An Australian writer who has spent months living in the United States has shared stark differences between the two countries, including how you pay for gasoline, use a public bathroom and buy alcohol.
Madolline Gourley, 30, from Brisbane, Queensland, runs an online blog called One cat at a time, and before corona virus lockdown, spent more than two years sitting cat for families in America.
During that long stay, he was well aware of the way Americans live their everyday lives and how it differs from the Australian lifestyle, from road regulations to adding tax to every purchase you make.
So what are the main variants?
Madolline Gourley runs an online blog called One Cat At A Time, and before the coronavirus lockdown, spent more than two cat years looking after families in the United States
1. Pay for gas before filling
Based on Madolline’s experience, Australians will always put petrol in the car first before paying at the counter, so that station staff know how much fuel they are carrying.
But in the US customers swipe their EFTPOS card, enter their zip code – also called a zip code – and then start filling up their cars.
‘Or you can walk to the repair shop and pay cash, but you still have to pay before you can fill up,’ he told FEMAIL.
‘You can also choose $ 50 when making an EFTPOS transaction, but if your car only takes $ 33, $ 25, or $ 41.90, you’ll only be charged for it. Not $ 50.
“It’s very confusing for me to start with because I’m afraid I’ll be charged the full amount.”
Based on Madolline’s experience, Australians will always put petrol in the car first before paying at the counter, so that station staff know how much fuel they are taking (stock image)
2. Always add tax for every purchase you make
Ticket prices are the prices you pay at the cash register in Australia, but they are not the same in America.
‘Tax-free shelf price. When you get to the cash register, they add tax to it. What initially seems like a fair price when you look at the goods on the shelves only becomes more expensive once you convert USD to AUD, ‘he said.
‘I believe the tax rate differs from state to state. So, other states end up being a lot more expensive than others. Some states also have things that are exempt from taxes. As Massachusetts does not impose a clothing or food tax. ‘
3. Password protected bathroom
This aspect of life in America differs from state to state, but nearly all major cities have bathrooms that are password protected – or locked, says Madolline.
‘Every where. Starbucks. Chipotle. Discount retailers such as Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less. Restaurant and takeaway options such as McDonald’s and Burger King. Even some supermarkets, ” he said.
Only paying customers can use the bathrooms in cafes and restaurants, so you have to buy something to even be allowed to use the bathroom.
‘The way around this is to go to a large shopping mall or department store like Macy’s. Gas station showers are also available for anyone to use, ‘he said.
This aspect of life in America differs from state to state but nearly all major cities have bathrooms that are password protected – or locked, says Madolline (stock image)
4. A different ‘big’ supermarket in each state
Australia has two major supermarkets – Woolworths and Coles – regardless of which part of the country you are in. There are also Aldi’s scattered in every state.
But the US has Ralph, PigglyWiggly, QFC, Safeway, Albertsons, Smith’s Food and Drug, Kroger, Public, all depending on which state you are in.
“There are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s all over the US, but these more alternatives like Flannerys are here,” he said.
“Whole Foods even has an in-store bakery that will embarrass some Australian patisseries.”
A corner store or convenience store is what Americans refer to as a ‘bodega’ and is mostly family owned unlike a traditional department store like 7 Eleven.
5. The pharmacy can be a one-stop shop for cigarettes and alcohol
Pharmacies, or ‘drug stores’, in the US sell alcohol and cigarettes.
‘Beer, liquor, cider, you name it. This appears to run counter to the aim of Australians using pharmacies … which is to get drugs and supplements to get better and stay healthy, ‘he said.
“Or you go to the pharmacy to buy nicotine patches, not to buy a bag of tobacco.”
Depending on the city, some pharmacies also have proper supermarket components such as fresh fruit and food stores.
‘Beer, liquor, cider, you name it. This seems to run counter to the aim of Australians using pharmacies … which is to get drugs and supplements to get better and stay healthy, ‘he said
6. Refunds for cosmetics that you have opened
Madolline says that this is a great part of living in America.
If you have opened your lipstick, mascara or foundation, you cannot return it in Australia or exchange it either.
“Most drugstores and major department stores in America allow you to return products as long as you have a receipt,” he said.
“Most grocery stores have testers and pharmacies in the US state do not, but you are still allowed to get a refund even if you test foundation in the store.”
If you have removed your lipstick, mascara or foundation you cannot return it in Australia or exchange it (stock image)
7. It is okay to turn right at a red light
Australia does this in some parts of the country (turn left instead), but it’s not something you know as a tourist with an international license.
“ It’s also not a signed road regulation, so please sound it if you’re sitting at a red light when it’s safe to turn right, ” he said.
It’s only worth turning when there are no pedestrians to cross.
8. What exactly are “chips”
In Australia ‘chips’ can mean french fries, any kind of french fries or a bag of potato chips.
When you see ‘chips’ on an American menu, it’s literally a bag of potato chips to eat with your burger or grilled sandwich, says Madolline.
French fries of any kind – crinkle cut or otherwise – are American ‘fries’.
In Australia ‘chips’ can mean french fries, any kind of french fries or a bag of potato chips
9. Pedestrian traffic lights make no sound
The pedestrian lights don’t make a sound when you can cross in America, you have to keep your eyes open otherwise you won’t know when it’s safe.
Some also have a button you have to press while others are automatic.
‘In much of Australia, you have to press a button to acknowledge your presence. Several cities have automated this since COVID so there’s no need to touch the germ button, ‘he said.
‘There is also this in some parts of the US where you hit what appear to be pedestrian crossing lights and cars are expected to stop in place to let you cross.
“It’s actually very dangerous on Melrose Ave where there’s a lot of traffic and LA drivers don’t like stopping for anyone.”
10. An electronic receipt is issued
Stores like Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom will ask for your email address so they can email you a copy of your receipt.
‘This is good and bad. Good that you have a copy of the receipt in your inbox. But bad because you have to spell out really long names and email addresses all the time, ‘says Madolline.
‘Americans also have trouble understanding when Australians say “O” or “R”. It makes it even more complicated and you end up repeating yourself a few times before they realize what you were trying to say. ‘