I realised last week that I have now been in Australia for just over two years. When I can so clearly remember the chaos of leaving London and the wave of fatigue that hit me when I arrived in Brisbane it seems incredible that two entire years have passed. Read on for an idea of what two years in Australia feels like.
When my partner and I came to Australia our plan was to spend a year here and see how we felt about calling this end of the world home. We intended to base ourselves in Queensland since his family live there.
Rather unexpectedly, due to a job opportunity for my partner, we ended up in rural Western Australia, just about as far away from his family as possible while remaining in the country (sorry Mum!) This new location, thousands of kilometres from everyone meant we were starting again entirely, just the two of us.
I think the hardest thing about moving away is not the differences in routine, language and behaviour, it is the gaping hole in your life that was once occupied by friends and family.
|Celebrating my birthday with friends in London|
I miss my friends a lot. Photos help. I definitely recommend people take photos of loved ones with them when they relocate, or a small photobook. Skype and even email help too. I regularly field questions from friends about when I will next be in Europe, and fondly-meant guilt trips from Grandma.
The most difficult period for any expat is probably the period after the initial excitement fades and before the established feeling kicks in, probably between months 6 and 12. I would say it took us about six months to establish a circle of friends here. During those first six months we accepted every invite we received in an effort to integrate, even to random events like a Tupperware-party-style evening about baby clothes (we have no children) and a Disney-themed tea party (we are in our 30s – enough said). Some events were a bit random but we appreciated all the invites we received; each introduced us to new people. On the quiet weekends we went out exploring locally. It is also worth adding that being employed full-time, and being busy at work, has made time pass quickly too.
|Celebrating my birthday in Australia (We're in fancy dress, not just mad!)|
Here and now
Two years on, with one quick visit home under my belt, I still miss my friends and family but now we also have friends here who we would miss were we to leave. It is one of the never-ending dilemmas you face when you choose an expat lifestyle. Just when you get used to the people in your life either you or they move away.
We are definitely out of the uneasy ‘new in town no mates’ phase now, which is a relief, and we know enough people in town that we feel accepted as local faces. Locals joke that you only attain ‘local’ status after living here for about 20 years, so I don’t quite dare to make that bold statement! But for now, life is good. We both have jobs we find fulfilling and have been given opportunities that I’m not sure we would have had in Europe. Financially, things seem a bit easier. We have lots of social connections and some amazing local beaches to enjoy.
We don’t feel like this is our ‘forever home’ simply because neither of us has any roots here, (who knows if we will ever have a forever home anyway, we are so nomadic!) but we are happy here at the moment. The view after two years in Australia is not looking bad at all.
Are you an expat? What have your experiences been like?