The Culture Clash

An in depth look into how USA and Australia are more similar then we know.
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At first glance, the United States and Australia might seem to be very similar.

After all, the countries are both very Westernised, while they share the same language and some of the same values.

An Australian could travel to the US without feeling like a complete fish out of water, and vice versa for Americans who are heading to Australia.

But the more time you spend in a place, the more you come to realise there are subtle differences about a location that marks it out from the crowd. Everywhere is unique, after all.

Aside from the obvious changes like Australia and American using the opposite side of the road for driving, plus America using the imperial system and Australia the modern metric system, there are a few key cultural differences to be aware of as well.

Here, we have wrapped up six of the biggest things people will notice when switching between the United States and Australia.

There flags may share the same colors but difference exist

There flags may share the same colors but difference exist

Relaxed atmosphere

If you asked most people from around the world what the defining characteristic of Australians is, they would likely suggest how laid-back and relaxed they are.

Whether it is true or not, this is the perception of Australia that most people have and it is a public image the country has been happy to rely on as well.

Australians tend to be a lot more blunt than Americans, who can appear overly polite to those who visit the country from overseas.

In terms of the sense of humour of the two countries, Australians will often be a lot rougher with their banter towards friends - it is not uncommon for people to personally abuse people they know but nobody takes it seriously.

If this was to happen in America, there would be a lot of individuals who would take offence. But Australians love to roast each other and this is just the way people from the country behave.

BBQ bonanza

The food and drink consumed in America and Australia is broadly similar - there are few big differences compared to how there would be for someone visiting the Far East, for example.

However, Australians are crazy about barbecues and for many, they are a way of life. BBQs are popular in parts of America too, of course, particularly in the South, but in a different way.

Australia's superb weather and climate means a BBQ is always likely to be on the agenda - you can even find them placed in a lot of public parks so people can enjoy them with friends.

With Australia having summer and winter at the opposite time of the year to America, it is not uncommon for Aussie families to celebrate the Christmas holiday with a BBQ.

Tipping

Tipping is one of the major changes in daily life between Australia and the US.

In America, tipping is expected for just about everything, with the money helping to top up the wages of low-paid workers such as coffee shop staff and waitresses in restaurants.

But in Australia these workers would be paid a considerable amount more than in America, meaning individuals do not tip them as much.

Tipping is still expected in certain situations - Australians will always tip for a fancy dinner - but tipping as a fact of life as it is in America simply does not exist. Americans who visit Australia and tip in the same way that they would do at home would be considered to be very generous.

Service levels in America are arguably a lot higher as a result of the country's tipping culture. Porters, waiters and drivers will feel like they have to work to earn a tip, with this proportion of their earnings a key factor in whether or not they can afford to pay their bills that month.

As a rule, Australians should be willing to tip between 10 and 20 per cent for services in America, depending on what it is they are paying for.

Compared to Americans, individuals who have been born and raised in Australia will typically be a lot more relaxed about most things. For example, Australians will usually have a lot more patience than those who have been brought up in the United States.

One of the key differences between the nations is how people regard the world of work. It is probably safe to say that most Australians work to live, whereas the opposite often seems to be be true in America.

The US is a highly capitalist society and, as such, many people are motivated by money. Of course there are Australians who think the same way, but generally they will be happy as long as they have enough cash to provide for their families and have a good time.

Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne typically rank highly in reports about the best places to live in the world and one of the major factors involved in this is the relaxed feel.

Sport

Sport is very important in both America and Australia, but again there are a couple of subtle differences between the two countries in this area.

College sports in America are huge, with thousands of people often attending college football matches, while they are widely televised to allow the whole country to tune in as well.

This is not really the case in Australia. Although people at university still play sport as part of their courses, it is not cherished to the same degree as it is over in America, while the widespread public pays little attention.

Both countries are into totally different sports as well. In America, it is all about baseball, basketball, NFL and perhaps a little bit of ice hockey. Australians are much more likely to watch Aussie rules or the NRL, while cricket is a big interest across the country as well.

Soccer is a minority interest in both Australia and America, although both the A-League and MLS are growing thanks to the presence of some big-name international stars.

It says a lot that 'football' in the UK is a term that means two different things in America and in Australia. When Americans say football they mean the NFL and if an Australian refers to football they will be referring to Aussie rules.

Both love to gamble on sports, though, and this is one of the major similarities between the two.

Blunt nature and banter

Australians tend to be a lot more blunt than Americans, who can appear overly polite to those who visit the country from overseas.

In terms of the sense of humour of the two countries, Australians will often be a lot rougher with their banter towards friends - it is not uncommon for people to personally abuse people they know but nobody takes it seriously.

If this was to happen in America, there would be a lot of individuals who would take offence. But Australians love to roast each other and this is just the way people from the country behave.

BBQ bonanza

The food and drink consumed in America and Australia is broadly similar - there are few big differences compared to how there would be for someone visiting the Far East, for example.

However, Australians are crazy about barbecues and for many, they are a way of life. BBQs are popular in parts of America too, of course, particularly in the South, but in a different way.

Australia's superb weather and climate means a BBQ is always likely to be on the agenda - you can even find them placed in a lot of public parks so people can enjoy them with friends.

With Australia having summer and winter at the opposite time of the year to America, it is not uncommon for Aussie families to celebrate the Christmas holiday with a BBQ.

Tipping

Tipping is one of the major changes in daily life between Australia and the US.

In America, tipping is expected for just about everything, with the money helping to top up the wages of low-paid workers such as coffee shop staff and waitresses in restaurants.

But in Australia these workers would be paid a considerable amount more than in America, meaning individuals do not tip them as much.

Tipping is still expected in certain situations - Australians will always tip for a fancy dinner - but tipping as a fact of life as it is in America simply does not exist. Americans who visit Australia and tip in the same way that they would do at home would be considered to be very generous.

Service levels in America are arguably a lot higher as a result of the country's tipping culture. Porters, waiters and drivers will feel like they have to work to earn a tip, with this proportion of their earnings a key factor in whether or not they can afford to pay their bills that month.

As a rule, Australians should be willing to tip between 10 and 20 per cent for services in America, depending on what it is they are paying for.

Patriotism

Last but not least, we come to patriotism. America is perhaps the most patriotic country on the planet, with the American flag displayed on a lot of different types of buildings as standard.

Children have to stand and listen to the national anthem at the start of the school day, which would be thought of as bizarre if someone tried to introduce it in Australia.

That is not to say that Australians are not patriotic, as they are, just in a different way. Australians are perhaps proud of their country in a more subtle manner than Americans.

Patriotism does become more explicit on Australia Day, but this is far from the norm. The difference in patriotism between the countries is arguably the biggest change between them.