Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I 'now' call Australia home......(for now)

'Tis the night before Australia Day. As the 'Australian of the Year' is announced on TV, and others are stocking up on beers, lamb and Aussie flags for a big family BBQ, I think back to this time last year. I was getting ready to take the oath, and actually become an Australian, to sing the national anthem, receive my Aussie tree, and then share a Lamington, and a cup of tea with the other new Aussies in the room.

To become an Aussie, you have to study Australian history and culture. You then, with hundreds of others, enter a room full of computers, and take a multiple choice examination, testing your new Australian knowledge. As I completed the test (sadly - in 4 minutes with 100%), I glanced round the room to see many people, some whom English may not be their first language, were still struggling with question number 1. I even heard someone ask if the test could be translated into Mandarin! It was only then that I realised what it meant to become an Australian. In hindsight, for me it was fairly easy. For others its virtually impossible, or a true dream come true.

I arrived in Australia ten years ago, with literally no more than the clothes on my back, and have lived here as a permanent resident quite happily ever since. It was only after having my children did I realise that I should take more of an active interest and have more input in local and national day to day life. This year has been an interesting year, with a few peaks and troughs. It has though, strangely enough, now made me feel totally accepted in Australia. Bizarre what a piece of paper really does, but I have to say, it has taken me ten years to feel like Australia really is home.

I still feel incredibly isolated and home sick from time to time, especially at Christmas, and days were traditionally families get together (like Australia Day), and making true friends can sometimes be really hard (especially when others are surrounded by friends from their childhood, or have the family holiday house to head to for the summer etc etc), however, there are enough of us likeminded individuals to form our own celebrations together, and somehow numb those random feelings.

So, thanks Australia, for welcoming me. I'm not sure if I shall ever get used to 40 degree days, thongs, lamb, Melbourne's four seasons in one day, people going to the supermarket with no shoes on, christmas on the beach, 24 hour flights to London, and the fact that people don't ride kangaroos' to work. PLUS, I will always support England in the cricket, and will always keep my accent, however I think I can - for now - adapt to life in the sunburnt lucky country. Happy Australia Day to you all.

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