What do people think of Australia

Living in Australia - what is different than in Germany?

Culture and everyday life

People from almost 200 different countries live in Australia: around a quarter of the population was born abroad. Over 40 percent have at least one parent who was born in another country. Almost a quarter of the population speaks not only English at home, but one of 300 other languages, including many indigenous languages.

The original inhabitants of Australia are the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islander. The Aborigines came to Australia 40,000 - 60,000 years ago and thus represent the oldest surviving culture in the world, although one should rather speak of cultures: There are hundreds of different Aboriginal nations. The Torres Strait Islanders are the original inhabitants of the islands of the Torres Strait in northern Queensland.

All other Australians are immigrants - either the descendants of people who made the long sea route to the fifth continent many years ago, or people who only recently came to Australia: as workers, international students or refugees. For many people it is important to preserve their own culture and to speak their own mother tongue at home, for example. The “typical Australian” doesn't really exist. Even so, many people have a clear idea of ​​what “typically Australian” is, although such ideas can sometimes contradict each other. For example, many people find that Australian society is very egalitarian. Class doesn't matter in theory, and people are more likely to get recognition through hard work. For many Australians, the principle of “Fair Go” is sacred: According to this, everyone should be treated equally and given a fair chance.

Since class thinking is seen as something negative, there is a social tendency to criticize overly successful people. This is known as "Tall Puppy Syndrome".

Conversely, many Australians like "underdogs", people who are in an unfavorable position but still give everything to achieve their goals.

The relaxed tone also fits in with this: Instead of doctoral and honorary titles, people are addressed by their first name. Or immediately with “mate” - that means something like “mate”, and it is quite normal to address people you hardly know that way. For example, the Australian cricket hero Dennis Lillee himself greeted the Queen with a relaxed “Gday, how ya goin?” Small talk with strangers is considered polite, which is why you are asked how you are at the supermarket checkout, for example. If you take a taxi, you shouldn't just sit in the back seat, because that is considered impolite, at least for men: you are expected to sit in the front and talk to the driver. As a woman, however, you can sit back and relax for your own safety.

Australian society is only really egalitarian in theory. Many people show little tolerance and prejudice towards the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Exclusion, discrimination and extreme poverty are unfortunately the order of the day.

It is also not entirely true that status and role play no role at all in Australia. For example, many official occasions are expected to stand up for government officials. University graduations are also expected to stand up for the educational institution's representatives as they move into the room. On such occasions they stand out clearly from all others through their solemn clothing and the traditional robes are a symbol of their respective status.

There are also two very contradicting views in Australia about respecting authority. Many Australians find that their society is very law-abiding, even conformist.

Others, however, argue that the typical Australian is very suspicious of authorities. This can be illustrated by the historical personality of Ned Kelly, who was for some a folk hero and modern day Robin Hood, for others a murderer and criminal. Ned Kelly lived in Victoria in the 19th century and clashed with the police at a young age. In order to hide from the authorities, he lived with his gang in the bush, from where he robbed banks. After he and his gang murdered three police officers, they were considered outlaws. Kelly was caught by police in 1880 and executed that same year. Folk hero or murderer - opinions have been divided on this question in Australia since then.

When it comes to humor, people tend to agree - many Australians often describe themselves as easy-going and like to joke, also about their counterparts. As a foreigner, you shouldn't be offended by this, because if you joke about someone else it often means that you find your counterpart sympathetic. If the jokes are a bit too rough for your taste, just change the topic of conversation ... and talk about your plans for the next weekend, for example.


At some point every student will surely receive an invitation with the following wording: "Birthday party, Sat 7pm, my place - BYO." Or "BBQ on Sunday, 2pm." Bring a plate. ”For people who are in Australia for the first time, this may cause confusion at first. BYO stands for "Bring your own" and it mostly refers to alcoholic drinks, but possibly also the steaks for a barbecue evening with friends. Bringing your own drinks is very common in Australia, especially, but not exclusively, among students. This is mainly due to the fact that beer, wine & Co are very expensive down under.

Don't be surprised if at parties like this everyone really only drinks what they have brought with them. So don't just help yourself to another guest's six-pack unless they specifically ask you to. At the end of the party, many guests take their drinks home with them. BYO has become so much in the flesh and blood of many Australians that they may do it even if this is not stated on the invitation. Because of this, we have way too many drinks left over after my birthday party every year. If in doubt, it is advisable to simply ask. BYO isn't common on formal occasions like weddings and engagements, although I've actually experienced it once.

“Bring a plate” is often used on invitations for barbecues and garden parties and means that you should bring something to eat that is then shared with all other guests, for example a salad or dessert. Even if you are invited to dinner, you should bring something or at least offer it. A good bottle of wine or chocolates are recommended here. Bringing flowers is not common.

If you are invited to the restaurant, you should be prepared for the fact that the bill will be shared by everyone afterwards. Anyone who wants to invite the others is quickly seen as cocky: Many Australians find that their society is egalitarian. For the same reason, you usually don't tip, because you assume that the waitress gets a decent salary. If you want, you can do it anyway, and sometimes there is a so-called “tip jar” on the counter into which you can toss a few coins.

It is a different matter when you go to the pub with friends: Here it is quite common for you to take turns to spend a round. By the way, in many restaurants you can bring your own alcoholic drinks and only pay a small fee for the glasses that are made available to you. This is mostly the case in restaurants that do not serve alcohol themselves. For all invitations, be it for dinner or in a restaurant, you should appear on time as possible, because the Australians also attach great importance to this.


Speaking of food, what exactly is “typical Australian food”? This question is also not that easy to answer. Because “typical Australian cuisine” is basically very international cuisine. Especially in the bigger cities you have a huge selection of Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian and Greek restaurants, to name a few. And many Aussies cook internationally at home too. Incidentally, the large number of immigrants have not only contributed to a very varied cuisine in Australia, but also to a distinctive one

Coffee culture

Since the sun shines all year round in many areas, barbecuing is particularly popular with many people. Such an “Aussie BBQ” can be held not only at home, but also in public parks, where electric grills are provided for visitors. Sometimes kangaroo steaks or sausages end up on the grill. This meat was consumed by the Aborigines tens of thousands of years ago. Other traditional "bush foods" include native nuts, berries and spices, some of which have found their way into modern Australian cuisine.

If you ask an Australian what typical Australian food is, they usually answer with a wink: "Meat Pie". Pie is filled with meat and gravy, sometimes with mushrooms and cheese. Served with ketchup you can get it on almost every street corner.

Sports culture

And where does a meat pie taste better than in the stadium? For many Australians, sport is simply part of everyday life. The most popular sports down under are rugby, cricket and Aussie rules football. There are two types of rugby: league and union. Rugby Union is the original and rugby league a slightly modified, more physical and faster form. Rugby League is particularly popular in Queensland and New South Wales, and the teams from the two states compete in the so-called State of Origin every year. Aussie Rules is a mix of rugby, handball and soccer that is particularly popular in Victoria and South Australia, where the sport was first played. Important cricket games in Australia mainly take place around Christmas time, for example the Boxing Day Test Match, which starts on Boxing Day. Here the Australian national team meets another international cricket team. The Ashes, which are held regularly between England and Australia, are also particularly popular. For a game of cricket you have to be patient, because such a game can take several days. However, there is also a shortened version, the Twenty20 Cricket, which takes about three hours.


Too slow and too little physical - football had a rather bad reputation in Australia for a long time. This has changed a lot in recent years, and the success of the Socceroos national team, which qualified for the World Cup in 2006 for the first time in 32 years, has also contributed to this. The official soccer league is the A-League, in which nine Australian clubs and one New Zealand club take part. Of course, Australians not only like to go to the stadium but also like to stay fit themselves. Almost 70 percent of those over the age of 15 participate in regular sports such as swimming, jogging or team sports.

University life

So do many university students: Most universities have excellent sports facilities. Overall, student life at the larger universities is more diverse than at some German universities. There is a wide range of leisure activities, clubs and associations in which one can become a member, pubs, cafes and the university's own cinemas. Just like the country itself, the universities are very multicultural and every year students from all over the world come to Down Under. This makes it easy for many to quickly find contacts on campus. So look forward to your studies in Down Under - and with our Do's and Don'ts, not much can go wrong!