American Expats living in Australia reveal their biggest cultural shocks Down Under

  • American expats have revealed things they found most baffling about Australia.

  • Among the biggest culture shocks were ordering coffee and wildlife.

  • Many complained they did not know what a long black or short black coffee was.

  • Others said they were shocked to see so many people going barefoot in public.

From driving to ordering a coffee, Americans often experience culture shock when they visit Australia for the first time.

While most Australians would consider ditching their shoes and going barefoot in public to be perfectly normal, the habit comes as a surprise to those from the US.

Daily Mail Australia takes a look at the things American expatriates found the most surprising after moving Down Under.


Coming from a country that has a city that never sleeps and where 24-hour diners are commonplace, many Americans were shocked to learn most Australian businesses don't have extended operating hours.

Samantha Berger, 26, moved to Sydney six months ago from Saint Paul, Minnesota and admitted one thing she still struggles to deal with is 'how early places close [and] how few options you have for products.'

'It really made me aware of how much of a consumerist society America is. The shops here aren't open nearly as late as in the US and there are very few that are open 24 hours,' she told Daily Mail Australia.

'The product selection is so much more limited here, which is due to a smaller population and economy but I think it's also due to the lack of consumerism here.

'The types and amount of ads you see are different and they don't revolve every holiday around sales and shopping.'

Rather than having the convenience of one-stop shops in the US where things are sold in bulk, Samantha pointed out she now has to make multiple trips to the chemist and the grocery store while shopping.

'It's much more about buying local frequently so you have fresh food. Shopping in the US involves large trips less frequently, so we have bigger fridges and cars to haul all the stuff we buy,' she added.

'Australia doesn't have the mega malls and gigantic super stores where you do all your shopping in one place.'

Kimmy, from Nashville, Tennesee, has been living in Sydney for over three years and said the limited shopping hours has been challenging for her as a mum.

'I get work-life balance is big here. Just would be helpful to have at least a 24-hour pharmacy,' she said.

'Mostly being a parent now, not having that security gets to me. The rest of it I have gotten use to but definitely a shock when first arriving.'


Many Americans complained their coffee orders were lost in translation thanks to Australians' unique names for their caffeinated beverages.

In the US, filtered coffee is commonplace and is brewed by the pot, and terms for espresso drinks such as 'long black', 'short black' and 'piccolo' are unheard of.

'Seriously I have ordered coffee at least 12 times without them understanding a single word I said and my order is extremely simple,' Brooke Stamm, 24, from Mishawka, Indiana, told Daily Mail Australia.

'For some reason simple coffee lingo is foreign here. Back home I can say 'unsweetened iced black coffee' and it won't be a problem.

'But I've found that they don't use "simple" words to order coffee. You have to ask for an "iced long black" and even then, that means half an inch of coffee followed by half an inch of sweetened milk so you need to be super specific in your wording and try to figure out all the "fancy" coffee names.'

Sarah Florio said she tried ordering a 'regular coffee', which back home would mean a black filtered coffee with milk and sugar, but in Australia, would only indicate the size of the drink.

'I looked like an idiot when I first got here trying to get a cup of joe,' she said.


Cassie Warner, who lived in Australia for two years before moving back to the US, said one thing she missed is Australians' 'lack of obsessive over-work culture'.

'In America, we live to work. In Australia, they work to live - not just in attitude, but also in the strict labor laws and strong wages they have there,' she said.

'It has been extremely difficult to adjust to coming back into the culture of over-working salaried employees to death in order to squeeze as much out of them as possible for free while pretending that's not happening.

'I had multiple employers tell me anytime an American or Canadian applies for a job, they're instantly hired because they're such hard workers. It's because we have to hustle over here to pay bills- multiple jobs with low pay and still barely making rent!

'Employers have said a lot that Australians are lazy in the work world compared to North Americans.'

'The US is basically, "earn a living so you can buy more things" whereas here and other parts of the world it's much more about just working to live and travel and have experiences,' Brooke added.

American Shelah Wilkins said said she noticed the 'prolific use of the "sickie" where everyone knows damn well you aren't sick but doesn't bat an eye.'

'I used to rock up at work half dead in America because "work",' she added.


In Australia, walking around with no shoes is widely socially acceptable - even Chris Hemsworth has been spotted shopping barefoot near his home in Byron Bay.

But the true blue habit has managed to leave some Americans 'disgusted'.

'Last week I walked into Starbucks and three guys were sitting at a table barefoot... seriously guys?' Ashley Hoyoung Kim, from Los Angeles, said.

'People don't wear shoes in the grocery store and food establishments and f***ing anywhere, you should have goddamnn shoes on,' Studley Towers added.

'I'm not saying the barefoot movement is bad, I'm saying it is unsanitary when I'm getting groceries and at a restaurant. '

Olivia Morrow, 22, from Seattle, Washington told Daily Mail Australia she was 'disgusted' after witnessing a man shopping barefoot at a local Woolworths.

'It's gross, I don't get how people are so comfortable walking around in public without any shoes. It's not very hygienic.'


Ms Morrow said she was shocked to see the strange wildlife she came across on a day-to-day basis.

One of the first things I noticed in Sydney was all the "bin chickens" that are just casually walking around the streets and urban areas and no one bats an eye,' she said.

'They're just as common as pigeons here.'

Danielle McKenzie added: 'I was convinced there were monkeys in the trees when I woke up to the sounds of kookaburra and other birds.

'Had to clarify there are no monkeys running wild... embarrassing.'

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Original Published by Karen Ruiz @ (We do not own the content of this article)

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