I don’t know whether it’s because we live on an island, but Australia has developed a reputation for being an easy-going, relaxed, laid-back, “no worries mate” type of place.
Whilst this may be true for the most part, we are also a culture that loves structure. If you’re an Aussie, you probably don’t believe me at this point. But there is one example that I experience quite often…
Driving 45km on a main motorway in Sydney every day to work (one way), I would say I am definitely “experienced” in Australia’s driving culture. At this point, it is very tempting to go on a rant about the absolute crazy people who switch three lanes at a time at top speed, who don’t keep a safe distance (what we term “tail-gating”), who speed ridiculously, who run red traffic lights and who don’t indicate when changing lanes – all of which causes me daily frustration and on more than one occasion has almost led to accidents.
But the mere fact that I want to complain about these things proves my point. In Australia, the structure of how we drive is very strong. Everyone stays in their lane. Everyone is expected to stick to the speed limit. Everyone is expected to indicate when changing lanes. Everyone goes on “Green” and stops on “Red” And when these expectations aren’t met, other drivers get very frustrated and it leads to road rage.
Compare this with driving in say, India, or Thailand (two other places I’ve experienced). Everyone is everywhere on the road. Speeding, changing lanes without indicating, not even driving in the lanes in the first place, only stopping on “red” when it’s absolutely necessary (i.e. the police are nearby)…are all normal. So it can come as a surprise to immigrants from these countries when Aussies get so upset that they don’t know the road rules in Australia, or don’t care about following them.
This is one area we are definitely not laid back in and an example of how assumptions about a culture can lead to confusion and frustration.
But….no worries, mate. Just do your research 🙂