InterNations Featured Blog
Anita: Finally Woken
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Australia, etc.
I was born and bred in Indonesia and went to Sydney to complete my master’s degree in 1999. Two years later I went back to Indonesia to work. In 2007 I moved permanently to Aberdeen, Scotland, for more than 2 years. In November 2009 I moved to Perth, Australia and have been living here since.
Australia was never in my ‘expat posting wish list’. I actually imagined somewhere more ‘exotic’ and challenging, where I could learn a different language and where the culture is different from Indonesian or British culture.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started my blog in April 2005. Initially it was more about relationships with boyfriends and friends in general. When I moved to Scotland, I dealt with culture shock all the time and started writing about my experience settling down in my new adopted home. The blog since has evolved to be an expat blog which covers culture, travel, and a bit of my life.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
“Without Prejudice” talks about my settlement course, which is mandatory for expat spouses where my husband worked. I learned a lot from this course, that people are prone to quick generalizations and labeling, but as expats in particular, we must be willing to suspend our judgment and embrace a new idea or culture.
“Eating Without Prejudice” tells of different eating customs in every country. What we think is a rude gesture at the table (slurping, burping, etc), is considered a gesture of appreciation in another culture.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Australia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I didn’t experience much culture shock in Australia compared to Scotland. It’s actually too easy to settle in Australia. I’ve lived here before, I speak the language, there are plenty of Asian food and friends around when I feel homesick, and it’s only 4 hours away from Indonesia.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Australia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
For my first time being a student in Australia, I didn’t prepare for anything so everything was a shock. If only there was a settlement course I could have gone to before moving and studying in Sydney, it would have helped the transition. I must mention that when I was in Sydney it was the lowest point of the international relationship between Indonesia and Australia government (due to East Timor conflicts and other diplomatic issues) and the country and its people weren’t so welcoming towards Indonesians. Several of my schoolmates were harassed up to the point we weren’t even comfortable saying we’re from Indonesia.
For this posting in Perth however, everything has been very easy. Although I didn’t realize how expensive Perth was until I got here. Even my husband who’s been to Perth several times in the past found the price of everything here was shocking and a lot different from 3 years a go when he visited the city the last time.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
In this post, “You Know You’re In The UK When”: the shop assistant was puzzled when I asked for a ‘pants hanger’. It took her (and several of her colleagues) to figure out I wanted a TROUSERS hanger. Pants in British English means underwear so they were confused when there was a customer wants to buy a hanger for her underwear. Yes, even British and American English can be so different in meaning.
My observation towards Perthians in, “Things About Perthians”, talks about (or wonders why) Perthians like going barefoot everywhere they go, the men’s love for wearing tank top/vest or worse, going topless, why they are obsessed with sports, etc.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Australia?
Make sure to get sun protection, embrace a laid back lifestyle, and learn how to master the BBQ techniques.
How is the expat community in Australia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Not in Perth. It’s basically an expat city due to mining, oil & gas industries here. I’ve met more people from UK than Australia here!
How would you summarize your expat life in Australia in a single, catchy sentence?
Expat life in Australia is bloody awesome, mate!