A new perspective on a familiar place

Have you ever met someone who introduced you to a whole new way of seeing and understanding a place? It is easy to only see the world through your own eyes, but sometimes looking at things differently can be truly eye-opening.

Living in a small town in regional Australia brings one enormous benefit; there are no crowds. This applies in lots of places. For example the nearby beaches are stunning and you often have them either completely or virtually to yourself. Parking is always available, usually within a few metres of the shop you wish to visit and people are, for the most part, friendly and familiar.

However, isolation is a problem, with the nearest sizeable town a five hour drive away. There are few shops with limited stock and somewhat bizarrely they shun trade at weekends by closing at noon on Saturday, making it near impossible to go to the shops if, like me, your full-time job frequently involves working weekends. The local air carrier charges extortionate prices and flights cost about three times what some European carriers charge to travel a comparative distance. Everyone is at the mercy of monopolies in terms of utilities because there is no competition and don’t get me started on how terrible the internet service is…

Coming from Europe I struggle with these things. I accept them, because after all, what can you do other than accept them?  However I saw things differently when I met two Chinese women yesterday. To be honest I understood very little of the sum of what they were telling me, but one thing kept coming up.

They were extremely happy to live here and very grateful for the opportunity to do so. They must have mistaken me for a local girl because they praised the local landscapes, infrastructure and services. I do not know their background but they struck me as immigrants rather than refugees.

We live in a world where we are quick to moan about things that we don’t like. Negative complaints are more likely to be made than positive feedback given. As an expat, comparing places is a dangerous game. There are bound to be comparisons made between one place and the next, but it is vital to not transfer expectations between places. There are good things and bad about every place on earth. The only thing that changes is the perception of these things.

The Chinese women showed me the town I live in from a new perspective and my encounter with them zapped some lurking negativity, for which I am grateful.

Photo credit: Andy Mathias

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