I am writing this blog as a comment on the post of Floortje on the cultural differences between Australians and Dutchies.
As in my previous post I wrote that I was about to enrol in the subjects: ‘Introduction to Aboriginal Australia’, ‘Australian Foreign Policy’ and ‘Professional Internship’. While in the Netherlands it is not really possible to change any of your subjects after you have enrolled in them, in Melbourne it is pretty normal to make up your mind after your first classes have started and therefore changing subjects is a common thing to do. After enrolment this week, I indeed decided that perhaps it would have made more sense for me to stick with my major and minor in International Relations and Development geography and that’s why this week I changed my courses to ‘International Relations, Security and States’ and ‘Globalisation, Development and Culture’. I had my lectures today and I am really happy with this change!
One of the differences I experience, and that I didn’t expect to, is that the level of my subjects seems equal to back home. While I expected, and had been told, that the level in Australian Universities wouldn’t be as high as in the Netherlands, I am not experiencing that difference just yet. As a student I am supposed to do a lot of studying and writing essays, just as back home. Perhaps if it comes down to grading, the system will be different, but I guess I have to wait for that until the end of the semester.
Moreover, I experience another difference between the University system in Melbourne and Utrecht. I think singing up for lectures is quite bureaucratically organised over here. As a student you have to see at least 3 different people to enrol in a course. Yet signing up at home is quite easy, because it is organised online. Yet there a lot of staff members willing to help you out. Also if you experience study problems, home sickness or loneliness you are able to see someone on University. It feels as if this Univeristy is pretty used to dealing with different nationals. What also surprises me is that there are a lot of people over 30 years old in my lectures.
As to other cultural differences, I agree with Floortje that Australia is pretty Western and it easy to get around . Yet I see a lot of differences between the Dutch and Australian geographical aspects. While Willem Janszoon, a Dutch explorer, was in fact the first European to come to Australia, it is a shame he was not interested in Australia at all. If he would, Australia would probably look a bit more like Holland: terraced houses instead of detached ones, cyclers everywhered (without helmets!) and a lot more historical buildings and churches instead of the skyscratchers over here. Yes indeed, Australia has its beautiful nature and beaches and I am enjoying it a lot. Yet, if you ask me what I am missing the answer would be the historical aspects of my city back home.
Talking about crossing borders…Yesterday I meet up with my fellow Border Crossing members and we had a coffee (see the picture!) and last week 3 Australians moved into my tower. As told before, we are now living with 5 different nationalities ! I am enjoying living with so many different cultures, it creates a lot of interesting conversation (and besides I feel my English is improving). Tomorrow we will even have our first international dinner, where everyone prepares a dish of his home country. As to the difference between Australians and Dutch people I asked my Dutch and one of my Australian floormates what they thought of it and this is what they answered:
My Dutch roommate: “Australians are very open and friendly, they always ask me how I am doing. Besides, they are out door people. While Dutch people preferring staying inside with their families, Australian families go out and enjoy nature”.
My Australian roommate: “Australians are rude. Europeans are civilized and polite and you guys are way more healthier. We like to eat out and we are lazy if it comes to cooking meals. It seems as if you guys really care about eating healthy food.”
So there you are! I hope this answers your questions Floortje!