From California to New South Wales: Surviving OZ
My name is Lisa, and I’m a Southern Californian transplanted to regional New South Wales in Australia.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I first came to Australia for a 3 month working holiday…that was over 9 years ago, and since then, love, marriage, twins and citizenship have all happened!
2. How do you make a living?
I’ve had a number of jobs since I moved here – at first I was doing the usual working traveller waitressing job, but eventually got a more permanent position in graphic design (my degree is in Fine Art) and a few years ago I made a career change to become a librarian. I have to say, working in Australia is awesome – I don’t think I’ve ever been employed somewhere without fun co-workers (the whole stereotype about fun loving Aussies? Totally true!).
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I try to regularly email my family (although probably don’t manage it as frequently as I should!) and my blog originally began as a way to keep in touch and let them know what was happening in my life. After my sons were born, it also became an easy way to share photos! Oh, and we have video chats on Skype every once in a while.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Australia?
I know it will probably sound cliché, but the people here really are fantastic. Aussies are generally very welcoming, positive, fun loving people and living among them is so enjoyable!
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Australia?
Haha, can I say the cheese ? I’m joking, but because American and Australian cultures are similar in a lot of ways, it’s often the strange little things that throw you off your stride – for example, there being one very predominant type of cheese (called 'Tasty cheese' ) sold here instead of the dozens of kinds you would find in an American grocery store.
There are also different customer service expectations here than in the USA, and that was difficult for me to adjust to because I was used to a higher level of service in the States. This seems to be a pretty common complaint among American expats, or even Aussies who have travelled overseas.
6. What do you miss most?
The dozens of kinds of cheese. Kidding! My family, hands down. I miss them a great deal, and wish we were closer so they could see my sons growing up in person.
7. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Buttering sandwiches. I’ve seen countless Aussies butter the insides of the bread before making their sandwich, even if they’re going to smear mayonnaise (or even peanut butter!) in there as well. It just makes no sense to me!
8. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Oh my, where do I start? That they don’t have modern comforts like, oh, electricity (no joke, someone actually asked me that once). That they all live in the bush. That kangaroos hop down the main street. Basically the idea that it’s some kind of strange, backwards country that’s stuck in the 19th century.
9. What advice would you give other expats?
Be open minded. I have seen SO many people – both expats and tourists – who are firmly stuck in the mindset that where they came from is the best and therefore where they’re now living automatically sucks. Just because you were raised doing ABC, it doesn’t mean XYZ is wrong – just different. There will always be things that you’ll miss (and maybe even things that genuinely are better in some ways) about your home country, but if you’re open to the culture and experiences of your new country, you’ll be able to see how wonderful and unique it is.
10. When and why did you start your blog?
I started it in 2008, after my husband and I got married. We wanted something to take the place of our wedding website – a way to keep family and friends who weren’t nearby updated on what was happening in our life.
It’s been great for keeping in touch with family and friends who are overseas, and even for connecting with other expats. I’ve also gotten into photography lately, so I like to throw up photos for feedback. And since I often post about things I like, I use it as a kind of long winded bookmarking system: “Now what was the website that sold those cool thingies? I know I posted about it back in November…I’ll flick through the archives to find it.”
Lisa's blog, Surviving Oz
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