Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Melbourne:
I think we were prepared. There are always things that pop up here and there that even planners like ourselves couldn’t anticipate or cover it all. So at risk of sounding cliché, we wouldn’t change a thing. It’s all part of what has made the experience as wonderful as it is.
For us, Melbourne seems a perfect blend between European culture with their passion for all things beautiful, and the North American ease and accessibility.
When we had been living in Melbourne just a few weeks, I went to the post office to send a package back home. I became flustered and could not count out the correct amount of coins needed to pay the clerk. She was impatient with me, and finally asked, “What is wrong with you? Are you a kiwi?” I later realized that being called a kiwi is almost an insult, but my neighbors helped me see the funny side of it, and we shared a good laugh.
I didn’t plan on staying in Melbourne—my original “plan” for Australia was to travel for a while then land somewhere in the outback to do an outdoor job. However, Melbourne is a charming place and once I was there, I didn’t want to leave. If I had known that I would be staying there, I would have done more job research and found a place to live right off the bat.
Life in Australia is different in many small ways. My carbon footprint is lighter – we recycle more, we compost, grow some vegetables, and people seem more concerned about water and energy conservation. I shop at markets and buy fresher foods now. But I’d say the biggest culture shock is how much more expensive life is here. And driving on the left side of the road.
We came without jobs and found the job market much more difficult than we thought it would be. Melbourne is a town with a heavy emphasis on personal connections. If we could have a “do-over”, we would have worked on building our networks much earlier before we moved.
The bad: I miss my family more than ever. They are so far away. Shopping here isn’t as good as in America and everything is super expensive. But salaries are better here so I guess that makes up for it.
I didn’t really experience culture shock – except I kept looking in the wrong direction for oncoming traffic. I found Australia to be the same as America in a lot of ways.
In my first year here, every sight and sound was a new experience in itself. The food was a huge change to the taste buds. The weather was no longer muggy and warm, but instead ranged from scorching to chilly, and everything in between. Most importantly, the people were just so different from what we were used to. Culturally, Singaporeans excel in brevity, which made for a huge contrast in communication.
It's never easy finding your way in a new place, finding a house, a car, etc... But the most difficult part is finding people you can get along well and call them friends. Getting use to a new time zone and knowing you can't call family and friends whenever you want is really annoying, that's why you put lots of energies in finding new friends for yourself and your kids.
We didn’t have too much trouble adjusting, partially because Australia is an English-speaking country and shares a lot of cultural similarities with the USA. There was a bit of culture shock, especially learning the different phrases and words Australians use and getting used to the slower-paced nature of life in Melbourne; it can be a bit frustrating at times when you need something done quickly.