I have mixed feelings toward stereotypes. Obviously, it’s problematic to generalize entire groups and reduce them to simple images and often, offensive caricatures. At the same time, we tend to construct images in our mind of people based on previous interactions and context. Some prominent images that come to mind when I think of Australia are:
I’ll admit, part of the reason I chose Australia is for the wildlife. I’m a biology major. Steve Irwin, and the narrator of the Outback Steakhouse advertisements have shaped how I imagine Australian accents to sound, and Vegemite, well, I believe it to be a staple of the Australian diet.
In the back of my mind, I know that I’ll be living in Melbourne, so my koala and kangaroo sightings may be few and far between in my day-to-day life. Not every Australian will speak like Steve Irwin and the Outback man, and Australians cannot survive on Vegemite alone. These are the images I see, and that I’ve interacted with. I don’t have any other concepts to help me predict what my time in Australia will be like. Of course, this problem is remedied by engaging further with Australian culture and consuming Australian images that have been created by Australians.
I look forward to having my stereotypes and pre-conceived notions of Australia shattered by actually living there.