The Careful and the Carefree

Nicolle Layman

Portrayed in travel ads and pictures, Australia appears to be a destination of choice for tourists who desire a break in paradise. With crystal blue waters, exotic plants and animals, who wouldn’t want to take some time off and relax in the Land of Oz? However, life in Australia is not as serene and tranquil as it appears.

On March 31st of this year, a local man was attacked and killed by a great white shark off a popular beach in Western Australia. This has been the “fourth fatal shark in Western Australia in seven months.” This accident has made this region of the country the most dangerous place to swim in the world. In Bill Bryson’s book, In A Sunburned Country, he states in the first chapter that Australia “has more things that can kill you than anywhere else.” The box jellyfish, the crocodile, the funnel web spider, and the great white shark are some of the many lethal creatures in the Land of Oz which has and can cause death to unsuspecting victims. This is the fear I have carried with me through my time here in this country, that I should be one of those unlucky few who comes across one of these creatures, and thus becomes an unfortunate and insignificant statistic in Australian history.

When discussing this fear with the Australians I live with, I was informed that they “rarely ever, if never, worry about it.” They commented that one shouldn’t “walk around without shoes on, but be vigilant. There is more trouble with drop bears than anything else.” No one they knew has ever been attacked by any of the dangerous creatures that populate the land, which is a huge relief for the worried heart.

It is extremely easy to live in ignorance of these dangers, and possibly stumbled upon one first hand. At the same time, living in constant fear is also an unhealthy way of life. Something I have come to both admire and envy in the Australian culture is their knowledge of living in danger, yet the calm they have regarding this. “It is not ridiculous to fear these animals,” I was informed, “but there is no need to be feeling like you’ll meet one every second of the day, because it is highly unlikely. It’s like going into a wave while surfing…one thinks about the most sensible behavior, and thus acts upon it.” The truth that Bryson speaks of, that “if you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents…” is actually not truth at all. This pessimistic worldview of fear is no way to live, as I have discovered these past two months in Australia. I encourage anyone with a worried heart, full of fear of these God created organisms, to step (with a covered sole) securely yet with awareness in this mystical land, embracing the unknown as a challenge to behold. Just keep an eye out for those drop bears!

Sources:

Bryson, Bill 2000, In A Sunburned Country, Broadway Books, New York.
“WA beach closed after fatal shark attack – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation),” ABC.net.au. N.p., n.d. <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-31/fatal-shark-attack/3924828&gt;. (accessed April 21, 2012).

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Father of the Year

Emily Doherty

“Wait for me Dad!” a little boy shouted as he passed the bus stop trying to catch up to his dad during their light jog around the neighborhood both in bright yellow matching running gear. While watching this scene I could not help but think to myself that this little boy is the cutest thing I have ever seen and what a great dad this guy was for spending this quality time with his son. As my time here in Australia progresses the relationship between Australian fathers and their children stands out to me more and more each day. Everywhere I go whether it is on public transportation, at the beach, in the city or even just walking around my neighborhood there are far more fathers taking their kids out by themselves than I have ever seen in the U.S. I see dads pushing strollers and riding bikes alongside their kids. Even when I see moms out with their kids, the dad is usually right there next to the mom. In the U.S it is so unusual to see a dad acting this way with his children; it is almost always the case that moms are the ones out with the kids.

This led me to wonder what is it in the Australian culture that makes dads more involved with their kids. My first thought was that it must be the divorce rate in Australia. I assumed it had to be far less than the U.S which would explain the stronger fatherly presence in Australian households. However, I found that fifty percent of all first marriages in the U.S end in divorce where as in Australia forty percent of first marriages end in Divorce. That is only a ten percent difference which is not the drastic difference I was looking for. There is no way that a ten percent difference could explain why fathers in Australia seem to have a more of a participation role in their families than fathers in the U.S. To go through and research all the reasons why this might be so, would be too long for this blog. What is apparent to me though is that it is common in the Australian culture that fathers are the ones taking the kids out whether on errands or just to have quality time. I cannot help but wonder what this says about American culture. Why did it come as such a shock to me? Maybe it is because in the U.S we do not expect fathers to spend time like this with their kids. I am not sure if I have the right answer to this question but maybe I will the longer I am here in Australia.

Sources:

Divorce Rate 30/4/12 http://www.divorcerate.org/
Divorce rate in Australia 30/4/12 http://www.divorcerate.org/divorce-rates-in-australia.html

Why is Everything So Expensive Here?

By Ronnie Frey

Sydney is a beautiful city and has been a wonderful place to live for the past couple months. A big downside to living here though, is that everything costs so much. Food, entertainment, and clothing are all significantly more expensive here than they are at home. So, my question is why? What is the reason for such high prices? A big reason for this is the depreciation of the U.S. dollar in relation to the Australian dollar, but things have gotten more expensive for Aussies as well. I was talking to an Australian man the other day and we ended up having a conversation about how much it costs to live in Sydney. He told me that it is actually cheaper for him to take his family on a vacation to the States, then it is for him to take them on a vacation here in Australia, and that is including the cost of flying over to the U.S. He also mentioned that prices here used to very similar to prices in the States, and that only recently it has become so much more expensive.

According to Businessweek.com, Australia has 6 cities listed in the top 30 most expensive cities in the world, and in 2009, not a single Australian city was listed in the top 100. In comparison, New York, America’s most expensive city, is listed at number 44. A big reason for the increase in cost of living is because the Australian dollar has increased 30% in relation to the U.S. dollar, since June 2010. Another reason is rising costs for businesses. The strength of the Australian dollar along with rising electricity and wage costs has led to Australia becoming the second most expensive place to do business among major economies, after Japan. Rising business costs lead to rising costs for consumers. Understanding a little more about why it cost so to live in Sydney won’t make it any easier (or cheaper), but it does provide some insight into the Australian economy and how it compares with the U.S. economy.

Sources:

Wong, Venessa. “Which City in the World Has $24 Movie Tickets?.” Businessweek.Com (June 10, 2011): 3. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 30, 2012).

Colebatch, Tim. “Australia pays for cost of business.” National Times (March 24, 2012): http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/australia-pays-for-cost-of-business-20120323-1vpn2.html (accessed May 1, 2012).

A Green City

By Monika Krahn

Upon arriving in Sydney two months ago I was struck by how green it is. On our first class trip into the heart of the city and with my mind set on seeing the Opera House for the first time, I was pleasantly distracted by the numerous grassy, green parks we walked by. Having grown up in rural Maine and not being much of a city girl I am continually refreshed by how green this city really is.

A few years back the City of Sydney implemented a long-term plan in hopes of making the city a more sustainable place (among other things). This plan, Sydney 2030, is well underway working to make positive changes. Earlier this month energy efficient LED street lights were installed making Sydney the first Australian city to improve their city lighting. Plans of installing these lights in other areas of the city, including parks, are in place for later this year.

Additionally, the City of Sydney runs “Green Villages”, a program that is all about local communities and businesses working to create a more sustainable city. They provide workshops that teach locals about growing their own food, composting, natural cleaning methods, and recycling. It is clear that Sydney is not only going green on a large-scale level, but is working to teach its citizens what it means to go green in everyday life. On May 5th the city is holding a nationwide event called “Garage Sale Trail” advocating reuse and redistribution among neighbors and communities. Its goal is to inform people that even the clothes and household objects they buy have an impact on the environment and that purchasing used items decreases this impact.

My time in Sydney has certainly opened my eyes to many things and its concern for the environment has certainly caused me to take a closer look at my own life.

Sources

http://www.thegreenpages.com.au/news/sydney-switches-on-the-led-revolution/
http://www.garagesaletrail.com.au/about