I have never been able to travel anywhere exciting for spring break; it was always sports, school or lack of funds that kept me from exploring different lands. But this spring break led me on my most memorable one yet, to the land down under, Australia.
While I have traveled to Europe before, this was my first time being in the southern hemisphere and I have a 14-hour plane ride under my belt to prove it. This column isn’t going to tell you a day-by-day report of my vacation, but instead is going to point out the cultural differences in slang, dress and norms that I encountered, and most of the time demonstrated incorrectly.
Out of all the places I traveled, the Australians have, by far, the best slang. It began when an airline attendant asked me, “How you goin’?” I replied, “Well, by plane I guess.” Embarrassed redness on my cheeks led the person next to me to step in and say that what she said is comparable to our “What’s up?” or “How are you?” I didn’t ‘winge’ (Australian for complain) for too long however because I was almost blindsided by the cars traveling on left side of the road across the street from the petrol station, not gas.
Getting ready for a day at Manly Beach led me to a whole new set of vocabulary that after consideration makes a lot of sense and gets to the point a lot quicker. I had to make sure I had my boardies, sunnies and Havy’s on before leaving. Boardies are the equivalent to board shorts, sunnies to sun glasses and Havy’s to Havaianas, an incredibly popular brand of sandals. And for girls bathing suits can be referred to as ‘togs’, ‘cossies’, or ‘bathers’.
Blue bottles, or miniature jellyfish, float aimlessly but painfully in the oceans of Australia. Although miniature, their sting can be incredibly painful, but if asked by an Australian it would only hurt for a little bit (classic downplayers).
Some slang that might date most Americans, are commonly used by the Aussies; they use “reckon” as much as ‘like’ is used in our dialogue. Things that are normally ‘cool’, ‘sick’, ‘awesome’ to us would be awesomely categorized with a simple ‘far out.’
While it’s not completely true there isn’t Fosters beer in Australia, it is rarely found and always frowned upon by the natives. What really is Australian for beer is proper dress whenever you go to the pub. In Melbourne and Sydney, guys are turned away for wearing sandals or ‘thongs’ and girls for wearing tank-tops or ‘singlets’.
And make no mistake about the passionate sports fans the sports capital of the world features.
During a Sydney versus Melbourne A-League Grand Final soccer match, the obscenities were flying from the row behind to the apparent blind, drunk lines referee. I made an educated guess that they were a bit ‘blind’ themselves, meaning drunk, and not on the extremely overpriced imported beer but on Victoria’s own ‘Victoria Bitter.’
Lastly, and maybe most embarrassing, is that fact that I wouldn’t root for the Dodgers in Australia, I would barrack for them. Root to the Aussies means something more along the lines of sexual interaction.
After 10 days I saw that air line attendant again, okay it was a different one, but this time I knew exactly what to say. “G’day mate, how you goin’?”
Kevin Garrity, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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