By: Stephanie Foster, Columnist
G’day! As you might infer from my choice of greeting, I am an Australian. Yes indeed, a bonafide, genuine, fair dinkum (Australian colloquial term meaning honest or the real thing) Aussie right here at Towson University embarking on my second semester of a two-semester exchange. Each week I am going to share with you a little bit about my homeland in the interests of advancing intercultural knowledge and world peace. I will also include a story or two about my experiences and reactions to life in the United States, or at least, in this wee corner of the enormous cultural melting pot that is “‘Merkuh.”
Let’s begin by answering some of the most common questions I have been asked. Perhaps some of these are on the tip of your tongue too.
Doesn’t everything try to kill you in Australia? Yes, sort of. Well, some things at least. However, you will notice that I am very much alive (alive enough to go to class at least). I can assure you that I still have plenty of family and friends remaining in Australia that have not (yet) been savaged by sharks, man-eating spiders, venomous snakes, drop bears or crocs. Evidently the killers have feeble success rates. I’ll update you on the family/friend situation when I return home.
Can you speak Australian? Indeed. “Australian” is generally regarded as English and is supposedly the same as the language spoken here. Yet from my frequent experiences of mass confusion and bewilderment, I can tell you that there are a lot of major differences. For example, do you know what a sultana is? Or a queue? A milk bar? A roadtrain? A capsicum? What if I said “Onya” or called you a bogan? You get the idea.
Do you have a pet kangaroo? No. But there are plenty hopping around the backyard and in the bushland nearby. I’m sure one could be tamed and domesticated if you wanted to badly enough, but I’ve certainly never ridden one to school.
Do you use American dollars in Australia? (Yes, I have been asked this) No, amazingly, we use Australian dollars. We have $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. These are made of a type of plastic polymer to prevent counterfeiting. They are all different colors, which makes them easy to pick out of your wallet. Fun fact: The Australian 50 cent coin is a dodecahedron (it has 12 sides).
Do you have a question about Australia? Email them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.