My nephew and I visited Australia last year – we had a good time because my nephew met a new friend Liam in Australia & now, they are pen friends. Liam is a school boy who lives in Adelaide, South Australia. His grandparents are from Germany and they moved to Australia many decades ago.

  • A brief summary of Australian history and economy:

The British ships arrived in Australia in 1788 and this British colony was established. Initially, the Great Britain sent their convicts to Australia. However, convicts were not sent to South Australia. Liam is from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, so whenever he meets people from overseas, he often tells others that he is from South Australia where there was no convict, meaning his family background has nothing to do with convicts. He also wants other people to know that his background is German because he is very proud of German culture. Meanwhile, Liam knows that Europeans killed many Aboriginal Australians when White immigrants arrived in this country, so whenever he sees an Aboriginal beggar in the street, he always gives the beggar a golden coin (AU$1 or AU$2) & when the homeless person says, “Thank you so much, young boy”, Liam sometimes has tears in his eyes, but he also has a big smile on his face. He could have used the coin to buy an ice cream from McDonald’s, but he would rather give it to the homeless Aboriginal person. He says he is already very privileged because he is a White male in Australia. Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, but Liam’s parents aren’t rich, so his parents send him to a public school in Adelaide. Since South Australia has the worst economy in this country, it’s very difficult for Liam’s parents to find decent full-time jobs. Liam’s dad is a bus driver; his mum is a waitress. He has an older brother who goes to a public high school.

  • Current events/issues that might affect young people in Australia:

Top issues that affect teens in Australia include mental health problems, drugs, body image and cyber bullying. A few years ago, it was reported that Australia has the highest suicide rate amongst teenagers in the world. One of Liam’s friends at school is an Indian boy who told Liam that Indian teenagers are usually very happy as long as they have snacks to eat and schools to go to, whereas Australian teenagers are bothered by cyber bullying, body image and drugs – these oftentimes lead to mental health issues which might cause suicidal thoughts.

  • A brief summary of the Australian culture:

The biggest language in Australia is English – this is the official language in this country. The second-biggest language in Australia is Chinese (Mandarin). The official national day of Australia is 26th January (AKA Australia Day) which marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships. However, this public holiday is very controversial – many indigenous and non-indigenous people point out that this is actually “Invasion Day”, because that was exactly when Australia was invaded by the United Kingdom & that’s why the Indigenous culture is lost in Australia. Liam’s heroes are Chris Hemsworth (movie star) and Turia Pitt (bushfire survivor). The iconic Australian food is Vegemite which was on The Ellen Show in the United States. Australians eat Vegemite with bread in the morning as breakfast. As to burial practices, Australians wear black or dark navy/grey & send flowers to the family’s home, the funeral itself or the funeral home. In terms of religious background, Australia has many different religions: 30.1% of Australians have no religion; 22.6% of Australians belong to Catholic Church; 13.3% of Australians believe in Anglicanism; 16.3% of Australians are other Christian; 2.6% of Australians believe in Islam; 2.4% of Australians believe in Buddhism; 1.9% of Australians believe in Hinduism; 1.7% of Australians choose other religions; 9.1% of Australians are unclear in this regard. Liam doesn’t have a religion. Liam says although he isn’t religious, he is spiritual because he believes in astrology. He also says religious/spiritual people are less stressed, because these people know there are things that are out of their control in life – they can make peace with these things. That’s why religious/spiritual people live longer. Very interesting travel observation. 😊

  • Style of dress commonly worn by Australian young people:

Australian students must wear uniforms at school from Monday to Friday. The uniform is usually a T-shirt and a pair of pants if it’s a public school. When school isn’t in session, students can wear whatever they want at home. Liam wears a shirt and a pair of shorts in the summer & wears a padded jacket and jeans in the winter when school isn’t in session. The summer in South Australia is extremely hot and dry – sometimes the temperature is 45 degrees in Adelaide (Please note that this is Celsius degrees rather than Fahrenheit).

  • Pop culture in Australia:

Famous musicians are Justice Crew, Delta Goodrem and Savage Garden. Liam’s favourite song is Que Sera (Australian version). When it comes to famous artwork, Liam likes Sue Janson’s art because Sue Janson represents modern Australian humour. However, Liam’s best female friend Zoe likes Megan Hess’s art & Zoe says she can’t afford to buy Megan’s artwork now, so she will study hard and go to university and then she will find a good job & be able to buy artwork designed by Megan Hess. Favourite stories in Australia: Guitar Highway Rose (written by Brigid Lowry) is a compulsory reading task in English class at Liam’s school – it’s also Liam’s favourite book. Recently, Liam read Wish You Were Here (written by Michelle Blackbird) – now this has become one of his favourite books because it’s a historical fiction. Surprising and fun facts about the teen, the culture and the country: Many Australians are impressed by ideas and cultures of other countries. An Australian’s accent is determined by his/her ideology. Australians are generally very open-minded and relaxed. Because most poor kids go to public schools and most rich kids go to private schools, the rich and the poor rarely meet each other since a young age. Also, most Australian young people go to local universities. For example, Liam says he wants to go to University of South Australia when he finishes high school.

  • Slang that might be used by young people in Australia:

That’s sick!” means that’s cool or awesome. “K” means okay. “Yaaaass” is used to express enthusiastic support. “Maccas” means McDonald’s.

Liam’s hopes, dreams and fears: Liam would like to become a writer in the future because he loves literature. However, his biggest fear is he might become a starving artist, because he doesn’t know anyone who can make a living by writing – most people that can write make a living by teaching students how to write (they can’t make a living by writing).

Liam’s school experience: Because Liam goes to a public Reception – Year 12 school, many of his friends at school are White poor kids and first-generation immigrants’ kids. It is a small school with only 400 students. Last year, only 14 students from his school went to university. Liam wants to go to university, and he does well academically at school.

“My travel observation has expanded my outlook.”