is not something many Downunderites think about. They tend to think about Europeans coming here. There is also a tendency to believe that our Kiwi friends "across the ditch" move here rather than vice versa.
I am wondering if that is partly what is behind the failure of our Prime Minister to even consider the idea that there might be a free flow of people living and working here or in the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
Yes, I know there are problems with the idea but they could be overcome. To dismiss the idea out of hand is wrong. We have to stop the nonsense about "being part of the Asian region". We never will be even though we are thought of as a "multi-cultural" country. That in itself is something rather nonsensical. It is true that we have people from many different cultural backgrounds living here. The idea that we all jog along nicely together is less real in actuality - rather, more wishful thinking. We are said to "celebrate diversity" but that diversity only goes so far. At present we don't have sharia courts - but that may come one day. There are demands for a third chamber of federal parliament for "indigenous representation". Whatever the arguments or reasoning behind these things they are divisive rather than cohesive ideas.
A "gap year" working in the UK or the rest of Europe is less common than it once was. There is now pressure on young people to "just get on with university". Not many of them get the chance to be "exchange" students. More of those who do are sent to Japan or Korea, Indonesia or Thailand to try and improve their limited foreign language skills - and yes, the experience probably does improve those.
Going to work in the UK for a year might not improve your language skills but take a quick train journey under the channel and you are faced with a new language in a country where people drive on the other side of the road. The food is different there - although I believe it is possible to find a McDonald's if you are desperate. And there is history there on either side of the channel, history of the sort you don't find here. You can't miss it. It just happens to be right around you - quite different from the long suburban blocks with the little boxes sitting on each portion of the block.
Ms W went to Italy and Switzerland for Christmas and New Year two years ago. She is learning French at school and Italian as an extra subject. She could have done Japanese but, wisely, decided against it despite her love of languages. On her return from holiday she was even more convinced the decision was the right one and that Italian, although extra work, is worth working at. A year abroad would help her in many ways but it isn't likely to happen. If she could go to the UK for a year that might be different. She might at least do more travel to Europe.
It's an idea worth thinking about, something that might open up the world to a lot of young people here. At present we are far too insular and isolated.