We’re now heading into week nine of semester two here at UWA, which is thankfully a study break week so no classes (so wish we had these at Glasgow). I’ll be using this blog post as an opportunity to talk about some cultural aspects of Western Australia and also let you guys know what I’ve been up to recently!
We couldn’t have kicked off the study break in much more style. We spent Thursday night in a pub where you can have burgers delivered right to your seat from a takeaway burger place next door, honestly what a time to be alive. The following day we were up and out early for a trip over to Rottnest Island, which is a little island about 30-40 minutes off the coast of WA. If you end up studying at UWA you absolutely need to factor in a trip to Rottnest (or Rotto as the locals call it). We hired bikes and snorkeling gear and had an absolutely 10 out of 10 day/night. White sand, clear water and stunning views make Rottnest impossible not to fall in love with but if those things don’t do it for you then surely the islands population of Quokkas will.
It’s a popular tourist destination but at times it can feel like you have the island to yourself and the lack of traffic makes for ideal cycling. We got the ferry from Fremantle (or Freo as the locals call it), a fair sized port city right at the mouth of the Swan River, and all transfers and bikes/snorkelling equipment can be sorted online for a reasonable price.
We also spent most of the night in Fremantle watching the Australian rules team the Fremantle Dockers play in the AFL semi-finals. There was a great atmosphere and buzz about Fremantle and it was a shame they couldn’t make the Grand Final. Aussie rules football is definitely something I’d encourage anyone coming here to get in to. Find an Aussie to explain the rules to you and you’ll love it. The Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles constitute the two Western Australian teams and both made the semi-finals with just the Eagles going on to make the Grand Final, which is on next Saturday and should be great fun to watch. AFL is definitely the most popular sport on the West Coast but a lot of Aussie’s I’ve met are into football (soccer) too. Funnily enough they seem to be more interested in the English Premier League than the Australian league.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve experienced “culture shock” since coming here but I’ve definitely experienced some cultural curiosities. In many ways Australia reminds me of both Britain and the US but here are some things I’ve found culturally curious:
- Aussie lingo – As you may have picked up from reading this blog. The Aussies like to abbreviate and sometimes it can be quite confusing. A bottle shop (the only place you can buy alcohol from) is a Bottle-o. The train station is the Train-o. I live in Subiaco but you’re more likely to hear it called Subi. This afternoon = this arvo, and so on. Also, I’ve still not mastered how to reply to the extremely common Aussie greeting ‘How you going?’ Do I reply with an answer or is it rhetorical? Who knows?
- Australian footwear etiquette (or lack of). It’s quite common to see people kicking about with NO SHOES on here, even in supermarkets and in uni etc., which is slightly strange to me but fair play I guess. Also I’ve seen more guys than girls wearing UGG boots here; make of that what you will.
- They change Prime Ministers A LOT. Former PM Tony Abbot was hastily removed earlier this month and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull, who became the 5th PM in just over five years!
- I haven’t seen one can of Fosters lager since I got here or any pubs that have it on draught so there goes that stereotype.
Another thing I’ve learned since coming here is that it really is a small world. Just a couple of examples to highlight this:
- One of my readings for a tutorial at uni was written by a sociology lecturer that I’ve had at Glasgow Uni.
- I can walk literally walk across the road from my flat and buy a bottle of Irn Bru and a packet of Tunnock’s teacakes from Woolworths, one of the major supermarkets here.
- We have met up with three different people who we know from back home or from previous travel experiences since coming here.
- If I want to watch my football team Celtic play I can hop on a five minute train journey to a pub where the Perth Celtic Supporters Club meet (and where Caroline now works) and mingle with loads of expat Glaswegians and drink Guinness at $7.50 a pint.
I guess these things can partially explain why I don’t feel like I’ve experienced a “culture shock”. Saying that, I would definitely recommend getting into stuff like AFL or surfing etc., in order to get over any culture shock you may experience. Basically, when in Rome…
Anyway, hope y’all enjoyed reading and I’ll sign off with a great tune by a Perth band I’m sure you’ve all heard of.