Moving to America? Cultural Contrasts to Keep in Mind
Moving from one country to another brings with it a whole host of changes – from lifestyle to culture and language differences, transportation and even living arrangements. America and Australia have long since been compared due to the similar nature of their residents and westernised culture. However, we’re going to detail some differences between the two to keep in mind when moving to America or moving to Australia for the first time. As many expats, tourists and foreigners will agree, there are a lot of different and rather interesting contrasts:
- The Dining Experience – One of the most talked about differences and with good reason. Unlike here in Australia, you will never seat yourself in an American restaurant unless instructed by a sign to do so – a hostess will generally be at the front booth to greet you and show your party to a table. You’ll find that waiters will clear empty plates from the table when you’ve finished, regardless of if your friends are still eating – the aim is to be as efficient as possible and includes clearing any plates as soon as they’re clean of food. Tipping is expected in America and varies from 10% – 20% depending on the quality of service provided. A 15% tip is standard practice and indicates satisfaction with the meal and service.
- The Use of Slang – Aussie’s have always been the topic of conversation when it comes to shortened versions of just about any word. Whether you need to stop by the ‘bottle-o’ on the way home, head out for some ‘Maccas’ or happen to witness a neighbour’s dog going ‘berko’ at the cat next door, you may feel as if everyone around you is speaking a different language. Don’t stress, the lingo is easy enough to pick up if you give it a go!
- The Driving – You’d think it would be a big enough difference to have to drive on the opposite side of the road than you’re used, but the rules for driving in Australia differ even more – teenagers can apply and sit a test for a learner’s permit at the age of 16, but cannot get a license where they can drive solo until the age of 18. Probationary licenses then continue until the age of 21-22 depending on which state you live in, upon which time drivers can obtain a full license – you won’t see 16 year olds driving by themselves to school in Australia!
- The Shopping Experience – Where you may have been greeted upon entry in a few of the many stores that you visited in Australia, expect to be greeted and offered assistance in every shop you enter in the United States. Take note; the price listed on the garment tag is not the final value that you’ll pay – sales tax is added to the tag price and varies by state – South Carolina and Minnesota will have you paying a sales tax of more than 10% while New Hampshire and Oregon citizens don’t have to pay sales tax at all.
- The Legal Drinking Age – American’s don’t reach this milestone until the age of 21, while Australian’s are legally allowed to purchase and drink alcohol at the age of 18. This also means that the nightlife is slightly different here in Australia – if you’re not old enough to legally consume alcohol you won’t be allowed entry into any nightclubs or bars.
While there are differences, American and Australian cultures can also be similar, and there is generally little adjustment required before these unusual changes seem like ordinary occurrences. For help with your upcoming international move, Freecall Wridgways today on 1800 225 916. Our friendly moving consultants are ready to guide you through the entire process.