I was curious to see if there were any differences in Australian social customs and I happened upon the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship. They have a section entitled “Living in Australia” that very clearly outlines the Australian Social Customs for someone who is thinking about moving to Australia.
Obviously, these guidelines are meant for someone who is not used to Western culture and civilization. To someone in America, some of the things on the website seem obvious and sort of comical. I decided to share some of them here.
How do we great people?
“When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand.”
“Many Australians look at the eyes of the people they are talking with… Do not stare at the person for a long time.”
What are the clothing customs?
“Many Australians live close to the beach and the sea. On hot days, they may wear little clothing on the beach and surrounds. This does not mean that people who dress to go to the beach or swimming have low moral standards. It means that this is what we accept on and near beaches.”
What is considered polite behaviour?
“We also say, ‘Excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ if we burp or belch in public or a person’s home.”
“Most Australians blow their noses into a handkercheifs or tissues, not onto the footpath. This is also true for spitting.”
The website also explains some Australian slang as well as “How do I respond to an invitation?”
Personally, I think this site is comical because I am used to the culture and social customs of western society. It is interesting to realize that someone moving to Australia from and Asian or Polynesian country may not have the same social customs so this site would be extremely helpful to them.
I looked up to see if the US had a similar site, and I was surprised to find that there are a lot of sites that explain American social customs. I had never thought that it would be necessary to learn social customs from the internet. I had always thought when traveling I would learn from experience. This is a great way to learn, however, because it is less likely that you will offend someone if you study before visiting a different culture.
All quotes are from the following site: http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/choose-australia/about-australia/au-customs/
— Katie Mixer
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