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DelVal Blogs from Abroad: Thomas Rossman ’17 in Australia


Posted on August 27, 2015 by Thomas Rossman ’17, a conservation and wildlife management major.

Courtesy: Thomas Rossman ’17 Thomas Rossman ’17 is studying abroad in Australia.

My name is Tom Rossman and this fall I’m studying at Griffith University on the Gold Coast of Australia. I’ll be here for one semester, and during that time, I plan to learn more about myself by accepting change, interacting with people from all over the world and trying new things. Check out my blog posts to follow along on my journey.

Thomas Rossman ’17
Australia: What’s Different and What is the Same as in the U.S.?
Being in Australia is one of the few amazing feats that I’ve accomplished in my life. I’ve confronted fears, conquered change and accepted that I’m only a small part of the expansive world we live in. I chose to study abroad in Australia for a few reasons: the wildlife, the weather, the scenery and the similar culture. But while the language is the same and the U.S. influences the media, Australia is a very different place.
For starters, Australians do speak English—or so I thought. They abbreviate words such as breakfast and afternoon and they become "brekky" or, "arvo," respectively. These are just two of the many words shortened here. Someone asked me if I wanted to go to Maccas. I agreed, expecting to go to some fancy Spanish restaurant. Instead, we ended up at McDonald’s, which leads me to another cultural difference: the food.
Food Down Under
While at McDonald’s, I thought I knew what I wanted to eat, but a second glance at the menu proved me wrong. They had a few of the familiars, such as the Big Mac, but a few options, such as the Great Feast and the Grand Angus, threw me for a loop.
Aside from McDonald’s having a slightly different menu, Burger King is called Hungry Jack’s. The logo is the same, but the words “Burger King” have been replaced. Again, the menu still has the Whopper, but there are a few differences.
To move away from fast food, I’ve also been eating traditional Australian cuisine. Meat pies, as disgusting as they sound, are delicious. They’re basically chicken pot pies, but instead of the filling being chicken, it’s beef and gravy.
Another Aussie food is fairy bread, which isn’t very appetizing to me. It’s a slice of white bread spread with butter and topped with sprinkles.
The best food here, though, is the Tim Tams. I have some every day, and they’re seriously milk’s favorite cookie. I learned how to Tim Tam Slam, which is where you bite both ends off the Tim Tam and use it as a straw to suck up milk, coffee, or hot tea. The drink absorbs into the cookie, making for a delicious reward!
Tipping is another cultural difference, as it doesn’t exist here. When an American tries to tip an Aussie, the looks given are priceless. 
Environmental Conservation
Another difference is in everyday life. The toilets here have two buttons: a half flush and a full flush. Since Australia is prone to droughts, this helps to conserve water. The saying goes, "If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down."
This would be a good practice for Americans to adopt. While we don’t experience droughts throughout the entire country, conserving water is an environmentally friendly action.
Switching Up the Roads
Another difference in Australia, which is obvious, is the driving. People drive on the right side of the car, and the streets are opposite of how they are in the U.S. Because of this, people even walk on the left here, which gets confusing sometimes.
Aboriginal Ancestors
The biggest difference, though, is the culture around the Aboriginals. Just as America has a history with Native Americans, Australia has an even more recent history with the Aboriginals. The same story applies, though: The Aboriginals had an established society, and when Britain invaded, they killed the Aboriginals. When the settlers couldn’t rid the land of natives, they would kidnap the children, "train" them to be white, and have them marry white people in order to breed the color and culture out of them.
Aboriginals have settlements in barren parts of Australia, just as the Native Americans do in the U.S. It wasn’t until the '60s that Aboriginals were guaranteed the right to vote in Australia. More recently, however, more rights have been given to the Aboriginals.
I had the pleasure of meeting someone of Aboriginal descent who’s an amazing person. He recently taught participants in the program about his culture. He was from Stradbroke Island, so the Aboriginal tribes there were different than the inland ones. He was able to speak the language of his tribe and showed us tools that they used. He also explained the culture of his people and played the didgeridoo, a musical instrument. 
Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the differences between Australia and the U.S. The list could fill a book.
I’ve learned a lot by being here in Australia, not only about a different culture, but also about who I am. I’ve made many good memories here, and I know my remaining time will lead to even more stories. 
If you’re interested in learning more about Delaware Valley University’s study abroad experiences, you can find out more during one of our campus visits.