Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

            Before really thinking about this assignment I would have said I didn’t hold any stereotypes about Australian people and culture, but I’ve realized that I subconsciously did.  Most of the stereotypes I picked up came from my family and friends.  When I told people I was going to Australia almost everyone made a comment about the country.  Though I was not consciously trying to judge Australians, these stereotypes were slowly becoming engrained in my memory.

I guess the stereotype that I heard the most when I told people I was going to Australia was that Australians are so friendly.  Everyone told me how welcoming they would be and how nice they are.  Of course there are nice Australians, but there are rude ones too.  I think their mix of attitudes is the same as in the United States.  People will smile and wave at you, but there’s also the person who will bump you and keep walking.  

Media has created the ideal Australian.  The tan, toned, blonde surfer.  It’s the ideal Australian and of course it’s not representative of the greater population.  Of course there are some of these godly creatures walking around, but the majority of people are normal. 

I asked one of my Australian friends the question they get asked the most by foreigners.  It was “do you ride kangaroos?”  This is obviously a very funny question, but apparently lots of people actually believe it’s true because of a movie.  Australians don’t ride kangaroos at all. 

            The only really bad thing I heard before coming to Australia was about all of the deadly animals.  My Facebook page was flooded with friends and family tagging me in posts of Australians wrestling crocodiles and find poisonous spiders in their houses.  Though Australia does have the largest number of deadly creatures in the world, it’s not like you see them daily.  I haven’t seen any deadly spiders and the only crocodile I’ve seen was in a zoo.  This picture is a map of Australia with stereotypes common to each region.  The country is divided into a bunch of manly negative regions.  These regions aren’t representative of the true Australia but they are what the areas have been known for. 

aussie map stereotypes.jpg

In contrast to the attitudes that I’ve heard about Australians, Australians often hear the opposite about us.  A common stereotype is that Americans are very rude.  I think this is because Americans tend to more standoffish.  We walk and talk fast and don’t stop for small talk.  I’ve also heard that you can always pick out Americans because they are the loudest and obnoxious. 

Something that I’ve recently heard in one of my classes is that American students are lazy and unfocused.  I think this stereotype arises because that’s how most American students act.  Obviously we technically came for school, but for almost everyone the real adventure is in exploring a new country.  So, easy classes are picked and lectures are spent searching plane tickets and googling things to do.  In one of my classes we had to read a book and from the discussion I can tell you every Australian read it and only about two Americans did.  I think this stereotype is hard because it portrays American students back home as lazy and unfocused too.

I think it’s important for myself as well as other study abroad students to prove these stereotypes false.   I don’t want Australians to view us as rude and lazy.  I think this is especially important at Bond because a large portion of the campus is American.  I always go out of my way to smile at people and strike up a conversation when applicable.  One nice American can change someone’s view of everyone and I operate on that mindset. 

The stereotypes that were lurking in the back of mind have vanished.  I don’t really judge Australia and I try to refrain from comparing Australia to back home.  As Slimbach said, “In choosing to enter their social worlds, we learn to confront our stereotypes and false assumptions” (Slimbach, 100).  Through living here, I have learned to love this country and all of the things that make it unique (expect the spiders, I will actually freak out if I ever see one).

Works Cited

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

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