Saturday, August 18, 2007

Australia's love affair with Europe


Photo: Santorini, Greek Islands

An exchange of comments on an earlier post, Multicultural vs Polycultural, got me thinking about Australia's, more correctly I should say Australians', current love affair with Europe. Not the UK or Ireland, but Europe more broadly defined.

Take my wife's family, a fairly traditional Irish/English Roman Catholic Labor Party family.

At present, my wife's sister is a doctor on a cruise ship touring Europe and has fallen in love with Scandinavia. This followed her first trip to Europe a few years ago.

Two of my wife's sisters are planning a trip to the Greek Isles, including hiring a yacht. Last night one was across at home booking accommodation on Santorini. This is not their first collective trip to Europe or indeed Santorini in the last few years. In fact, one of many.

My eldest plus girl friend are planning their first independent European trip for next year. My wife mutters about us spending time on retirement, should this ever be possible, in Tuscany.

At a time when languages in Australian schools and universities have been in decline for several decades, the number of Australians studying European languages on a private basis has never been higher.

Don't get me wrong, I too love Europe. I am just interested in all this as a social trend. Is all this just a natural outcome of the maturation of our mass post war migration program? I suspect that this is part of the answer.

Take Italy as an example. The earlier Australian prejudices about Italy have long gone. Most Australians going to Italy will know someone of Italian ancestry. All of us know something about Italian food. The cultural ambiance is familiar as well. More correctly, familiar enough to be comfortable, different enough to be interesting. So we actually feel at home, even if we have no Italian ancestry at all.

Is this a bad thing? I do not think so. It's all part of the process of change by which we adjust to changes in Australian society and culture. Italy is now part of Australia and the Australian experience.

1 comment:

marcelproust said...

Jim,
More correctly you should say "Australians'". (Feel free to remove this comment once/if the correction is made.)