Culture

6 Things Australia Should Adopt From Other Countries

Siesta, anyone?

We already know that travel makes you a better human and that spending all your money on a holiday will make you happier than buying a new plasma TV. But it also gives you the chance to explore other cultures and pick up a few tips about how to live life a little better.

From spicy fruit to emotional coffee breaks, here are few things that every Australian should consider adopting from other countries.

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Siestas

Imagine this: It’s a hot summer’s day, you’ve carb-loaded at that hip new burger joint around the corner and the last thing you feel like doing is going back to work. So rather than slumping over your computer and feigning productivity, you instead unroll a little hammock to take a 26-minute nap.

Originally introduced in the mid-20th century as a way for farmers to escape the hottest part of the day, siestas have long been a part of Spanish culture. Until their Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy recently moved to abolish the country’s famed “long lunch”, a traditional working day in Spain started at 8:30am and ended at 8pm with a two-hour break to go home, carb-load and nap. While the demands of modern life have meant that siestas are becoming increasingly rare for most office workers in Spain, daily napping is a habit that even NASA recommends. Which is good enough reason to skip your next lunchtime yoga class in favour of a restorative kip.

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Hot soup for breakfast

Let’s be honest, there is absolutely nothing satisfying about a continental breakfast. A few slices of jam toast and a bowl of Coco Pops will never make you feel as good as a steaming hot bowl of pho. A staple of Vietnamese cuisine, the meaty broth is traditionally cooked pre-dawn and served up to workers before 9am.

Open-air pho restaurants sprawl out onto the streets of Vietnam’s biggest cities, especially Hanoi, where locals will gather on wooden crates and small stools at their favourite spots. Chock full of spices including ginger, star anise and cinnamon, Pho is often described as “the soul of the nation” which sure sounds a lot more nourishing than “just like a chocolate milkshake only crunchy”.

Photo: Khánh Hmoong/Flickr

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Fika

Sweden is the world’s third biggest consumer of coffee, coming in just behind The Netherlands and Finland. But their relationship with the humble bean is far more evolved than that of most other nations. In Sweden coffee is integral to a tradition known as “fika”, which is essentially a healthier (and more social) version of the classic Aussie smoko. At least once a day Swedes will take a moment out of their busy schedule to gather with friends or colleagues, eat something sweet, and drink coffee. Much more than just a coffee break, though, fika is about slowing down and taking time to connect with the people around you.

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Jokamiehenoikeus

Jokamiehenoikeus roughly translates to “Everyman’s Rights”, and it is a social concept the lies at the very heart of Finnish society. In simple terms it means that any person has the right to go anywhere in nature without seeking permission and do what they want as long as it’s not destructive to the natural world or other people. While there are a few laws in place for private property, the right to roam means you are more than welcome to set up camp, go fishing, hiking or simply wander around a national park or any other natural public space as long as you leave it the way you found it. Other countries like Sweden and Norway have similar practices all of which are considered the key to Nordic people’s love of adventure and the outdoors.

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Hygge

This Danish word is usually translated into English as “coziness”, but most Danes will tell you that doesn’t come near to doing hygge justice. Like the idea of snuggling up under a warm blanket in front of a hot fire? That’s hygge. Or enjoying a bottle of wine and good conversation with your closest friends? Also hygge. Sitting alone and reading a good book? You guessed it, hygge. At its very essence hygge is about feeling warm and joyful – something the people of Denmark work very hard at over their long, dark winters. Whatever Hygge is it sounds glorious, and probably has something to do with the Danes literally being the happiest people in the world.

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Fruta con chile y limon

You can’t go far in Australia at the moment without spotting a Mexican restaurant. And while tacos and enchiladas are finally being fully embraced Down Under there is one delicious Mexican snack that seems to have passed us by: Fruit with chili powder and lime or fruta con chile y limon. Once you’ve added lime and chili to fruit, you won’t consider eating a “raw” orange ever again. Traditionally served from street cars in plastic bags or small card-board containers fruta con chile y limon can come in the form of mango, pineapple, watermelon, mango cactus or – the most delicious of all – coconut. Hot tip: You can even combine a few of them together to make a chili and lime fruit salad guaranteed to win you some new friends.

Photo: Taryn Stenvei 

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