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10 Australian Things I Missed When I Moved Back to the States

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Alright so total disclosure: I’ve been back from Australia for five years (lol, I know). But I found this list in my old drafts and it brought back great memories – and also I hear it was Australia Day recently – so I felt I should finally publish the draft!

10 Australian Things I Missed When I Moved Back to the States:

10 Australian things I missed when I moved back to the States

10. The nature

I felt so lucky to live in Sydney, where the sea and the beach and the incredible coastal cliffs were just a train ride away. And who could forget the Great Barrier Reef, the waterfalls and jungles up north, and some really breathtaking beaches (most of which I never saw)?

Koalas, anyone? Emus? Kangaroos? Alll the Aussie nature!

koalas in Australia


Read more: Our SBXtreme (“spring break extreme”) trip to Cairns and Brisbane


9. Reckoning

Man oh man do I wish we could ‘reckon’ in America. It’s so fun to have guesses about stuff all the time. Unfortunately it seems reckoning in the States makes you sound country, not cool.

8. Easy Way bubble tea

Having some bubble tea in Sydney
Having some bubble tea in Sydney

And Asian food in general. (Not a day goes by when I don’t wish we had steamed dumplings like they do in Sydney’s Chinatown. I dream about those dumplings!) I love how bubble tea was a casual thing, like you could just grab some before class at Easy Way, no big deal, and get your sugar/caffeine rush on. Here in the States, at least in the cities I’ve lived in, you have to seek out the authentic Vietnamese restaurants if you want bubble tea. Mmm I miss taro flavor and coconut flavor. And obviously the bubbles!

7. Tasty Cheese

As a friend once said in reaction to learning that “Extra Tasty Cheese” existed: ‘How much tastier can tasty cheese possibly be??’ For those unfamiliar with this product, Tasty Cheese is a type of Australian cheddar cheese sold in grocery stores around the country. Here’s the special thing about Tasty Cheese in comparison to American cheddar cheese: it’s not orange! It’s the rightful color of cheese: white-ish. And also, it’s pretty tasty 😉

6. Roundabouts

You don’t realize how sillypants four-way stops are until you visit the land of roundabouts. It’s crazy – no one is confused about whose turn it is to go and traffic actually keeps moving!

Roundabout
From Flickr

5. A4 paper

So Australians (and the rest of the world) use paper that is actually a different size from the paper we use here in the States. A4 paper is slightly bigger than US letter size (8.5 x 11 in) and you can definitely feel it. How exciting it is to have more room to write things!

4. Sushi rolls uncut as a snack

uncut sushi rolls specific to Australia
From Flickr

WHY ISN’T THIS A THING HERE?! I remember you could just drop by somewhere and pick up an uncut sushi roll and tiny little dropper of soy sauce and just bite into the thing while on the train or bus or something, like a bag of potato chips. So cool.


Read more: Studying on exchange in Sydney FAQs and tips


3. Hey? at the end of any sentence

Australians get people to agree with them by adding “hey?” to the end of their sentences…For example, “This açaí bowl is saah delicious, hey?” It feels like we all agree on stuff all the time and that’s a nice feeling.

2. Tim Tams

Tim tam
From Flickr

If you were like me and brought home 9 boxes of Tim Tams from Australia, then you know. Those are some seriously delicious chocolate covered biscuits. I personally preferred the caramel ones because they reminded me of Twix bars that were socially appropriate to dip into milk, but the original and double chocolate ones were always good too. You can actually get these in certain places in America but, like my adored chocolate covered Digestives from England, they are a bit too expensive to be worth it. I don’t care how childish or silly it seems to want to do a “Tim Tam slam” – that stuff was good.

1. Free healthcare

Do I even need to explain?

I was sick in Sydney while studying on exchange, I went to the university’s clinic and swiped my student card, and I saw a doctor – no monies were exchanged!* It was the same situation when I was living in England and wow, is universal health coverage world-changing.

Well how’d I do? What did you miss after returning from Australia?

10 Australian things I missed

*Okay so looking back, it seems pretty unlikely that I was benefitting from Australia’s universal healthcare coverage. It must have been some sort of special clinic or maybe I paid something to Sydney Uni initially to be covered by student exchange health insurance? Hard to say, I truly don’t remember. Regardless, I miss free healthcare even if I’ve never actually experienced it!

31 comments

  1. Karen Simpson says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Cute post! Come on out to the Bay Area — we have bubble tea joints by the dozens, hey?
    Karen, your mom’s friend

  2. Tina says:

    Hey Michelle,

    I totally understand you. The first time o had to drive in Australia I hate those roundabouts there just too much here! But now I am so used to it oh gosh I don’t know how I will drive without going around the circle 😀 and Tim tams are the best! Did you try the coconut cream edition? They are so yummy! Are you coming back at some stage? You should definitely come and visit Western Australia 😉

    • mishvo says:

      Hi Tina, thanks for your comment! I haven’t tried the coconut cream Tim Tams but they sound SO wonderful wow!! At one point two years ago I was considering doing the working holiday visa but I ended up doing an internship in England instead. I really really want to go back to aus though. The west coast is definitely on my bucket list, plus Whitsundays since I didn’t get to see that. And the Great Ocean Road. Ah so much to do!

    • mishvo says:

      Haha actually I’ve weirdly seen tasty cheese in some supermarkets in the US. It’s usually called “Australian cheddar” though, so it’s probably not as tasty 😉

  3. Divya says:

    Hi Michelle,
    You are so like me; half of your lift is about food. 😀

    Will make a note and experience the things you have mentioned when I travel to Australia.

  4. Epepa says:

    I’ve been living in… Austria for 1 year and I also miss for some things, for cheese too! I’s almost not possible to buy Bergkase cheese in Poland where I’m living now. And Australia is completely different place than the rest of the world, I suppose you missed it a lot.

    • mishvo says:

      Completely! And I’ll be honest, I do still reckon every now and then in the States even if it makes me sound country.

  5. Juliana W says:

    After reading this post I’m 100% positive we’d be best friends if we met! I am obsessed with bubble tea, cheese, tim tams, and sushi rolls!!!!! I am hoping to do a year in australia on a tourist visa in a year or two, and now I am so excited to do it after hearing about your amazing experiences! What did you do while you were in Australia? Were you working?

    • mishvo says:

      Haha hey Juliana, thanks for reading! Sounds like you have great taste 🙂
      I was actually living in Sydney as an exchange student while in college but it wasn’t like most study abroad programs – I was pretty much on my own, and that led to a really immersive experience. I did pick up some work here and there (cafe, babysitting) but I haven’t done the working holiday there but I know a ton of traveler who have and it sounds like an absolute blast. I probably would still do it but I don’t have much time now before I don’t qualify anymore :/

  6. Chantae says:

    Love it! I’m an American living in Australia at the moment and I do appreciate everything mentioned in the post. I also love saying “Ta!” “Cheers” and that I’m “keen.” Tim Tams are the bomb, so are roundabouts! Agree with allllll mentioned 🙂

  7. Jess says:

    Ah! I know that feeling when you spend some time in another country to return home. When we came back from the states to UK I missed drive thru Starbucks – just so convenient and In’n’Out Burger – its just doesn’t seem as bad as normal junk food.

  8. Suanlee says:

    Haha, as an Australian I completely understand these! Also the Tim Tam slam with tea is probably the most Australian thing that makes me happy. When people want to show off Vegemite there’s a part in me that says “No! Show the Tim Tams!”

    • mishvo says:

      Word. Vegemite is great no doubt (I actually really like it! And Marmite while we’re at it) but I mean: Tim Tams!

  9. Sheri says:

    I can imagine how you feel, you wonder why do they just not have this? LOL It all seems so simple and accessible, then you move to another country and one particular thing you love just does not exist. I have lived in 7 different countries so I have gotten used to it. A great list

  10. Ann Lin says:

    I’ve spent my life moving back and forth between Australia, Taiwan and the US and loved your post! Definitely agree with the A4 paper lol. AND THE TIM TAMS.

  11. Ha, I’d miss the koalas the most 😀 I’ve never been close to one, other than in zoos, and i already think I’m in love with them. We have our share of roundabouts in Romania, but I honestly miss the ones in the UK all the time (and the driving there, which is a lot more polite).

  12. Genesis says:

    I’ve never been to Australia, but I have several friends who live there and they’ve sent me Tim Tams! Man, those are pretty much the best cookies in the entire world.
    Doesn’t surprise me that Asian food is amazing there, either. Someday . . .

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