10 things about America, by an Aussie

Here’s just a few observations from our first 3 weeks in the USA!

1. Tipping.

Yikes, I could write three separate posts on tipping, but I won’t, because most people have heard it all before. I don’t mind giving tips when deserved, but an incident at Newark airport left us scratching our heads… We stopped at a small restaurant right before our boarding gate and were led to a table where iPads were installed at each seat. We were quickly shown by the waitress(?) how to use the iPad to place our order and then how to swipe our credit card – this new-age restaurant didn’t accept cash. So we go through the selections and place our order. It didn’t work the first time. We had to place the order again. We swipe the credit card and get ready to pay.

Oops, hang on a second. The iPad asks how much tip we want to add.

I’m sorry what? A tip? For who? The iPad?? It didn’t even work the first time. We sucked it up and gave the standard 10% which it nudged us toward anyway, without knowing what sort of service, or food we were going to receive for the rest of the meal.

Paying a tip at the start? Absolutely ridiculous.

2. American pride.

It’s really out there and it’s impressive. The pride Americans have in their country, their flag, their national anthem, and their historical figures and history in general honestly makes me envious. Not everything in American history is something to be proud of, but Americans pay a lot of respect to people of previous eras and for previous achievements. It’s not something we do a lot of in Australia. We certainly don’t have monuments to the extent of those in Washington, nor do we look back on previous prime ministers with much fondness. Our history is there, but you really have to dig for it.

3. Simple things.

Philly cheesesteak, Mustangs & Cherry flavoured Dr. Pepper. Hey, I never admitted to being a complex person. These things rock.

4. Creamer.

Get rid of it! You have proper milk (we’ve witnessed it), yet still lean toward creamer in coffee. Hotels, I understand, but restaurants? On that note… coffee… you can do better!

5. Mike. Miiiiikkeee. Mark. Myyyy-k.

So far, two weeks in and nobody understands me when I say my name is Mike.

“Mark?”

“No, Mike.”

“Mark?”

“No, Myyyyyy-k.”

I’m quickly developing a specialised American accent just to pronounce my name, which obviously I can’t demonstrate here. Plan B is to change my name to Hank or Chuck.

6. Diners.

Simple, cheap food, all day/night, and usually with friendly staff. We don’t seem to have those at home, not in Newcastle anyway, but they’re cool. I’m also going to include those cafe/sandwich shop/eatery type places we saw in New York where they have several counters, and serve a mix of soups, pasta, subs, fresh sandwiches, hot meals, baked goods, fresh fruit, slushies and so on. They were fantastic. We could go to the same place 5 times a week and eat completely different stuff! We didn’t, but we could have…

7. Flushing toilets.

So I thought I’d solve the long-standing mystery of whether American toilets flush clockwise or anti-clockwise. Sorry to my Australian readers anxiously waiting for an answer. It was NEITHER! The water (& other contents) are sucked into a black hole a la aeroplane toilets. Just straight down the chute. Ain’t nobody got time for a slow, circular flush.

8. We’re from Australia. Oh really?

Americans cannot pick an Australian accent. At all. Quick tip: we aren’t British.

9. Politeness.

In Australia, a stereotype exists of Americans being loud, brash, arrogant & rude. We didn’t find that to be the case, and quite often it was the exact opposite. Sure there were people who were rude, or arrogant (as there is at home), but we generally encountered really polite people. Even to the point where you bump into someone and they really go out of their way to apologise. And while we only cover the smallest amount of ground as tourists, we have traveled across quite a few states.

10. Sport, sport, sport, sport.

Sport. ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. I’m in heaven. Several games and sports on TV at once, and that’s on regular TV, so I can only imagine there’s more when you start paying. Every city and town has some sort of homage to whoever their local team is, both national league and college, and the pride and support for these teams shows up everywhere. I’d move here just to become a full-time sports fan. I’m also going to add here that the English soccer is shown live at a normal time of day, as opposed to the ridiculous times of midnight to 3am in Australia. It probably also helps that I prefer ice hockey, basketball, american football, and baseball over the rubbish sports we get back home in Oz.

33 thoughts on “10 things about America, by an Aussie

  1. Always nice to look to a different culture through the eyes of a guest. I love comments on Dutch culture from tourists or immigrants. Great to have someone open yours eyes for your own blindspots.
    Enjoy your stay!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad my trip has broken a few stereotypes I’d formed about Americans in the past (not terrible stereotypes, but it’s nice to get something a little closer to fact!)

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  2. Yeah, I waitressed in the States a long time ago, – nothing posh, a family business where we waitresses were also short-order cooks, bussed (cleared) the tables and washed up. For a 95 cent bowl of soup the old bloke would leave us the 5 cents out of a dollar. Being an Aussie I felt quite at home with that. But then I made friends who worked for upmarket faces in upmarket places, – some of them actually paid to work there, because the tips were good. Now I’m wondering, – how much is that iPad paying for the privilege?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sel and I have discussed the tipping quite a bit throughout our trip, in terms of working out multiple pros and cons, seeing how different restaurants do it differently, and comparing it how we do it back home.

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    1. Despite my comment about coffee, and the theme of my blog, I’m not a coffee snob at all lol I think my main bugbear with coffee served in American restaurants is the creamer. I just read your article, and you’re right, they can take a while to make! Depends on the cafe, and how busy it is though 🙂 Oh, and I have no problem with Starbucks coffees either 🙂

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      1. Haha 🙂 I love a little caramel in my latte personally. I just find that Australians (every single one of them!) had an opinion about coffee. It is an interesting cultural thing (and I dig those!) I am curious about creamer; what is it?

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        1. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s just like powdered milk/cream or some variation! I’ll admit it doesn’t taste bad, but it’s certainly not the same as proper milk 🙂

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    1. Thank you!! Haha I do love hearing different accents, especially mixed accents. It makes me think my own accent is so bland… I’m thinking of adopting the accents I heard in Alabama. What do y’all think?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Having worked in the States for a number of years I have to agree with you about tipping….although our American cousins would have to go a long way to beat the Egyptians where it was common practice for them to loiter in the Gents toilets, reach inside the cubicle, tear off 2 sheets of toilet paper with one hand whilst holding out the second hand expecting a tip…bakheesh? Hah, not from this traveller!!!

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    1. Winner! That’s even better than the kids at buddha monuments in Burma taking your shoes, putting them in a plastic bag, handing it back and then expecting a buck or two.

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  4. Loved this post. I’m British, husband is Aussie. We’ve lived in UK for years but moving to Aus in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to the culture change, new words and terminology. Oh and words I think I know but suddenly realise I can’t pronounce properly. (Frangipani is a recent one that comes to mind!) Fun times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ruth! Wow, best of luck with your move! According to some Americans we’ve met, Brits & Aussies are interchangeable haha. We’re having a ball over here hearing new phrases and then realising someone doesn’t understand a word or two that we think is really commonplace. The joys of traveling 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like reading non-Americans’ take on America – very interesting! Yes, tipping sucks and I am thoroughly enjoying not tipping here in Korea! I also drive a mustang at home, haha. Americans can only pick up the Aussie accent if they have lived in either Australia or England (it was in England I made many Australian friends!). For how much longer are you in the States? I am having fun in Korea but I do miss home…

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      1. Awesome! I grew up in LA but most recently lived in DC and Westchester County, NY. In Korea for a year so won’t be stateside for awhile now and who knows where home will be when we return!

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  6. Well I’m glad it seems for the most part you enjoyed your visit. I have been actually yelled at twice, once in Boston, Massachusetts and then again in Dallas, TX for not offering a tip for unexceptional service. In Boston my hotel clerk had to intervene as I’m not as tiny and meek as I appear and the conversation was getting quite heated between my cab driver and myself.

    A Dr. Pepper and Philly Cheesesteak, my all time favorite lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far we haven’t received any negative reactions to not leaving a tip – we’ve been good everywhere except we’ve forgotten this whole time to leave a tip for housekeeping at every hotel – luckily we haven’t come back to a dead rat in the bed lol and yep, I’m still throwing down the Dr Pepper’s as if it was my first day in the U.S!

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