“Five Things Australians Learn When They Move to the U.S.” the article link told me. First of all, I bloody love a list. Second of all, I’m an Australian who’s moved to the U.S.! What could be more relevant to me?
Literally anything, it turns out, as the list was actually just a long-form advertisement for a money exchange website. I mean, there was a list, but it had clearly been bashed out by an intern with eight minutes to spare, so the content was, in a word, shit. Here are the things that were touted to me as “things I’d learn”:
- Minimum wage is lower! The first thing on the list was as dry as it was already known by everyone.
- University tuition is higher! What they actually meant is that student loans have to be paid back faster, but never fuck up a good story with facts, am I right?
- They use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius! This is 110° of dull.
- They drive on the other side of the road! Oh wow way to bury the lede, list. This is mindblowing! Whoaaaaaaaaa etc.
- They use dryers! Um. What? So this was some meandering, unfocused commentary on…electricity use? Water use? The weather in Cairns allowing people to hang their clothes on the line all year? It touched all those points, and it was drivel.
But of course it was drivel, it was hastily farted out copy meant to distract you from the fact that the entire website was an advertisement.
This website, on the other hand, is not one of those things (though feel free to spend money on me if you want). So I’m going to use my six weeks and five days of experience to tell you what an Australian actually learns when they move to the U.S. These facts are presented in no particular order, and entirely without apology. They are also 100% factually accurate. Don’t email me.
1. Your accent is adorable…until you say the word “capsicum”. I became sexual hot property when I set foot in this country, based solely on the sound of my voice. Check the facts: I couldn’t get a date to save my life in Melbourne; over here I already have a boyfriend. (Now, before you go me for clunkily shoehorning the fact I have a boyfriend into this post, I submit to you that waiting a whole 328 words before mentioning it shows remarkable restraint on my part: it was almost part of the title). I say a lot of words differently to Americans—jumper for sweater, Autumn for Fall, doona for comforter, Minogue for Jenner—but nothing sends my New York friends into a more violent rage than when I call a “bell pepper” a “capsicum”. I can’t even explain why. They just HATE IT. Look, I’m not saying you have to assimilate: you can eat Vegemite and call everyone mate and keep all the Us in your spelling if you want to be belligerent. But if you’re going to make ONE concession, make it the abandonment of the word “capsicum”.
2. CVS coupons are next-level. I come from a land of Shop-a-Dockets: coupons and advertisements printed on the back of shopping receipts that offered everything from 10% off a wheel alignment to a free small muffin at The Coffee Club and everything in between. I thought I knew receipt coupons. But CVS? Oh man, they do not fuck around. They have discounts and cash back offers and buy-one-get-one-free deals and the receipts you get unravel before you like a train on a royal bridal gown. And there’s no limit to how you use them? I’m pretty sure one time Tracey, my surrogate sister here in America, walked out of a CVS with a bag full of groceries and more money than she went in with. I myself got a four dollar discount on something today for NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER. I used to be too embarrassed to use Shop-a-Dockets, but CVS coupons are like a long-form logic puzzle and I’m already hooked.*
3. The toilets have too much water in them. They’re fishbowls for your poop. Sit down for long enough and you’re essentially a steamer pot perched above a soup of your own creation. It is eleven years since my first trip to the U.S. and I’m still not 100% comfortable with the way the toilets work here.
4. But all that water and the way they flush is effective.Okay, fine. Yes. I’ll admit that. It’s very swirly and effective. But it doesn’t make having a glistening, floating display case for your turds any less fucked up.
5. The coffee is fine. Honestly, shut up about it. Or don’t (I sure don’t), but at least know what you’re being an obnoxious prick about, ie. IT’S AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TYPE OF COFFEE. It’s filter coffee. Filter coffee tastes the same if you make it in the southern hemisphere. There are places to get a latte literally everywhere around here, and while they all vary in quality, that is true of everywhere**. (And don’t try to tell me some nonsense about filter coffee being better in Australia especially if the next words out of your mouth are “cold drip” that shit is fucking. disgusting.)
6. The internet is so fast.It’ll bring a tear to your eye. And nothing is geoblocked. At least, nothing worth complaining about. I’m on a phone plan with unlimited data and I can just watch Netflix whenever I want, wherever I want and I HAVE NEVER FELT SO FREE. I have also moved to a city where there is so much happening at all times I don’t have a fraction of the time to watch Netflix that I used to, but it’s just nice to know it’s there.
7. Happy Hour will genuinely make you happy. What’s a standard Happy Hour special in Australia? Coronas are $7 instead of $9? All drinks are full price but you get an unpunched face? Happy Hours over here go for FOUR HOURS and you can get a full margarita for six bucks. I’m HOME.
I’ve also learnt that light switches and mailboxes are enormous, train conductors will yell at you if they catch you holding your ticket in your mouth (more than fair, but also I’m not used to anyone touching my ticket but me sir, your job is obsolete where I come from), you can get a giant pickle with every sandwich FOR NOTHING, and all shoes become heel cheese graters in the snow.
Oh, and everyone uses dryers.
*Just now, literally this second, while typing this out, I received an email from CVS offering me YET MORE DISCOUNTS. Locate your chill, CVS.
**I had a latte from a place called Filtered in Washington Heights that was the second best coffee I’ve ever had, after Brother Alec in Thornbury. If you’re in either Washington Heights, NYC or in Thornbury, Australia, go to either of these places. Tell them I sent you, though they’ll have no fucking idea who you’re talking about at the place in Washington Heights.