by Max Barry

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by The Republic of -Astoria. . 503 reads.

You know you're an Astorian when...



Attitude toward opera, ballet, theatre, etc.

You think of opera, symphonies and ballet as rather elite entertainments - it's likely you don't see that many plays either. You're more likely to go to a pop concert.

At home


Things in your house

You probably own a telephone and a TV. Your place is heated in the winter and has its own bathroom. You do your laundry in a machine. You don't have a dirt floor.


A bathroom may not have a bathtub in it, but it certainly has a toilet.


You expect, as a matter of course, that the phones will work. Getting a new phone is routine. You've left a message at the beep.


Winters are usually rather cold and summers usually quite warm, but it varies because of the size of the country (it just rains a lot in some places).




Comics basically come in two varieties: newspaper comics and magazines; the latter pretty much all feature superheroes.

Familiar characters, artists

You aren't familiar with European comics, except Asterix and Tintin.



Utilities & companies: public or private

The telephone system, public transport and power companies are nationalised, & you don't mind that too much.

Inflation & unemployment

You wouldn't expect both inflation and unemployment to be very high (say, over 5%) at the same time.


You think that a tax level of 25% is impossibly high.

Variety of items for sale, haggling

You're used to a wide variety of choices for almost anything you buy. About the only things you expect to bargain for are houses, cars, and antiques. Haggling is largely a matter of finding the hidden point that's the buyer's minimum.

Credit cards

Just about any store will take your credit card.


The normal thing, when a couple dies, is for their estate to be divided equally between their children.



History you learned

You went over some Astorian history at school, and not much from anywhere else.

Cost of school

School is free up till high school, & so are the [public] universities - private ones may not be cheap, but at least not prohibitively expensive either.

College [university]

You may not have gone to university - it's not considered absolutely necessary as long as you have some other route into employment. If you want to be a doctor, you have to get a four-year master's degree first.



Are you a farmer?

You are likely not a farmer.

Can you be fired?

A company can fire just about anybody it wants, unless it discriminates by doing so.

Labour day

Labour Day falls on May 1 as a public holiday.

Misc conditions

You probably work in the tertiary or service industries. There sure are a lot of people working with computers.

Appointments, punctuality, negotiating

If you have a business appointment or interview with someone, you expect to have that person to yourself, and the business shouldn't take more than an hour or so. You'll mutter an excuse if you're five minutes late, and apologise profusely if it's ten minutes. An hour late is almost inexcusable. People are much more understanding of lateness in winter. When you negotiate, you are polite, of course, but it's only good business to 'play hardball'.



Biggest meal of the day

The biggest meal of the day is usually in the afternoon.

What you won't eat (and odd things you will)

You don't consider insects, dogs, cats, monkeys or guinea pigs to be food - but crayfish and venison are.

How you eat & local cuisine

You eat at a table, sitting on chairs - maybe at times in front of the TV. Fish and other seafood are a sizeable part of your diet.

Fast food & restaurants

You think of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC etc. as cheap food.


Mustard comes in jars. Shaving cream comes in tins. Milk comes in glass bottles delivered to your doorstep, in cardboard cartons or in bags.



Quality of healthcare & national health insurance

You have never directly paid for health care (but you pay through taxes), and are amused that Americans associate that with communism. You count on excellent medical treatment. You know you're not going to die of cholera or other Third World diseases. You expect very strong measures to be taken to save very ill babies or people in their eighties. You think dying at 65 would be a tragedy.

Attitudes toward doctors

You trust doctors and respect them enormously. If they fail to cure you, you won't sue them.



Knowledge of world capitals & leaders

You'd be able to name about half the capitals or the leaders of all the nations of Europe - possibly even Asia as well.

Attitudes toward the Americas

Your international opinions are dominated by America, a country you love to complain about. You like to make fun of their strange ways, and criticise them for their arrogant, bullying tactics in world affairs.

Attitudes toward Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.

The nationality people most often make jokes about is the French.

Has your country been conquered?

Your country has never been conquered by a foreign nation; your ancestors kicked Britain's asses when they tried - twice.

World War Two (& other wars)

World War Two was a just war, and (granted all the suffering of course) ended all right. We never participated, even if we declared war on Germany & revived the military as a result.



Knowledge of foreign languages

Aside from English, the next most likely language you are to speak at home is Astoric, of course. After that (and depending on where you live), French & then Spanish.

Facts about your language; speaking distance & directness

Some foreigners don't say what they mean, and that's exasperating. If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about 30cm.

Law & crime


Court system & lawsuits

You take a strong court system for granted, even if you don't use it. You know that if you went into business and had problems with a customer, partner, or supplier, you could take them to court. You wouldn't sue for stupid things like Americans do, although you might know someone who would.


You seriously expect to be able to transact business, or deal with the government, without paying bribes - especially as of late.

Police & gun ownership

The police are armed [with pistols], but not with submachine guns.

Dangerous places

The idea of "dangerous parts of town" strikes you as rather odd, and unless you're a paranoid elderly citizen, you wouldn't be afraid of walking anywhere at night.


Lawyers exist. Most law students end up in government offices, though.



Well-known films

You're familiar with all the US and British pop culture references relevant to your age group. Most of the movies you watch come from either the US or Britain. You may take some pride in the success of the local film industry.

Dubbing or subtitles?

You'd rather a film be subtitled than dubbed (if you go to foreign films at all).



Well known performers, etc.

When it comes to music, radio stations play all the most popular American bands as well as all the local stars.



Decimal point

The decimal point is a dot - certainly not a comma.

Definition of a billion

A billion is a thousand times a million.

System of measurement

You measure things with the metric system, like all sane countries do.

How date is written & most important dates

The day comes first [except when written in full, in which the month comes first]: 27/08/1673. [And you know what happened on that date.]



Political parties

You find a two-party system odd, & think that it's perfectly fine to have 5 major parties (including one whose main platform is the restoration of the long-dead monarchy). Your vote is probably influenced by what part of the country you live in.

Attitude toward socialism & communism

You don't consider yourself a socialist - and definitely not a communist - however, you enjoy socialised healthcare; despite all of the problems inherent in the system.

Does government listen to you?

You feel that your kind of people aren't being listened to enough in Footscray.

Can problems be solved?

You think most problems could be solved if only people would put aside their prejudices and work together.

If a politician cheats on his wife...

If a politician has been cheating on his or her spouse, you would question his or her ability to govern.

Military involvement with government

You expect the military to be involved in peacekeeping missions, and possibly fight wars, but not get involved in politics.

Freedom of speech, patriotism, royalty, changing names, misc.

You believe in personal freedom in an individualistic way. You don't see any connection between this and politics.



Variety of races / attitudes about race & foreigners

Race is not an issue - if a person integrates well in local society, it does not matter where he comes from.

You make jokes about...

The nationality people most often make jokes about is the French - however, you more often than not make fun of other Astorians.



First names & forms of address

Once you're introduced to someone (well, besides the Prime Minister & other lofty figures), you can call them by their first name.

Arranged marriages & wedding customs

You expect marriages to be made for love, not arranged by third parties.

Importance of family background & social status

You don't care much what family someone comes from. Some foreigners pay excessive attention to status, and that's exasperating.

Preferences of physical appearance

If a woman is plumper than the average, it doesn't improve her looks.

Sexuality & attitudes toward homosexuality

A person who has sex with another person of the same gender is considered a homosexual - such couples are entitled to the same benefits as unmarried heterosexual couples. Though you may be neutral toward homosexuals, you do not wish to deny them basic rights.

Relations with family / visiting / misc.

Once you're past college, you may sometimes simply show up at someone's place. People usually have to invite each other over - especially if a meal is involved.



Major religions & attitudes toward them

You're fairly likely to believe in God; if not, you've certainly been approached by people asking whether you know that you're going to Heaven.

Relationship between church and state

You might think that the state is too powerful. You have no concept of what a state church would be like.

Christmas & other holidays

Christmas is in the winter. You spend it with your family, give presents and put up a tree, unless you're not a Christian (if you aren't religious but come from a Christian tradition you would celebrate Christmas anyway).

Social welfare


Attitudes toward social security, welfare programs, unemployment payments, medical assistance, charitable aid

You are very worried about welfare fraud, and some people even suggest removing welfare altogether, or at least making it very difficult to get. You're sure this is just an overreaction to a very small number of people committing such fraud, but it still worries you. You couldn't imagine the country not having some sort of social welfare.



Popular sports

You know how football [definitely not called "soccer"], basketball, & baseball are played. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about their rules. On the other hand [and unless you're under about 20], you don't care that much for American "football" [basically rugby].



Well known celebrities & programs

You are familiar with many TV personalities and celebrities, both Astorian & foreign. The latter are, in decreasing order of probability, American, English, French [rarely], or Australian [very rarely].

Subjects covered by talk shows

The people who appear on the most popular talk shows are mostly entertainers, authors, and artists.

TV news, newspapers, & print media

You believe in the news on TV and in the newspapers. In fact, you are used to believing in most of what you read or hear -- people are supposed to "say what they mean" or remain silent.



Volkswagen Beetle

You consider the Volkswagen Beetle to be a small-to-medium-sized car.

Which side of the road / traffic lights / pedestrian safety

You drive on the left & often wonder why others drive on the wrong side. You stop at red lights even if nobody's around. If you're a pedestrian and cars are stopped at a red light, you will fearlessly cross the street in front of them.


Taxis are generally operated by ordinary people, & found in most cities.

Quality of public transportation, trains, buses, planes

The train system is excellent, but may be about as fast as cars - the same for buses. There are domestic flights, but the chance you've ever used one is close to zero.



Amount of vacation time

Vacation time varies based on what kind of job you have and how long you've been working there - usually about three to four weeks.

Topless & nude beaches

If you're a woman, you don't go to the beach topless.

Hotel rooms with private baths

A hotel room has a private bath.

Popular travel destinations & recreational activities

You have gone to Europe a few times on holiday.