Friday, November 21, 2008

Australian Identity

I arrived in Melbourne on the 13th. Having stayed up most of the night before my flight, I was able to sleep through most of the 13 hour flight across the Pacific. Miraculously, I managed to jet awake when the food cart rolled by, scarf down the pitiful food, and wander again into sleep. I was a little wobbly catching my baggage, and managed to somehow find the exit and greet Mark.

We hired a car for the trip, and received a free upgrade after raising a tiff about the absence of an antenna on a micro car. Our Ipod radio transmitter was essential for a successful road trip, and the 4-door, automatic roadster did just the trick. We have raced through Melbourne, trekked through the Australian Alps, and met Sydney rush hour - Jason Bourne style.

It has been wonderful being able to travel about Australia with Mark - he is my personal tour guide. I think of random questions, and he answers them to the best of his ability. I have learned far more on this trip with Mark than I would have if I traveled solo.

One conversation arose about Australian identity. I had been wondering what stories I would tell friends upon my arrival back to the States. I didn't want to just talk about 'roos' and Kuala bears. There is far much more to Australia than animals and a big red rock. Mark said that most people who travel to AU for a couple of weeks leave only with a feeling of having visited the US. It takes far more time to absorb Australian culture. I asked Mark if it were possible to do this - to go deeper than the KFC's and McDonald's and wonderful accents. He advised that we spend more of our time hanging out in coffee shops, pubs, and other public places, meeting and talking with Australians.

So far, I have learned that Australian identity is extremely diverse. Mark was heading a tutorial with undergraduates and the topic was Australian identity. The class wrote their grandparent's country of birth and how many international foods they had eaten in the previous week. Over 30 countries were represented by student's grandparents, and far more international foods were consumed.

We camped one night in the Mt. Buffalo National Park and shared a campfire with six Australians. Much laughter and story-telling was had, and I was able to acquire a better sense of the country's culture. More on that story to come. In the meantime, Mark and I are headed for Melbourne today, with a backpacking trip in Wilson's Promontory and surf lessons on the red-blazen horizon.


Gruntled said...

It's as if this were written for me ... :-)

hannah said...

Well I'm glad one of you is blogging...

Nate said...

So glad to read and catch up, even if I am a little behind. Sounds amazing, look forward to the roo and kuala stories... kidding.