When you think of Australia you might think tanned beach bums whacking food on the barbie, tipsy on Fosters, surrounded by kangaroos… Or the Sydney Opera House, stunning coastlines, warm weather and red deserts.

But Australia is obviously so much more than that. And it is the many, many wonderful quirks about the land Down Under that’s been drawing crowds of international students to its shores every year.

And of course, where there are international students, there are cultural differences to navigate.

Writing for Junkeeinternational student Sarah Leow detailed her five biggest culture shocks when she began her studies in Oz.

1. Informalities

While the majority of Asian countries and the US tend to call their professors by their surnames, in Australia (and the UK) it is much more common to call your lecturer by their first name.

“Hey Steve,” definitely doesn’t sound like the most formal way to start an email but your tutors will be expecting it so if they introduce themselves as Steve, that’s what you should call them.


It’s okay – it’s just being casual! Source: GIPHY.

In many cultures, calling your superior by their first name can be seen as a lack of respect, but Aussies will find it totally normal. Aussie culture is pretty laid back so don’t stress about being extra casual.

2. Shortening words

Aussies (there’s one!) have shortened versions of words you didn’t even realise could be shorter. Leow cites ceebs (pronounced seebs) as one example. “Ceebs” is short for CBA, which is short for “can’t be bothered”.

It doesn’t end there. McD’s is referred to as “Maccas”, Woolworths is “Woolies” and if it’s the afternoon and lunch is a sandwich, then you’re having a “sanger” or “sanga” in the “arvo”.

If you are trying to navigate the language barrier, all these acronyms and contractions can make things even more confusing for you. ‘Straya is a funny ol’ place but don’t wozz you’ll get there in time…

3. Sports!

If there’s one thing Australians love, it is sports. The Australian Football League (AFL – remember that word shortening thing?) and the National Rugby League (NRL) are worshipped – it’s serious business so don’t mess about on game day.

The streets will be filled with eager die-hard fans donned in the latest merchandise. It will definitely be a fun experience to get dressed up with them and get involved in the aura excitable Australian’s omit.

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4. Eating early

Normally have dinner late? Forget about it. Most restaurants shut before 9pm in Oz leaving you stranded and foodless if you’d hoped to grab a bite to eat in the late evening. Unless you are living near Chinatown where you may have some luck finding places to eat open later, a home-cooked meal (or pot noodle) may have to suffice.

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5. Coffee, coffee, coffee

If you don’t drink coffee, now is the time to start. Australia has a serious coffee culture – look around any campus and you will find the majority of students cradling coffee cups.

As coffee capital of the world, you’ll no doubt be bombarded with the stuff so embrace it!

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A very sound way to make friends with an Australian. Source: GIPHY.

Australia is a fabulous location for international students so get stuck in, learn to love the people and the country’s quirks and enjoy your time there. It shouldn’t take too long to get used to ‘Straya life

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