One of the things I’ve noticed more so this year than I have in any other year is the stark difference in how Europeans have holidays compared to us.
I think it’s because I’ve been communicating with a lot more European friends and family recently through language learning apps as well as my Twitter network; also our small company Adopt & Embrace was recently acquired by a Dutch company called Rapid Circle. As well as that, I watch YouTube videos of travel vloggers and now started following others where English isn’t their main language so I’m seeing perspectives that I would never have come across if I continued to watch Australians, English and Americans.
As Europeans take their August off to enjoy the summer holidays, it seems that they’re ALL off at the same time.
“Sorry, I’ll get back to you after the break!”
“Let’s talk after my holidays!”
“He’ll be able to follow that up when he gets back to work!”
“The office is closed, you won’t be able to find anyone as it’s our summer break!”
What the? Is everyone away from work? Well, it seems to be that way.
I use a Language App called Hello Talk and iTalki and on it, the Europeans are all sharing photos of their holidays. Foods that they’re eating with their families in their trips back to the home towns and villages. Meanwhile, here’s me, the Australian, thinking “surely someone is working at this time?”
So this got me thinking that another thing that I learned about Coronavirus is that it shines the light on some things that we have got wrong with our lifestyle and work ethic here in Australia.
I love the idea that once a year, everyone can look forward to a break and that employers encourage their people to take this break and get away from work. I love the idea that the office can close down and we are all away at the same time and can then get back to work refreshed and excited (and sun tanned) when it starts up again.
In Australia, our holidays are over the Christmas period but many times people will work over this time so that they can accrue their leave to take at other times of the year to enjoy overseas summers. However, as international flight is difficult nowadays and with lockdowns that stop people travelling beyond 5kms of their home, people have been holding onto their leave and instead working through. So there’s a lot of exhausted people here in Australia who prefer to trudge on because they don’t want to take a break just to stay at home and do nothing.
That aside, it made me think about the differences between work ethics of say countries like America (and Australia because we follow their example) where work is where the majority of the people place their value.
The more the pandemic is highlighting things in my life and work that are nonsensical and the more I watch programmes and stories with European perspectives on how they approach living life, the more I realise that I simply do not connect to the American/Australian ideal of life being all about being a slave to your work.
It does not fit with my values.
In recent times, especially with how our government acts, I am even questioning what it means to be Australian anymore. This saddens me no end as someone who has proudly served her country in the Navy for many years. I don’t like this new Australia that I’m seeing. One that is unfair, self-centred, short-sighted, misogynistic, racist and fear mongering.
It feels like Australia has become the back water for the rest of world; out of sync with the ideals and values for a new and better world. No longer do I see ourselves as the ‘lucky country’.
Closer to home, even in my work, I never prescribed to the idea of “hustling” (in fact, I DESPISE that word); the idea of promoting, marketing, influencing, selling, ‘thought leading’, keeping up with others and being run ragged; the consumerism; the waste; the fakeness of it all. So I begin to think that in my heart and in my head, I align myself to the European ideals for a good life lived. That’s one where relationships, friendships, home, community are at its core.
It’s interesting to reflect on all these aspects during this time and shine light on some things we do really well as Australians and others where we could learn from others.
My focus now is less work and more ways to bring that life, love and friendships into my life. It means that once international travel is allowed again, my intention is to spend much of my year overseas in Europe (fingers crossed).