15. The Australians’ friendliness and attitude toward immigrants
Australia is a country of immigrants! There’s no nationalism at all. Sometimes they ask you what you think about the political situation in the country. But they just want to keep the conversation going. There are not as many Russians, so they’re curious about who we are and how we got here.
Australians’ favorite phrase to say is, “No worries!” They’re kind and always ready to help. To be honest, sometimes I miss dark humor, but Australians don’t like it much because they always want to be nice.
Everyone is friendly and smiles (even if my cute daughters aren’t around). There are no ethnic conflicts. In fact, there are no conflicts at all. In a local halal store, I said to an Arab man, “As-salamu alaykum!” He was so happy to hear this! Now he always greets me and waves his hand if he sees me on the street. I love multiculturalism and friendly people.
To rent a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment in Canberra, you’ll need 2,000 — 3,000 Australian dollars ($1,400-$2,000) per month. Property is really expensive in Sidney. A house on the outskirts would cost around 1 million Australian dollars ($708,000).
It’s great that people usually rent apartments and share them with so-called flatmates. You can find a flatmate via Facebook or special websites.
Apartment buildings are serviced by property management companies. For example, they provide a plumber who comes within 10 minutes and fixes everything. If you have to go out, you can leave your keys at home since the plumber won’t steal anything.
In Brisbane, there’s an app that provides information about 3 means of transportation: commuter trains, buses, and river transport. The river flows through the whole city. In winter, it doesn’t freeze, so you always can use it, and it’s often more convenient than other means. The fee for all types of public transportation is the same. Sometimes drivers allow you not to pay a fee if you have no cash, for example, and they don’t accept cards.
You’ll need around 400-900 Australian dollars ($290-$600) for food per month. Shops close at 6 PM and big stores stay open till 11 PM. On Thursdays, everything is open till late at night to let people buy all the necessary items before the weekend. That way people can start relaxing on Friday night and spend the weekend at the beach.
The prices depend on brands and quality. On average, 2 lb of salmon cost around 30 Australian dollars ($20), 2 lb of chicken fillet cost 12 Australian dollars ($8), bread of good quality costs 5 Australian dollars ($3), milk costs 3-4 Australian dollars ($2-3), and a bottle of wine costs around 20 Australian dollars ($14).
In Australia, you can bargain in stores. My friend told me a story about how he went to the store and asked a shop assistant to sell him a MacBook with a 10% student discount. He was asked if he was a student. He said, “No, I’m not. But I’ve never worked on a MacBook, so I’m going to learn how and you can consider me to be a student that way.” The assistant agreed and gave him a discounted price.
11. National dishes
Vegemite is an Australian national dish made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetables and spice additives. It’s salty and has a strong odor. A common way of eating Vegemite is on toasted bread. Not all people like it, but I personally do.
Another national dish is meat pie, a pie with a filling of meat and other savory ingredients. As a rule, the filling is rather runny. Meat pies are sold as frozen, semi-finished products. In stores, you can also find kangaroo and crocodile meat. But these kinds of meats are often for tourists, not for Australians.
This country is great for those who like to go on relaxing hikes. The whole country is a big national park, and during weekends, all Australians like to go hiking and spend time in the forest with their families.
In Australia, there’s a whole culture of coffee. Locals love good coffee, and Starbucks coffee is thought to have a bad taste. The main drawback of Sidney’s nightlife is that everything closes too early. You won’t have a chance to have dinner at a restaurant after 10 PM and you won’t have a lot of fun at night clubs after 2 AM or 3 AM. On average, a dinner at a restaurant costs 60-80 Australian dollars ($40-$55).
9. Social support and law abidance
The country supports the unemployed. The unemployed get so much money from the government that they never have to work. And some people choose to live this way. Such people use slang, they may throw away a cigarette stub in the street, or offend you. But they’re not thought of as bums or bandits. Everyone knows that breaking the law leads to severe punishment.
If you get caught, you’ll be fined. As a rule, 1 time is enough to understand that the fee you pay is extremely high and it’s better not to break the law again.
8. Work peculiarities
Australians don’t control each other and pay no attention to how much time you spend at your workplace, when you arrive there, and when you leave. The thing is, if they come to work, they don’t play the fool. An employee is assessed by the results of their work. You may also take a long vacation if needed.
Everything is based on a balance between work and free time. Not as many people aim to build their careers around earning tons of money. People always know that everything’s going to be fine. No one pays attention to your finances as almost everyone can afford to buy a BMW that costs 100,000 Australian dollars ($80,000.)
No matter what your job is, you can earn good money (even if you’re an artist). For example, a person who drives a garbage truck earns 90-110 Australian dollars ($60-$80) per hour. They can work 2 days a week and earn more than a person who works at the office for 8 hours a day in many other countries. There’s just 1 drawback: expenses are really high.
Australians always are surprised by Russian people’s fast career growth. When I said a 28-year-old person could be the head of a marketing department, they were so impressed. Here, you can’t manage a department until you’re at least 45 years old.
7. Daily schedules
Socialization is the key to a successful career in Australia. Even if there’s an atmosphere of rivalry, colleagues always try to help each other out. Most people wake up at 4 AM or 5 AM, and at 5:30 AM, all cafes are crowded with office workers since work typically starts at 6:30 AM or 7 AM. But after 4:30 PM, everyone is off work and can play football or spend time at the beach. There’s one more important feature here: lunch runs. At 12:30 PM, thousands of people come out and run in the botanical gardens.
6. Sports and leisure
The main leisurely activity here is barbecuing. Almost every single home has a gas grill. They cook everything on it including meat, fish, and vegetables. People meet up, bring salads, beer, and their own BBQ meat, and sit around and talk. In all parks, there are free electric BBQ grills. Sometimes you have to pay $1 to use a grill.
When I first came to the beach in Sidney, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I thought I had wound up in a bodybuilding competition: there were so many fit people everywhere. Then I understood playing sports was a kind of religion for Australians.
Sidney is the city of surfing. There are incredible beaches and an ocean with huge waves, so surfing is a part of local culture. Many people like to surf in the morning before work or they work starting early in the morning to have time to surf later.
5. Schools and children
Australians are really friendly. I worried about my daughters: how would they do in school? They barely spoke English and were completely new to this culture. But kids are really friendly. During their first day, almost all the students came up to them and asked, “What’s your name?” They also asked what their favorite color was. In Russia, no one ever asked me this question and to be honest, I don’t even know what my favorite color is!
In Australia, rules are quite different. For example, students sit on the floor and they only use a table and chair if they really need them (like to glue something, for example).
Children don’t get a lot of homework at school, and some parents worry that their children have too many tasks. If parents want their child to be successful, they have to find a school with a more complicated school program. Since we have time, I want my daughters to learn English now. When they go to high school, we’ll find a better school.
Australian citizens have the right to get a high education loan that they can pay off after graduation or when they start working.
In Australia, all citizens older than 18 years must vote during elections. If you don’t vote for no reason, you’ll be fined or your property will be compromised. People can vote in advance, sending their vote via email.
You don’t have to verify your identity before voting. You only have to provide your name and address orally and confirm you haven’t voted earlier that day. If you vote more than once, you’ll be fined or even arrested.
3. The interest in foreign policy
Australia is quite an isolated country. Locals are really interested in what’s going on there, but they don’t judge people by their motherland, education, or social status.
They’re also interested in politics. As for Russia, they think it’s a cold country where Putin lives. The first question they ask when I say I’m from Russia is, “Do you like Putin?”
2. Australia’s slow pace
In Australia, it can take 2-4 weeks to install the Internet at home. Sometimes it takes even longer. No, they don’t face any difficulties, it’s a kind of a national game of, “How long would it take me to…” The quality of the Internet isn’t that good either. In the building where I live, the Internet breaks down every single day. The same problem also applies to the electricity system.
Before you put on your shoes you have to shake them, and you must be careful while moving chairs on a terrace: a weird creature could be hiding under there.
Before swimming in the ocean, make sure it’s not jellyfish season and that there are lifeguards who’ll inform everyone if they notice an eerie fin sticking out of the water.
In Australia, you can take different items such as a microwave oven, a vacuum cleaner, a computer, chairs, and other pieces of furniture for free. There are also many different TVs. People just put these items next to their houses which means you can take them for free. As a rule, these things look just like new!
For example, I have a computer table. When I took it, it was covered with dust. But when I cleaned it, I found out it was almost new without a single scratch. I don’t know why they decided to get rid of it. Perhaps they’d bought a new table. Australians also throw away things that need to be fixed. Even if the damage is insignificant, they won’t waste their time fixing an item.
In this country, you feel safe and comfortable. 50% of all people are immigrants or they’re the children of immigrants. Every neighborhood has its own mall, school, business center, and so on. You don’t even have to go downtown. You live, work, travel, swim, and enjoy kangaroos. It really is quite pleasant.