When I first saw the word “Chemist” on storefronts in Australia, it conjured up images of Erlenmeyer flasks, test tubes, and smoking liquid nitrogen. Inside the shops, I half expected to find a tiny frizzy haired inventor concocting strange experiments with colourful liquids. I thought of chemists as hardcore scientists working at chemical engineering companies, but these shops reminded me of my idyllic childhood idea of devil-may-care Willy Wonka type experimenters.

Not surprisingly, this was a completely outlandish idea. It wasn’t long before I realized that a chemist shop is simply what Canadians call a pharmacy. I was disappointed, but it made sense. After all, a pharmacist is still a type of chemist. In any case, I still take pleasure in saying I have to stop by the chemist when I’m in Australia. Boring pharmacy or not, saying I’m going to the chemist seems charming to me, and it’s the little differences that add spice to one’s life.


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