So, we bought a house in Australia. It’s actually an apartment with very limited space. One would think why buy an apartment in a country like Australia where it’s all about living outdoors and having barbecues with every excuse.
My calling to Australia was a strange one. I feel actually Australia chose me than the other way around. While I didn’t have anything against Australia, I thought all the rules and regulations to enter the country was over the top.
Fast forward that thought by 10 years, my job got me an opportunity to get my family and I to this land of Kangaroos. Did I ever believe we as a family would by our own property 5 years into the process? No, we didn’t. Life is such I guess. You must never say never.
It was a challenge to find my place in Australia. My husband and daughter got the hang of Ausee style much earlier than I did. I don’t think I still fully understand why I’m here or what I’m expected to do in a bigger aspect. But I do understand I’ve somewhat found my footing. I know what I like and dislike. (Now that’s a start) … Such as an apartment in a cosmopolitan suburb like Bentleigh. Yeah, I like that. A big house in faraway land, nope not for me. Living in a highly dense one ethnic group, let it be Chinese, Sri Lankans, Vietnamese or Greeks with 60s shops and a milk bar, well not really my kind of thing.
This is the place where I talk a bit about the suburb I live in… I love Bentleigh period. It may not be every body’s cup of tea as anything in life but it felt right for me. I felt the buzz when I first stepped into this place few years ago to check out the high school for my daughter. Busy coffee shops and little boutique shops on both sides of the road, flower shops & fresh vege shops mixed with modern branded shops. Bentleigh was the real deal for me. You could see dogs of all sorts lazily strolling around every walkway. Most shops have doggy water plates outside. How cute is that! (Really like that, tick!) It’s 15 minutes’ drive max to beaches. Another big tick in the box.
I’ve believe each suburb, each building, even a train carriage has a character, just like you and me (I’m weird like that). They give out a vibe either agree or disagree. Buildings, people, roads and bus stations are what make up your life, isn’t it? It’s the way you live your day which make the way you live your life as one said. People from all over the world visit the building I work in, 333 Collins. It has an old banking hall as the foyer which has now been converted to hold events, specially weddings. You feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to a castle when you get in there. Whilst it looks grand, and makes so many people fall in love with it, it makes me feel very gloomy every morning to walk into that building. I would rather walk into a modern building with glass walls overlooking water. I guess you get my point. We’re all confusingly and amazingly different creatures. Isn’t that wonderful now?
So, the real question I had for my self was how did it take me five years to understand all this? I’ve never taken so long to realise ‘what I am’ to something. Looking back and trying to make sense of all what has taken place during last five years, I feel the answer lay in few aspects. First, I started asking the right questions from myself. I began to be honest, with me. I mean truly dearly honest. I used to tell myself that I’d be very disappointed with myself if I don’t send my only daughter to a private high school. I have always wanted that for her but it became more and more aware to me that doing so would put our family through heavy financial burden. We would only be sending her to school for the next 8 years. I asked myself if I was really ok to do that and put everything else on hold.
My husband being the most practical man he is, rightly pointed out there’s more than one way to reach 9. You could add 5+4 or 6+3, or 7+2. He helped me to realise the right demographics + a decent public school with serious & loving teachers would give us a similar outcome. Of course, not the same, but similar. It’s not the same but a valuable compromise. That realisation led me to many possibilities. We found good public schools were always located around established suburbs, the kind of ones I was attracted to (big grin) It changed the game plan totally and gave me new variables to play with. It all began by totally being honest with myself that a) I wasn’t ready to put my life on hold just to send me daughter to a private school despite I always told myself I wanted to do it… I had to be honest with myself it wasn’t in my means at this point b) it wasn’t truly that bad to not sending her to a private school as long as I covered my key criteria in secondary education. Like they say, good old days were not always good nuh? So, the opposite of it is also true… All what you feel as bad is all not all that bad always! (light bulb moment)
Secondly, I feel talking about how I felt with less dramatic, more realistic people really helped me believe I was not totally insane. I have to say, and I don’t know if you’d agree with me, we are surrounded by a very dramatic society who believes they know how to run every household. People wanting to have strong opinions as to why you’re wrong and what you should have done. I’m not talking about this lot of people. There are still a large number of very normal people who truly mind their own business and happy to lend an ear when you want them to. I found some of ‘these people ‘and started opening up. I told I felt so out of place because the shops would close by 6pm or doctors wouldn’t give me an appointment on weekends.
I was upset the internet was so slow and the modem took 2 weeks to come over post. (and it was all DIY!) by speaking to people who’s been around, lived as an expat elsewhere, I realised they too felt the same. Even locals who’ve been to other countries on job postings and now back felt some of the above pain points which made them feel isolated. It was good to compare notes and know I was not fully off. I felt these discussions were a key component which I very much needed to get through the ‘acceptance ‘ stage of my transition process.
Third & the biggest reason out of all was the time and space I allowed myself. I finally realised some things in life take longer than the others. I was going through a change which for some reason I found hard to take in, and I had to be kind to myself and allow myself to see through it. It sounds so simple, isn’t it? But I found this the hardest to do. When I look back at past 5 years, I can think of endless situations I’ve beaten myself for not having the answers. I hated for not being fast enough, smart enough or connected enough. My osteopath who is a thorough bread hard core Ausee shared with me how hard she found herself growing up in Perth and going through life’s phases then having to relocate interstate. She gave me many examples how she found hard fitting in to situations just being a local. “We’re a hard bunch to crack” she said. I believe it’s true about every culture. There is always a part of it you don’t ever get as an outsider. So, having the patience was a key.
I don’t think I’m there yet, but I believe I’m on the right track to find myself in a new land. Not only with which suburb to live in but every other aspect. I could see applying these 3 magical steps helps me get through almost anything at all. It’s been a journey worth exploring, more to find about myself than anything else.