During my short stay in Queensland thus far, there is one local person who has taught me the most about Australia, and life in general. I met my (now) friend Scott about two weeks ago and he has been my local guide ever since. Through him I have learned a lot about myself, Australians, and people in general.
As for my interview, I asked Scott some questions about the Australian way of life and he asked me about the American way of life. We talked about many different things, but honestly the biggest difference from where I live in New York and here in Broadbeach where I live now is crossing the street. Cars drive on opposite sides of the roads and the steering wheels are on the opposite side as well. Not much else here is that different from America which is a bit disappointing. Scott is from Melbourne, one of Australia’s largest cities. He told me all about the culture and the art in Melbourne and said that it is a place I must experience. He also told me more about Sydney and Byron Bay, both places which I have only spent a few days in. The main difference from America in Byron Bay is the laid back culture, everyone is extremely chill and is just there to have a good time. Not many people drive nice cars or wear expensive clothes, it is more of a backpackers haven where everyone is living on a budget, but having a good time while doing so. Scott explained that Byron Bay really represents the typical Australian attitude to work to live, as opposed the live to work mentality that so many people have in America.
The main difference from Sydney to New York is how clean Sydney is. NYC can be a very dirty place, filled with litter, drugs and other unsavory things. Scott told me how important it is to the people of Sydney that they keep it clean, it is as if they treat the city as a living being, one who must be respected and taken care of. Scott also told me about the condition of the “projects” in Sydney. There are so many apartments set up by the government to house the homeless that barely any of the poor end up in the street. This came as a huge surprise to me because in Manhattan there are homeless people on many of the streets. He said that this goes along with the fact that a very small percentage of Australians are actually poor. He told me that if you are poor, it is most likely your own choice to stay that way. There are countless opportunities for jobs here, and the minimum wage is so high that anybody can maintain a decent life if they tried.
Although where I live now is not very different from America, I am still learning a lot from locals like Scott. For example, the other day we were in the car and someone bumped the side of his brand new Audi with their car. Now I, along with countless other Americans would have been extremely mad. But Scott and the other driver got out and were very respectful to each other and he was just so calm and nice to the guy. This was a big shock to me because in New York I have never seen this. It is small interactions like this that remind me I am not in my country and that there are other ways of living than how I am used to. Below is a picture of me and Scott shortly after his car was hit.
When I think of a part of the QU community I am not involved in I think of the ethnic groups and international student groups. I never associated with them because I thought, well they are different from me so why should I hang out with them? I now realize how purely stupid that is and that it would greatly benefit myself and them to share our different cultures so that we can continue to learn about the different ways of life. On top of this, I am realizing that it is not so uncommon to become really good friends with someone from another country.