Saturday, November 25, 2006

There's an elevator - only takes me down

I see that I am taking longer and longer between entries. Would ideally like to blame something, but now that I am living with a psychologist in training, am not going to resort to 'external factors' for my own non-doings! So... what has been happening in the world of Ingrid and Tom in Belgium. Well, according to Ingrid... I am currently having ambivalent feelings regarding returning home (yes, I know I have another 4,5 years to get used to the idea) but still it terrifies me. Sadly enough, I do look forward to having my own 'piece of Australia'; my own place, with a child or 2, good job etc. but I am scared to death of the insular politics (and dare I say it - people) that await me. I know I have an incredibly accepting and open circle of friends who are more than welcoming to anything/anyone who crosses their path - it's just the other who I worry about. I know before I left, I had more than one person tell me that I didnt need to move here with a foreigner. Yes - bluntly! It wasn't as though I had even provoked such a bold statement. I am petrified as to how Tom will be accepted - I know I have had my problems here, but I can imagine that it is totally different in Australia. Yes, granted I didnt know any Flemish when I first arrived here, and there are racist people here - but something that most Australians cannot predict is the way that ALL Belgians go out of their way to speak English and try to help me speak Dutch here. Can you imagine someone going to Australia, and not speaking a word of English? I think I can safely say that at least 50% of people would not give them a single second of help - not entirely surprising. EVERYONE is expected to know English before they even enter Australia. BUT - send an Aussie to another country - how much do they know of the other language??? Not much, I think! But that's ok - Everyone speaks english. Or so is the attitude we are taught... Why are we not taught to respect others as we wish to be respected??? We are in the end, a multicultural country.

I know it's easy for me to say that in Belgian ALL kids learn French from grade 4, English and German from Grade 8 compulsorily - but they border on these countries/regions: Australia doesn't. And yes, Australia does require kids to learn a 2nd language for a couple of years. But why isnt it encouraged to be bilingual, or at least taught that when you are travelling, to try to speak another language? Why is there such a fear instilled in people when another language is involved? Even French?

The reason for this entry is that I don't look forward to going home to seeing the news on Aussie TV in such a conservative manner. I don't look forward to seeing the war in Israel/Palastine/Lebanon and seeing on the view according to the Americans. I don't want to see why the ex-KGB guy in England was killed according to the Australian media who have been payed by Poutin. I am afraid (and maybe due to my own ignorance) that I will become simple - not because information isn't available in Australia - but because the most important information at home revolves more around people putting out the ANZAC flame and how much a disgrace that is (rather than seeing the comedy...), and how much more difficult it is to access more informative, world news. Sorry if this is insulting to anybody, but need to get the bee out of my bonnet sometimes...

Please mum, and other teachers (who didnt get into uni with an OP of 20) - encourage the kids to be a little more aware. I am afraid of what the culture of Australia will become.


Lyn said...

I'll try again! I wrote a comment but for some glitchy reason, it didn't publish. Ingrid, you sound like me when I was your age. Sorry about the genes!! However, it's not all gloom and doom here. Granted, there is the percentage of insular rednecks but don't be so pessimistic. Most educated or reasonable, rational people have more enlightened views. As far as the media is concerned, yes there is a problem when it is controlled by a few but any thinking person can tell bias and there are other means for finding news. We are a global society after all. Concerning television, I and many others do not get information from commercial television. My preference is SBS. Don't give up on Australia just yet. Besides there is a shortage of people for jobs (all types) at present. Our illustrious premier has just been overseas trying to lure people to Queensland to fill vacancies.

Nick said...

Ingrid - that was exactly what I was worried about before I got back - and am still am to a large degree. Although the fear is no longer that I will be blocked from alternative media, but that the majority doesn't seek it and is never exposed to any other sides to a story than the one Ten News gives them.

Actually yesterday afternoon I had minor panic attack while I was sitting in Toowong Village doing some people watching - I couldn't stand the thought of spending too much time in a place that was so familiar and that I was just another aussie face, accepted at my (white) face value. There was no mystery, just spoilt youths with attitude, and no story to tell.

But it's swings and roundabouts - there are plenty of things that make me glad I am home (although I use 'home' less confidently than used to). 4-5 years is a long time anyway, we might even have a labour federal government by then! (or maybe even Greens!)

Ingrid and Tom said...

Ta for the reassurance - both of you! Was just in a bit of a downer, and am very reassured that I have an interesting (though not too large) circle of friends. One thing I do miss, is sitting around, having a good, heated chin-wag over something (that doesnt apply to what happened on Big Brother) with a group of Aussies. I used to think that a history with someone created a sense of 'being yourself', but have come to realiise that a sense of 'click' is also so important. Am so grateful for the 'click' I have with the handful of people I am most comfortable with (mostly Aussies tho...!)