Australia is an ‘alternative universe’ where everything is done ‘slightly different’ from the rest of the world, claims an American stage actress who has lived in Sydney for 12 months.
Carrie King left New York in July 2018 to study film and theater at the University of Sydney. She returned to the US a year later.
While quarantined in April in her childhood home in Rhode Island, Ms. King filmed a sequel to a video she uploaded on the YouTube channel that she shares with her fitness instructor twin brother Ginny in August 2018, just two weeks after the move from Down Under.
In the re-surfaced footage, the actress reveals the culture shocks she initially struggled with, including colorful money, bizarre slang, and secret speed cameras that guard roads without the police being physically present.
She was shocked that Australian waiters do not expect tips since they grew up in a country where service personnel are largely dependent on financial survival tips.
Ms King warned Americans that they will be charged 10-15 cents for plastic bags in supermarkets, and that they are likely to be confused by the expiration dates of food “deteriorating” in Australia.
Dates are written in day-month-year (July 7, 2020) format in Australia and most other countries, and in month-day-year (July 7, 2020) format in US.
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American theater student Carrie King poses at the Sydney Opera House in 2019 during her year studying overseas in Australia
After years of exchanging forest green bills, the iconic color of American money, Ms. King was amused by Australia’s colorful currency, with $ 5 in pink, $ 10 in blue, $ 20 in reddish orange, and $ 50 in yellow.
“That was a nice surprise because the money in Australia is a lot nicer than in America,” she said.
Ms King was also surprised that the country does not use one-cent coins.
“I don’t really understand how that is possible, because how do you complete the change you need?” she wondered.
Australian one and two cent coins were withdrawn from circulation in 1992.
The lowest denomination currently in circulation is the five-cent coin, meaning the cash prices are rounded up or down to the nearest five cents.
For example, 11 or 12 cents rounds to 10, while 13 or 14 cents rounds up.
The absence of tips
Ms King was shocked to learn that Australian waiters don’t expect tips after a meal and in some cases are even forbidden to accept them.
In America, tipping is often the single largest source of income for people working in the service and hospitality industry, where basic wages can go up to $ 2.13 (USD) per hour.
That’s the minimum an employer must pay to a ‘tipped’ direct pay employee if $ 2.13 in combination with tips equals the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 (USD) per hour, according to the US Department of Labor.
Waiters and other restaurant staff can earn three or four times more on tips than on wages, USA Today reported in 2015.
As a general rule, waiters should get 15 to 20 percent of the pre-tax bill.
Ms King said she prefers Australia’s approach to tips, which guarantee a higher net wage for staff.
Carrie laughs at a photo in Spice Alley, a narrow street lined with Asian restaurants in central Sydney
Speed cameras and varied limits
Ms King said she was “shocked” that Australian police could fine drivers for speeding or red lights by monitoring roads through cameras mounted on traffic lights.
In the U.S., speed and “ red light ” cameras are illegal under most circumstances in 13 states, including Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and Texas, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association website.
Another 28 states have no speed camera laws.
Ms. King was equally surprised at the varied speed limits in Australia that vary depending on the license or license you hold.
Holders of an apprenticeship or provisional license are limited to “special speed limits” in certain states.
For example, provisional license holders in South Australia cannot drive more than 100 kilometers per hour, even if the local speed limit is above 100, according to the South Australian Ministry of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure website.
“I don’t understand what that is – that people can drive at different speeds on the road and not get mad at each other?” Said Mrs. King.
Carrie (left) with her twins Ginny (right) in their childhood home on Rhode Island on the northeast coast of America
Loads on plastic bags
Until she moved to Sydney, Ms. King said she had never paid for a plastic bag in her life.
“I went to the supermarket and had to pay 10 cents for a shopping bag – it’s been known all my life that they are free,” she said.
“It was quite a strange thing that I had to get used to when I moved.”
Australian supermarkets have been requesting plastic bags at the checkout since 2009.
In July 2018, leading retailers completely removed individual plastic bags and started charging ‘reusable’ bags.
Plastic bags were free in New York State until March 1, 2020, when the government banned all plastic carrier bags and struck five cents on paper bags at the checkout.
Carrie at Bondi Iceberg’s pool next to Bondi Beach during her year abroad in 2018
English may be Australia’s first language, but Ms. King said it doesn’t always sound like it because of the national tendency to use shortened – and sometimes nonsensical – slang.
Australians are notorious for shortening words beyond recognition, using terms such as ‘arvo’ instead of ‘afternoon’ and ‘crook’ to describe the feeling of nausea.
Ms. King listed the countless words that have been shortened Down Under, including servo (gas or gas station), avo (avocado), Maccas (McDonald’s) and brekkie (breakfast).
She also noted linguistic quirks that are unique to Australia, where people say ‘count’ instead of ‘think’ and ‘hope’ instead of ‘a lot’.
Ms King said she was similarly confused by the Australian alphabetical pronunciation.
Australians pronounce the letter ‘H’ with a loud ‘hoch’ sound and the letter ‘Z’ as ‘zed’. Americans pronounce ‘H’ with a softer ‘aych’ and ‘Z’ as ‘sea’.
Carrie in Sydney in October 2018, three months after moving from Down Under
Opposite light switches
In Australia and the US, light switches have been mounted in opposite directions, King noted after a brief arrival in Sydney.
“So if you turn your lights on and flip up in Australia, it’ll turn off. And when you flip it down, it turns on, “she said.
“In America, when you turn the switch up, it’s on and off, that’s all I’ve ever known. I thought it was universal all over the world! ‘
Carrie beams with twins Ginny in Soho, New York in 2018 on a visit to the US.
Lemonade versus Sprite
Ms King realized that carbonated drinks have different names, Down Under, after ordering lemonade and getting a glass of Sprite at a restaurant.
When she told the waiter that he had changed her order, her Australian friends seemed confused and confirmed that in Sydney lemonade and Sprite are the same.
“In America, lemonade water is mixed with lemon juice … so they’re two very different things,” she said.
‘How are you?’
“It’s my cry!”
I filled it
Bloody (term to express frustration)
P * ssed
Boat (from a car)
Source: Georgia Productions YouTube
‘How are you?’
‘I have it under control!’
Messed it up
AC / DC
Bloody (stained with blood)
Trunk (of a car)
Wash the cloth
Source: Georgia Productions YouTube