I have now been in Australia for almost a month. The time seems to be flying. It seems as if just yesterday, I was getting onto my seventeen-hour flight to Hong Kong. My time here in Australia has been surreal. I live in a five star hotel with a balcony that overlooks the beach. I only have class twice a week. It seems more like a vacation than school. With that being said, my one complain would be the lack of Australians that I have been able to surround myself with. I live in a hotel full of Americans. I go to an University where fifty percent of the population is international students. In my Australian history class, there is only one Australian. With that being said, I take every opportunity that I can to talk to Australians on the street or when I am out. It is extremely interesting to listen to their point of view.
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to go visit my roommate’s family friends in Sydney. My roommate’s dad had met Mr. Hedge when Mr. Hedge lived in America for about two years. They have remained best friends despite the distance. The family was extremely welcoming to Julia and I. They took us around Sydney. We got to see all of the tourist spots such as the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We also were taken to beautiful beaches along the north shore.
I took this time with the family to ask them questions about the difference between Australian culture and American culture. I discussed with their youngest daughter, who just finished high school, the difference between boasting and modesty. In America, we all boast. If you just spend seventeen hours writing an essay, everyone that you talk to will know it. Snap chat is full of stories about spending time in the library or studying. If you make dean’s list, everyone on your Facebook will know. But, in Australia, it is exactly the opposite. It is looked down upon to boast about your accomplishments. An Australian may spend two weeks on an essay, but if you ask them, they will say they wrote it last night. Grades are important to Australians but they care more about high school grades then college. To get into college in Australia, you have to take a placement test. This test happens during your senior year. It does not matter if you volunteer one hundred hours a week and are an all-star athlete because if you do poorly on that one test, your chances of getting into a great college are slim. Once an Australian gets into college, their mentality changes. They do not even receive a GPA. Their sole purpose of college is passing. In Australia, the phrase is “P’s get degrees”. As long as you pass and get your degree, nothing else matters.
Another difference that I learned from this family is how direct Australian’s are. They are constantly teasing each other, without caring about what they are saying. The family warned me to not be offended by what Australians say because most the time they are just trying to be funny. In America, we care a lot about being politically correct. If something is offensive, we do not say it. But in Australia, there are no rules. They say what comes to their mind, whether it is offensive or not.
I also learned that Australians are less independent when it comes to going away to college. In Australia, it is more common than not, to commute to college. Most students live at home. It is almost unheard of to go “away” to college. In America, the college experience is based around living on campus. I never understood why someone from Australia would want to study abroad in America. It was made clear to me when the daughter of the family was telling me about how Australians wish that they had the same college experience as Americans. They are not necessarily going abroad to see the country, but more for the college experience.
The picture below is a picture of my roommate, her family friends, and I. I am forever grateful for the experience that they gave me in Sydney. It is definitely one of my favorite weekends so far here in Australia.