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4 X 2 – Comparing Australia with Germany

Travelling in another country, or migrating into a different nation, seem to be two very different pairs of shoes.  A traveller always intends to “go home” again, thus returning to his or her place and familiar customs.  However, migrating means to leave “everything” behind, not only the “things” I may easily say goodbye to, but also all non-material patterns, which determine my way of life and the relationship to the people around me.Beyond all this, migrants face a clash of paradigms about life.  All what they learnt to be relevant in their previous life, no longer appears to be true.  What are the milestones that provide orientation of where to go and how to behave?  This essay will look into four typical patterns, which determine the way of life in Australia, but differ considerably to German lifestyle.
On the surface, it appears, Germany and Australia both are equally developed and economically successful countries.  Both its citizens adhere to a materialistic lifestyle and work hard to maintain it.  However, while Germans seem to fare well after having rebuilt their country following the destruction of two disastrous world wars, they never seem to have “enough”.  Politicians and business leaders try to press employees in an ever-higher circle of work, shopping, sleep, recreation and work again.  In contrast for, many Europeans, and especially Germans, Australian “BBQ” life style is very appealing.  Aussies are seen to sit at the Barbeque, roasting a beef and drinking a beer, and generally having a good time.  In German eyes, this seems to be rather awkward, i.e. not very focused in achieving your aims.
Secondly, talking with friends and work colleagues in Australia one may hear many complaints about a much stress in business life.  It is true, working hours seem to be longer in Australian than in Germany, holidays (and pay) are generally less, and opening hours of stores and offices seem to be more deregulated.  For a recent immigrant, then, it is surprising to see the main shopping street in Adelaide close down at 5pm rather than at 8 or 10pm as in some of the city centres in Europe.  But shopping centres being opened at Sundays or “24/7”, i.e. day and night, seems to put the life of Joe Blow right into the hands of commercialism.  At least in Europe, and predominantly in Roman-Catholic areas, locals accept and adapt their life to the cycle of work and rest on the weekend and many Church and public holidays, providing a sufficient break from the treadmill of business.
For the sake of brevity, two more aspects may just be mentioned.  Weather conditions, of course, always shape the mode of lifestyle.  Australia with its much harsher climate and environment, of course, demands different patterns than Europe, especially in mild climate regions.  Last, but not least, mention should be made of cultural traditions.  While most European countries, and especially Germany, have been settled continuously for many centuries, Australia still is searching for a coherent identity, especially after 200 years of immigration of people from countries with very diverse cultural traditions.

(Written in November 2007 for a TAFE ESL course)
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