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Dispatches from Abroad

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 3:18 p.m.

Updates from David, studying in Surfers Paradise

by admin

Photo courtesy of David Besnainou.

This post was written by David Besnainou, who is studying abroad in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Even when it comes to monsoonal rains, Australians seem to think everything is ‘roses and butterflies.’

When I entered a café and acknowledged a barista on a rainy Monday morning, I was tired and grumpy so I complained about the weather. Seeking some sympathy, I said, “I hate the rain! I did not come to the Gold Coast expecting a monsoon.” The lady bluntly responded with a candid smile, “At least it is not snowing.” I was very surprised by this answer and requested clarification,

“I have never heard of snow on the Gold Coast. Does it ever snow here?” Unaffected by my less-than-ecstatic mood, she retorted, “No, but imagine if it did, now that would suck!”

Despite the occasional downpour, the most sunlight country on the planet has learned how to profit off its natural environment. Ausra, a solar-thermal energy, is the first of its kind to create solar steam generators that retain heat during periods of transient cloud coverage, allowing for unparalleled integration with the electric grid.

This heavy reliance on the environment also appears in Australia’s rugged work ethic. Unlike Americans, once Australians graduate from high school, they do not pursue a college degree right away. Rather, many young adults harness nature and work in mines for several years, gladly exchanging arduous 15-hour workdays for six-figure salaries. Finally, at age 25 or 30, undergraduate students excel academically and do not tolerate weakness of character for themselves and others. They already earned their right of passage working in mines and now attend university to pursue high goals and ideals.

I now understand why the pretty woman at the coffee shop did not indulge in my lack of enthusiasm about the climate. In no way is this gal naïve. She is impervious to the weather because she can see past it. Australians know that when diligent work is sanguinely executed, great riches ensue.