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Meet our Australians: “We don’t say ‘G’day, mate'”

“I find it really funny that some people think we ride kangaroos to school,” Phoebe tells us. “I just find that absolutely crazy. I mean, we see kangaroos but nobody really gets close to them because they can be quite feisty.” Tom agrees, “Yes, they can be really intimidating.” “Another thing people ask about when I say I'm from Australia is that baby that got eaten by a dingo,” Harry adds. “People think of Australia as infested with all these dangerous animals,” Phoebe agrees. “We didn't live in a big city, more in rural Australia, and there are dangerous animals, but you rarely come face to face with any. They’re there but you never really see them.”

“When I got here, everybody was asking me about an Emu War and I'd never really heard about it,” Tom reflects. “Coming over here and being in the Racial and Social justice Union has given me another perspective about first nation people, which is interesting, I think. We’ve looked at colonisation and the impact of that, and we learnt a bit of the history about Australia. I think we're a bit more critical now - not in a bad way, but trying to understand the truth of what happened and what caused it to happen. I think I am now a lot more conscious of just how bad it was for indigenous Australians. An international school environment is more aware of intercultural relations in a way our rural Australian public school wasn't, a lot more considerate of first nation people, seeing how similar things happened across the world, like in America, France and Africa.”

Or Greenland. Are there other questions people ask about Australia?
“People think that we say ‘G’day, mate’ a lot,” Phoebe laughs. “In our generation, I don't think we say it at all. But people often assume that we say that every time we greet somebody which is really not the case.”

Is there anything about Australia you particularly like or miss here?
“I'm sure it's the same in a bunch of other countries,” Tom is quick to assert, “but people that you don't know are a lot more friendly towards each other in Australia. If you go to the shop, you could get stuck in half an hour conversation with the person at the cash register, but here it's more like ‘Do you want the receipt?’” “Everybody here is friendly, but in Australia it is different,” Phoebe agrees. “You could be talking to a random person and it would just feel normal, like you knew them, and maybe that's because here we don't speak the language.”

Anything else you miss?
“Summer Christmas! In December, it's like 40 degrees going down to the river or the pool is pretty nice.”

Interested in hearing our students' stories about their own countries? You may want to read our other interviews with students from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, France, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.