Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

During my second week in Australia I attended a horse race.  While there I ended up sitting with and chatting with some women.  Even though there was a big age difference we hit it off really well.  We talked about our life’s and how I was enjoying Australia so far.  They even got motherly and gave me advice since I had become as burnt as a lobster.  These ladies were so kind to me and told me that if I ever needed anything I shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them.  They said that since I was so far from my family they would always be available if I needed anything.  We exchanged numbers before departing and have exchanged messages since just about advice while I’m here.  When I read about this assignment I immediately knew I wanted to talk with Anne.  Anne grew up in Sydney and has traveled all over the world through her job with Quantas airlines.  Therefore, she would be the perfect informant for this assignment.    

                Anne and I were so caught up that we forgot to take a picture during our coffee date.  Instead the photo below is from our first meeting at the horse race.  She is to my right.


                Anne warned me about refraining from being too boastful.  In Australia it is seen as arrogant and rude to brag about ones own achievement.  This is in stark contrast to the US where everyone brags about how hard they have worked to get to where they are.  Here, people will respect what you have done but not want to here about all the effort that played into it.  This creates a system where work is undervalued.  Interestingly, according to Anne, this has created a problem in Australia.  Many brilliant people such as doctors or scientists don’t want to stay in Australia because their hard work cannot be recognized.  They worked so hard to get where they are but no one wants to give them credit for it.  So they’ll move to a country where their achievements are honored and admired openly. 

                Gender equality is also not as advanced as it is in the US.  Anne attributes a lot of this to Bush living.  Bush life is a huge part of Australian culture, but it undervalues the women.  The wife is subservient to her husband and expected to be a mother and tend to the house.  Her opinions don’t matter nearly as much as her husbands.  Apparently gender inequality is also seen in Universities.  Unlike the US, Australia has no laws that mandate female and male equality in sports.  Therefore, female sports are seriously lacking at some universities. 

                 Another difference Anne spoke about is in terms of formality.  Australia is actually a lot less formal then the US.  Here they aren’t as strict when it comes to greetings.  A shaken hand isn’t as common and a gooday’ mate suffices.  They are also a lot more vulgar.  It’s so much more common to hear swear words fly around over here.  In fact, there has been swears in my lecture notes. 

                I expected Australia’s culture to be relatively similar to that of the US.  We speak the same language and have similar structures.  But, I was very closed minded in this thinking.  Yes, the countries are similar but everywhere you look there are small cultural differences just begging to be seen.  As Slimbach says, “No matter how well prepared, broad minded, or full of good intentions we may be, entering a new culture knocks our cultural props out from under us”.

                I have completely avoided anything to do with the student government association at Quinnipiac.  I adamantly avoid their tables and do my best to ignore all parts of their campaigning.  It honestly annoys me when social media and the hallways get filled with campaign ads.  This mindset is really negative for me to hold.  These are the people that make decisions that directly impact me.  I should take the opportunity during campaigning to talk with these students and learn about the platforms on which they are running.  Then I could actually see who I think will make Quinnipiac a better place for me. 

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.


One thought on “Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

  1. Nicole, I have learned so much from your post! Like you, I was very close minded and thought Australian culture would be very similar to ours. However, after reading your post I see there are many big differences, and you only named a few! Your post has made me realize that I should not go into anything with preconceived notions and be completely open minded. Also, I like how you talked to someone who is not your own age. Anne seems to be very knowledgeable from her experiences traveling the world and living in Australia. I do not think you could have picked a more perfect person to talk too! I am very jealous that you have “Australian mom’s” to reach out to when you have a question or need help. I hope you can stay in touch with Anne and I can’t wait to hear more about your time in Australia.


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