Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week Two

This is my flat.

Today is Monday. It’s been 12 days since I arrived, 57 days before Melbourne Cup Day and 353 until my visa expires. Normally I like to start off each day by going for a walk down the street, finding various trees, looking up those trees and shaking them, and then I’d keep looking up into the leaves while extending my arms and hands - all in hopes of eventually catching a koala. Today, however, I don’t have time (and quite frankly I’m 0-for-142 in neighborhood trees thus far).

Today, I got my $93 dry-cleaning, enough Diet Coke to last me the week (48 cans), and a haircut at the local Edward Scissorhands, Melbourne’s version of a Fantastic Sam’s. And since my last entry, I got a monthly tram pass, a bank card and a job. All I need now is a cynical discontentment with Kevin Rudd and a pair of brown UGG’s and I’m practically all Aussie. Oy!

I decided to join the corporate practice at Burson-Marsteller, The Holmes Report’s 2007 International PR Agency of the Year. While I’m excited to get back into PR, I’m a little nervous at my job responsibility: to communicate with the Australian public. If I can’t understand these people how can I communicate with them? Really, the only subjects I feel qualified to discuss with Aussies are 1) why Brooke Addamo will win Australian Idol or 2) why Brooke Addamo is such a looker.

Twelve days into my stay and the only things I’ve really learned about Melburnians, Victorians and Australians are that they like beer, football and beer & football. One person I met loved Prince, another loved Jesus and another hated Prince and Jesus but loved Sophie Monk. I have a ways to go before I fully understand this public, but several of the individuals I spoke with gave me valuable insight. Attempting to use my non-skills in journalism and qualitative research, I decided to pose some questions to the locals. Here are their responses:

Q. What is a typical or stereotypical Aussie?
A. 1) fine, 2) an arrogant a*@hole, 3) trying to better our country but needing to work harder, 4) unappreciative of what we have, 5) fun and likely a bit drunk, 6) proud but good fun, 7) friendly, 8) there is no stereotypical Aussie – we’re a cosmopolitan of different backgrounds, and 9) intelligent but still learning, always wanting to improve our country and probably into having lots of fun.

Q. What do you love?
A. 1) Prince, 2) Jesus, 3) Sophie Monk, 4) for you to shut up, 5) footy, 6) Americans, 7) your mum, 8) the city and its nightlife, and 9) Thai food and women like that one right there.

Q. What can an American do to better understand the local culture?
A. 1) read the Herald Sun, 2) talk to strangers, 3) be open-minded, 4) go back to America and take rap music with you, 5) talk to people and listen, 6) drink, 7) drink and meet new friends, 8) go to the local festivals and walk around the different areas and suburbs, and 9) go to a hotel (pub), drink some Aussie beer and talk to all the friendlies.

So to sum it all up, some Aussies are very proud of their country while some believe there is much work to be done. Some are incredibly engaging and intellectual and others prefer to party and drink, yet all seem to have very strong opinions. Additionally, approximately 22.2% of the respondents hate me, which I believe means I only have room for improvement in the eyes of the locals. Two weeks down, 50 to go.

Week Two Summary
Weather: Still trying to figure out Celsius
New observation: Aussies watch a LOT of American t.v.
New activity(ies): Dance clubs that close at 5 and 7 a.m.
New food: French fries with gravy
New word: jim-jams (pajamas) & tracky dacks (tracksuit pants)
New people: I met a flamboyant 42-year-old straight man who drank his age (42 drinks) on Friday.
What I miss: The L.A. Times, Mexican food, ESPN, Liz Oh’s ability to say inappropriate things at inopportune times, Bounce Fabric Softener

from left to right - 1) my living room, 2) the local milk bar and tram, 3) my local reading material, 4) my week's supply of diet coke


Jamie said...

Jim jams and tracky dacks? Wow. I may now start to consider more gay than the brits.

And I'm a little pissed about your BM gig. I was hoping you'd get into the koala exporting business. I bet a pet koala would be a killer way to pick up chicks here. Haha.

Diana said...

Hey Mr. Takaya. Well I see that you are probably never coming back to the US (except if you get broke and have no money for the expensive Diet Coke). And esp now with this whole Palin VP thing...start working on a job for me in Aussie-land in case McCain wins the elections. Or maybe we can just switch since you love him, right? I am loving the blog which allows me to know you are still alive. Hawaii was amazing and I cannot wait to tell you all about it. U working for Burson?? That was fast! Good job! I meant...what job?? Hugs!

Krystal said...

Ummm...was the person who loved Prince a guy? If so, we should totally meet so we can fall in love.