Aussie’s shock at change after 3.5 years away

Australians look so damn Australian.

That was my first reaction as I landed at Sydney Airport, three and a half years after my last visit – my longest ever spell away from Australia – just before Christmas.

It’s not like the weird random voice you’ll hear in an Australian bar in Los Angeles. EVERYONE at the airport falls upon you with nasal voices, thick flat vowels, and upward inflections at the ends of all sentences. It seems like Kath and Kim it was everywhere.

The accents are so strong that my kids can’t understand people well, so I have to translate the locals to them and vice versa.

Culture shock is real. Here are nine more first impressions from a returning Aussie…

1. The coffee is phenomenal

Sydney Airport has some great REALLY DEAD coffee. Toby’s estate! It was perfect and I almost died. The last time I visited I would never have risked a cappuccino at the airport.

In Brisbane years ago, I remember stopping at 7-Eleven because it was the only thing open early in the morning. Now I see queues at 7am in the West End. At Cups in Melbourne the oat milk was perfect.

2. Tipping culture doesn’t exist and I’m so relieved

It’s an absolute joy not to tip as mandatory! The tip jar at the bar was empty – yay!

3. The supermarkets are empty

In Brisbane I went to Harris Farm and on a Tuesday night there was really no one there. In Los Angeles, Trader Joes is always packed. Enjoy, Aussies, all those empty corridors.

4. The food is fantastic and cheap

I found two baskets of raspberries for $4! In Los Angeles they are a treat that I would pay $4 a basket for. And the cucumbers, the huge long ones, were a four for $5 deal. The watermelon is also so cheap, as are the mangoes – seven different types all on sale in Coles at super cheap prices! So delicious.

5. Vegemite has changed

What the hell is going on with Vegemite? Why is it called Pizza and Pho?

6. Crossing the road is different in Australia

I’d forgotten how loud traffic lights make at Australian pedestrian crossings – and the huge button feels so good to hit with your elbow, so smooth. The ones in California are stiff and crappy and in New York there are no buttons, you just go with the flow. But how do you Australians see people with green/red lights? They are small compared to the US!

7. Australians are friendly

Many people say GOOD MORNING and HELLO for no particular reason.

8. I’m a little shocked by how people look

It sounds petty, but people aren’t very attractive. They are not putting any effort into their appearance. I saw maybe only one smartly dressed person at the airport. In Brisbane everyone wore sports or business clothes. In Canberra, it seems like everyone just needs to get home to change before dinner, but always. And in Batemans Bay in the shopping center there were people without shoes.

9. There are birds everywhere

Both in the city and in the countryside there are so many birdsongs. Los Angeles has several birds (hummingbirds!) but there aren’t as many beautiful songs or sounds from Australian birds.

Amelia is an executive producer at Earwolf Podcast Network, now based in Los Angeles.

This article originally appeared on Escape and is republished with permission

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