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Elsja: Elsja Down Under

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Sydney makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Sydney, etc.

I am originally from Orange County California but moved to Sydney in 2007 to be with my Aussie boyfriend at the time, now husband. We originally met on MySpace before I came to Sydney on a holiday. We ended up hitting it off and after two years of long distance I took a leap of faith and crossed the Pacific for love. I love cooking, travelling and event planning. I love yoga as well and wish it was not so expensive!

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging just for fun before I moved to Sydney but once moving I decided to share some of my journey with others. My blog has moments of frustration, excitement and sadness- all of which other expats may relate with. It’s not just about my move though, it’s about my life and all that goes with it. I share recipes, experiences and other general day to day ramblings so that my family and friends back home can keep up to date with what’s going on in my life.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

Here are a few about the ups and downs of living in Sydney.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Sydney differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

When I first moved, George Bush was president and I felt a lot of animosity towards Americans. I was almost afraid to tell people where I was from. That has faded somewhat but there are many negative things about America that people here love to point out all the time. The biggest culture shock for me was the lack of enthusiasm for holidays. I really miss celebrating Halloween and Christmas to the same level we did in the states. I also can’t get over people walking around barefoot all the time. What’s up with that? Finally, it’s pretty crazy that brothels and gambling are legal.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Sydney? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I wasn’t prepared for the weather. I didn’t expect it to rain as much. I also wasn’t prepared for how expensive everything would be. I think those two things still surprise me after nearly 6 years of living here. Oh and Target… I definitely was not prepared for the Aussie Target store to suck so bad.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. All the funny things I can think of aren’t really related to being an expat. I’ll probably think of one the minute I send this.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Sydney?

  • Get prepared to pay a lot more than you did back home. For EVERYTHING. After 6 years it doesn’t get easier, although you do learn to accept it a bit more. Oh and customer service? Do not expect the same quality as back home.
  • Explore all that Sydney has to offer. Beautiful walks, parks, harbors, beaches, bush trails, bustling city life, harbor ferry rides, and more. There is so much to see and do and if you’re moving here permanently it’s easy to get lazy and not get out and explore. If you’re here temporarily… travel! See as much of this part of the world as you can before you head back home.
  • Be prepared for lots of rain. My first summer here was SO rainy and I hated it. Everyone promised me it was NOT normal. 6 years later I realize it IS normal- either than or the last 6 years have been an anomaly.

How is the expat community in Sydney? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

When I first came I joined a small group of expats and we stayed a bit to ourselves. I made some good friends in that group. It seems to me that the expat community is bigger now than it was when I moved- but maybe I’m just more aware of it.

How would you summarize your expat life in Sydney in a single, catchy sentence?

Expat life may not always be easy, but my life here has been worth every struggle and heartache.

Serhat Ahmed

"Without experience of having lived abroad, I thought it would be hard to get to know other expats. But not with InterNations."

Lotta Koskinen

"When I first attended the Sydney Bar night I was really nervous. But everyone welcomed me and I quickly felt as part of the community."

Global Expat Guide