As I watch the last hours of 2020 ticking away, I have no feelings of excitement or gratitude or hope or even relief. I know nothing will change. In the absence of hope, my tired trust and belief will have to be enough. Because I do believe that I will get through whatever 2021 throws my way. We’ll get through it together.
Today is Australia Day, and I have so many mixed feelings about it – about being an expatriate, and about the date itself.
I have really noticed the presence, and variety, of birds living in Sydney. About half the birds in Australia are found nowhere else on Earth. Lyrebirds are fascinating creatures; the males put on a song and dance, mimicking different bird calls and even some non-natural sounds.
Vaucluse House is an early colonial property on the south head of Sydney Harbour. It was the first historical museum in Australia, open to the public for 100 years. The house is filled with original and authentic furnishing; the gardens are beautiful – with huge trees, rolling lawns, and a 150 year old fountain.
I’ve written before about a number of Chinese festivals – learning about and participating in Chinese festivals was a great way to learn about the culture in which I was living. Now that I’m living in Sydney, it’s time for me to learn a little about the local culture here, so in the past week or so I’ve been to two local festivals!
One of the things I appreciate most about my new life here in Sydney is that there are lots of moments that remind me of China – meals at Chinese restaurants, snippets of Chinese conversation with classmates, hearing Mandarin spoken about me almost every time I’m out in public… It really helps me on the days homesickness lifts its head.
I was particularly looking forward to two things: 1) my mum’s cooking, and 2) the colder weather. I also caught up with a few friends and worked on my book. Over 400 people have now completed my survey – people from over 60 passport countries, who have lived in over 130 different countries/territories.
People keep asking me about re-entry, and whether I’m struggling to re-adjust. The problem is, I’m starting again, more than returning to something. One big difference community living rather than abundant solitude. One similarity is the international flavour of the community I am living in. It’s also lovely to start reconnecting to the culture of my passport country – its beaches and parks, at least!
I have now been at SMBC for a whole week – so here are some stories from my first week of my new life here in Sydney, Australia. I am amazed at how settled and content I feel just one week in. I do expect the weight of the transition to hit at some point, but I live on a lovely campus with lovely people and am enjoying the study so far.
My past two visits to Australia have been the easiest I’ve made in ten years. Were they easier because I’m already looking ahead to moving there? It’s still strange to think about not being in China, but I feel more at peace about the coming move.
I spent Christmas in Australia with my family. It was my first Christmas there in 5 years and I was so excited to go. The view from our units was pretty amazing! It was us, a road, the beach, and then the Pacific Ocean all the way to the horizon.
Changes in my accent and vocabulary have been a big part of my expat experience. There is an emotional toll that comes with having an accent that doesn’t match your passport. But it is a choice, and what I gain is worth the cost.