Friday, 30 May 2008

6 Random Things about Me: Aussie Version

First off, I think that's the first time I've comfortably used the word Aussie. I've been tagged. Normally, I ignore these things (so if you are one of those people who sends me forwards, please please take me off your list. I'd much rather have a personal quick email from ya'll once in a while). Anyway, this one sounded fairly decent and my narcissistic self, who assumes you all love hearing about me as much as I do, thought it was worth doing;)

1. Some of my favourite Australian foods are kangaroo and beef sausages. I can almost bear the fact that proper bratwurst is almost impossible to find unless you go to a specialty shop. I would eat kangaroo over steak any day; it's much more tasty and lean. Oh, and let's not forget Vegemite. There is nothing like discovering entirely new foods in your new country.

2. One thing I hate about Australia is the racism. I could just be picking up on more racism because for the first time in a loooong time, I am primarily around white people, so I don't mean to stereotype and I know all Australians aren't racist, but the compulsion to speak down about Aboriginal people and people of certain ethnic origins (for example, Italians) drives me batty.

3. I like being an expat. I truly feel that if I were to move back to the US permanently, I might just wither up and die....of boredom;)

4. I miss my cat more than anything back home (sorry friends and family but I feel more guilty about leaving him than you...and I can't email or phone him up, and he's been sick lots since I left.)

5. I get really annoyed that my friends don't post comments on my blog, especially the ones back home (there, I said it. Don't be offended but I'm far far away and I need to hear from you guys more often!!)

6. I've been really really lucky in that in the short space of time I've been here in Australia I've met some great quality people, and while I miss catching up with my friends back home, I'm not lonely here.

Here are the rules: Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post linking to their blog. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is up. I tag Alaskan Dave, Joyces, Culinary, I don't have six people--my mates don't blog much, but I'll work on it. I'll copy what Danie has said with a slight variation--I've picked expats from different countries with hopes that they'll do the expat version of this as well.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Things I want to do over the next few weeks

Life is busy, but I'd like to fit in:
  • a yoga class
  • a visit to the only Ethiopian restaurant in the Adelaide area
  • having Steve's other bro & fiance over for dinner (had one set over last weekend)
  • going to see The Orphanage at the Nova Cinema in the city *done---well worth a view*
  • a Meet In event (ask if you live around here and don't know)
  • something else I don't remember because my brain is too full---oh, a visit to Central Market & general touristy day in the city centre...and clothes shopping!

Life is busy. Anyway, if anyone else is interested in any of the above...give a shout.

Monday, 26 May 2008

The Hills

These are just a few pics we took when our house guest Ed was here a few weeks back. More to follow, hopefully.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Or perhaps, guess who I'm going to dinner with....Steve's ex (the decent one, for those of you who've listened to me whinge). Did I already mention he's not invited (see previous post)? I can't say I'm looking forward to it, although she sounds very nice on the phone. It's a must do, I think, as since they speak weekly, she's not going anywhere....and neither am I. Strangely, it seems I'm getting big bonus points (among ooohs and ahhhs and OH MY GOD NOs) from other women on this one. It seems I am brave and mature, and that this is the way to 1) see what is really going on and 2) let her know not to mess with me (not that I think she will). I figure it's just a way to get it over with!

Modified to add: Turns out she's a real sweetheart; not that I expected otherwise, but I've never liked (surprise surprise) that they are friends. So, she's no longer banned from the house and who knows, I may hang out with her again;)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


Sounds like something electrical right? Well it can feel like it too. I think I've passed the phase 1 euphoric honeymoon expat period (see Danielle's book below) and I'm just f'ing tired. When I'm not doing all there is to do, I can't figure out what to do with myself, so I can't relax, but if I don't relax, I just end up more tired;) I think it's going to take me a few months to feel like I can just go home, plop down, and chill out. Anyone else go through that phase? I'm off to a book club meeting tonight, meeting up with a couple of new expats later on this week, and have even potentially committed myself to a drink out with my husband's ex (he is not invited; I thought I should have a chat with her on my own and get it over with...we'll see if she rings me back). This weekend I FINALLY get to go shopping (my 'mum-in-law' is taking me), as my 1st payday in about 2 months is this week and I have a few things I need (er, kinda need but mostly want) to get. That and I'm trying to set up a visit to Melbourne to visit some Italian relatives I didn't know I had recently...and chase up some New Zealand taxes...and organise new home insurance, and do wills, and...and...and...............

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The Expat Arc

Firstly, let me start by saying I can’t recommend Danielle Barkhouse’s book, The Expat Arc, enough. Secondly, I fell into the Avoidance trap she describes on page 9 myself, before beginning it, as we had just completed another move abroad a few weeks before I was to begin the book. Fortunately this move, to Australia, is permanent. There are always a million things to do when moving, and even more so when moving countries, which no one realises but those of you who make these moves. And then, everything you do---taxes, wills, etc, must be done 2 or 3 times over, depending on how many places you have lived, worked, or hold assets! Anyway, back to the book, which effectively handles the description of all of this, including the enormous costs involved, confusion at the shops over items that you wouldn't hesitate 2 seconds over back home, dashed expectations over customer service, bad haircuts, and just the 'overwhelming-ness' of it all. As an expat, it is always validating to read about other people's experiences, which suprisingly, you can always find comparisons to, regardless of the fact that, for example, you moved to Australia and they moved to India. Danielle's journal style of writing captures moments in her experience, yet comes together as a whole which covers all aspects of her move and living experience abroad. I even learned some new things myself by reading the Expat Arc, such as that when I go to purchase the one Bundt pan I have seen here in Australia, I need to make sure it is the same size as the ones back home (read and find out)! As exciting as it all is, and no matter how quickly we settle in, Danielle's effectively illustrates the fact that there will always be 'cultural moments' which throw us off our game, and homesickness can come at any time and for any reason, as can negativity and resistance to a new culture.'s all normal, which goes back to my saying a read of other's experiences is exceptionally validating for us all. If you've ever lived abroad, whether it be temporarily, for an extended period, or permanent migration, The Expat Arc is worth a read. My only tip to Danielle---make friends with the geckos. They're so much cuter than Huntsmen:/ And it's not just at the age of ten that it's all about what is fair. When you're an expat, that can be at the age of 30 as well;)

Danielle will be on to answer any questions you may have about her book and experiences, so please post away in comments. You can purchase her book here.
"Don't read this if you're expecting deep insights on culture, politics or religion in India. Oh no. I'm far too shallow and lack the intelligence necessary for that. I'm not an expert about anything. I'm just here for a good time and amusing myself about it to stay sane."

Danielle Barkhouse researched and prepared for her family's relocation from Illinois to India. She was an experienced expatriate, so she thought she knew the range of feelings that she would experience. She was wrong.

"I have found that most expats don't really talk about culture shock. We all look at one another and know we're each going through it at some level. Some people will say they're fine, when they're really not. And then there's me. Let's just put it under a microscope, magnify the details and write about it! That's all this really is, a magnification of the details."

The journey that most expatriates take when they leave their home country for an assignment abroad is like an arc. The Expat Arc is a collection of Danielle's journal entries detailing her expat arc path beginning with the honeymoon phase, hanging out in the rejection phase longer than desired and plowing her way into the phase of acceptance. It's a very personal and detailed description of her journey over the arc of culture shock, identity crisis and settling in. It includes nuggets of her humor, insight and a few 'light bulb moments' about living abroad.

"Luckily, coming back down the other side, the arc is transformed into a colorful rainbow and we know what's at the end of a rainbow!" Priceless treasures and golden nuggets."

Saturday, 10 May 2008

An Aussie Brekkie

Yup, that's what they called it—brekkie. It even says so on the Hungry Jack's sign (which by the way is Burger King): Brekkie served at 7am! Steve and I decided to go to breakfast this morning, before we went grocery shopping. After Steve being gobsmacked that his previously (3 or 4 years previously by the way) buffet breakfast spot has raised it's price from $7 to $13, we headed over to the buffet line. I had forgotten that Australians can't stand to have sweet and savory on the same plate at breakfast, so people were coming up and grabbing smaller plates to put their pancakes and maple syrup on. Very amusing! This is a slightly mild weekend. Having the folks (Steve's that mom will be home on her lonesome for Mother's Day) over for dinner tonight, then going to the library tomorrow and possibly doing a little house cleaning. We had a spectacularly busy last weekend, which was awesome. Had a guest to stay with us for about a week---Ed, who we had lived with in New Zealand for a while. What a great excuse to go sightseeing:) Pics to follow once I grab some from Steve and Ed, and more on what we saw at that point.

You know, I've been sitting here thinking I'm hearing bees somewhere, wondering if the ones outside have gotten into the house, and then it dawned on me...the V8 Supercars are on the tele in the living room;) Anothing thing you can't get away from in Australia---cars and car racing:/

Friday, 9 May 2008

A New Definition of Family

When I lived in England, my friends Steve & Paula used to regularly invite me over for dinner, Sunday pub lunches, or just to spend a weekend day at their house. I loved it. Most of my time in England I lived in a dorm, and life was just plain lonely a lot, despite being on a new adventure in a different country. I always thought it was so excessively nice of them, and while I appreciated the hospitality, sometimes I felt a bit of mooch, even though I considered them great friends. Now that I'm finally settled, happy where I am, and have some time to do so, I think I understand better. I find myself wanting to reach out to people, and while a lot of the time that is in order to make new friends, it's also because I realise how a little goes a long way as an expat. Definitions of friendship change, and reticence goes away. Your friends can be your family when you're that far away from blood, and you share a bond with people who've gone through the same experiences. I was an exceptionally shy child, but I'm so over that these days. I may still be nervous meeting new people, but as someone once said, when you're an expat in a new country, accept every single invite you get, and meet as many people as possible. Life changes...

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The Junk Man

Back home, the junk man is simply a fact of life. You could expect him to come around weekly, as long as there were large items in the rubbish, and as long as he didn't linger too long or make too much noise, he wasn't a bother. This morning, though, I rang the police on the junk man. You see, we're having our gutter redone, and our gutter guy left most of the rubbish on the parkway, which I assume he was going to take away when the job was complete. About 5,30 this morning, I awoke to find my husband standing at our bedroom window...he said someone was out taking the old gutters away. I immediately assumed it was the junk man, especially as it was a large rubbish collection day, which only happens once a month, and while slightly annoyed at being woken, I figured he wouldn't be there long. How wrong was I. An hour later, I'd had enough, so I threw on my robe and went out with a pad and pen, planning to take his rego number down and ring the police. At that moment, the council rubbish truck pulled up, and while the junk man started to give me hassle, the council fella came up and said to him: "Mate, I've told you before, you get a $5,000 fine for doing that." So I asked the Tea Tree Gully Council fella if he was going to sort this or if I had to...and he simply told me to call the police:/ Of course, when I rang the police they said there wasn't much they could do. Since I had bothered to get out of bed and go outside, that really wasn't good enough, so I persisted and a few minutes later, they had our local police ring me back, who advised they'd go out to the junk man's place and tell him to be quieter next time around. Next time around, we'll have rubbish out, so I'll be up early waiting for the junk man, and if he shows and tried to nab our items, I'll ring the police well as the council, to make sure he'll be getting that $5,000 fine. No one wakes me up early:/