Almost a Month ago I will of been in Australia for one year. For the first time ever (since I have been living abroad in various other Countries), I felt the need to reflect on all aspects of this new Chapter. This alone is a complement to my new home, but would like to share my thoughts on this, and the effect Australia has had on me. I think all of us don’t appreciate what is on out door step enough, so hopefully there will be plenty reminders of what we are taking for granted.
I think the best place to start is my arrival on June 7th 2012.
I flew in from the States (connecting flight), and was already talking with Ozzie’s on the plane. They all advised me that Sydney was not ‘real’ Australia and to get out to the middle of nowhere to experience Australia properly. I was pleased to see the entrance of the harbor to the right of the plane, with the same Ozzie’s giving me directions from the air of where to visit. The sun was shining and everything symbolized exactly how I wanted this new chapter to start. Retracting slightly, I was coming here on my own knowing just me. The only friend I had moved from Neutral Bay to Canberra upon hearing I was coming :/. I was coming to Australia after a hard time of a marital breakup and was in need of a fresh start to get my life and myself back on track. The airport was exactly as I expected after watching the Immigration programs in the UK. With the help of the friendly tourist desk I secured a place to stay for the night and a shuttle lift to get there. The first thing I noticed when I left the airport (apart from the Sun) was these large advertising boards on the left. It was what was on them that got my attention upon my arrival. They were adverting the UK as a tourist destination. It looking great there and if I wasn’t British, the advert would’ve worked and the location would of been added to my ever increasing ‘to-do” list. The note of importance is that it made sentiment to the grass is always greener elsewhere. I didn’t want to be bitten by this philosophy. It didn’t take long to realize that that would not be the case and that this move would turn out to be one of the wisest I’ve ever made.
Upon settling into my first few days in Sydney, I couldn’t actually start my first day in my new job due to someones birthday…The Queens! Naturally I was very disappointed about this ;). I thought this was fantastic, that the positive effect of recent history is recognized here. Further more, in the UK we do not get this as a holiday. I felt all patriotic to the UK and the welcome attachment to my new home. It had a nice buffer and transitional feel for me with the connections between the related countries of my home and my new reside. It was like visiting family, and Australia was the cool uncle. I began noticing little things I liked. The first being Woolworth’s. I have never got exited by a supermarket ever before. There is a reason for this though. Outside of London in the UK, High streets are becoming less and less recognizable for many reasons, most firmly routed to the economy. After hearing austerity measures as a constant term (no one knew what that work meant before) you become tolerant to changes to your High street. Where the streets begin to empty and those that are left seem to be charity shops or never-ending ‘closing down’ sales. However there was one name that was close to the hearts of most in the UK, and that was Woolworth’s. It was an institution known for ‘pick n mix’ and ‘back to school’. I owe a few ‘baked bean’ metal pencil cases to this establishment. We thought it would never leave us. It was when we all realized that this GFC is actually quiet serious. Forget the rising unemployment rates, dissolving financial institutions and spiraling national debt. They took our coconut mushrooms from us, Woolworth’s had gone. The Ozzie ‘Woolies’ is not the same and I am not sure if there is any connection between them at all, but is was a very welcome addition to my new High street. I hope they introduce pick n mix and the baked bean pencil case, as I will be the first in an orderly British Que.
Sticking with the British connection I found many other Ozzie things I liked too. I love the fact that we drive on the left side of the road here. But the biggest “like’ I have are the place names. Its a refreshing change to be able to state the origins of place names. From Paddington and Penrith to Waterloo and Windsor. I have been to most of these places in the UK and I enjoy the Australian counterpart, going to them and seeing if there are any similarities or more common differences. I think in short, I maybe the other side of the world, but these little in-grained British traits.
Walking about, I love the local wildlife too. The novelty of seeing groups of Parrots has not worn off yet. They are loud, and equally colorful. They go about their business as if they are playing. Its a real joy to see. I think I enjoy them more, as they are in the wild. In the UK I would only see them in captivity and its so much more satisfying to see them doing exactly what they want, naturally. Then there are the Cockatoo’s too. The punk rockers of the sky. Surely there is not a bird in the sky with more character and charisma. They really are noisy, and you can notice them from a distance. Finally there are the bats. Not noticed in the day being nocturnal, they certainly make up for this at night. Apparently there are 22,000 of them in Hyde Park. during the day you wouldn’t believe this. At night its a different story. They rise, going to the suburbs to feed taking over the sky creating a huge Gothic sky, that Bram stoker would be proud of.
So far I have only found two aspects of Ozzie life that I am not keen on. 1) Pokies. This is not just because I am not a gambler, I just think these late night bar separations just add a tacky feel to a perfect nice hotel (pub). 2) Its ‘Football’ not ‘Soccer’. It has a perfectly good name in the first place that actually supports the action of the game. Therefore no point in renaming, unless you really do want to be American.
Rant over, there is more the OZ that has got me captivated and has done wonders for me. That is the people. Not that I have met everyone, nor even liked everyone that I have met. Its more the culture and attitude of the place. I cant quite put my finger on it yet, but will have a go anyway. It starts with the healthier and active outlook to life. The norm is to really take responsibility for yourself and your health. Its easier to find the motivation to get healthy here. So far I have lost around 3 Stone here. There is a balance between this and having a well deserved schooner too. It extends further than this though. There seems to be a kind of relaxed-ambition here. For me life can be judged by those you have around you. If those around you test you and share in your ambitions, then life simply gets better. However it is not taken too seriously. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Coming out of an ‘over serious’ part of my life, this was probably the best antidote. Being around a healthier and ambitious culture while reminding myself not to take life too seriously. A bit ‘Fair Dinkum’ where you can be a little mad and accepted. When I got the train this morning, we stopped as usual at Edgecliff station. As it was due to leave the station master announced that there is more than one door to get onto the train. An education to those slowing the train down by cramming in just one door. This was promptly followed by the doors closing and a mexican giggle throughout the train from the passengers, and a laughing explanation of what just happened by the train driver. This summed up the attitude here. Not taking anything that seriously, and straight talking.
My life has turned around here. I have learned some lessons and feel better for it. I am optimistic about the future and feel stronger emotionally. Work is going well and my new business is looking promising. I have a beautiful lady in my life and friends that keep bringing out the best in me. In the Ozzie coat of arms there is an Emu and a Kangaroo (both native). They were also picked as neither can take a backwards step. I hope to adopt this philosophy in my life. Thank you Australia.