Monthly Archives: April 2011

Australian humour, a few jokes to celebrate the weekend

Who doesn’t love a joke?  Even a bad joke that makes you groan at its obviousness and lack of thought will still bring a smirk to the sourest of faces.  So, to celebrate the weekend, read some of this Australian wit.

  • What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back?  A stick.
  • Why do momma kangaroos hate when it rains?  Their joeys have to play inside.
  • What animal can jump higher than the Sydney Harbour Bridge?  All of them, bridges can’t jump.
  • How do you stop a wild dingo from charging you?  Take away his credit card.
  • Why did the crocodile cross the road?  He was following the chicken.
  • Why did the emu cross the road?  To prove he wasn’t chicken.
  • What do you call a platypus trapped under a rock?  A flatypus.
  • How many Australians does it take to screw in a light bulb?  16. One to change the bulb and 15 to say “Good on yer, mate!”
  • What do you call a bunch of Barbies standing in a row?  A Bar B Queue.

A Texan farmer goes to Australia for a vacation. There he meets an Aussie farmer and gets talking. The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, “Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large”.

Then they walk around the ranch a little, and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, ” We have longhorns that are at least twice as large as your cows”.

The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asked, “And what are those”?

The Aussie replies with an incredulous look, “Don’t you have any grasshoppers in Texas”?

Tips to Surviving Australia

  • Don’t ever put your hand down a hole for any reason whatsoever. We mean it.
  • Air-conditioning.
  • Do not attempt to use Australian slang, unless you are a trained linguist and good in a fistfight.
  • Thick socks.
  • Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people nearby.
  • If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.
  • Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.

A Kiwi was hoping to immigrate to Australia. Upon arriving in Australia, he was questioned by a customs officer, “What is your business in Australia?”

“I wish to immigrate,” was the Kiwi’s reply.

The customs officer then asked, “Do you have a conviction record?”

Confused, the Kiwi then replied, “I didn’t think you still needed one.”

Hope you enjoyed this uplifting post to top off the end of the work week.  Feel free to share any Aussie jokes you may know!


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Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is celebrated on 25 April every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Presently, it  commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries.

The day usually commences with Dawn services to remember and honour those who participated in wars across the world in addition to ANZAC Day Ceremonies and Remembrance services.  Marches and parades are held, as well as a day of footy between rivals Collingwood and Essendon  in which the Anzac Medal is awarded to the player in the match who best exemplifies the Anzac Spirit – skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork and fair play.  Read more about Australian Rules Football, or footy, here.

Probably the most common food associated with ANZAC Day are the ANZAC biscuits, or cookies.  Here is a recipe to try out:

1 cup rolled oats (NOT quick cook oats)
1 cup plain flour (NOT self-rising)
1 cup sugar (white or half white, half brown)
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 oz / 125g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon boiling water

Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. In a pan, melt butter and golden syrup to a low heat. Mix baking soda with boiling water, add to the melted butter mixture and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.  Take teaspoonful size of the dough and dob it on a greased oven tray.  Cook at 300 degrees Farenheit for 20 minutes. Loosen on the tray and let them cool a bit the tray before removing them. Makes about 35 cookies. 

 For more information on ANZAC day, visit here.

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Classes in Australia–kangaroos do NOT hop around the lecture hall

Everyone has misconceptions about Australia.  Many outsiders believe that kangaroos are fixtures of city life and that koalas take the bus to work.  Ok, maybe the latter is an exaggeration, but many foreigners do believe kangaroos frolic through the CBD (Central Business District) reaping havoc on the working population.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, and likewise, although some university campuses do have kangaroos that mull about, mostly, the wildlife hangs in the wild, leaving well enough alone those city dwellers.

So, since everyone is clear on this misconception, it’s important to clarify some other ideas that many North American students studying in Australia are not aware of: classes (nice segue, right?)

There are several differences between North American universities versus that of an Aussie institution.  For one, terminology.  Many Americans utilize the term major as their field of study, but in Australia it’s a courseCourse in American university lingo is a class.  Sometimes it’s ridiculous that this is the same language.

The school week has a very different layout than that of North American universities.  Lectures consist of anywhere from 50 to several hundred students and tutorials may consist of 10 to 30 students–these are more smaller, in-depth classes.  Overall, there is a big chunk of free time with only about 15 hours a week of class.  Thinking of hitting the beaches for some surfing extravaganza?  Hold up!  Just because there is considerable free time, this doesn’t equate to slacking off.

Not only is there less time in a lecture hall, there is very little in the ways of assignments.  For many students, they believe this gives them time to work on their tans.  Not so much!  Although class assignments and exams aren’t overly integrated into the curriculum but this does NOT mean that it’s easy.  In fact, in some ways, this makes it more of a challenge.  Maybe only two exams or projects are assigned, but this is your entire grade!  So with that extra time, it’s expected that you conduct independent research and study.

Time management and organisation is key.  You can visit the many sites of Australia, go out with friends, join a rugby team and fit in the adequate amount of studies.

Here is a guide to the grading system in Australia.  In Australia, the grade begins at 0 points and you earn points for correct answers, whereas, in America, grades begin at 100 per cent and points are taken away for wrong answers.

High Distinction 85 to 100 %
Distinction 75 to 84 %
Credit 65 to 74 %
Pass 50 to 64 %
Fail Below 49 %

Clear up those misconceptions about Australian culture and university and get educated!

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Endeavour Awards

You’ve decided to study in Australia, congratulations!  Now, about that funding…

As an international student going to Australia to pursue a degree, it can be a bit costly.  Perhaps funding from your home government assists in the matter, or perhaps your Great Aunt Gertrude happily helps your tuition costs, but these aren’t your only options.  Now is the time to apply for the Endeavour Awards!

What are the Endeavour Awards

The Endeavour Awards are the Australian Government’s internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship program providing opportunities for citizens of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia.

According to the Endeavour Awards homepage, the Endeavour Awards aim to:

  • Develop on-going educational, research and professional linkages between individuals, organisations and countries.
  • Provide opportunities for high achieving individuals from Australia and overseas to increase their skills and enhance their global awareness.
  • Contribute to Australia’s position as a high quality education and training provider, and a leader in research and innovation.
  • Increase the productivity of Australians through an international study, research or professional development experience.

Applications opened up 1 April 2011 and will close 30 June 2011.  Get going and earn some funds to your education!

Read more here.

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Grocery shopping? Put that capsicum down!

Among other shocks one encounters when entering a new country, such as language, accents, dress and customs, another endeavor is hitting the local grocery shops.  Why?  Because everything is different!

What is that?

Yep, it’s true.  Even what you think you know, you don’t.  For example, an American wanting to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in Australia would be disgusted to know that jelly in Australia is jello, and jelly as Americans know it, is jam.  An Aussie peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be one that’s–ALIVE (circa 1990s jello commercials).

Pepper or capsicum...

If you ask the grocery store attendant where you can find peppers, they will probably lead you to the companion of salt, and not a green, red or yellow “bell pepper”.  What Americans deem peppers are capsicums in Australian lingo.

Already covered in a prior post, typical Aussie cuisine favourites (click here), now it’s time for some translating so you’re not left looking like a fool at a grocery store like Coles, Woolworths (Wooly’s as it is affectionately known), Safeway or an IAG.

American Word

Australian Translation

Ketchup Tomato Sauce
Cookie Biscuit
Chips Crisps
French Fries Chips
Shrimp Prawn
Sausages Bangers
Chicken Chook
Cantaloupe Rock Melon
Candy Lollies
Eggplant Aubergine
Bell Pepper Capsicum
Mashed potatoes Mash
Oatmeal Porridge
Jello Jelly
Jelly Jam

So, what are some other great confusing food translations to be recognized?


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Rabbits, the surprisingly interesting “tail” of this invasive species

Thinking of rabbits creates images in one’s head like Easter, adorable floppy-eared pets, Trix cereal and for some, a delicious meat.  One of my favourite, although tragic, Australian history bits involves rabbits and how these cuddly little creatures managed to impact Australia forever. (Intriguing music: dun dun duuuuun!)

Rabbits are NOT native to Australia.  They were introduced into the ecosystem back in 1859 when Thomas Austin felt that bringing 12 rabbits from England to his property in southeastern Australia would make for a joyful sporting experience.  However, anyone who knows anything about bunnies knows that they multiply exponentially.  Not even the best hunter could keep up with the expanding numbers.

By 1907, plague of rabbits reached from the west coast of Australia to the east coast (think California to New York–yikes!).  It was the fastest spread of any colonising animal in the world.

The little monsters destroyed vegetation–that even now will never grow back–and with the lack of vegetation, much of the other native wildlife became in danger of survival.  They created a food shortage for Aussies, eating much of the vegetation and crops used for both humans and livestock.  This also created a financial crisis for many farmers.  So plans had to be made to control the ever increasing population.

Watch out bunnies!

Many methods were utilized: hunting, trapping, poisoning.  Eventually, rabbit fences were constructed, but during the height of bunny pandemonium, the bunnies would  be so thick against the fences, that they used one another as a ladder to jump over to the other side.  Rabbits are also known to climb, so this did little to impact the population and keep them off farm property.  It didn’t help that many of the fences never were completed.  Oops.

In 1950, a mosquito-borne virus called myxomatosis (that’s quite a word) was created that only affected the rabbit populations and not humans or native Australian wildlife.  This managed to kill 99.9% of the rabbit population.  Happy ending?  Not so much.  As the rabbits evolved, they became immune, and the virus mutated into a less deadly affliction, thus, the problem wasn’t completely gone, not even today.

A rather abundant amount of bunnies in Australia

So that’s a little tid-bit of a most interesting problem in Australian history.  As the Easter season approaches, general thoughts of prancing bunnies delivering eggs hops into our minds, but these precious images masquerade the destruction that rabbits can inflict.  Who would have thought it?  (intriguing music again: dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!)


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Student Ambassador Program

Chad Johnson, studied at the University of the Sunshine Coast and is a 2010-11 Student Ambassador

Each year, the Embassy of Australia hosts a program for students who have studied in Australia.  This is called the Student Ambassador Program.  Sounds spiffy, doesn’t it?

US and Canadian students, who studied abroad in Australia, work to promote study in Australia on their North American Campus in which they execute the following:

  • Host or participate in campus events as a representative of Study in Australia
  • Work at student trade shows and study abroad fairs as they occur in the area
  • Act as a peer advisor to students who have questions about studying in Australia
  • Be involved in social media and online working like Facebook, Twitter or the use of a blog

Rebecca Goldberg, studied at the University of New South Wales, Student Ambassador 2010-11

By participating in the program, students gain skills like public speaking, organisation and leadership – all attributes sought by employers and graduate schools.

To get involved, students need to obtain a nomination from their Australian university study abroad advisor and their North American university study abroad advisor.

Successful students will come to Washington D.C. to the Embassy of Australia to receive further training.

The deadline is 10 June 2011.

Visit here for more information and to download the nomination form:

Check out our current Student Ambassadors:


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