Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Differences - Melbourne vs. California

In many ways, Melbourne reminds me of California. As I'm sure you saw/heard/read in the news, there were the bushfires which burned much of the countryside. The fires made the air of the CBD area very smoky. Reminded me of a time when I was in Fontana and fires were raging, and I would be inhaling this soot and dust. Weather-wise, summers are also quite similar. Temperature hovers around the 30's (which is 86 degF for those disinclined to the metric system). A week before I came to Australia, there were record-highs, like 45 for a week. That is bloody crazy. People would just stay inside all day. And that was during the Australian Open so poor tennis players had to grit it out during those environmental extremes.

Melburnians in general here are also very laid-back, similar to Californians, but perhaps even more so. I think that the environment is a bigger part of their lives, in more days than one. You will find people who are extremely outdoorsy and will go bushwalking every weekend or go exercising everyday. They just seem to really enjoy the environment. And they do so many activities, i.e. snorkeling, kayaking, bushwalking, rock-climbing, caving, to name a few. I think rogaining also originated in Australia. You can wiki that, and it's definitely quite intense. But also, Melburnians (and Australians in general) just care more about the environment. There's a huge push to be environmentally-friendly and people here kind of embrace it. The grocery stores sell those eco-friendly bags, and you see many of the shoppers bringing in their bags so that plastic bags stop getting replenished as quickly. They're also big on water conservation and there's a push called Target 155, which is to try to get persons to use less than 155L/week. Shower timers are passed out so that you can take them in four minutes. There's the half/full toilet flush that I was talking about. Signs are everywhere not to leave tap water on when you brush your teeth and such. Many are into being energy-efficient. All in all, they just make the environment a greater priority. And that's something I can't see in many Californians. Melburnians really love their life. They try to make the most of everyday and when they aren't working, they're out having fun. They're a very fun-loving group. They try to go out and do things and aren't so glued to the computer screen and television like most Americans. There also do not seem to be as high an incidence of overweight/obese individuals here. Perhaps the hyperconsumption is mainly in America?

The things I do not like about Melbourne are few and far between. But one of them would have to be the amount of people who smoke cigarettes. I think it's a carry-over from the British culture. In any case, I wish fewer people would smoke. It's hard to get some fresh air and I often wonder why people who are so healthy continue smoking. When you're walking on the street, it's hard not to be following somebody who's smoking a cigarette. So that I don't like so much. Drinking here is also a much larger part of the culture. Pubs are very much part of the social scene. I don't really like that as much. Sometimes you'll walk home and have some wanker shouting or trying to pick a fight with you. It's more a public nuisance than anything else. The cultural diversity here is also a bit lacking, at least in my eyes. You could argue either way on this. Compared to Sydney, Melbourne is darn diverse, but compared to some places in California, I think Melbourne still has a bit to improve on. With respect to Southeast Asians, Melbourne is really diverse. There are heaps of Malaysians, Singaporeans, Indian, and Chinese people. The white population is also quite diverse - British, Aussie, Greek, Italian, etc. But that's pretty much where the diversity ends. I often feel it's just White and Asian people. Mexican people are non-existent and black people stick out from the crowd. There are heaps of Asian people in Melbourne. I am starting to understand why there was racism against them many years ago when Australian was still in its early years. I guess diversity stems from the location of the country. Australia is really close to Southeast Asian and California is really close to Mexico. Hence, you have what you have.

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