It was the slow pace that struck me most when I returned to my hometown, Sydney, three years ago from Washington, D.C.
Walking behind strangers, who always seemed to amble slowly, was unbearable. Old friends invited me to lazy afternoons in the sun to catch up. Sometimes, the conversation lapsed into brief silences.
I found this relaxed attitude quite alarming. The feeling was apparently mutual. “Highly strung” was the diagnosis for me, according to one friend.
But by then I had absorbed the lessons of studying in the United States, where there had always been somewhere to rush and never enough time to slow down. They called it “the American Dream,” the belief that with hard work you could realize your deepest, most cherished ambitions.