June 29, 2013
Student Blog Update: Culture Shock
by Luis Gonzales
Australia—the mission to make it to this amazing continent was extremely long and exhausting. After spending about seven total hours in airports waiting for my flights and about 16 hours in the air I finally made it to my destination Brisbane, Australia. At first it seems both our cultures are very similar, we speak the same language, the roads look the same, and there are a lot of McDonalds. But those first expressions changed and Brisbane began to show me what its culture truly withholds after a couple days of observations. I realized many different pieces of the Australian people’s culture, such as their interesting perspectives on driving, philosophy on meals, and their attitude towards work.
First of all, it was extremely hard to wrap my head around the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road. This was by far the most challenging obstacle I had to overcome when first arriving in Australia due to the feeling of everything being inverted. After speaking to some of the locals I realized the ideology behind Australian drivers—people belong on the sidewalk and cars belong on the road and therefore people should not be in the road. This created another problem I had to face—people never have the right of way when crossing the road, even in a crosswalk when the “little green man” shows it is “safe” to cross. This was an extreme shock to me coming from America where people always have the right away, especially in a crosswalk. This has just been another aspect of Australia that I have had to overcome and do as the locals—always run across the street even when the “little green man” appears.
The second aspect of Australian culture I had to adapt to quickly was the fact that they have various “Tea Time” throughout the day. Which simply translates into a constant consumption of meals—breakfast, morning tea time, lunch, midday tea time, and dinner. This means that instead of consuming three large meals to get through the day the way Americans are used to, Australians eat five smaller meals which helps promote a healthier lifestyle. I feel this among having a strong desire to work out, provides a much overall healthier culture which attributes to much more active and happier people.
Lastly, I also found the Australians philosophy on work extremely fascinating—a topic I would have never thought of if it were not for my constant communication with the locals in the area. The people here believe that a normal work day should consist of simply working from 8 or 9 to 5 or 6 at the latest, and no one ever brings their work home with them. The Australian people have established a fine line between work and their personal life—a line which should never be crossed. I was speaking to Boeing Australia’s Vice President and he stated how he was from Australia and worked in America before coming back to Australia recently. He stated that when he was working in America he expressed to his parents how many hours he was working in a typical work week. His father made a statement expressing typical Australian work philosophy, “Son, how important do you think you are that you need to be working so hard?” I feel this statement really captures the ideology behind the Australians work ethic and what they seem to believe work should be. Furthermore, the Vice President also made another very interesting statement, he first explained that the following statement was a consensus of what he believed established the difference between American and Australian work ethic. He stated, “Australians work to live, while Americans live to work” which simply further established how both cultures have extremely different philosophies on work ethics and how work should be done.
Overall, this past week has been an amazing time and I can only wait to see what other adventures Australia is sure to deliver. I can only hope my words capture enough of the experience and that I do all these experiences some sort of justice. I know very well hundreds of thousands of words will not be able to express all the sights and eye opening experiences I have thus experienced and will continue to partake in.