2017, a new year begins. For me, it is another year that I never
dreamed I'd spend in Australia. I first arrived in this great land
down under as a bright-eyed 22 year old. I spent a year in Sydney
doing a master's program at Sydney Uni, after which I was disappointed with
the quality of the program and with the year in general.. so I decided to
try again with a different program at RMIT, and I arrived in Melbourne.
Within a few months, I met my future husband and that was that.
Over the years, I finished my MA at RMIT, gained permanent residency and
eventually, citizenship. However, despite having an Australian
passport, I didn't consider myself to be 'Australian (I still don't,
actually). Although I have done nothing to transfer my life back to
the US, I still harbour hopes that someday, somehow, I would get to move
However, the years passed. I watched many good American friends
move back to the US with pangs of jealousy. Meanwhile, my husband
and I started our family here, and last year started building our family
home in the Eastern suburbs. For most people, that would mean they
are staying permanently. And while I can certainly see the benefits
of staying here, I often wonder when it will start to feel like 'home.'
What has made staying here easier has been making connections and
friends, often with other Americans. I though I was doing all right
before, but as more friends abandoned life down under, I had to reach out
again, and that's when I joined the AWA last year. It is so
important to have a village, especially as an expat when family and
'home' is far away. Having others who understand where we come
from, and can laugh and cry at the challenges we face here is invaluable.
The past few years have been some of the hardest of my life, as my
children were babies and preschoolers and I had no family here. I
knew a lot of people, but not many whom I consider good friends. It
is so lonely sometimes, which is sort of funny as since I'm home with my
kids, I'm never actually alone. Ever. But I want this year to
be different. I will learn that it's ok to leave the kids with a
babysitter and catch up with friends more often. I will take random
classes at the Centre for Adult Education in the city (cooking, interior
design, blogging, languages, anyone?) I even signed up for a rowing
course to get out on the Yarra so I can relive my high school days,
though luckily I don't think I'll be getting up in the dark to row in the
And as for the AWA, I hope to get a few more activities on the calendar
in case there are others out there like me, wanting to get out of the
house and have fun with new friends. So if that's you, please come
along to some of our events... and if you have ideas for more, we'd love
to hear them!