From Melbourne to the UK: Gidday from the UK
I am a 42 year old sheila who, having spent my formative years in parts of Australia that have been subjected to savage bushfires, cyclones with innocuous-sounding names or have recently been under water, moved from Melbourne to the UK in January 2004.
I spend my time people-watching, reading, eating, baking, blogging and reprioritising chores after all of these things. I’ve recently moved to North London (after almost 8 years south of the river) so I’m also excited about exploring a brand new (to me anyway) neighbourhood.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I think F Scott Fitzgerald would call it ‘restless discontent’. An overtly successful life with all the trappings hid a deep, deep dissatisfaction and moving to London was quite a ‘toys out of the pram’ moment to see which were the things that really mattered to me. Needless to say I kept those things in mind as I rebuilt my life here.
2. How do you make a living?
I have a background in Marketing, Business Development and General Management. Right now I am working for one of the world’s largest consumer packaging companies, who make 60 billion drinks cans each year, in new product development and marketing.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
We are not regular communicators like it appears most expats are. There’s Facebook and sporadic emails (depending on what’s going on). And my blog, Gidday from the UK keeps anyone who’s interested - and maybe some that aren’t - up to date with my day to day life here. Also Mum and I probably speak on the phone once a month.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in the UK?
I feel like I have found my home here. In fact, an expat New Yorker friend of mine refers to London as my spiritual home which I think describes it perfectly. I love that London is so politically, religiously and gastronomically multi-cultural. I love the four seasons - even in a day – it’s just like Melbourne in that way. And I am unashamedly child-like in my fascination for snow.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in the UK?
It’s a long way away when something goes wrong in Oz and you just want to be there.
6. What do you miss most?
Mum and my little sister. Oh and Burger Rings, Violet Crumbles and Lenards (a ‘chicken’ style butchers chain in Australia)
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I had a couple of email addresses in hand when I arrived so a few people got a random hello, are you up for a coffee/drink? email. I didn’t really know anyone and I was a little older than your average ‘Walkabout’ expat. But expats are an amazingly generous bunch and I got all sorts of offers to tag along to things where I met more and more people. And once I started working, I met more British people so my circle is quite varied. But my closest friend here is still the Aussie lass from the first ‘hello’ email I sent – the 2for1 Mojitos set just the right tone I think.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
That people don’t actually say what they mean. If you think the idea is rubbish, don’t tell me it’s interesting and that you’ll consider it. It only leads to heartbreak.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That the weather is rubbish. Firstly there is nothing so breathtaking as an English Spring. Or Autumn for that matter. And you know how I feel about snow already. Crisp blue sky days that make you feel alive outside and cosy indoors are the best. As for Summer, it may not be dripping with sunny skies during the school holidays but I have gone into work many a time between April and September with a ‘touch of the sun’ on my nose and cheeks. And who needs 40C temperatures anyway? Not me!
10. What advice would you give other expats?
Be open and willing to ‘try on’ new ways of doing things. Living in a new country/culture is an amazing opportunity to learn stuff about yourself as well as your new place of residence. And be patient both with yourself and others. Remember you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto and a little compassion and understanding goes a long way.
11. When and why did you start your blog?
Not being a ‘phone person’ (I hate phone catch ups – if you manage to have one with me, consider yourself lucky!), staying in touch with family and friends was a bit of a challenge so I started Gidday From The UK in August 2008. It meant people got a glimpse into my 'everyday moments' rather than the highlight.
12. How has the blog been beneficial?
Aside from finding self expression in writing, blogging opens up a whole other world. A bit like when I arrived in London, I have made some unexpected friends and been inspired by other a) writers and b) expats, most of whom I’ve never met. There are the most inordinately generous people out there.
The blog, Gidday From The UK
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