Exchanges Down Under Part 5 Guest Post: How Do You Like America?

Editorial Note:

In “Exchanges Down Under,” an ongoing series for Spectrum, Lisa Clark Diller has been sharing her experiences on spending a year away from Southern Adventist University on a professorial exchange with Avondale College. In this guest post, her exchange partner Daniel Reynaud shares his experience thus far in America.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

You stop short of a meaningful definition here. So many “poor” in America. Compared to who? Pro athletes? Their Australian counterparts? Where do these middle economic Australians place?

"On the upside you would probably make more money in the US. In 2008, the median household income was $37,690 for Americans compared to $27,039 in Australia, in US dollars according to the OECD.
However, you are also more likely to live in poverty in the US. The UN Human Povery Index shows that 12.2 per cent of Australians live on less than half of the median income, considered the best gauge of wealth distribution.
For US citizens, the number of people living on that amount or less jumps to 17 per cent."
The OECD not only shows the American Middle class makes more money than their Australian counterparts but that the same dynamic exists when the poor are calculated.
The difference is further compounded in an economic analysis due to the exchange rate dynamics as more and more products are would based. XE Currency Converter: USD to AUD
1 USD =1.25825AUD
US Dollar
1 USD = 1.25825 AUD
:left_right_arrow:Australian Dollar
1 AUD = 0.794752 USD
The American dollar has a 25% higher value built into it, so not only does the US “poor” make more than the Australian “poor”, they have an additional 25% more buying power.

So what you have is 2 basic things. The rich are richer here than Australia. As a matter of statistics that makes the middle further away. On the other side of the equation, a lower level of the “rich” makes a statistical anomaly in any percentage based calculation, making middle class Australians appear to be better off than US middle class but only when expressed as a percentage of their higher earning countrymen.

The piece also shows the higher results from America come with costs. Education being one. US high school graduate rates are 89% while Australian graduations are at 70%. The piece also shows it takes Australians 5 years longer to complete their formal education.

Never apologise for your strident opinions. Remember it takes a day to know and become friends with an extrovert but it takes months or years with an introvert. Openness= honesty about who you are and how you think. So go for it. We like that here!

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I hope that this arrangement of exchange works out for the author of this interesting article. The biggest challenge may be on the author’s return to life in the USA. Several years ago I was able to take an entire month to travel and get to know Australia and it’s people. I came back with memories that I will cherish the rest of my life. Delicious food: Pies, lasagna, beautiful and tasty salads, muesli, best baked goods, best Italian food than anywhere else in world, even Italy. Gorgeous beaches, stark red outback, towering rainforest: whatever you’re looking for, Australia has it. It may sound funny to listen to an Australian speak in what’s supposedly English and have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. The Sydney Zoo, the Opera House, and other major attractions stand out as special but the ordinary people living and working form a mosaic of openness and creativity that is unique is what I was impressed with. Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide (I did not get to experience Perth) all are in the top 20–cities in the world based on the stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure of each of those cities. The prices are comparable to any other big city–but things like eating out and public transportation fares still are high and of course the trip itself is expensive to get there (RT air fare about $1500). The best part of Australia are the people and how hospitable they are to Americans, Australians are incredibly friendly, laid-back and fun. I’ve been overwhelmed by how many kind, and friendly, Australians I’ve met.


this is such an interesting observation…actually it’s the sense i get about the difference between canada’s quebec and all points east (commonality is valued), and canada’s ontario and all points west (exceptionalism is valued)…i’ve also pondered which is better…certainly exceptionalism can be good if you’re exceptional…but even an exceptional person can probably feel more relaxed and socially integrated where commonality is valued…probably the gospel promotes commonality…even in the case of exceptional spiritual gifts, their common source downplays the importance of being exceptional…


I’m very much enjoying my time in Australia and am so glad that my exchange partner, Daniel is having joy in his time in the US. And yes, the difference in language is quite delightful. You can look at a few of my other posts to see what I’ve been enjoying about/learning from during these months.


Your observation about Quebec and points east, seems to be true, up to a point. I’ve been across your country many times, and spent almost 6 months in New Brunswick. But Quebec seems to be in a class by itself. They want to keep their French culture, but it isn’t really French culture. I spent a year in France and there is a vast difference between the two. It seems to have developed an unique culture of its own. Aside from that, Quebec wants the rest of Canada to cater to their wishes in terms of language. Signs must be in French and English in public areas all across the country. But they are not willing to accord the same courtesy to English speakers. Bilingual signs are rare in Quebec, except in those rare English-speaking towns.

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I like and agree with your thoughts entirely Daniel. I felt the same when I visited the U.S. and despite all the statistics quoted, your perceptions rang true with me.

The difference I found when visiting Australia and the USA was that in the latter I was constantly asked “How do you like America?” It was clear that only positive answers were welcome. It seemed as if the USA as a nation had a bit of a self-esteem problem and constantly needed to be told “You are really great”. In Australia I was never asked how I liked the country, but rather whether I was enjoying my stay. It seemed that Australians had a lot more self-esteem. They were quite happy with their country and really didn’t care what I thought about it. They just wanted to know if I was having a good time there.


Is it not, perhaps, two sides of the same coin? If you were not enjoying your stay in Australia, would it be fair to deduce that you do not like the country? If you like America, would it be a reasonable to conclude that you are enjoying your stay in the USA? I would suggest that it is simply the difference in saying either “hi” or “hello” and not necessarily a presence or absence of self-esteem.