Aussie lifestyle has over you that makes you never want to leave.

20  Is this flight ever going to end?

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How many days has it been? Are they taking us captive and flying us to outer-space? Is Donald Trump still the president?

A few of the questions you will ask yourself whilst on a plane en-route to Australia.

While the magical Land of Oz may seem like a quick jaunt across the Pacific Ocean, you will soon realise it’s a lot farther away than you think. Depending on where you are flying from, you are looking at a flight duration of anywhere between 13-20 hours—and that’s only time spent in the air. By the time you factor in travel to and from the airport, checking in, and connecting flights, you are looking at a full day or more of travelling just to get to Australia.

I know what you’re thinking. How does one survive?

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You will find yourself being three movies and two whole meals deep, and then you check the time only to realise you are barely even half way there. Heck, you could have a full night’s rest and still have hours to go. Luckily, most airlines hook you up with the best of the best on-flight entertainment, provide you with pillows and blankets for a cosy sleep, and a variety of different meals. Make sure you have plenty of crossword puzzles, an eye mask for some beauty rest, and at least a few dozen novels. It’s no wonder those who travel to Australia end up staying a while. Unless you’re classy and flying first class, no one wants to endure the wrath that is a flight to Australia too often.

19 Why is it so hot?

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You guys ever hear of an ozone layer?

If you arrive in Australia in the summer months, be prepared for the heat to hit you like a ton of bricks. With temps rising above 40 degrees Celsius being the norm, you will soon realise all of the rumours about Australia being dang hot to be oh so true. The fact that people don’t just randomly burst into flames is beyond me.

Hopefully you are fully stocked with SPF 50+ on your holiday down under, because the sun is not like the sun back home… IT WILL BURN YOU TO A CRISP. No matter ‘how well you think you tan’, the lack of ozone layer makes the sun in Australia lethal if you aren’t wearing a few layers of sun block, and your skin will likely go into shock upon first arriving after being in the sun for as short as 20 minutes. In order to avoid looking like a tomato and peeling like an onion for the first few days, practice sun safety and don’t spend too much time in the sun!

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With the hot temps in Oz, it’s no wonder everyone flocks to the beach every day in order to cool off. But oh wait, why does the sand feel like literal lava?

18 It’s a lot bigger than you thought it was

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How have we been driving for 5 hours and have gotten nowhere? How come a flight from one side of Australia to the other is 5 hours long? How can I possibly fit in everything I want to do in two weeks??

Being on the other side of the world, you don’t really think about how big Australia really is. it seems like a little country tucked away under Asia that is nothing but a nice little layover.

Wrong.

I don’t think anyone realises the size of Australia until they visit. Being the 6th largest country by size, it is only a tiny bit smaller than the US in regard to land. You can basically stick the mould of Australia into American and it’ll fit quite nicely.

The Great Victoria Desert, just ONE of Australia’s barren areas, is larger than the United Kingdom. You could lose an entire country in Australia and never know it.

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If you chose to drive within Australia, you will soon find that driving a few hours will not get you very far. Heck, the drive from Sydney to Byron Bay (a popular east coast stop) is a whopping 9 hours, even though seeing that distance on a map looks like an ant could have trekked there in an hour.

If you have limited time in the country, it is probably a good idea to pick the destinations that are of high priority, since there is no way you can fit the entire country into a short period of time enjoyably.

17 What? It gets cold?

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While Australia is known for its soaring high temperatures, like every other country, it has seasons that change the weather from month to month. Compared to North America, the seasons are opposite, meaning wintertime in Australia will be during the summer months in the US. Depending where you are, it can get very chilly in Australia. More southern cities such as Melbourne can have temps below 10 degrees Celsius, and you can even hit the slopes in certain areas outside the city.

And why does 15 degrees all of a sudden feel like Antarctica? Why is the sun not out every day? I thought rain didn’t exist in this country.

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In more northern spots where the tropical weather brings higher humidity, the cold won’t be as big of a problem. Depending where you are in Australia, the seasons can differ, just like how LA and New York’s seasons are drastically unalike. Don’t underestimate how cold it gets, or how cold you THINK it is because your body is acclimatised from having 45 degree days as the norm. Regardless, pack a few hoodies in your suitcase to be safe. You will thank yourself later, and you will save having to splurge on a panicked shopping spree when you find yourself having nothing to wear.

16 Where is everyone?

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Not only are the gaps between major cities bigger than you think, but there is absolutely nothing to be seen for miles between the destinations. You will likely be driving for a while and only see deserted land, and will ever so often come across a town that either looks abandoned or from the wild wild west.

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There is a massive delineation between urban life and outback. It feels like you are in the wild only a couple of hours drive outside the barricades of major cities like Melbourne and Sydney. There never seems to be too many people around. This is because, while Australia is huge, the population is only 22.6 million. Compared to New York, which has 19.6 million people and 1/53 of the size. Texas is the largest state in the continental United States, but the largest state in Australia, Western Australia is more than 3 times its size but Texas has 13 times as many people. You do the math.

Being a country that is two-thirds desert, you now understand why you are constantly wondering where all the people are. The answer is that there simply just isn’t a ton of people living in Australia compared to its size.

15 Why does everything cost. SO. MUCH.

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Why does a pint of beer cost $10? Why on earth does this acai bowl cost $20? Why does an avocado cost me my first-born child? And don't even get me STARTED with avo toast, that costs AT LEAST $17 at a local brunch spot. Where does the madness end??

It’s no secret that Australia is not a cheap place to visit. If you are planning on working while you are in the country, the prices of everyday items won’t be as drastic since the higher minimum wage will compensate. However, if you’re not, then the wallet is going to be hurting quite a bit. It’s a hard pill to swallow if you’ve come over from travelling in South East Asia (or pretty much any other country) and are expecting meals to cost less than $10. Those days are over my friend.

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One thing to remember when you are eating out at a restaurant, is that tipping wait staff is NOT a part of the Aussie culture, so your meal that may seem expensive may not actually be as bad as you think. Also, tax is included in most items. If you are travelling from the US, the US dollar is usually considerably better compared to the Aussie dollar (as of now $1.31 AUD is equivalent to $1.00 USD), so you can rest assured that you aren’t actually spending as much as the price tag indicates.

14 What language are they speaking??

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You’re in a new English-native speaking country and low-key kind of glad you don’t have the language barrier to deal with. Thought all you had to deal with was trying to pay attention while they talk in those dreamy accents? Well, sorry to say that in Australia you will still have a few barriers you didn’t think you'd have. Anyone who has spent a considerable time in the country knows that Australian English is more than an accent; with many unique Aussie slang terms and expressions it has become its own language. You could have a conversation with an Australian and have no clue what they are saving.

Reckon an arvo barbie? Heaps good! G’day mate! Sweet as brah! No dramas! Struth! 

I’m just as confused as you are.

Why is everything shortened? Why are flip flips called thongs? Why is ketchup called tomato sauce, but tomato sauce is also called tomato sauce? They talk too fast. I give up.

The Aussie slang and pronunciation is essentially making words as short as possible; because who has time to pronounce the entire word? Well, this way of speaking actually originated from the idea that Aussies were speaking through clenched teeth in order to avoid blowies (blow flies) from getting into their mouth. After a considerable amount of time spent here you will get the gist of what the Aussies are trying to communicate to you, but at first it can be just as confusing as if you were learning Spanish for the first time.

13 Where are all the kangaroos?

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Gets off the plane. Immediately becomes confused and wonders why there aren’t kangaroos running loose outside or, better yet, greeting you when you arrive.

As a foreigner looking in, you have this idea that these friendly felines are hopping down the road pretty much everywhere. The reality is that while there is no shortage of kangaroos in the country, you will probably only find them if you take a journey away from the city or your bustling neighbourhood. You will likely see heaps of them on your road trip away for the weekend, or during a bush walk in the wilderness. They even hop down the beach in certain remote areas!

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And let’s be clear on something, while they are cute as a button, they are not always as friendly as they look. If you encounter a wild kangaroo, I would suggest keeping your distance as they have mad hops and strong legs that could drop kick you out of the country. I’m only half kidding.

And no, unfortunately people don’t keep them pets. It’s not uncommon for people to have kangaroo served at their Sunday barbecue or for it to be present on a restaurant menu. So, don’t be alarmed, it’s the same as eating fried chicken or juicy burger back home.

12 You are convinced you are sneaking a koala in your suitcase

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How can an animal possibly be more perfect than a koala? So cute! So cuddly! Did I mention they sleep up to 22 hours a day? Sounds pretty ideal to me.

If you are lucky enough to have the chance to hold one of these furry friends, you will realise why so many tourists fall in love with them. Not only are they cuter than pretty much every other animal, they give you this look as if you're their BFF and then there's no turning back.

Is it illegal to adopt a koala and bring one home with me? The answer is, probably. However, there are websites where you can electronically adopt a koala and donate money in order for it to get the care it needs. These little guys are actually endangered and need to be protected so that Australia doesn't lose their beloved creature.

11 Is no one else alarmed that every animal is poisonous?

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With various types of poisonous snakes, over 2000 species of spiders, salt water crocodiles, killer jellyfish and octopuses, plus the famous bull shark, it’s a mystery how people survive living here. This may explain why the population in Australia is so low.

But seriously, is no one alarmed that literally everything can harm you? How are people casually swimming at the beach like there wasn’t a shark appearance there yesterday?

While there are a lot of dangerous animals in Australia, the reality is that you won’t come across a majority of them in majorly populated areas or cities. Spiders and snakes are something to watch for if you are out for a hike in the bush, but not every insect is going to kill you.

Obviously, the more inward you go into the outback the more that will probably be lurking, but there is no reason to be paranoid. Being cautious is important but don’t be too irrational about it. If the Aussies can survive for years, you can survive a holiday.

If you are at the beach, there are likely shark helicopters on the lookout and lifeguards on duty that will motion people out of the water if anything dangerous is on the horizon. As I always say, as long as you aren’t the farthest one out, you’re golden.

10 Cricket? Rugby? Australian Footy? 

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Forget everything you know about every American sport, because it’s a whole new world of sports over on this side of the world. Or, in my case, a whole new world of being confused as ever.

Cricket: it’s almost like baseball except they use big paddles instead of bats, and they run back in forth in a straight line instead of in a diamond between bases. Rugby: sort of like football but they wear zero protective equipment (extremely safe). And then we have Australian footy - it's one of the most unique sports you'll ever come across and it looks pretty intense, but the Aussies are obsessed with it (especially in Melbourne). I don’t know much about what’s going on, but I do know for certain that I am extremely confused. It’s always best to nod along and pretend you kind of know what’s happening, because after a few hours of someone trying to explain cricket to you, I can guarantee you still won’t know how it works. Maybe I’m an exception to the rule.

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And do Australians ever get pumped about their Aussie Rules Footy. The pubs are always jam packed, the stadiums are full of buzz, and the rivalries are strong. And don’t ever dare to ask if rugby is similar to footy, because you’ll get some serious side eye.

9 Tim Tams are everything that’s good in the world

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Ah, Tim Tams. Are they chocolate? Are they cookies? I’m not sure, but I do know that they are perfectly delicious treats sent from above. Is it normal to eat a whole package in one sitting? How am I possibly supposed to pick just one flavour?

From flavours like white chocolate, chewy caramel, cappuccino, or the classic chocolate, you likely have heard about Tim Tams as a well-known Aussie delicacy. It’s only until you arrive that you realise the power these chocolate drops of heaven have on the average human. Don’t be alarmed if you are running to the shop late at night for these tasty treats—Tim Tams get the best of us all. You will likely be hooked on them by the end of your trip, and will be stuffing them in your suitcase to take home with you.

Side note…have you ever hear of the Tim Tam Slam? Bite the corners off a Tim Tam, then use it as a straw in coffee or hot chocolate. The cookie melts and gets all ooey-gooey as the hot drink passes through it.

If you aren’t already convinced on these mouth-watering treats, you likely are now. You’re welcome. Or I’m very sorry. However you want to look at it.

8 ...And Vegemite is everything that’s bad in the world

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What is this foreign spread that everything seems to love? Made from celery, onion, and salt—I truly can’t think of anything that I would want less on a piece of toast.

If you speak to any Australian, they will claim it’s the best and that you simply made your Vegemite sandwich incorrectly. You have to respect their commitment to loving this stuff. However, I’m confident that it doesn’t matter if you plated it with gold flakes, it’s still the worst thing imaginable. And kids absolutely love it! They must brainwash children at a young age to like it. Or better yet, they all know it’s bad but it’s an Aussie delicacy so they have to be patriotic and pretend it’s the best thing in the world.

Either way, I’m not convinced, and I’m not sure I ever want to be. Apparently just a teenie-tiny bit of it over butter on toast is the correct method.

7 How come everyone looks like they’re straight outta Baywatch?

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Am I missing something? Is there something in the water? Did the universe gift everyone born in Australia with bright blue eyes, glowy tanned skin, and luscious blonde hair?

It’s no mystery that the amazing year-long sunny weather in Australia has the locals looking like they were essentially born on a beach. As they longboard down the boardwalk with their surfboard in one hand and their dog prancing behind them, you wonder why everyone hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon to move here. Everything is so effortless for them as they sip on their $12 cold-pressed juice.

And for some reason you kind of want to be friends with all of them, but know you will never be cool enough to fit in with the cool kids. However, if you spend enough time in Australia you will likely begin to fit in and be accepted as one of them. Good luck.

6 The overall vibe of the country has you buzzing

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Why is everyone smiling all the time? Is everyone always in such a good mood? Do people actually go casually surfing before work as if it was a morning run?

Some may wonder why this far away land that just seems like a bunch of beaches and dreamy accents is so great? What makes it so special? There is so much type surrounding the land of Oz, but I promise, it's with good reason. The lifestyle and vibe here is one to be reckoned with, and I guarantee the second you step off the plane you will be summoned with the curse that is a strong love for Australia.

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The locals here never seem to be in too much of a hurry—you will rarely see someone get bent out of shape for their coffee taking longer than expected. Everyone’s got a happy go lucky attitude about them, so if you are high-strung or uptight you will soon either be rejected or converted into the aussie lifestyle. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

5 Beaches. Everywhere.

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As you probably already know before you arrive, Australia has some of the most stunning beaches and coastline in the world. The beaching lifestyle is what makes Australia, well, Australia. With picturesque white-sand beaches and dreamy crystal-clear water, there is no shortage of days spent relaxing with the ocean breeze through your hair.

Unless you are from Los Angeles or Florida, chances are the tropics of the ocean isn’t your backyard. In Australia, you are never too far away from the water, and most of your time in probably spent soaking up the rays. It is absolutely mind boggling how anyone gets anything productive done in this country. Does anyone even work?

As an Aussie kid, swimming lessons are sometimes held on the beach. Heck, if that were the case for me I would have never had a tantrum before going for a lesson as a child.

4 Not quite sure how this whole coffee thing works…

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If you are a coffee lover, you will be in your element over in Aussie land, but you will probably be a little confused as how to order your favourite beverage.

Long were the days when ordering a coffee was an easy task. Australians appreciate the value in a good cup of joe, and it's pretty hard to be served a bad cup of coffee. A regular drip coffee for Americans is not really a thing in Aus, so asking for a 'coffee' will be followed with a lot of questions on your preference. Espresso (a concentrated shot of coffee) is the norm when you are ordering a basic coffee, and every type of specialty coffee you think you know back home is probably a little different over here.

Isn't a flat white the same as a latte? What on earth is a long black? Is it just slightly smaller than a short black? Coffee that comes with ice cream? GENIUS. It's like dessert for breakfast. I'll tell ya, the Aussies are doing something right.

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And boy, is the coffee on this side of the world ever good. You may be forking out $7 for a fancy one, but I promise that it is worth it. The coffee culture in Australia is a force to be reckoned with.

3 These portion sizes are a bit off...

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It's safe to say that no country can compare to how large the portion sizes are in America, and Australia is no exception. A large pizza in Australia is probably comparable to a small one in the states, and a large coffee probably isn't comparable to your venti latte order from Starbucks.

It will take some getting used to, but just because the size is compromised doesn't necessarily mean its a bad thing. Australians value quality over quantity, and take pride in everything they produce from a cup of coffee to a burger with fries.

If you are an avid traveller from The States, you are probably used to the fact that no country measures up to the portion sizes at home, and no one probably ever will. In saying that, if you're really on the hunt for a feast, many Aussie pubs offer up giant Steaks and Parmas.

2 What's the deal with this whole 'left side of the road' thing?

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Not only do you have to get used to driving on the left side of the road, but also sitting on the opposite side of the car while in the drivers seat. This change can no doubt throw any foreigner for a loop.

And what's the deal with all of the roundabouts? Which way do I enter it? I'll just keep driving around in circles until I figure it out. We can't help it, as American's we have a pathological fear of roundabouts that has no known cure.

Does this country not know what a stop sign is? And why do the highways all of a sudden have traffic lights on them? Why are there so many red light cameras? Don't get caught going over the speed limit or you'll be nailed with a hefty fine from one of those cameras.

1 So...when can I move here permanently? 

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It's safe to say that if you've visited Australia, then you've probably fallen in love with everything about it and are not wanting to leave. I'm sure you have contemplated on cancelling your flight one too many times, or you might be on the hunt for literally any Aussie guy that will marry you for a green card. Heck, we don't blame you.

If you've managed to find a way to stay, you're one of the lucky ones. However, if you're not and have returned home, I'm sure a day doesn't go by where you haven't thought about your time in this magical place. The amount of throwback photos you have posted on your Instagram is getting out of hand, so it's probably a good idea that you book a trip back without a return flight. There's no turning back, the land down under has you now.

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