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Here are the things that surprised me as an Australian living in the USA. By the time I was old enough to have my own bank account, cheques had gone the way of the dodo. We always pay our rents with a cheque.” A couple of times, I got late fees because my rent cheques didn’t arrive on time. “How am I to know that the post office was going to take so long to get it to you? You need to remember to post your cheques well in advance.” I often would see customers in the supermarket paying for their groceries with cheques. Given the US’s technological prowess, I was surprised that their banking was still in the stone age. And nobody from the internet company will ever ask you how much you need your download limit to be. EDIT: This point has caused some controversy in the comments, not about which country has the fastest internet but about who invented it.There is a follow up article to this article: My Close Encounters with Australian Wildlife: Part 1- Spiders and Snakes Or as they call it, “checks”. But when I moved to Portland, I was surprised when my property agent told me I had to pay my rent by cheque. “Every month, I have to put a cheque in an envelope, go to the post office and post it to you? In the US, you can be gored by a grizzly bear, trampled by a bison, torn to shreds by a coyote, bitten by a bobcat, chowed on by a cougar, or disembowelled by a panther… If you think the British invented the internet, you’re wrong.That kind of makes sense, because after all the USA is a very populous and very vocal country.
When my first American waitress called me “darling” and was nice as pie, I thought she was just angling for a better tip. Americans that I met at work or college would be instantly inviting me to parties or on snowboarding trips. ” During my driving test to get my Oregon licence, the examiner said “There’s a lot of bums in Portland huh.I remember when I was a kid, my dad had a cheque-book. ” “That’s right.” “Why can’t I just set up an automatic monthly transfer from my internet banking? yet they kept asking me how I deal with Australia’s “dangerous wildlife”! Tim Berners Lee, a Brit, “invented” the World Wide Web, while the Internet grew out of a network built by ARPA in the USA.If you don’t know the difference between the web and the internet, how on earth did you manage to be reading this now?But then the lady at the supermarket was nice, and so were people at other places where you don’t normally give tips. They might sometimes end up being flaky or unreliable in the long term, but at least you have the opportunity to make friends early. Obama wants to give ’em all a handout.” I sat there in silence, not knowing quite how to reply.More recently I’ve worked setting up solar cell production lines in Portland, Oregon on the US West Coast.
Believe me when I say that the US is one of the most amazing, diverse and strangest places. I realise though this says more about the shoddiness of Australian internet than anything else…