Departing from the astronomy theme for a while, I've been following a great travel blog from Ben Groundwater on The Age website. An Aussie traveller, he's been writing about his adventures here and there from his Melbournian perspective.
His entry for today is a good read. A while back, Aussies had a certain charm or character that people thought was pretty cool. But, it seems, thanks to some of the loudmouth Aussies touring around here and there (moreso in the UK and Europe, it seems) they're getting a bad rep.
I've tried to keep a low profile while living out here in the US. Yes, my accent sticks out like a sore thumb and I'm guilty of wearing the occassional rugby or "Victoria Bitter" tshirt when the mood takes me. I also proudly display and Australia sticker on the back of my car, and am happy to talk to those who are interested about Australia. But, I've tried very hard to hide some of the more in-your-face Aussie characteristics that I could SO easily drop on people if I wanted to. "Oi! Gday mate - pull up a pugh and we'll 'ave a chinwag, maybe I'll explain the cricket to ya! Get me a tinnie while you're at it! Oh, hang on, looks like I need to go to the dunny."
Why don't I do it? Because I want to avoid the same sentiments that other not-so-intelligent Aussies are recieving when they do, according to Groundwater! I don't really want to be known as a "JAFA". I like the country I live in. Granted, not all aspects of it are brilliant. The foreign policy of the US is a bit questionable, and it takes an act of God to watch cricket and rugby on tv (waiting for Americans to realize that rugby is the next logical, evolutionary step up from football ;-)). But, I don't go around loudly putting it down or telling folks how much better Australia is. Rather, I meld into my surroundings, participate in the community while casually maintaining my heritage without throwing it in people's faces. I try very hard to not be someone else's private joke, and while I'm not sure I'm always successful (!), I try hardest not being a loud, obnoxious, stereotypical Aussie.
To be honest, I haven't really run into many Aussies here that fit the description that Groundwater talks about, and I wonder if it's because Aussies and Americans are fairly alike or if I run into different sorts of people (people who have settled down as opposed to young, fresh-out-of-uni backpackers). In the UK and Europe I can understand the sentiment. But here, both on the street (there are a fair few Aussies here in Austin) and online, like at one of a couple of Aussies-in-America websites, folks are typically reserved and act responsibly.
Anyway, again maybe it's just an occurence in the UK and Europe. I do hope, though, that this trend isn't signifcant. I, for one, would be the first to tell another Aussie to put a sock in it if I saw them acting like a "galah". Hopefully there's enough other Aussies like me who would do the same and try and keep things in order...