A simple enough question over at Multilingual Living this morning - it's about what kind of sponges and brushes you use to do the washing up - got me thinking about one unusual Australian habit that I've heard so many non-Aussies complain about - and it's something you wouldn't think could cause a multicultural clash.
It's how we do the dishes.
Now, I'm not sure if this is a universal English-speaking thing or a peculiarity of Australia (and I'm hoping my good blog readers can tell me this in the comments), but the standard way to wash the dishes here in Oz - apart from putting them in the dishwasher, of course - is to fill the sink with hot, soapy water, and wash them. Some (but not all) people will rinse these under hot water before leaving them to dry.
Quite a number of my English language students in the past have been totally shocked by this after observing their Australian host families washing up. "You wash your dishes in dirty water?" they'd ask, incredulous. Well, kind of, obviously it is clean water at the beginning, and you'd usually save the dirtier dishes for the end but yes, by the end of the wash it can be a bit dirty. As I understand it, the expectation from them is to use running water the entire time - so perhaps it's an Australian thing to do it otherwise, since we are always trying to conserve water, being the dry, desert-like continent we are.
I guess the shock of time-limited showers (usually three minutes) which my students often experienced in homestays added to their general culture shock. But it's funny, isn't it, that these everyday things which most of us wouldn't think twice about can add up to a bad beginning to their experience in a foreign country.
Thanks to aaron13251 for the pic via Flickr/CC