As an Australian living in Germany, I am relatively exotic, or at least worthy of intense questioning because my lifestyle and culture perhaps isn’t as known as my fellow English speakers, the Brits and the Americans. Despite our best (and sometimes questionable) efforts, Australia as a country and culture, retains an element of mystery when it comes to the global stage. That, or everyone just assumes we’re some sort of hybrid of Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin and that surfing runs in our blood.
It helps that, for many, I am the resident token Australian. There aren’t too many Australians around, particularly not in the places I’ve lived. I had an Aussie friend in Münster, and knew of a few Erasmus students floating around. I heard of one or two country-fellows in Kiel, but only ever met one (fate threw us together at a cafe. He had barely uttered the ‘worries’ part of the phrase, before I’d said, ‘Australian?’).
Down here in Weiden, I am not entirely sure if there’s an Australian out there. There may be. Hello?
The questions I get asked are generally borne of genuine curiosity. Some foray into more rigorous questioning for specific purposes, like one of the nurses I had when I was in hospital once. He kept slipping in to ostensibly check my IV drip, but really to lean forward and pepper me with whispered questions regarding his sister’s visa possibilities, now that she had broken up with her de-facto partner and was in Australia, visa-less. But for the most part, people simply want to know how we do things down under.
I thought I would compile some of the more common ones – along with a few of my more arbitrary favourites – for your enjoyment. A lot of them are about animals that can kill you. I have answered them to the best of my ability.
Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia?
We’ve been known to.
How can you celebrate Christmas when it’s warm?
Do you still have Aborigines?
Are they in the Outback.
Some Aborigines do live there, yes.
Are Aborigines still running around the streets of Sydney?
Not sure how to handle that one.
Have you ever seen a shark/crocodile/snake/large spider?
Yes. Although, not a shark … in the wild.
Have you ever been bitten by a snake/large spider?
Will you definitely die if you get bitten by a snake/large spider?
Not definitely. Perhaps. Depends how good you are with a tourniquet and how close you are to a hospital.
How many snakes and spiders can actually kill you?
Oh, loads. Here is some useful information on surviving life in Australia.
Can I survive a shark attack?
I believe so.
What if I lie very still in the water – will it still attack?
Not entirely sure. Probably. It isn’t a bear, I don’t think playing dead makes it go away – fundamentally, I think it wants to eat you.
Is it true about sharks smelling blood? If I get attacked, will another shark come?
I think so, and possibly, if there is one in the area.
How will I know if there is a shark in the water? Will someone tell me?
Theoretically, yes. The beach will be closed. Do not swim in Australian beaches that are unpatrolled and/or closed. End of.
And for God’s sake, if you are in the northern half of the country, and there is a body of water – a dam, a river, an estuary – probably best not to swim in it. It may contain a crocodile.
Is it possible to meet a shark and a crocodile in the ocean?
Apparently, theoretically, yes it is (I have googled extensively, because originally I said ‘no’.) But you would have to be the single most luckless soul on the planet. Here’s a wonderful Youtube video explaining who would win in a shark vs croc battle.
Do you have doner kebabs in Australia?
Yes. In fact, we have a large Middle Eastern population, and that part of the world is where the kebab originally comes from. Yes, even the kebab here in Germany, which is apparently Turkish (but not). But we don’t put pickled cabbage on ours.
What kind of food do Australians eat?
Do you eat Strauss in Australia?
A Strauss is an ostrich. We don’t have ostriches. Do you mean emu?
I believe you can eat emu meat if you really want to, but your average Australian doesn’t.
Sure. I don’t think I ever have, but you absolutely can. In fact, we should eat more of it, but we don’t.
What is it like, driving in Australia?
Do you even have snow in Australia? Do you have a mountain?
Yes and yes. We are quite a big country (and a small continent) so it’s a relatively safe bet there’ll be a mountain in there somewhere. This article may be of interest to you.
Not really a question, but a statement alleged as fact – ‘In Australia, they don’t really speak English.’
No, we speak an unknown, unstudied, mystery language that no one has ever been able to understand. We have no official language, particularly not in schools, where we just let loose with whatever language we feel suits the occasion.
Did Australia fight in WW1 and WW2?
Yes and yes.
Well, us. And England.
Oh okay. Are you really all from British criminals?
No. Some of us are. I am, on one side. A quarter of our population were actually born overseas.
So the British really put criminals on boats and sent them to Australia?
They did indeed. Not all were criminals, though, and some barely (you know, just petty bread thieves).
So you’re all criminals.
Are you more like Americans or the British?
Excellent question. I’m going to say we’re quite like Australians with a few things in common with those guys.