Before my bags were packed to study abroad in Australia, I scoured the internet for what I should expect on this long journey away from home. I found that people loved to talk about the deadly spiders, snakes, and sea life more than the lifestyle, food, and beauty of the country.
In addition to my time spent in Australian classrooms, I was introduced to amazing beaches, held a koala, swam with whales, made amazing friends, and traveled all over the vast country. As I immersed myself in the culture I realized there was nothing to be afraid of -- and that future students studying ‘Down Under’ would benefit from more articles about the things that make Australia special rather than scary.
Before you study abroad in Australia, it’s a good thing to note that your culinary experience at Outback Steakhouse won’t necessarily cut it when it comes to knowing all the best foods and drinks this country has to offer. Although a Blooming Onion and Fosters beer may be a staple at the Australian-themed restaurant, it is far from what amazing food awaits you while you’re studying abroad.
From meat pies to espresso martinis, these authentic dishes and drinks will have you as happy as a Hemsworth brother. Just be sure you catch on to some of the Aussie slang to get a handle on what you’re about to enjoy!
1. Meat Pie
Meat inside a pastry may confuse your ideas of what is dinner and what is dessert, but together it makes a savory classic for Australians alike. Whether it’s gourmet at a bakery in Surrey Hills, the iconic Beefy’s in Queensland, or just at your local ‘servo’ (gas station) -- your first meat pie will certainly not be your last.
It makes a great late-night study stack whether you’re catching up from all the hours you spent studying... or a day spent snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef.
2. Ginger Beer
Ginger Beer is a drink staple throughout Australia, with some Australian-based brands like Bundaberg being exported worldwide. Its fizzy ginger taste can do wonders for settling your stomach or be just a refreshing beverage to go along with your meal.
If you’re having a night on the town with your fellow classmates or even casual drinks at the local bar, give the alcoholic versions a try.
3. Cheesy Vegemite Scroll
As soon as you land in Australia, your Aussie classmates will convince you to try Vegemite, but be careful. Although the dark-colored spread made mostly of brewers’ yeast extract looks like a cousin to Nutella, it tastes the complete opposite! Vegemite is salty, bitter, and on its own makes most foreigners cringe.
A way to truly enjoy the condiment is to go for a Cheesy Vegemite Scroll. Similar appearance to a Cinnamon Bun, this will be a savory snack that your taste buds will agree with.
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4. Tim Tams
When you first get to Australia you’ll probably miss the chocolate and candy treats from your home country. However, life will absolutely change for you when you pick up your first packet of Tim Tams. Like wafers with cream in the middle, this all chocolate treat will melt in your mouth as you’ll wonder what you’ve been missing all these years.
Get together with your new mates, throw the kettle on the stove, and crack open a packet for a tea time treat after class. The entire sleeve will be gone before the water comes to a boil.
5. Sausage Sanga
There is nothing more Australian than having a Sausage Sizzle (better known as a Barbecue) with your classmates.
A sausage sanga is an Australian version of a hot dog but they use sausages and sliced bread instead. In case you get confused with the continuous Australian slang you’ll hear at a cookout, ‘Sanga’ is slang for ‘sandwich’ and the sausage alone is known as a ‘Snag’.
Oh, and one other tip: never ask for ‘shrimp’ on the barbie… Australians call them prawns.
6. Espresso Martini
The espresso martini is to Melbourne what the cosmopolitan cocktail is to New York City. A cup o’ joe in Australia is an art form, especially down the graffiti laneways of Melbourne.
Whether you’re studying at The University of Melbourne or taking classes in The Sunshine Coast, stop in the local pub for an espresso martini that will become your new obsession. Plus, after a long week of classes, this caffeinated kick will help you stay awake for dancing the night away or rocking out at a live band karaoke with new mates!
With most of Australia’s top study abroad destinations along the coast, it is no surprise that seafood is legendary and easy to try while studying there. There are loads of seafood dishes to try, but be sure to put Barramundi on your list.
Barramundi is a type of fish native to this part of the world and its mild flavors make it so delicious that even the pickiest eater will enjoy it. Have it on a nice dinner in town or buy at the supermarket to prepare for your new flatmates, they’ll surely be impressed!
8. Fairy Bread
You may be a young adult studying in a foreign country across the world but you’re never too old to act like a kid. Take a tip from the children in Australia who love Fairy Bread.
As magical as it sounds and as unhealthy as ever, the rainbow sprinkle-covered piece of buttered white bread cut into triangles is a sugary snack that will make your heart soar. This sweet treat is a staple at kids’ birthday parties and any Australian will fall nostalgic at the mention of Fairy Bread. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth while watching Crocodile Dundee after you finish studying.
9. Chicken Salt Chips
To start, “chips” here means fries, okay? Like studying abroad in the U.K., studying in Australia means you’ll need to learn new meanings for familiar words. That’s part of the joy of studying abroad!
While most American students will aim for ketchup or vinegar to put with their fries, Australians like to change it up with chicken salt seasoning that includes onion powder, turmeric, garlic powder, and of course salt. Don’t fret if you’re a vegetarian as ‘chicken salt’ is usually made without any meat products -- it gets its name from the taste of the seasoning.
10. Golden Gaytime
After a day off from classes enjoying the hot Australian sun, cool down with as Aussie treat that’s been around for more than 50 years: a Golden Gaytime
A Golden Gaytime is a mix of toffee and vanilla ice-cream dipped in chocolate surrounded in a coating of honeycomb cookie crumbs that is a local favorite. Whether you spend your time off from class surfing in Bondi or hiking the Glass House Mountains, these ice cream bars will be screaming your name.
Study abroad is an opportunity to live outside your comfort zone; one of the best ways to do that is by trying local foods in whichever country you’re studying in. In Australia, life is naturally adventurous, and that includes the snacks and items on the menu! If you try one or all ten of these treats, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of life in Australia, and come home from studying abroad in Australia with new memories, stories, and flavors to share.