This has been sitting in draft form since 5 December. I finally have the brain space to finish it. Enjoy!
1. Power plugs in bathrooms – as in there aren’t any, anywhere in that room, except for an electric shaver plug, which is the wrong voltage for any other appliance. I thought it was just our house, but after checking 8 other rental properties, and asking the (real) estate agent, it seems this is standard.
Gah! I can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and not actually disturb my sleeping bf. Can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and be able to easily sweep up the hair that falls out.
Why is it that men can have their grooming item in the bathroom where the mirror is, but women can’t? This extends to straighteners, and curlers as well as hair dryers. Why allow one type of electricity and not another?
I’m assuming it’s a health and safety thing, not wanting electric appliances to fall into baths. But, seriously!? Some of the risk averse practices of this country are very confusing to me. (Which reminds me of a conversation I want to have with Poki at some stage, about the difference between a nanny state and a risk averse society, and which comes first, since they’re both in existence here)
2. Changing power cables – In contrast to the previous item, it seems extremely common and acceptable that people change the power cables on their appliances. Extend their length, shorten them, change the plug type if necessary. Something I’ve never seen anyone do in Australia, except a flatmate who was a trained electrician, nor have I heard anyone discussing it as something they’d do on the weekend.
This seems rather dangerous to me, although I am assured it’s relatively stratightforward.
3. Dogs on trains – all dogs are allowed on trains, not just guide dogs. It’s odd. I sat next to a couple the other day who had their small (yappy-type) dog in the woman’s lap. The dog insisted on attempting to eat the chewing gum under the table. I’ve even seen them on some local buses.
I think this is firmly in the “different” category. I can see issues with the practice, people with dog allergies for instance, but I can also see benefits, being able to take your dog to a large park/forest and give it a chance to run around.
4. Plastic Surgery – It seems to be more accepted and more prevalent here. Whereas in Sydney, I was vaguely aware that some people, somewhere, had plastic surgery, it was no-one I knew. The attitude of the people I hung out with was that it was mostly the middle-aged women who had a certain image to maintain and a disposable income, and why would you put yourself through it. Such a vain thing to do. And more an American thing.
However, here, half the classified sections in the back of fashion magazines are full page ads for plastic surgery clinics, 3-5 pages worth. Which gives me the impression that plastic surgery is more acceptable and more common.
Thinking about it further, perhaps it’s the difference in gender politics between the 2 countries. A number of sources agree with me, that Australia tends to be more gender neutral, you’re worth is judged on your personality, knowledge and competencies, regardless of your gender. This is less of the case here, gender matters, although it’s very difficult to point out to British friends what triggers this. It’s subtle, but I’ve never been so aware of being a woman and the role that I should therefore fulfil and what I am and am not allowed to be and do. This also translates into greater pressure to look good at all times. (NB, British men, particularly those over the age of 40, similarly have much more restricted concept of what it is to be male, and how they should and should not behave, than the Australian men of the same age that I have had dealings with).