10. Everyone Assumes You're Canadian:
I found this one slightly offensive at first, not necessarily because I don't like Canadians but we all know there's a certain unspoken rivalry between us and the neighbor to the north and we are obviously winning the battle for coolness. Also I go by the Robin Williams (RIP) method of thinking on this one, "Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party". All Canadian jokes aside (and there are plenty) it turns out this is actually a compliment for a few reasons. Firstly, it means you don't have a ridiculously American accent, not a lot of people from Jersey are going to be confused with Canadians. Secondly, it means you don't exude an "American Essence" if you will. That doesn't mean by any means that you are any less patriotic ('Merica... fuck ya!) it just means that the rest of the world has a pretty obvious preconceived notion of what Americans are like (see: loud, obnoxious assholes), this means you don't fall into that category... at least not right away. Mostly though what I've found is people just aren't used to seeing that many Americans traveling. Apparently it's not something we really do and this unfortunately is true. By far the fewest people I've met who are traveling are Americans, so if you decide its time to pack up and explore the world, try not to give the rest of us a bad rap. And if someone guesses you're American right away, you either have a ridiculous accent, or they're subtley calling you an asshole.
9. Be Nice... Seriously
To say that Americans as a whole are assholes would be a gross overstatement. But having worked in residential housing, and sales, and hospitality for as long as I have there is definitely a difference in the way we negotiate. In America the strategy is complain and threaten and continue to slowly work your way up the chain of command until you get what you want. This is not the way it works here. I'm used to bartering and negotiating on everything back home, here a friendly demeanor and a genteel attitude will get you farther than any American bartering tactics. Perfect example, I took my scooter into the shop because the air pressure was low, I bought a pump and ended up blowing out the old hose that was in my back wheel. I was FURIOUS and started to rant at the mechanic about what a load of BS this was, I had JUST bought this pump and it blew out my wheel are you KIDDING ME?! In the states I would've demanded and argued my way to getting my wheel fixed for free, a refund on the pump and probably a HJ just so this guy could avoid getting an angry letter to his boss. Here the mechanic got extremely defensive and said, "I don't know what your tire blowing out has to do with me but I really don't like the vibe here right now." Basically he told me to fuck off and was going to refuse me service, it took me a minute to contain myself and then I realized how ridiculous I was acting. I immediately changed my demeanor apologized and asked what I needed to do to get back on the road. He was extremely helpful and courteous after that and more than helpful. The point is people here, especially business owners don't give a shit about your personal issues of your empty threats, if you don't like it you can fuck off. So the only way to conduct yourself here is to be polite and courteous and you can basically get whatever you want. That ones gonna take some getting used to but when you think about it, its a much better way to live, and work... so don't be a dick.
8. Beards are Cool
If you think beards are popular in the states take yourself to Australia and learn you something. Here there is every variety, every shape and size and design you can imagine. I would estimate at least 70% of dudes here are rocking some sort of facial hair, and though a majority are going straight Grizzly Adams there is plenty of variety. Unfortunately I suffer from a pre-existing medical condition (shitty bearditis), so I'm doing my best to blend in but its not exactly working (I've got a sweet chin strap now though). Long story short if you wanna flex your beard game come to Oz and flaunt your stuff and see if you can hang with the real bearded men.
7. Australians LOVE to Party
Like a lot, like holy shit do these guys go hard in the paint. And this is not to say just Aussies in general but backpackers, Europeans and Aussies love to party. There's a couple cities in the states where you can go on a pretty wicked 3 day long bender and lose some brain cells and some dignity, but for the most part bars close around 2 or 3 am and then you go home sleep it off and try again tomorrow. The American version of partying is "Let's drink as much as we can in 6-8 hours, make some bad decisions, go home and sleep it off". Australians are average drinkers at best but let's just say they use some partying "performance enhancers" and the results are terrifying. I tried to go out one night to an after hours bar here, we didn't even get there until 3am and by 5am I was quoting Danny Glover, "I'm too old for this shit. By 730 am when we finally stumbled out into DAYLIGHT I knew that I would never be able to cut it with this crowd. It took me three days to recover from that little night out and I've met plenty of people who do that ALL THE TIME! Mostt clubs here close around 3am but then you can go to after hours clubs till 7am and then take an hour break for food when everything opens back up at 8am. It's like Vegas no clocks no way to tell what hour it is or how long you've been at it, and filled with terrible, shitty, shitty, EDM and techno. So ya when it comes to partying I'll take a UCF tailgate over a "night out" in Oz anytime. OZ-1 Logan-0... and on that note.
6. People do ALOT of Drugs Here
This one obviously goes hand and hand with the last point, as booze is not exactly an "upper" when you've been drinking for 12 hours straight so there is a lot of other substances people ingest here. I have friends back home who party and recreationally do drugs but god damn do people do a lot of drugs here, and I thought booze was expensive. Now I've never bought cocaine so I have no comparison to what it "should cost" but here decent blow is apparently about $350 a gram, again that means nothing to me but everyone I've talked to about it has assured me that's really REALLY expensive. So if you want to come to Australia and party PARTY, be ready to pay out the ass for it, on top of $9 beers and $20 cocktails. Basically if I had any more bad habits I'd be out of money here after one hard weekend... buyer beware.
5. Have a Sense of Humor
This ones really important, like seriously, if you plan on traveling pay attention to this one. People love I mean LOVE to fuck with Americans. We're basically the rest of the worlds funny punch line. Also for some reason people think we all like Obama, and that the Affordable Health Care Act, actually made health care affordable. Without getting too political lets just say I've corrected some Europeans and Aussies on American politics. But that's neither here nor there, the point is, don't take yourself too seriously. It's great to be patriotic and love your country, because you better believe everyone else here loves theres, but try and hang your flag at the door and get ready for a barrage of shit talking. Keep in mind people here (almost everyone I've met) really like Americans, they just have a problem with America. Gun jokes, terrorist jokes, obesity jokes, nothing is off limits, but as long as you have the right mind set and you can throw back a French people are pussies joke or two yourself, you'll be fine. And at the end of the day I just like to remind them, that everyone talks shit about America until they find themselves in some trouble, then they all want our fat, gun toting, flag waving soldiers to come help.
4. Roll it up... smoke it down
If you've kept up with anything I've been writing you know I've described Melbourne as basically the Hipster "Mecca". This whole place looks like an add for PBR, but the people here are doing it ironically or to be anti-establishment, that's just the way it is here. But going along with the hipster pretense if you travel abroad you will see something that is not common at all in the states unless you wear an ironic 80's TV show t-shirt, girls jeans, and ride a fixed gear to the Starbucks you work at... rollies. Rollies are cigarettes, that, well you roll. Because every vice here is taxed out the ass, the cheaper alternative for the smoking traveler is to buy rolling tobacco and simply roll there own, I tried it once and what resulted was something Michael J. Fox might have attempted. But people here are experts and it's actually quite interesting to see someone drink a beer, have a converstation and at the same time roll a perfect cigarette. I heard Wocka Flocka or someone like that was looking for a personal blunt roller, he should simply do a tour in Oz and pick up some backpackers.
3. Caffine Overload
If you like coffee, this is the place to be. Everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE has a coffee machine and will make your fresh lattes and long blacks and short whites and everything else that's all basically kinda the same thing but if you say that people scoff at you. I thought we had a pretty big coffee addiction in the states but here coffee is a part of life and more than that it's an art form. If you work at the right place you can make $20 or more making macchiatos all day. Apparently we Americans are also very inept at making caffinated drinks. I know how to make a long black (coffee and water) and a cappuccino (and only kind of). Everytime I have to ask someone I work with to make a coffee for me that look at me with this face reserved only for Trix the rabbit (Silly American, coffees for grownups). Regardless of my total lack of coffee knowledge I love the coffee culture and it's a huge part of being here. Before I came here I gave up caffine for over 6 months, I'm glad I got back on the juice before I came here otherwise I might have OD'd. Don't worry I'm not having a seizure that's just me shaking uncontrollably from my tenth cappuccino today (hey they're free at work!). OZ-2 Logan-0
2. Get Your Fixed Gear Out
I hate to beat the hipster horse but aside from having great public transit and easy travel in general around the city, people here love to bike. Now I know that's nothing new or crazy if you live in a big metropolitan city, especially with gas prices, cost of cars, etc. But in Melbourne it's literally to the point that I don't personally know anyone who even owns a car. That's from my fellow bartenders and backpackers, up to my managers. That might be an overstatement, I'm sure my GM's and owners have cars of there own, but pretty much everyone else I know or have met here rides a bike or in one particular case a bear of a bartender I work with owns a cute little skateboard. Part of this is just based on need, you're only usually traveling a short distance why would you need an actual car, but a lot of it is really cultural as well. People here are very outdoorsy and they prefer to be doing something active rather than something passive. I can't deny I've jumped on the bandwagon as well, but in the most American way possible, getting an electronic bike, that I only have to peddle when I'm going up a hill. OZ-2 Logan-1
1. Share Your Story
You'd think being in a place with so many travelers and wanderlusters people would get bored of the same stories over and over. "Oh you hated your job and wanted to see the world, how original of you!" This is not the case at all, not only are people here receptive to hearing you story they WANT to know. They want to hear what made you uproot yourself and take your journey abroad. They want to talk about places they've been where your from or places they would like to go. They want to trade travel advice, and stories, and talk about which country has the hottest women (or men). And all this does is continue to feed and drive your vigor and your realization that you are doing this for a reason. We all like to think we are unique and individual but we all share a similar longing and desire to test our boundaries and explore our senses. It's easier to find people abroad that openly share that sense of desire. Partly because they're doing the same thing but also because they don't have the same mindset we are forced into back in the states. If someone doesn't like their job here they quit... that's it. If that means a few weeks of eating ramen and drinking goon that's fine, but they're here to explore, better to be happy and poor then miserable with a steady income. It's taken a lot to acclimate myself to this lifestyle and by no means am I there yet. I'm currently working two jobs in hopes to save a little so I can have some time to just be myself when the nice weather comes around. But if I'm ever unsure or lacking a plan or a motive I need only look to the people I'm surrounded by to be reassured that I'm doing the right thing. There's no right or wrong way to have your journey, you just have to do it!
OZ-2 Logan-2... we'll call it a draw for now.