Stereotypes are found on every continent. The French are rude, the Americans are all fat, Chinese people are all smart. One cannot truly understand or interpret stereotypes until you have completely immersed yourself in that country's style of living. I have been in Sydney Australia for only one week now, but I have already realized some of the true and false stereotypes that Americans and other countries have of the Australian continent.
Stereotype number one, all Australians are laid back. This is partly true. All Australians get a month off of work as their summer holiday and most of them only work 30 hours a week. Of course there are exceptions, but it seems that the phrase, "Work hard, play hard," is very much true in Australia. It is common for Aussies to surf in the morning before heading on to work, or to hit the beach after a long day at work. Aussies are fun, friendly, and very care free! I was in Coles yesterday and the cashier was having a fun long chat with the customer and was bagging her groceries very slowly. The customer was engaging in the conversation and didn't seem to mind how long she was standing there. This seemed so weird to me, because in America everything is about being fast and the workers hardly ever take the time to talk to you. The one thing about Australia that is fast, is how they get around. The bus and train are used for travel, but most of the time walking is preferred. The aussies are very fast walkers and they will even walk on the escalator.
Stereotype number two, everything can kill you in Australia, and kangaroos and Koalas are everywhere. Definitely false!! I am living in Sydney, and although my roommates have seen a few bugs, I haven't been in contact with any animals. There are birds that fly and walk everywhere, but the dangerous spiders and snakes aren't everywhere you walk. Sydney is a very urban place, so there aren't a lot of creatures. Of course there are poisonous creatures in Australia, but you really have to travel outside of Sydney to get to them. Kangaroos and Koalas are not everywhere! In fact, I will have to travel all the way to Cairns just to pet a koala.
Stereotype number three, everyone is fit. This is pretty true! In Sydney there are a lot of places to walk and bike instead of taking the train or bus. Of course I don't know what other places in Australia are like, but I can say that Sydney is pretty fit. The portions of food are a lot smaller than in America, and the ingredients are a lot healthier. Almost everything you get has avocado, pumpkin, or fruit in it. There are chains in Sydney, but there are more local places to eat. Australia is also very green and eco friendly. They take recycling very seriously here and they have switches on all their outlets so that you can turn them off when you aren't using the electric. In our rooms, the air turns off every hour, and if you want more air you have to turn the system back on.
Stereotype number four, Australia is small. This stereotype is the funniest one of all. Australia is actually almost the same size as the US. It would take you five hours to get from Perth, which is in the Western part of Australia to Sydney which is in the Eastern part. The city of Sydney itself is almost 5,000 square miles! It once took us an hour to get from our apartments in Central to Manly Beach near Circular Quay. All of Australia is different, and is even split up into different time zones just like the US. Sydney is more urban and looks a little like New York City, but also has mountains and trees. The climate almost is always around 70-80 degrees thorughout the year. Other parts of Australia can be in the dry climate, wet climate, or even the tropical climate. You can see Sydney and still be amazed at how different Queensland is, which is the next city over from Sydney.
Stereotype number five, it's not a huge culture shock to go from America to Australia because there isn't a language barrier. False! Although we do speak the same language, our words, dialects and phrases are very different. Australians seem to shorten every one of their words ( breaky for breakfast, arvo for afternoon etc..) They speak just as fast as Americans so it can be very hard to understand them. Plus, there are certain American words they don't use at all. ( wheat bread, names for the years in college...) Also, because all of their measurements are in in the metric system, it can be difficult to even figure out what temperature it is, or how much something weighs.
Stereotypes come from people not experiencing different cultures. It is fascinating and beautiful to learn something new about a country and why they do what they do. In order to open your mind, you must get rid of stereotypes and just go see the country for yourself!