Studying abroad has certainly caused me to reconsider Australian stereotypes. Since Australia holds very little relevance in the American culture, many people, such as myself, don’t take the time to actually learn about the Australian culture – rather, we create an image of a false culture that has been distorted by the media. For example, before coming to Australia, the only information that I relied on to build an expectation of what an Australian acts or looks like was based on the crocodile hunter; someone who lives in the bush, wears safari clothes, has a strong and grungy accent, and isn’t afraid to tackle a deadly animal. Of course, upon arriving, my perception of the average Australian changed dramatically. Their accents aren’t as strong as I expected, especially within the major cities. Also, they dress and act very much like Americans (I have yet to see someone wear the iconic safari shirt/cargo short getup). Most Australians will laugh if you bring up how Steve Irwin represents the stereotypical Australian, because this is so far from the truth. Although many of the stereotypes that our culture creates for Australians are untrue, I have observed many characteristics of the typical Australian that can only be seen when living or working with them. As I stated in a previous travel log, I recently got a job at a call center in Brisbane, which allows me to be fully immersed within the culture and have a first-hand experience of how Aussies really act. The environment within the office is unlike any workplace in the states. The first thing I noticed while working at Imperatif is that there is no such thing as punching in or out of work. The employers trust that you will put in the amount of work you said you would do for the week. Also it is very common for the company to provide beer for you while you work throughout the day, which I thoroughly enjoy. Americans don’t have the opportunity to see how valued the drinking culture is in Australia – more so than the Unites States. Since being here, there are very few negative stereotypes I have found about the Australian culture. They are a laid back, loving, overly-generous people.
The Australian culture has many ridiculous stereotypes made about the American culture that I found quite funny. One major belief is that every American looks like they came from Texas – yes, the stereotypical American is indeed a gun-slinging cowboy straight out of a 1970’s western film. Although this is far from the truth, I immediately related it to how we think that all Australians look and act like Steve Irwin. When I asked some of my co-workers what the characteristic of a stereotypical American is, they would immediately say that Americans are impatient and entitled. Although I was upset with their response to me, I realized that it was quite true for most Americans. We come from a country of instant gratification and a born sense of entitlement. If an American had to wait at a Dunkin Donuts for more than 3 minutes to get their coffee, they would be quite agitated. Whereas in Australia, it’s not uncommon to wait 15 minutes for a cup of coffee.
The picture I have chosen to represent the stereotypical Aussie is of course Steve Irwin. Although Steve Irwin is far from the average Australian, he also holds importance in their culture. Steve Irwin is the first modern television star to represent the face of Australia. Australians say that he represents the classic “bushman,” which is someone who lives in the rough areas of Australia. Although this is certainly not the majority of the country that he represents, Aussies are proud of their strong ties with the unforgiving land. They are seen as people with thick skin, who can certainly swing above their weight.