Experiencing Cultural Differences in Australia

I came across this article and was reminded about my experiences in Canberra last March. Of course, a culture shock was in order. However, I do notice that there were considerable efforts made to promote a sustainable way in utilising the environment’s resources. It’s been a while, but I’d love to share my experience with you.

Anyway, I hope nobody gets offended by this post. The short amount of time (1 week) is obviously insufficient to conclude a whole lifetime. I only felt that it would be great to share the things done differently in Australia and in Singapore.

1. Plastic Bags

I was in ALDI in Canberra shopping for chocolates with my sister and her fiancé. Then, my future bro-in-law was studying in ANU. The chocolates were really nice and milky, by the way. So, I really wanted to see what other variations there were. As we were at the checkout, we totally forgot to bring a bag of our own!

Excuses… excuses… (Or maybe we were unused to bringing our own bags, haha).

In Singapore, the bring-your-own-bag culture is not really enforced except on certain days. Even then, people here are willing to pay the 10 cents for a plastic bag. So imagine how surprised we were when we had to purchase a reusable bag for 70 cents! But the bags were of good quality and similar to IKEA bags.

But hey, money is still money so: lesson learnt, bring your own bags & save that money for an ice cream!

2. Transportation & Bus Culture

I would be lying if I said that the transportation system here is as good as Singapore.

Truth is, it is not.

I am not referring to the quality of the rides. The buses are air-conditioned except during the mornings because the weather is cool/cold. The drivers are friendly (friendlier than most in Singapore, no doubt about it haha).

Unfortunately, the frequency is just… bad. On weekdays, buses of one number/route comes by once in 20 minutes. For a person like me, I found that especially frustrating. In Singapore, the buses of the same number/route would come by once in 10 minutes or less. This situation in Australia (Canberra specifically) is further exaggerated during the weekends. Bus routes merge and I honestly don’t know which bus to take to get to my destination in the fastest time.

Can you believe that the frequency can be as low as one bus arriving in an hour. *yikes*

Culture Shock: Not too sure about other parts of Australia, but the boarding/embarking etiquette took a little while to get used to. We had to wait for the people to get off the bus, even though the bus has two exits.

Fees: Tapping your card (similar to EZ link) will cause a deduction of $2.50-$4 per ride, depending on what card type you have. The beep when you tap is longer that our SBS so I was a little taken aback, haha. Not too sure if fees can be made by cash.

I got my bus card at the convenience store. Not too worry, they (the stores) are aplenty but you just have to know where to find them. Ask around!

Culture Shock: I had a bus ride for college/university students with the help of my sister’s fiance… But it was still quite pricey for a bus ride. Compared to bus fees in Singapore, bus rides are 65 cents (children, senior citizens and students) and $1.30 (adults) per bus ride for any distances. With EZ link card, it’s way cheaper by about 10-20 cents, depending on distance.

Of course, buses are not really a necessity for most Australians. Being a huge country, people most likely get around by car. Bus? What bus?

3. Walking & Cycling Culture

I really am not sure if my views reflects all visitors to Australia or even Australians themselves, but the walking and cycling cultures are heavily emphasised. It’s more obvious when you compare between Singapore and Canberra.

I felt that Singaporeans – in general – are heavily dependent on the public transport system. In Australia, buses don’t come by often so you either get around by car, bicycles or with your own pair of legs.

On a side note, if you’re planning to explore Sydney and Canberra, please be prepared to wear comfortable walking/sports shoes. Also, it is good to keep in mind that taxis charge an exorbitantly high rate. The only time we took taxi was from the airport to the hotel and also getting around Sydney once because we got lost! For one 20-min trip, it costed around $20-30 in Australian dollars.



There are so many things to cover, but these were the only things I noticed during my trip. Australia is really a beautiful country with friendly people, and I’m definitely coming back again to explore other cities. 🙂

photos are taken in canberra and sydney, australia

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