What You'll Eat as a Student Studying Abroad in Australia

Jillian Ramirez, Pitt in Sydney'20

One question friends and family kept asking me before I went to study abroad was, “What do they eat in Australia?”

Countless Google searches led to the same lists of foods: Vegemite (a dark brown spread made from yeast extract), meat pies (a literal pie with meat filling), fairy bread (white bread smeared with butter and topped with rainbow sprinkles), fish and chips (fried fish with a side of fries), and even chicken parmigiana. These lists, consisting mostly of traditionally Australian desserts and meals that did not seem traditionally Australian in the slightest, led me no closer to understanding what Australians actually eat on a daily basis. I would just have to wait and see what kind of food the land down under had to offer. 

When I arrived in Sydney, I was told that our accommodation was only a ten-minute walk from Chinatown and a fifteen-minute walk from Thai town. In both places, food was delicious and cheap. This proved to be true, and my new friends and I would head in that direction countless times for Pad Thai, Bao buns, Pho, Teppanyaki, and of course, sushi. We also consumed an absurd amount of vegetable spring rolls. 

We also had our fair share of seafood, which was always delicious and fresh due to being so close to the coast. Some of our favorites included fish and chips, fried calamari, and Barramundi. 

But what Australia had more than anything was food similar to that of the U.S. Some items you could get anywhere were hamburgers, pizza, pasta, tacos – even the more trendy food items such as almond milk lattes, avocado toast, and acai bowls. Because of this, it wasn’t at all difficult to adjust to the food available in Australia.

It wasn’t until a few weeks in that I actually understood what the food culture in Australia was all about. Australia is a country where people – and their cuisine – are welcomed from all over the world. Many have come to Australia from the nearby Asia, which is why there is abundance of Asian cuisine – even more so than in the U.S. And of course, there are many people who have come from the U.S. and Europe, bringing with them the foods that seem more traditional to us Americans. 

So, to answer the question, “What do they eat in Australia?” quite simply, there are some foods that are unique to Australia, like Vegemite and fairy bread. There are also foods that Australia (Sydney specifically), does especially well, primarily seafood, given their prime location on the coast. But mostly there are foods that have been brought to Australia and incorporated into their food culture from other parts of the world, generally from Asian, Europe, and the U.S. So, if you’re nervous about the food in Australia – don’t be. They have everything the U.S. has. And if you’re looking to expand your palate – get excited! There is so much to try.