Who would ever have thought that two societies speaking the same language could speak it SO differently ....
You think it won't matter; but it does. In the initial stages, you'll open your mouth to speak, completely taking for granted it is being received with the meaning intended. After a few short months you'll become afraid to speak. Even ordering a simple scone at a bakery becomes confusing --- as it's no longer a scone (pronounced sconn), but rather a scone (pronounced like stone). It's not even shaped like a scone; but that's another story altogether.
When I first relocated I could at least, at home, live in the safety of my little Aussie world -- and venture out when I had strength and courage and had established a reliable and loyal network of friends who were silently (and oftentimes outwardly) amused by my words and accent. But when I married the American things changed! All of my communication had to be reworked - as my sweet articulate and highly intelligent husband would completely misunderstand the context of what I was saying purely due to a few word choices that carry very different connotations back home. Exhausting! He didn't realize that "you idiot" could be a term of affection. More on that in the cultural section ....
In a lot of instances we just have different word preferences which means that we can both understand each other as we're still speaking English. However, many Australian/British English words are simply not used in the US and until you change your word choices you're going to hear the response "excuse me" a great deal. Of course, even this expression "excuse me" which simply means "I beg your pardon" is not something we hear people saying back home. Likewise, in ten years I've never heard any American say "I beg your pardon". If not "excuse me?", get used to "huh?" or straight out "what?" which you can no longer view as impolite or you'll be spending your days quite offended.
Apart from differences in spelling, differences in preferences and differences in lingo, there are other challenges with language. For example, there are many words where we use a "t" on the end, while Americans use "ed":
burnt becomes burned
spellt becomes spelled
dreamt becomes dreamed
Once again, when you combine the word difference with the accent you could unintentinally create confusion.
It is easier to work on adapting your word choices and emphasizing your "r" (which I discovered we do not pronounce) as this will enable smoother communication than holding on rigidly to Aussie lingo.
Oh, there's one expression that makes me laugh -- that is, "made from scratch". Imagine. This simply means that you made the cake or biscuits yourself (apparently quite a rarity) rather than buying some kind of pre-pepared mix from the supermarket. It doesn't mean you harvested the wheat, raised the egg laying chickens, milked the cows and churned the butter - which would be my version of made from scratch (and not something I'm about to take on). In short, made from scratch is home baked.
In the Kitchen
Bicarbonate of Soda
Cilantro (the dried version is referred to as coriander)
Old Fashioned Lemonade (made with lemons)
Undershirt / wife beater
In the city
over the road
across the street
nurse the baby
hold the baby / cradle the baby
THIS ONE is VERY IMPORTANT. You can imagine the embarrassment both my friend and I experienced when I offered to nurse her baby. In the US, nursing is breastfeeding --- not a good faux pas).
Other Things Worth Knowing
Ever heard of a stoop? That's the step outside the front door.
Bleachers? This is the spectator's stand at the side of the football field -- ie. the Grand Stand. It doesn't just describe the grandstand, however. At many sporting fields there is just a small section of tiered seating which is also referred to as the bleachers.
(in compilation stage)