Settling In To The Australian Lifestyle
By Stephen Kuhn
Posted on the Americans Down Under Yahoo Group on 25 November 2004 and reprinted here with permission – the first part is the original post by Sue Ellson and the second part is a response by Stephen…
You may be interested to know that in our recent survey of 541 people around the world, people feel a newcomer longer in Australia than in other countries.
I would suggest, based on lots of experience, that you are a newcomer for up to three years – and you can create a ‘spiritual home’ as I call it within 10 years. Of course, if you have friends, realistic expectations and good strategies for finding information, all this can take a lot less.
I equate it to taking everything out of your kitchen cupboards, rearranging it, then doing the dishes and trying to remember where on earth you have to put things….it is possible, but it is not automatic.
Happy settlement, at whatever stage you are at…..
Sue, I must be one of the lucky ones, then. Either that, or the Good Lord had meant for me to be here in the first place (oh, hey, quick funny story on that point: Before my FIRST marriage, my then-to-be wife and I went to visit a friend of hers – John – great guy – but very steeped in “the alternative spiritual lifestyle” – the guy did horoscopes – by hand – along with other strange and bizarre things. So, as a pre-wedding gift for us, he decided to sit down and do some charts on the both of us – individually and then as a whole. Was quiet interesting an evening.
Well, as he was wrapping this stuff up – which took quite a fair while – he was a bit puzzled over some of the information that he had come up with.
He stated that he really couldn’t make heads or tails out of it, but he was going to go ahead with the interpretation anyways. “Both of you will be very very happy,” he stated, then continued, “but this part sounds strange. Anita, you will be far far east – and that is where you will live. Stephen, you will be far far west – you will be near an ocean and near a mountain. I don’t know if this is some kind of symbolism, but this is what I am seeing.”
Well, that was back in 1990. Anita – my first wife, lives in Morocco. Obviously, I live in Australia – south of Sydney. I live near the ocean, and have a beautiful view of 400 metres of Escarpment and Mt. Kembla. Guess you can’t get any further east or west from where the initial “reading” was done, eh?)
I’ve always felt that Australia – at least to me – was like putting on a nice old worn in jacket that got handed down – it was strange at first – and only for a short while, then it just became so comfortable, so well fit, so “part of me” and me “part of it”.
When anyone moves anywhere, there are particular sensitivities that get accentuated – and can have great bearing on your overall attitude, your comfort levels, etc etc etc. Granted that you leave friends and family a great distance away, but that is “relative” – if you learn how to communicate – telephone, email, web-cam and voice-over-IP, you’re still as close as you want to be – and sometimes even closer than you were before. The world is a very very geographically big place, but a technologically small place.
I’ve seen quite a few Yanks that have slipped into Australia comfortably, and quite a few Yanks that haven’t. But, as stated heaps of times in the past, I do honestly think it’s based on personality, willingness to “When in Rome….” (ya know what I mean), and individual spiritual strength. You can come here and get friends and have new family and get comfortable, but if you’re constantly pining for “home back in the US” or always of the mindset that you miss particular things from “back home” and never get satisfaction from that, you’re not going to have a particularly comfortable time – and that doesn’t matter where
I’m just thankful that I’m part of that certain percentage that hasn’t seen “ugliness” aimed at me, or resentment from Australians, and that wherever I go here, I feel at home – even if it’s in some strange out-of-the-way bush town back of Bourke. I’ve only been shown compassion, companionship, friendliness, kindness, goodwill – from friends and from complete and absolute strangers.
I reckon I’m not a very scary character anyways. I don’t physically look threatening – short – 167cm and 64 kilos – and I’m not particularly loud or raucous (unless, of course, you introduce Mr. Scotch to me – grin); so I don’t come across as a posed threat. I think that’s been something that has always been on my side. I can quietly slip in here and there and not really be noticed. I don’t draw very much attention to myself when I’m out and about. So when I meet a folks I ain’t met before, there is nothing to throw up a wall or facade on their part.
So I count myself lucky that way. I truly wish that I could fully describe how I feel about my new Australian life – and how I feel about this country and the people here – but it would take more than an email, and more than a few pages. I CAN, however, sum it up with a bit of a joke that the blokes at the Fishing Club table at the pub have:
There are two types of people in this world;
Those that are ‘stralian, and those that want to be.
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