Mandy: On a Southern Breeze
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Australia, etc.
Up until 2 years ago, I was living in Colorado, enjoying the local rock climbing and working in one of the best bookstores in the United States. My husband was finishing up his PhD and looking for jobs. One day, he came home and asked me how I felt about moving to Australia. Within 6 months, we’d packed up and were on a plane to Australia. I count myself lucky every single day.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging shortly after arriving in Australia. It was important to me to keep a record of my impressions and adventures in this amazing country, and also to share them with family and friends who might never be able to visit me here.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
The birds of Australia continue to fascinate me – so many big, colorful (‘colourful’ in Aussie) birds that we don’t have back home. Though they aren’t my most eloquent posts or my most beautiful photos, my posts about birds remain my favorites (favourites).
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?
Definitely a bit of culture shock. At first I kept comparing all the ways that my new life was different to the one I left behind—the food, the accents, the TV shows, the sports, etc. One of my first posts on my blog was about getting used to the metric system—kilograms instead of pounds, meters instead of miles, Celsius instead of Fahrenheit—but now those calculations roll much easier off the tongue. We definitely have more adventures these days as we place a big emphasis on traveling and seeing as much of Australia as possible. Other than that, it’s amazing how settled into our daily routine we are – just like home, but with more Skype chats!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Australia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
To save on money, we tried to pack as little as possible. However, we didn’t factor in how much more expensive items were in Australia than in the United States. In the end, I think we would have been better off spending the money to ship more of our belongings. Plus, it made it hard to adjust to a new apartment – it felt very sterile without our books, photos and mementos.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Oh dear, this is the part where I embarrass myself. Yes, I do have many hilarious and funny stories stored up from my year in Australia. One that I’m willing to share is this one: “Zam I Am” (And let me just add, before you go read it, that I’m much much better at understanding Australian accents now!)
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Australia?
- Prepare for life to be different. Jobs will be different. The pace of life will be different. Not better or worse, just different.
- Invest in a long distance calling plan. Or set up all of your family and friends with a Skype account.
- Travel as much as you can around Australia. It’s a vast country with so many unique features.
How is the expat community in Australia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expats are a very welcoming community. We’ve been lucky to meet expats from all over the world. Everyone happily offers advice and swaps stories about living abroad. It’s a vibrant culture and one that I’m excited to be a part of.
How would you summarize your expat life in Australia in a single, catchy sentence?
My life in Australia is a mix of new friends and ordinary routines, punctuated by the knowledge that around every corner is the possibility of a grand adventure.