Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Kirsten Fraser. Robina, Australia

It has been exactly a month since I left for my study abroad adventure to Australia. Surprisingly Australia has not been much different from the culture I left back in the states. However, there are still a few differences to keep me on my toes. For this activity I decided to interview my “Cultural and Ethical Values” professor, Lauchlan Chipman, as it is an assignment dealing with such principles. I believe it is important to discuss personal and cultural opinions with someone from my host culture as it helps one see into the culture they have now become a part of and better understand it. “Values also govern action and can be understood only when put into practice”. (1997, pg. 54) Therefore, to truly understand Australian values I would need to discuss them with someone who has practiced them. However, as I expected there were several aspects that are very similar to US culture. Therefore, we decided to divulge further into the aspects that were different from the US.

Within the US culture, the elderly are often discarded while young people are treasured. However, professor Chipman feels that the elderly are respected in Australia as they have great wisdom and insight. He joked at the age of 72 he has more wisdom that most of those on campus. However, he does not feel discarded whatsoever. Moreover, as a professor he has found that American students boast much more about time spent on an assignment or studying for a quiz than an Australian student. Australian students are much more modest; one would not hear them bragging to their friends about how late they were at the library the night before. American students are also much more concerned with their grades while Australian students usually just care that they pass the class. Australian students worry more about receiving the degree than the GPA they graduate with. However, American students are extremely concerned with their GPA and are always striving for the A. He joked that he usually when a student has a question about a mark they received on their assignment, the student is most likely from the United States. I can even see this difference in my own experiences as students from the United States come to class early while Australian students walk in usually as the class is starting or often times after the class has already begun.

Lastly, professor Chipman noted that Americans think in a much more rational manner than Australians. Those from the states feel that there should be evidence to back up ones opinion and do not see as much of a value in creative thinking. He has noted in his classes that students from the United States struggle with creative thinking while it comes much more naturally to Australian students. He speculated that this type of thinking is used much more in Australian school systems, from grade school all the way to high school. However, he feels creative thinking is not used as heavily in the school system within the United States and that we would benefit from developing this skill further.

Within my home community at Quinnipiac, I am not a part of Greek life. As a freshman I decided not to rush as I was already on the cheer team and it was not permitted to be involved in both organizations. Cheerleading was a very big part of my life growing up and I was not ready to let it go quite yet. However, I think it would be really beneficial to sit down and talk to someone involved in Greek life. It has become a world so foreign to me that in doing so I may gain insight into exactly what they do. I also do not understand what the huge hysteria over it all. I think it would also further immerse me into my university community, as so many students are involved in Greek life.

Sadly my professor denied a picture being taken of the two of us. Therefore, I included a picture of Plato, whom professor Chipman described as his favorite philosopher.

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Hess, Daniel J. “Chapter 5: Cultural Learning, Values, and Ethical Choices.” Studying Abroad/learning Abroad: An Abridged Edition of The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning. Yarmouth, Me., USA: Intercultural, 1997. 45-57. Print.

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