Visiting Australia After Living Overseas
20/10/2004 by Saskia
After moving overseas from Melbourne and raising a family and both Hong Kong and California, Saskia has now found peace with her life abroad and is content with the memories of her childhood home. This is her story…
My husband’s youngest brother was getting married so it was a good excuse to return to Melbourne for a visit and a celebration.
How Moving Abroad Changes Your Perception
It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and it was of course disappointing to some family members that we weren’t staying until Christmas. Although I understood their disappointment, I wanted to maintain our children’s normal routine. I did not want to keep them out of school for too long as Hong Kong schools were not on ‘summer vacation’ at the time.
I arrived with two children and a Filipino maid at Tullamarine Airport and we quickly passed through customs declaring food items and getting assistance from one of the officers in that section. After 14 long hours and a stopover in Sydney, I was exhausted. I should have felt good to be back home in Melbourne but did I?.
I remember waiting just outside the terminal while my father-in-law went to get his car and I was thinking ….Melbourne’s just a big country town.
Having flown in from Chep Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong, Tullamarine looked ‘small.’
It dawned on me that I had ‘grown up.’ I have travelled most of my life and by the time I was 30, I had been to Europe at least 20 times. I had never felt that Melbourne was a big country town during this time. My father was originally from Berlin and he had always said this about Melbourne. Now I believed it too.
Something about Tullamarine confirmed it. Perhaps the ‘Aussie drawl’ or the remoteness of Tullamarine from the city did it. However I don’t think that was the case. It was just like a massive realization to me that Melbourne really was a long way away from anything.
Hong Kong was truly the centre of the banking world. I now live in Silicon Valley in California and this is the centre of high technology. So I guess I was seeing the world differently.
I regularly attend dinners with Chief Executive Officers. My children play with consulate staff children and Frequent Flyer points give me “business class” travel upgrades. Perhaps I am a bit of a high flyer!
Though I was born in Melbourne, it seemed like the world had changed when I returned.
One thing I noticed during the two weeks was that Mr Kennett (the Victorian State Premier) had created a new freeway. Lygon Street in Carlton just wasn’t the same – more commercial and less “Italian.” Although prices were good (the US dollar rate was good then), there still seemed little or less service in shops. Fortunately the ‘trendy fish and chip shop’ still served flake and potato cakes.
The concept of going to the Casino complex to see a movie seemed all too weird. The Yarra River had definitely changed – if only along the edges but not in colour!
And then of course there were numerous car rides through ‘The Tunnel’ under the Olympic pool – which was no longer called that. Trams still seemed to run but, I for one, couldn’t figure out how much to pay so I didn’t! I didn’t see many others work it out either.
Missing Family From Afar
Family members still put on traditional barbeques and sausages tasted just as they always had. The cousins all got on oh so well. To see that was a reminder of what I really missed – family.
After that, not much else mattered. It saddens me some days where think that my children will not have much experience of spending summers with their cousins.
But I think in the long run they will have other thrills, after all they live in California where Disneyland, Universal Studios, Lego land and Yosemite is in their ‘playground’. Where squirrels run along the cable lines, where ducks fly above and deer roam the streets at sunset.
Out of all of their cousins, they are the only ones who can say they have already lived in three countries, travelled to five and can understand basic Cantonese and have learnt Mandarin at school ever since they were three years old.
Sure I miss Melbourne and it’s quirkiness. But I love the fact that I live somewhere else and I have such a ‘full’ life. I wouldn’t trade it back for life in Oz if you paid me.
I guess there is always a bit of give and take, a cost and payoff. C’est la vie.
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