March 2, 2013 Leave a comment
I apologise as this is a really belated post…. I am currently trying to catch up on all the lovely adventures I am having, unfortunately sitting down to write about them can be hard as you are often off having another one! So they seem to have backed up a little….
In any case… with Australia Day coming up I was feeling a little forlorn with all my friends from home posting on facebook about their plans to go swimming at the beach, have a BBQ and generally make the most of the sunny weather.
Determined not to let it get me down, after a few google searches I came upon the mass-marketed phenomenon of the ‘Oz Cafe’. Oz cafe’s are a chain of pubs and restaurants intent on bringing the not-so-authentic australian experience to the wider europian market….Essentially when you walk in you are confronted with all things cliche’ Australia. think Crocodile Dundee on steroids…. rugby jerseys, digereedoos, native Australian art on the walls,Foster’s on tap and all other manor of parephenalia…
With a few of my friends from uni in toe, I hoped to give them- and myself -a taste of Australia. Behind all the marketable, stereotypical Australian hype, there were genuine aspects of home. Wolfmother playing over the speakers, surfing doco’s on the tellies, Boags, Tooheys and back-packing Aussies behind the bar.. and perhaps most importantly, saussage sangas and lamingtons… although the sausage sandwiches had a distinctly french twist- being served on baguettes as apposed to run of the mill white slice- It was a good to be able to kick back and chill with the sound of nasal Aussie slurrrs in the background.
Of course living in Paris, you want to have the most authentic cultural experience possible, the Oz Cafe not really being part of that. But it gave me a satirical perspective of how australians are generally perceived by the wider world, as the ruffians with a beer in hand and a kangaroo in the front yard- rather than fighting that image the Oz Cafe plays off it with a bit of tongue in cheek… For example, a French band playing Australian and American classics to a Parisian, Canadian and Australian audience in the middle of Paris- seems more than a little ironic.
I know I go on about how being away from Australia can be hard, and how homesick it can leave you. I’m sure some of you will read my Blog and think ‘YOUR’E LIVING THE DREAM! STOP COMPLAINING!’ I don’t mean to come off as ungrateful or ignorant, to the contrary I am absolutely loving my time here, but one of the things me and my fellow Aussie exchange student, Naomi talk about frequently is how difficult it can be to try and communicate the trials and tribulations living in Paris presents, without seeming like an ingrate. Although its a dream, and incredible opportunity to be living here, the day to day issues to do with cultural miss-communications, language barriers and in-your-face nature of Paris can wear you quite thin, both emotionally and mentally, simply because it’s every single day that you are dealing with it and this entirely different culture. This is why I think, more than ever, when you are away from home, where you are out of your comfort zone almost constantly, the small things and reminders of home mean the most. Whether its Vegemite on toast, listening to Tripple J online, or heading to an Oz Cafe, they are a little morale boosts that bring a smile to your face and keep you going, and therefore essential…even if it is a little lame.