At last, summer holidays are finally here! Now that school is out, you may be wondering how you’re going to fill your days; lucky for you, there are several exciting things to do this time of year. That said, some aspects of the summer holidays in Australia often shock international students – and you might be one of them. To help you prepare yourself and enjoy your summer holidays in ‘the land Down Under’, let’s take a look at some of the Australian summer quirks that often surprise international students.
1. A very hot Christmas
Being in the southern hemisphere, Australia has summer at the end of the year. So, instead of a white snowy Christmas, you can expect a sweltering holiday. Thanks to the sunny skies and warm weather, locals often spend Christmas Day enjoying outdoor activities. While some prefer catching up with a mate over cold drinks at a pub, others host barbeques or hit the beach for a surf. Although Australia’s summer warmth means you can dress in breezy clothes without fearing frostbite, you need to be mindful of protecting yourself against the sun; after all, it’s a lot harder to have a merry Christmas with a nasty sunburn! If you need a respite from the heat on Christmas Day, you can check out all of our recommended techniques to stay cool in summer.
2. There can be four different seasons – in one day
Australian weather is notoriously unpredictable. While it does get very hot during the summer in Australia, it’s not uncommon to experience the atypical cold day, a tropical storm, a gloomy sky with unexpected showers or hot winds! The best thing you can do is remain prepared for all weather outcomes: check the weather forecast, pack sunscreen, and carry a light jumper or umbrella.
3. Nothing but ‘thongs’
Thongs, also known as flip-flops, are open-toed sandals that allow your feet to breathe in the hot summer months. Thongs are incredibly popular in Australian culture. Throughout the summer, you’ll see locals wearing barbeques just about everywhere – to meet their mates, to the beach, to barbecues/lunches/dinners, to the pub, or to the cricket. Worn for comfort rather than sophistication, thongs are considered an extension of the easy-going Australian lifestyle. You just slip them on and off you go!
4. Cricket season is incredibly popular
Cricket is Australia’s treasured national summer sport. There are four different versions of the game: indoor cricket, one-day cricket, test cricket and 20/20. Excitement fills the air as fans prepare to watch the match; while thousands pack stadiums to watch in person, others host parties at their place to watch it on TV over some cold beers. The atmosphere is intensely spirited, so brace yourself and bring your enthusiasm.
5. Australian slang
Whether you’re starting a summer job or traveling around to new cities, you’ll likely find yourself socialising with some new people during the summer holidays. When you do, you’ll probably notice pretty quickly that Australians have a knack for contracting words and using unique slang. Don’t worry too much if you can’t wrap your head around Australian slang right away – it takes some getting used to! Aussies often chuck an ‘o’ or a ‘y’ on the end of a word. For example, afternoon becomes ‘arvo’ and football becomes ‘footy’. To learn more, check out this list of essential Aussie slang words every international student should know.
6. Everything goes on sale after Christmas
Boxing Day is a public holiday that falls on 26 December, the day after Christmas. It is on Boxing Day that the best shopping sales spring up. Retailers reduce prices on various products in order to make room for new stock in the year to come. Don’t be shocked if you see huge crowds in shopping centres and people queuing up in front of stores early in the morning on Boxing Day – everyone is just on the hunt for excellent bargains!
7. Prices go up
During the summer holidays, you’ll likely notice that prices for things such as tours, accommodation, car rental and petrol all increase. With this in mind, try to plan your holiday activities well in advance and set a budget. You can also try to cut down on extra expenses by using tools like the Petrol Spy app, which helps you find cheap fuel prices near you. Check out our other great tips for saving money for your end-of-year holiday.
8. Creatures that stay in your house rent-free
Picture this: you’re chilling in your lounge room while watching some TV and enjoying a few drinks when suddenly a huge spider makes a grand entrance! Believe it or not, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in Australia, so try not to be too shocked – or grossed out – when it does happen. It’s not unusual to find creepy creatures crawling around in Australian households, especially during the summer months. Prepare yourself with some bug spray, insect screens for your windows, and a spider identification chart or app. This will help you become more familiar with which spiders are venomous and which are perfectly harmless in the (incredibly rare) event that you are ever bitten.
9. Australia is a big country
Australia is roughly 32 times bigger than the United Kingdom and more than double the size of India. So, if you’re planning to go on a road trip during the summer holidays, take into consideration the distance you’ll need to travel between places you want to visit. When planning your trip, be mindful of your timeline and organise excursions that fit into it. Be sure to factor in some time for some relaxation too; after all, that’s what your summer holiday is for! For inspiration, here are ten unmissable road trips for you to check out in Australia.
10. People are on holidays for an extended period of time
Aussies take holidays very seriously. As a result, they typically go on leave at least one week before Christmas and return to work at least one week after the New Year commences. With that in mind, don’t be shocked or offended if people don’t respond to work-related messages in a timely way during this period. Certain organisations or individuals may not even be fully operational until after mid-January, given that school holidays go all the way to the last week of January. Embrace the laid-back Australian lifestyle and join the locals in taking some much-deserved downtime!