Kevin called me on the phone a while back and the first thing I said when I answered was, “How ya going?”

I instantly regretted my choice of words.

“Where am I going?” He asked quizzically.

“No, I mean how are you?”

“I’m good. Why didn’t you just ask me that?”

I didn’t because I’ve been in Australia too long and nobody here says “How are you doing?” A few months ago I was on the wrong end of a long, one-sided conversation with another American expat who was exasperated that a young person working the checkout at ALDI had asked her “How are you doing?” instead of “How ya going?”

“That’s an American saying,” she insisted. “We don’t use it here. This is Australia.”

When I told Kevin this story he proceeded to ask what other words Australians use that sound foreign to an American ear. I paused for a second to recognize this as the only good question he’s asked me about the country since I’ve moved here, and then said the first thing that sprung to mind.


“What the hell is that?”


“Like, the real McDonald’s?” Kevin sounded surprised.

“Yes, Kevin, they’re everywhere.”

I then explained that Australians shorten everything. Mosquitoes are mozzies. Breakfast is brekkie. Afternoon is arvo. Avocados are avos. And McDonald’s has been shortened to Macca’s. And it’s not just informal Aussie slang, McDonald’s has embraced it. They trademarked the name.

Kevin said, after learning all this, “The first thing I’m going to do when I get there is order smashed avo in the arvo from Macca’s.”

Kevin thinks he’s funny.

He then remembered an ad he saw in the ’80s and asked, “What about, ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’? That’s Australian, right?”

“Half right. Barbie is slang for barbecue, but shrimp in Australia are called prawns. Nobody says shrimp.”

Kevin, feeling like he’s been lied to by an artifact of pop culture his entire life, was devastated. But he turned downright inconsolable when I told him nobody – and I do mean nobody – in Australia drinks Foster’s beer.

“But, it’s Australian for beer.” He protests.

“Not in Australia, it’s not. I don’t even think you can buy it here.”

To cheer him up, I sent him a link to a YouTube video about Aussie slang with the cast of Game of Thrones. He likes Game of Thrones.

Next up: Where is Australia on the Map?


Part 1: I Would Like to Acknowledge…

Part 2: Educating Kevin About Australia

Part 3: Which Way Do Australian Toilets Flush?


Photo by jonsson