Friday, August 31, 2012

Beef Hula Hoops anyone?

Why it’s ok to feel down even in the Promised Land

This is a little bit different to my usual posts. My customary ruminations of life on the road. How I got there, and how long did it take? What I did on arrival. The weird and wonderful foods I’ve tasted. Who could forget the immediately unforgettable snake I had in Beijing? And my experiences as I delve into foreign cultures.

However, this is a rather more personal post. A side to the Yorkshire Expat that maybe you don’t always see. A side that perhaps not many people see would be a more accurate description. What life is really like for a new expat. When you up-sticks and travel to countries both near and far, but not your “home” country. However long you live in a new country, your home will always be the same. Will your heart ever migrate as well as your body? Well, that’s something I will write about in future posts.

The idea for this post came to me the other day as I was walking around Cremorne reserve, on the North Shore of Sydney. Every time I turned a corner on the path I was greeted with a world-class view. Genuine picture postcard stuff. And the deep, melancholic side of my nature wondered, where do you go from here. Not literally, but spiritually. In the UK, on dark, dank, miserable days, a picture of a sunny beach, or a boat filled harbour would immediately lift my flagging spirits. The thought of logging onto Expedia and booking a flight somewhere bathed in sunshine put me in a sunny disposition.

This got me thinking. When I have a down day, and they will inevitably come, what will it take to subsequently lift me out of the doldrums? A friend has suggested beef hula-hoops and a vigorous dance to Beyoncé. I remain to be convinced but bought the hula-hoops earlier and am just downloading the latest track from the big bootied beauty.

With migration, the brochure sells the dream. It doesn’t give instructions on how to live it. That part is down to the individual expat. And all of us will have different ways of approaching it and adapting. The need to become a social chameleon. Blend in to the new surroundings. Make friends. Find your favourite coffee shop, nearest bottle shop, best local Thai takeaway, amongst the multitude of choice. Which newspaper will you prefer to read, and importantly in Sydney, which rugby league team will you adopt. I think I have this one sorted, South Sydney Rabbitohs. And where are the best fish and chips? Another one I think I’ve nailed. They may not be Mr Chips of Whitby, but Doyle’s at Watson’s Bay run them a very close second.

Apartment hunting is another mystery. It’s something of a dark art in Sydney. You don’t find a few you fancy and then casually make appointments that suit you. Each of them has their own 15-minute “inspection slot” and everybody turns up to that. The other day, there were about 10 of us literally falling over each other as we attempted to view a 1-bedroom apartment. I have seen 4 (recent update, now 5) so far and, needless to say, the search continues.

As I draw the curtain on the first month of being away, and we move from winter into the first day of spring, some of the pieces are falling into place. I have my Aussie driving licence and am now registered with Medicare, the health service. But I still have lots of the jigsaw missing. Pieces that I may not find and slot into place for quite some time yet. But as I was told, change is a process, not an event. And big change is a bloody big process, so bear with me whilst I complete the puzzle.

‘Til the next time…

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