Sydney's famous Opera House
What is Australia Day?
Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. It is celebrated annually on January 26. This day commemorates the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet to Sydney Cove. The date marks the founding of New South Wales. Tracing to celebrations as early as 1808, this celebration has grown into the largest annual civic event in Australia.
How They Celebrate
Australians celebrate in the form of community festivals and ceremonies. Think the Independence Day or Canada Day of Australia. Except with more than just fireworks.
Australian of the Year Award
Australian of the Year Ian Frazer
Given on Australia Day Eve. This Award honors the most outstanding citizen for everything from sports to medicine. Previous winners include Ian Frazer (HPV vaccine, pictured) and even Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee). A plaque honouring them is placed on the Australians of the Year Walk in Canberra.
The relevancy of the date is sometimes questioned. January 26 marks the formation of New South Wales in 1818. Not Australia. Efforts have been made to change Anzac Day and even New Year’s Day to Australia Day.
Australian patriotism is a relatively new phenomena. Widespread participation of Australia Day by every State/Territory first occured in 1994. A guide to the many other public holidays can be found here. Are you doing anything to celebrate?
If you ask North American students, “What are the benefits of studying in Australia,” they’ll tell you a number of things. One particular perk that students mention again and again is that there is no language barrier. Americans speak English, Canadians speak English, and Australians speak English. Right?
…well, not completely. We’ve already discussed the differences between Australian English and what we’re used to on this side of the world: variances on food terminology and the words that we use when we talk about university. But where do these terms come from? What stories lie behind their meanings? The Australian National University’s Australian National Dictionary Centre explains it all! This website hosts a lexicon which breaks down Australian words and sayings, their definitions, and how they came about. Click here to check it out for yourself.
An authentic dag specimen found in its natural habitat
For example, a popular Australian expression is the word “dag.” In modern Australian culture, “dag” means “any unfashionable or non-stylish person.” However, that’s not what the word meant when it was first coined in the 1870s. “Dag” was originally used to describe “a lump of matted wool, feces, and dirt hanging from the rear end of a sheep” (Ewwwwww). How then, did the word evolve to its present-day definition? Find out here.
Do you like words and writing? Are you studying in Australia? Apply to be a student blogger! More information here.
It’s that time of the year again… time for new student bloggers! Do you have what it takes? We want bloggers who are:
– studying in Australia for the Aussie Semester 1 (February – June)
Student blogger Ashley poses by the Opera House in Sydney
Think you fit the bill? Click here to submit an application, and show us your best! You can always look at past bloggers’ posts for inspiration — we’ve pulled together our favourites right here. You can also learn more about our student blogging program on our website here. Applications close on 20 February.
Still have a question? Ask us in the comments!
Happy New Year! Every first of January brings about a number of well-intentioned resolutions: no more eating junk food, exercising every day, breaking bad habits… If you’re getting ready to spend a semester in Australia, perhaps you should set a few resolutions of your own! Here are a few tips to help you make the best of your studies Down Under:
Students studiously studying in Sydney
1. Study. Yes, it’s kind of obvious, but… this is study abroad, after all! Taking classes in Australia is a great way to learn about your field from a different perspective and maybe even take classes you couldn’t otherwise at your home university. So take advantage of your international studies and don’t forget to actually go to class!
2. Meet Australians. When you’re in a foreign country, it’s easy to stick with what’s comfortable — namely, your fellow compatriots. Why not branch out and mix with the locals? Make the extra effort to connect with Aussies in your classes, dorm, at work, and around campus for that extra-authentic Down Under experience.
3. Volunteer or Work. Take your learning outside of the classroom and get involved in your community! Also a great way to meet Australians (refer to resolution number 2).
4. Blog. Share your semester in Australia with your family and friends back home. This allows you to stay connected and to reflect on all of the wonderful activities you are partaking in. Want to blog for us? Apply to be a Student Blogger before 20 February! Download an application form here.
5. Enjoy yourself. Try new things, meet new people, explore new locales, push your comfort zone, and most importantly — remember to have fun!