Differences between Spain and Wollongong

» Read the Spanish version of this story

Author: Mikael Arroyo
Storyteller: Mikael's parents
Community Language School: Wollongong Spanish School
Main School: Saint Joseph's Regional School

Observations by my parents of differences between life in Spain and Australia.

When my parents came to Australia, they noticed a big difference between the two countries.

Australia was a very different place, with a different climate and a different language. It wasn't easy learning a new language and trying to talk with the people here.

Climate differences
Spain was very different, especially the climate. In Spain, it is much hotter in summer – it depends on the region, but normally it reaches 30-40° C – and it is very cold in winter. I know in some regions this is not true, but this is the general weather pattern in most of Spain. However in Australia, we don't have such high or low temperatures, in most places.

Food differences
Another difference my parents noticed was the food. In Spain, people cook more, for example soup, bean stew or potato omelette. However in Australia, people eat more fast foods, or food already prepared such as sausage rolls, meat pies, hamburgers and so on. Another difference my parents noticed was that Australians tended to eat a lot at night, a sandwich for lunch and a large breakfast. In Spain, people eat a lot for lunch and only nibble for dinner. Breakfast is generally a coffee. This is because Spaniards, both workers and students, go home to eat at about two or so, and then return to school or work.

The students in Australia don't go home at two, but continue to work until three or four. My mum completed her schooling, and she didn't notice the difference. However my dad did notice the difference, because he completed his studies in Spain. When he went to work, he couldn't go home to eat. He had to take a sandwich or buy something from the canteen, and wait until night to eat dinner.

House differences
When my parents came to Australia, they noticed a difference in the style of houses. People had large blocks of land, with gardens and backyards. In Spain, most people live in units and can't have animals.

The people
My mum noticed that the people of this area of Australia, Wollongong, were all young, with small children. This was because people came from all over the world in search of jobs in a place without war and hunger. In those times there were many people of different nationalities working in the Steelworks.

Australians were mostly friendly and caring. Many of them were also immigrants and they knew, from their own experiences, what it was like to come to another country. Many Australians were interested in learning a new language and culture. Unfortunately, there were some racist people who didn't like these new people because they didn't know how to speak English. These Australians called immigrants racist names and they provoked fights. They were mostly English and acted in that way because their parents had racist views.

My dad was surprised to find that people worked a lot here. This was because they wanted to earn more money to buy a house or give their children a good education. They worked long shifts, night or day, for up to 12 hours a day. They earned extra so they could buy luxury items.

Lifestyle differences
My dad comes from a very small town, and every family lives in a unit with a farm located somewhere in the village. However, here in Australia the houses were built on half acre blocks. In Australia there were many rabbits, fish, sheep and cows. When my grandparents came, my grandfather and my uncle went hunting at weekends to Kiama or Shellharbour. They caught 30 or more rabbits every time they went hunting. They kept a few but mostly gave them to relatives and friends.

They also went prawning and fishing in Lake Illawarra. They caught many fish and prawns. On arrival in Sydney, wearing a tie!!! They went to collect mussels at Botany Bay with friends. They gathered a sack of mussels!!!

Australians have a very relaxed nature. They enjoy spending time with their families and generally watch sport, drink beer and have a good time. Their lifestyle is very laidback.

The music was also different. The music in Spain was mostly rock 'n' roll. The music mostly came from England.

There were also different cars. In Spain, there were cars like Seat, Renault, Citroen, Simca and Chrysler. However in Australia, there were makes such as Holden, Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. Spanish cars were generally small, and had four cylinders. The cars in Australia were much larger, of an American style, with six or eight cylinders, and were very powerful.