12 side effects I had as an American living in Melbourne

There isn’t a day or a time that I wouldn’t eat Vegemite on toast.

Source: 12 side effects I had as an American living in Melbourne

1. I now expect more from my home country.

Most educated Americans have some inkling of how the US fails when it comes to basic Western World rights like health care and education. But growing up in the States, you don’t realize just how fucked the situation is. That’s just our reality and our way of life, and we just deal with it, shelling out monthly student loan payments that cripple our potential savings accounts.

Living in another country that actually supports its citizens has opened my eyes. Everyone here — including other travelers who have reciprocal health care agreements with Australia — is covered by Medicare. Students see some of the best benefits, including way cheaper education, INTEREST-FREE LOANS from the government, and a serious grace period on paying back those loans. They don’t have to pay until they’ve started earning over $47,000 per year. They also can reap the benefits from Centrelink, Australia’s welfare and human relations system, that offers students allowances to help them pay for books and other living expenses while they are studying.

Meanwhile, I’m hating my own country for charging me 5% interest on government student loans and giving me but a 6-month grace period from graduating university to start paying off just the interest.

2. The word ‘cunt’ has been a creative addition to my vocab.

Many Americans hate this word, but I’m actually into the liberal use of it. They say that in Australia, you call your acquaintances “mate” and your mates “cunt.” Obviously, it can still be a touchy one based on the method of your speaking, but in general, it seems that you can refer to almost anyone as a cunt here. It’s up to the listener to gauge from your context what you mean by it.

Here are a few translations from Aussie slang to American:

“He’s a sick cunt” means “He’s a bad motherfucker.”

“What a dumb cunt” means “What an asshole.”

“You’re a cunt.” means ”You’re a cunt.”

This video could explain it all a little better than I could.

3. I’ve got a strange mix of Aussie slang now too.

The trick to Aussie slang is abbreviation. Almost anything can be converted into a two-syllable word with an ‘o’ on the end. (Everything except ‘hundreds and thousands’ for some reason.) For example:

I went down to the servo in my trackie dacks for ice to put in the Esky so that the tinnies of draft stay cold at the barbie s’arvo, but I’m devo because I forgot to buy durries. Can’t be fucked to go back, though.

If you need a bit more guidance, check out this video.

4. I’ve also picked up other Australianisms.

The slang is the best part, to be sure, but there are other small bits of my language that have evolved as a side effect of living here. One of the most noticeable is the way Aussies speak with an upwards inflection — kind of like they’re always asking a question? They even make statements by asking a question. Like, “How good is pizza?” or “How much is it raining out there?” Call it the Australian philosopher syndrome.

Also, nowadays, I’m asking people what they reckon and saying that we have heaps of time. I’m using the word ‘after’ as a verb, as in, “Are you after a coffee?” I ask people how they’re going or how they’re travelling instead of how they’re doing, and I answer almost every question with a “yeah.”

How was the movie? — Yeah, it sucked.

Want to go to the pub later? — Yeah, nah. Nah, yeah.

5. I became a coffee snob.

My first few months on a working holiday visa in Melbourne found me answering the same question a lot: “How do you like the coffee culture here?” I can’t say that we truly have a “coffee culture” to compare it to in the States. Sure, you’ve got your odd cafe here and there, but we all know we’re run by Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and the daily standard of a to-go cup. Our coffee, generally, is sustenance — nothing more than a burnt taste for a caffeine fix. Give me a venti drip with skim milk and two Equals please so I have the strength to continue with my day.

In Melbourne, however, the coffee begins with the milk. God help the barista who delivers a latte with the excess froth of a cappuccino. A fern or a heart is found in the foam of almost every cup of coffee, lovingly poured into the appropriate mug or glass to be drunk with patience at a hip cafe with an impressive, albeit pretentious, Aussie brekky menu (did someone say poached eggs and smashed avo?). It’s a daily event that’s something in between a treat and a necessity. It’s that moment when time seems to stand still. When all that is required of you is to sip and turn the page of a good book.

6. I picked up a nickname.

Aussies are all about the nicknames. I’ve been friends with some people for a few months, and still don’t know their true names. My own name, Rebecca, has been converted to Bec without question.

The Aussies can be pretty creative about how they go about shortening given names, carefully selecting syllables and strategically adding o’s or ie’s or z’s to the end as is deemed appropriate. Some of my faves are: Tash for Natasha, Donnie for Payden (don’t know quite how they got there), Jez for Jeremy, Sez for Sarah, Lukie for Luke…it goes on and on.

7. I’m really into Vegemite now.

Vegemite, a yeast extract spread, has a rare flavor that falls under umami category, one of the five basic Japanese tastes. Soy sauce is also in this category, but Vegemite is a condiment all its own. There isn’t a day or a time that I wouldn’t eat Vegemite on toast. Just a light smear, the perfect amount, with some butter is enough to satisfy me, but I’ll never turn down a Vegemite and cheese toastie or a Vegemite with smashed avo open sandwich.

8. Footy is life.

Australian Football League, or AFL, is a big fucking deal in Melbourne, and the first team sport I’ve bothered to pay attention to. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before — rough and athletic and non-stop action. It’s hard not to get involved in this city with 12 out of the 18 total professional leagues hailing from suburbs of Melbourne, where you’ve just got to pick a team if you want to live here. I go for the Geelong Cats, and I even got involved in footy tipping and joined a co-ed pub footy league with my housemates called the Bats.

9. I drink a lot more now.

Casual drinking is far more common in Australia than it is in any parts of the States I’ve lived in. In fact, I don’t think I truly understood what it meant to be fucked up until I lived here. Really, I’ve surprised myself in my abilities to consume copious amounts of alcohol and other substances and still remain upright. The nights spent at frat parties in college were mere practice for a weekend out in Melbourne.

10. I walk around barefoot.

People just walk around barefoot here, and it’s not a thing. It’s great, especially in the summer when you just cannot be bothered to put your damn shoes on. I myself love a good barefoot bike ride to the shops where I will see other barefoot people casually buying broccoli and slabs of beer.

11. Red chili and curry are staples in my diet.

In Australia in general and Melbourne in particular, there is a huge Asian influence apparent in the food. Whereas in America, our cheap and easy-to-cook food is either Mexican or Italian, here, it seems that everyone I know can master a curry sauce. Even the English style pubs usually have at least one meal with a Thai or Indian offering next to the classic Chicken Parmas and Pub Steaks.

12. My wardrobe is made up almost entirely of second-hand clothes.

Most of us are walking around wearing clothes we bought from op shops (thrift stores) like Vinnies, Savers, Salvo’s (Salvation Army), or even a local yard sale. Why go all the way into the CBD to spend hard cash when you can go to your neighbourhood op shop and buy a chunky knit or a denim skirt for a quarter of the price? Variety abounds at the Melbourne op shops, so it’s too easy to spend $20 and walk out with a whole new wardrobe.

Melbourne in a Day

Graffiti and street art on wall and dumpster on Rutledge Lane in Melbourne

Source: Melbourne in a Day


The Top Things To Do In Melbourne.

If You’re Short On Time, Here’s A Guide To Help You Enjoy A Day In Melbourne.

Melbourne has been named the most livable city by The Economist for five years now, and it’s not hard to see why. Easy to navigate, full of beautiful parks, and teeming with trendy and multicultural cafes and restaurants, Melbourne is just a dream. It’s the type of place where you want to be stable because stability has never been so easy, yet so entertaining.


If you’ve only got one day to explore while the sun is still up, or if you live here and just want to have a splendid day around the city and inner neighborhoods, here’s a guide that highlights some of Melbourne’s main attractions:


1) Breakfast In Melbourne

Melbourne, like most of Australia’s major cities, is simply chockers with cafes. This is due to the Australian obsession with perfectly poured and frothed coffee and over-the-top brekky, which nine out of ten times consists of poached eggs, smashed avo and a local sourdough. You won’t be pressed for choices in any neighbourhood, but I’d go into the Northern suburbs for both the varied menus and the diverse atmosphere. I’m talking outdoor seating, dogs for the petting, gorgeous lace terraces and chilled out hipsters. I live in Brunswick, home of Lebanese bakeries, Aussie grunge and many vintage and op shops. You literally cannot spit without your loogie hitting a cafe along Sydney Road, Lygon Street or any of their side streets.

A few of my Brunswick faves are:

A Minor Place

A cozy spot on residential Albion Street, A Minor Place has great service, is good for groups, and brews some of the smoothest coffee around. The Smoked Salmon with Mint, Pea and Avocado Mash over Sourdough Toast is to die for, and they’ve also got some great bagels.

103 Albion St., 03 9384 3131


Small venue with simple settings, a friendly staff and an Italian chef who cooks with love. Try the Calabrese Breakfast if you like a little heat in the morning!

822 Sydney Rd., 03 9383 2083

Green Refectory

Adorable spot in an old bookshop. Great for flaky Hot Pies and inspired fresh juice mixes or teas. They obviously also make awesome coffee. The alley in the back offers beautiful seating to enjoy your meal.

115 Sydney Rd., 03 9387 1150

Brunswick Foodstore

Large space with plenty of quiet seating, offering a nice Middle Eastern inspired menu and even a small grocery section. Have some Ricotta and Raspberry Hot Cakes or Poached Eggs with Babaganoush. Also keep an eye out for their specials board!

29 Weston St., 03 9388 8738

Breakfast Thieves

When I have the urge to eat in a different inner Melbourne suburb, I go to Fitzroy. Fitzroy is a beautiful neighborhood wedged in between Carlton, Melbourne’s Little Italy, and Collingwood, known as one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs.

Brunswick Street and Smith Street run down Fitzroy, and both are perfect to showcase Fitzroy’s ever-changing, yet static bohemian culture, from cafes to art galleries.

While there are plenty of great brekky spots on these main roads, a short walk on Gore Street off of Smith will take you to Breakfast Thieves, a quiet cafe with plenty of vegetarian options, tucked away amongst the developing and industrial buildings in the neighborhood.

The owner’s inspiration for the name of the restaurant comes from the idea that, “We are all thieves when it comes to fine food.” And fine food you’ll get, along with a friendly staff, perfectly made coffees and an open kitchen so you can watch the cooks create your enticing plate. Sit outside if the weather is nice and try The Leprechaun, a plate of crispy Sweet Corn and Basil Fritters atop a creamy Mushroom Base with loving dollops of Avocado-Yuzu Mousse and some Parmesan and Spiced Lemon Thyme Crumbs for good measure. The Breakfast Chain is also a hearty dish, complete with nostalgia-inducing Soft-Boiled Eggs, Cheddar melted soldiers, Fig Yoghurt with house made Granola and Apple, Rhubarb, Ginger and Almond Crumble for a sweet finish.

The Leprechaun, Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy, Melbourne
The Leprechaun, a corn fritter breakfast, at Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy, Melbourne
Breakfast Chain, Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy, Melbourne
The Breakfast Chain from Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy, Melbourne

420 Gore St., Fitzroy / 03 9416 4884



2) Shopping At Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets

This giant historic landmark and market in the heart of the city is your one-stop shop for everything from fresh seafood and produce, to crafty dips and desserts, to recycled clothing and Aussie souvenirs. There’s heaps to look at and taste, and if you go on a weekend, it’s usually filled with people bustling to and fro, shop owners offering bites of food, and vendors yelling their wares in that way that only food stall vendors can do so well. I like to enter through the Dairy Hall, or Deli Hall, grab a melt in your mouth Salted Caramel Macaroon from the closest bakery to the door, and munch as I stroll, reveling in the chaos.

Queen Victoria Market Facade, Melbourne
One of the entrances to the Queen Vic Markets in Melbourne
Vendors and seafood at seafood section of Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne, VIC
Seafood stalls at Queen Victoria Markets, Melbourne
Dairy and deli food stalls on either side of dairy hall in Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne
View of the dairy/deli section of the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne

The Queen Vic Markets also have regular featured events, like the Summer and Winter Night Markets.

Regular hours:

Monday/Wednesday- Closed

Tuesday/Thursday- 6 am to 2 pm

Friday- 6 am to 5 pm

Saturday- 6 am to 3 pm

Sunday- 6 am to 4 pm

Closed on holidays



3) Visit The Graffiti Alleys In Melbourne CBD


Graffiti and street art on wall and dumpster on Rutledge Lane in Melbourne
Street Art Rutledge Lane, Melbourne

Art, not tags.

Melbourne is very well known for its street art culture, which lends itself to a more diverse and urban society. Even their local government supports the form of expression for the most part. You can find artists working in the alleys almost every day, and it’s not uncommon to walk into, say, Caledonian Lane one day and find it completely changed the next.

From the Queen Vic Markets, you’re only a short walk into the heart of the city. Find your way to Elizabeth Street and walk in the direction of La Trobe Street. Keep on keeping on until you make it to Bourke Street, and make a left. Enjoy the bustling city energy and talented street performers while you look for Union Lane, one of Melbourne’s most popular graffiti alleys.

A street artist working on Union Lane in Melbourne
Street Artist, Union Lane, Melbourne
Grafitti showing face in Union Lane in Melbourne
Street Art, Union Lane, Melbourne

Hosier Lane is another famous graffiti alley. You can find it near Federation Square off of Flinders Street. Make sure to get a good view of Flinders Street Station on your way to Hosier Lane!

Facade of Flinders Street Station on sunny day in Melbourne
Flinders Street Station, Melbourne
View looking down Hosier Lane's graffiti-covered walls in Melbourne
Hosier Lane Graffiti, Melbourne

When you make it there, stop in at Good 2 Go, a small coffee shop/op shop that is also covered in graffiti and is run by Youth Projects, an organisation on the same street that helps individuals who are disadvantaged, unemployed, homeless or addicted to drugs/alcohol by providing them with a community, employment, education and training services. “Buy” two coffees, or really just buy one and donate the price of another coffee to the cause, and sip on it while you explore your edgy and colourful surroundings.

Facade of Good 2 Go Coffee, Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Good 2 Go Coffee, Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Street art-covered facade of Youth Projects, Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Youth Projects, Hosier Lane, Melbourne


4) Get The Best Views Of Melbourne From Eureka Tower

Across the Yarra River and 297 meters high, the Skydeck at the top of Eureka Tower will give you a bird’s eye view of the city, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Dandenong Ranges. You can also sit inside a glass cube that juts out of the side of the building for a thrilling Edge Experience, or reserve a table and enjoy a fancy meal with magnificent views. Tickets to the Skydeck can be purchased for $19.50 at the door.

5) Walk Along The Yarra River And Grab A Drink At Ponyfish Island

View from a table at Ponyfish Island, Melbourne.
View from a table at Ponyfish Island, Melbourne.

The Southbank Promenade stretches around the south side of the Yarra. It’s packed with upmarket restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels and high rises. If the weather is good, the promenade makes for an easy stroll to Pedestrian Bridge that will take you back to the north side. Look out for Ponyfish Island, a bar and restaurant that is hidden underneath the bridge and is basically at water level. It’s a lovely place to sit in the sun at river-level and drink micro-brewed beers or house made sangria.



 6) Lose Yourself And Find Some Lunch In Melbourne’s Hidden Laneways

Hidden alleyway, Centre Place, Melbourne
Centre Place, Melbourne

One of the best things about Melbourne is how they’ve managed to fill in what might have been creepy alleys with trendy and cheap cafes and eateries. Degraves Street and Center Place, both off of Flinders Lane, are probably the most well-known, as far as “hidden” alleyways go. They both offer a ton of seemingly nameless spots to grab a latte and/or a $5 petite baguette. I love the eggplant schnitzel and pio pio chicken sandwiches, but there’s plenty of variety with each shop.

If you’re feeling more Asian-inspired and are craving noodles and dumplings, Hardware Lane, off of Little Bourke Street, is the place to be.



Your Day In Melbourne

From a hipster breakfast in the suburbs to shopping in the CBD to being swallowed by the artsy and alluring alleys, you’ve hopefully enjoyed a day that truly showcases what a diverse and animated city Melbourne is.


By Rebecca Bellan