The grass is always greener, I guess. I've spent plenty of time on this blog whingeing about how the rest of the world does everything better than Australia does – and I stand by that whingeing.
However, it's not all bad. As I've recently taken up temporary residence in another country, all of a sudden there are things we do in Australia that I kind of miss. Things like these ...
You can tell a lot about country by how seriously its drivers take pedestrian crossings. In Italy, for example, they couldn't give a flying, um, fusilli about them. In Mexico I'm not even sure why they exist. In Australia, however, (most) people politely stop if they see someone even considering crossing a road. It must can take a bit of getting used to for visitors.
Laugh all you want, but when you sit down at a restaurant in Australia, a waiter turns up. And explains things. When you walk into a store the person who works there will smile at you, maybe even say hello. You might take that sort of thing for granted, but it doesn't happen all over the world.
There are variations of the humble sauso around the world, from the weird things they sell at Gregg's in the UK to the multiple versions of sausage in pastry around the globe. But Australian bakeries do them best. Heck, I'd even take a dodgy service station job right now.
Avoidance of bureaucracy
Ever tried getting a work permit in France? Or buying a train ticket in India? Or posting a letter in Italy? Or getting a visa for Russia? I don't know, maybe in Australia I just know how the system works. But it seems like everything is that bit easier to achieve in the homeland.
There's no one we really hate, collectively, as a nation. There's not enough history – no bad blood. We profess to dislike the English, yet still want to be part of the monarchy (and visit the country in droves). We pretend to hate the Kiwis whenever there's sport on, but tell foreign friends what a great country New Zealand is after the game. You go some places around the world and they seem to truly hate their neighbouring town, and their neighbouring province, and their neighbouring state. It must be tiring keeping up with it all. Fortunately, there's none of that in Australia.
We don't really have a cuisine we can call our own, save for one of the entries above, but one of the great things about dining in Australia is that you can eat just about whatever the hell you want. Your day can consist of three great meals from three different continents and then something else for dessert. Try doing that in Paris.
Avoidance of chaos
I love India, I really do, but it's mental. There might be four lanes marked on the highway, but about seven lanes of traffic driving on it. There are temples stuck in the middle of roads; cows wandering through markets; litter that just gets chucked out of windows. Australia, admittedly, is boring in comparison. But when you actually want to get something done, boring's not such a bad thing.
What Australia doesn't do particularly well is chanting and/or singing, because about all we've got is "Aussie Aussie Aussie", and it's a national embarrassment. What we do do well, however, is put on sporting events that are friendly, safe and well run. At an Argentinean football match you're locked in for half an hour after the final whistle to allow the away fans a chance to get away without being lynched. In Australia we sit next to each other.
As mentioned a few weeks ago, our coffee is good. Great, even. There's better around the world, but if all you're after is a decent flat white you've got a very good chance of finding one anywhere you go.
The chest-beating Australians sometimes do over "mateship" makes me cringe – there's no way we can claim to be owners of the concept of making friends. What I'm talking about, however, is the mutual support Australians seem to give each other, particularly when travelling. Doesn't matter where you are in the world, from the biggest city to the most remote outpost, if you bump into another Australian you can usually guarantee that you've just made a friend.
It's a boring cliché, and I hate talking about the weather, but how is it outside right now? Thought so.
What do you think Australia does best?