|From the Eidos Team|
From Samantha Dean
Eidos Media and Communications Officer
My mother is a second-wave feminist. For those of you not in the know, second wave feminism refers to the period of feminist activity beginning in the early 1960’s and lasting through to the shoulder-pads and power dressing of the 1980’s. It’s burn your bra, smash the glass-ceiling, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar type stuff. Inspirational. Revolutionary. It’s also a pretty hard act to follow.
Growing up in a household where we were taught to recognise the inherent sexism in everything from a laundry detergent add to the plot-lines of Home and Away (that Alf Stewart, running around calling everyone ‘Sheilas’, what a paradigm of patriarchy) had its definite advantages. In year 9 P.E I refused to throw from the ‘girls line’ in group volleyball under the grounds of a conscientious objection. My serves rarely made it over the net (P.E not being my forte) but I felt my point had been well made (unfortunately I was almost always chosen last for teams during this module for this exact reason).
In 1994 iconic Australian feminist Anne Summers challenged a generation of women to pick up the baton of feminism passed to them by their second-wave sisters and shoulder the responsibility of the battles fought on our behalf. ‘Third Wave Feminism’ or as it is often termed ‘Lipstick Feminism’ has earned something of a bad rep amongst our feminist forebears, criticised on the basis of perpetuating social and cultural constructions of gender identities and riding on the coat-tails of the sacrifices made by previous generations.
Where are we currently at in terms of gender order within Australian society? Have we really ‘dropped the baton’, existing in a kind of feminist wasteland populated by female stereotypes warped to the extent that a Pussycat Dolls film clip is considered the height of an expression of female power?
The pattern of power distribution between men and women within our current contemporary society remains an issue of great debate. Dr. Jane Hasler argues that the gender order in Australia is manifested by a work/care regime underpinned by a ‘male breadwinner’ gender division embedded following the Second World War. Understanding and challenging this gender area represents a crucial way in which to engage with and conceptualise the future of gender relations and negate the complex terrain of 21st century feminist ideals.
As part of Eidos’ seminar series we are hosting a forum on June 23rd to tease out some of these complicated issues. Discussion with feature the work of gender specialist Dr Jane Hasler, QLD Minister for Women the Hon. Karen Struthers and al-round feminist icon and perpetual wearer of purple dale spender (lower case on purpose, visit her website to get the drift).
Eidos Media and Communications Officer
From Mabel del Castillo
Ever since high school, I have always dreamed of studying abroad in Australia. I don’t know what urged my desire for this location, but I just knew that whatever University I went to had to have Australia as an option. To be honest, I never really did research prior to choosing Australia as my destination. Being that I am a very independent person, subconsciously I was probably drawn to the fact that it is located on the other side of the world. Before coming here I didn’t really fear the plane ride, the culture shock I would probably experience, the lifestyle, the currency nor the weather; considering that in New York we were attacked with nine blizzards prior to my departure.
During my winter break, I would just count down the days until Feb 7th, where I would then take a 21 hour flight to my “dream land.” I did not know what to expect except that I would be welcomed by summer, a nice living arrangement at Cathedral place, and a 14 hour time difference. Finally when I arrived at the Brisbane airport- it was love at first sight. The weather was tropical, the people were unbelievably friendly, the accents were absolutely amazing and I was going to be surrounded by this for 5 months!
The first difference I encountered when I got here besides the cars driving on the "wrong" side of the street were the supermarkets. At home, I food shop every week so I know how everything works, which brands I like and how much food will last me for the week. After having moldy bread after three days, thinking that 100 grams of turkey would last me for a week and finding out that muesli is not cereal, I now know that bread here has no preservatives so it has to be refrigerated, 100 grams of turkey is probably only good enough for three days and muesli is actually granola. Other differences I noticed include coffee. In Australia, when ordering an iced coffee from any of the ten coffee shops situated in one block, we receive coffee with ice cream and milk. In America, an iced coffee is simply brewed coffee over iced cubes with the option of milk and sugar. Even ordering a regular coffee here is a challenge for it implies choosing between lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, flat whites and tall and darks (which is more similar to American coffee).
Although the language here is English, it is as if Australians have their own language. They abbreviate everything with catchy phrases like “breaky” (breakfast), “uni” (university), “footie” (football) and even “Brissie” (Brisbane). I absolutely love these abbreviations and have definitely expanded my vocabulary at least twice as much. Some tricky differences are “chips”, which for Americans means potato chips, but for Australians it means French fries. “Biscuits” mean cookies for Australians and a puff roll for Americans. “Thongs” means flip flops for Australians but lingerie for Americans.
The lifestyle here is beautiful at the very least. I love how everything is more laid back unlike like the rushed, stressful lifestyle of people in New York. Everything here is cleaner unlike the dirty, unpaved streets at home. People are polite and randomly ask “how’s your day going?” without even knowing you. At home you walk down the street and literally just look straight ahead the whole time. Even the jobs here are different. Interning at Eidos Institute is way different than any other internship I have ever had. At home, I have had two internships and not only do the employers not care about how you are doing, but the stress level in unbelievable. Here at Eidos, everyone is friendly and welcoming. This makes me actually want to come in every time instead of dreading the work and the people. Through the assistance the workers here provide, I have learned so much in just a short period of time. I also feel comfortable asking questions because I know I will not get a screaming bark like most interns at home tend t o do.
So far I have traveled to the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Melbourne and in just a few weeks I will be going to Whit Sundays, Moreton Island, Sydney and New Zealand. Every place I have gone to has its own uniqueness to it and its strange how every time I get back to Brisbane after every trip, it feels like home.
My experience in this country so far has been everything I have ever dreamed of and more. Of course, I have only been here for a six weeks and my bank account is nearly empty, but I love every second of being here. My mom and I are really close and every time I talk to her on the phone I say “Mom, I’m not coming back!” The truth is that if the opportunity ever arose for me to live here I wouldn’t really think twice. I would obviously have to get permanently accustomed to not drinking iced coffee, not reading the same Cosmopolitan as home and not having my friends and family close to me, but in the end it would totally be worth it.
From Colleen Markee
It is one to go abroad and live in a place similar to your home, but moving to a place that is opposite from your norm can be an eye opener to say the least. This move across the world has been an enriching experience by learning a new way of life, yet the changes are not easy to adapt to quickly. Within a few days I had become Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and it was very clear that life in the big city was not as easy as life in small town New Jersey.
I am from a small town Bernardsville, New Jersey, United States. This rural suburban town in something I have known my whole life. Being raised by two very involved parents, it is easy to say that my lifestyle is somewhat sheltered. Besides attending summer camps and going away to university (which was only an hour and a half from home) I had really never lived on my own.
My town at home is about 45 minutes from New York City. I have ventured into the city on countless occasions, and always found my way around. This comfort in New York City lead me to feel good enough to choose Brisbane, Australia as a location to study in. I believed that because I was comfortable in a city much larger then Brisbane, that I would have no problem uprooting my rural lifestyle for a city. I was completely wrong. Living in a city full time on your own is much different from just knowing a city.
Upon arriving in Brisbane, all of the Fairfield University students were kept together. We were given guides from the Australian Catholic University that took us everywhere. In a sense we were 16 children following around a mother. None of us really knew where to go or what to do, so we were kept in our comfort zones by having a guide. In the first few days we were shown the university, where to get groceries, and how to get phone and Internet. After this, we were merely given a place and a time to be there. This sudden change to freedom gave way to some tough experiences.
First tough experience was public transportation. Where I live people rely mainly on cars for transportation. If you work in New York City then you most likely would have had experience with public transportation, but besides that most people drive. Anywhere I go on a day-to-day basis, I am driving. Trips to the grocery store, the mall, work or school are all done in the car. In coming to Brisbane I knew that I would not have the easy accessibility of a car so I would have to learn the ins and outs of public transportation. The first week has been an interesting one with a mixture of getting on the wrong bus or city car to not having enough money left on my go card. I have to come to realize that public transportation is something I will learn in time, so for now I will have to deal with the fact that I will always look lost and in people’s way.
Second tough experience was living in a fast paced lifestyle. It’s not to say that my town at home is slow moving or laid back, but it is definitely nowhere near as fast as Brisbane. Exploring the city the first few days has made me aware that most people here know where they are going and what they are doing and they are on a tight schedule. When you stand outside of a restaurant with 16 people other people looking confused, you are clearly in the way. It is hard getting accustomed to the fact that the way of life in a city is much more fast and it is frowned upon to stand in the middle of the sidewalk like a roadblock. This lead to my final tough experience.
Third and hopefully final tough experience, not all people are going to be friendly. The first week, every person I interacted with was beyond welcoming, I felt safe and comfortable in the city. This safety was tested when I was “robbed” at a bar the second Thursday of the trip. I was the stereotypical gullible girl who thought it would be okay to open a tab and give the bartender my “pin” number. But when I woke up the next morning to see -$1000 US from my account, I realized I had made a huge mistake. I had trusted someone I barely knew with information that I should have to myself. It was clear that I was in a city now with a wide variety of people who do not always keep peoples best interest in mind.
I have learned to see that each experience makes you strong and smarter. Although none of these were very enjoyable, I know how to tackle them in the future. After this week I have come to the conclusion that life in the city is nowhere as easy as life in the suburbs.
From David Reyneke
Filthy, rancid, inefficient, unsafe and unpredictable; these are just some of the words that are commonly associated with New York City public transportation. Growing up in such an environment has yielded a few interesting insights. For one, I have learned not to panic. If the rat infested subway train decides to not show up, I can always run back up to the street and catch one of the fifty buses that lead to every corner of the city except the one I want to end up in. But what if the bus breaks down? Well, then there is always a taxi, which will end up costing me only about three weeks pay from my job last summer. Aside from teaching me how to function under pressure, it has helped me to appreciate the smaller things in life. Things like litter-free stations, sidewalks without panhandlers, and windows you can actually use for their intended purpose; to see through.
Let’s take a look at New York City again; the “greatest” city in the world, the city that “doesn’t sleep.” With so many venture capitalists, business executives, lobbyists, politicians, and insomniacs, why can’t we take a page out of Brisbane’s book (or any city outside of the United States for that matter), invest some of our infinite supply of cash and make things work? Obviously those issues are out of my reach, but it makes you think. All I can say is that I feel bad for anyone from Brisbane travelling to New York City for four months that expects to get around with as much ease as they do in Australia. Good luck!
From Amanda Urena
Culture shock - the first week in Australia.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy told her dog Toto “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”; these word hold truth to our entrance to Australia. Living in New York all my life, I’m used to living a fast paced lifestyle. When I’m in a rush I cross the street without looking both ways, ask for coffee and receive it almost as soon as I’m done asking, walk fast and avoid eye contact with other people, talk loud in subways or places where there are lots of people. Most foreigners call that behavior “rude”. I call it being a New Yorker.
Almost immediately after arriving into Australia I knew we were no longer in the suburbs of New York, the place I call home. Its as if everything here is the exact opposite of what life is like in NYC (literally). From the streets and steering wheels to the people you meet in the streets, even the bacon, is different from what you would find in the Big Apple. Who knew culture shock could happen before getting off a plane?
My first taste of Australian culture was on the flight from LAX to Sydney. The flight attendant shook me from my sleep and asked me “what would you like for brekky?”. Still being in New York time, I checked my watch and saw it was evening time back home, definitely not breakfast time; while ordering my meal I said “please” to which he replied “We don’t say please in Australia”. It caught me off guard since please has been a major word in my vocabulary since I was a little girl but I soon realized what the flight attendant meant with that. Everyone I have encountered in Australia is not like the average New Yorker. They have all been polite, did not have to ask twice about a location, even those rushing to work have stopped for a few moments to help me out – things that few in NY would do, especially during rush hour.
In New York, July is summer time, which means sweltering heat and extreme humidity. When I entered Australia I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt; guess I missed the memo that it was winter here. The weather is a difference I wholeheartedly enjoy. Australia’s winters can be compared to our mid-autumn or late spring (both of which are my favorite time of year). When I spoke to my parents upon my arrival they were complaining about the intense heat and temperatures at a record 40°C while I spoke highly of the 20°C.
The funniest culture difference I have had was when I had dinner with one of my friend’s Australian colleagues and his family members. When I told them my area of studies was politics they brought up the prime minister elections that were arriving and how the television time slots conflicted with the program Master Chef; I was told “they pushed back the elections so we could find out who will win and become Master Chef – you can guess what Australians prefer to watch”. Back in the US, the 2008 presidential election was the most followed election the country has had in decades.
Australia’s transportation system is more complicated than in NYC. In NYC we use metro cards, which only need to be swiped when entering a bus, subway, or ferry. My first experience using the trains was very odd for me. When I purchased my ticket there was no one to check it or collect it from me until I got off the train and was leaving the station. The Go Cards are also odd because of the tapping system; the tapping when you enter and leave is much more different that NYCs swipe once. The way the trains enter the station is odd because it is on a schedule. The subway system is not on a schedule and can come at random times. When I first took the train to ACU I almost got lost because I entered the wrong train! Not the best first time experience especially for an American.
The biggest shock for me was what Australian’s call “bacon”. When I went to breakfast with a group of students from the US I ordered a bacon and egg sandwich. It surprised me because the bacon was thick and could be compared to American ham. Our first time in Woolworth’s we tried to find bacon that was more like the bacon from home but to our dismay we failed on the search. On the plus side, it was pretty tasty!
Though I’ve only been in Australia for a bit over a week the shock was much bigger than I expected. The people, culture, and way of life is much more calmer than my life back home. Hopefully the next 4 months give me enough time to learn how to cross the street correctly!