There is no question that there are many cultural differences between Australians and Americans. Being the complete other side of the world from on another, we experience different climates, holidays, and ultimately very different lives.
I have been in the United States for just under a month now, and have met a countless number of young American men and women in my time living at Michigan State University. In my time here thus far, I have come to find that nothing lights up the eyes of an American college student like hearing the sweet sound of an Australian accent.
After they get over the initial shock of being in the presence of someone who truly is from the land down under, the questions start coming. As a result, I have compiled a list of seven of the more humourous questions that have been asked of me in the past month:
1: Where is your accent from?
You never truly notice your native accent until you are placed in a completely different environment. I have been in elevators, Uber rides, classes, shops and restaurants where people are quite visibly astonished (and most of the time fascinated) by the way that us Australians speak. I’ve turned it into somewhat of a game, where when asked this question I let them guess first, and have had many responses ranging from England to Germany, and Turkey to Mars.
2: Sorry, what did you say?
Often the other Australian exchange students and myself have found that we need to repeat ourselves in order for people to understand what we are saying. Whether its a “Hey, how’s it garn” to “Can I please have a water?”, many Americans struggle with understanding our accent. But both parties in the conversation end up laughing about it – it’s all fun and games.
3: Want to throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate?
To this one I always use a canned response – “We call them prawns, not shrimp.”
4: Do you know Flume?
From the very first house party (of which there are many) that I have attended so far, a lot of American students have asked if we know Flume. Whether they meant personally or his music I am still not sure, but that is a frequent question that I and the other Aussies abroad often get asked.
5: Have you tried (Taco Bell/Chipotle/Conrads)?
Americans are very fond of their token fast food chains. In answering this question, I have to admit that all of the above are incredible foods for the early hours of the morning after a night out, but I would question their quality at any other time of day.
6: Have you seen snow?
Personally I haven’t seen real snow before, which gets most Americans rather excited. Being in Michigan, I often get the warning that I am “in for a real treat” with a cold Michigan winter.
7: Do you celebrate Christmas?
I saved my favourite question until last. It is hard to say why this question amused me so much, and for them to think we are too far removed from the rest of the world to know about Christmas. In their defense, this question came soon after me admitting we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but it has nonetheless been my favourite question to date.
There is a real difference between our cultures, but at the end of the day the Australian-American interaction is an educational, hilarious, and absolutely amazing one. I honestly can’t wait to see what they have to ask next.
Until next time!