I have often found it interesting the way that most Australians are so fiercely patriotic. However, I have never encountered a MORE “Austrayan” bunch than when I was living in Whistler, Canada.
Anyone who has been there will tell you that more than half of the population of Whistler is made up of Australians… and most of them, lowly retail or mountain workers in the so-called “Billionaire’s Playground.” Nothing like being poor to bring a bunch closer together, I reckon. I think it also makes them louder, and more determined that everyone know they’re there…often a little obnoxious, and more than a little stupid when drunk. (Please note, that I did not go tobogganing backwards down a mountain in the middle of the night whilst under the influence of alcohol. And if I did, I did it quietly).
Don’t get me wrong…I am very proud to be Australian. I love my country, I believe in it, and even though I’m a little disillusioned with government in general, I think that generally John Howard does an acceptable (if not stellar) job of running the place.
However, I find that when overseas, and particularly when in groups, whether small or large, you can spot Australians a mile away. Often their behaviour makes me try to distance myself from them, and ask myself… Does everyone else think of all Australians the way I am looking at this person? Is this the image we are portraying? Perhaps what we see as being fun-loving, footloose and fancy-free is what people from other countries see as loud, rude, and disrespectful.
I have said before, that I generally try not to classify people… but those well-known stereotypes are always in the back of my mind: Americans are rude and in a hurry; French are snobs; Italian men pinch bottoms; Russians drink too much vodka; New Zealanders… well let’s not even go there!! But all of that said, I’ve often seen people from all of these countries behaving better than their Australian counterparts.
I guess the reason I’ve been thinking about this is that tomorrow I am going to Japan. Japan is a country full of people known for being extremely gentle, impeccably polite, hard-working and respectful. What will they think of me? And most of all, will they think I’m rude if I walk down the road singing at the top of my voice on my way home from the pub?