I’ve been in this relationship 6 months now, and I think things are getting pretty serious. I know it’s still too early to make a long term commitment, but I think this could be the real thing. I see this lasting for at least four years. Sure, it has had its ups and downs, but what relationship doesn’t? We have our misunderstandings, but we are slowly working towards a mutual appreciation of our differences. Bottom line, Australia and I have hit our 6 month-a-versary, and I’d say for the most part, we are still in our honeymoon phase.
I know, I know, it was a bit of a “cheeky” start to a blog post, but how else do you blog about this kind of milestone. Maybe most people wouldn’t consider it a milestone…but for me, this is pretty big. Sure, I’ve traveled–I’ve been around the states a bit and over to Europe a couple times—but I’ve never LIVED in a different country. So living here for 6 months seems pretty big.
I’ve finally switched to quantifying my time here in months. For a while there I was treating this Australia move like new moms treat their baby’s age. You know what I’m talking about. When the baby is born it is one month old, 3 months old, 9months old, etc etc. Then they hit 1 year, but after that the om’s go back to months again. “How old is your baby?” “Oh 18 months.” What? I was always that person who wanted to just say NO. Your baby is one and a half YEARS. Move on! Why do moms do that? Do they think that somehow using the smaller unit makes the time seem more significant? Does it make the baby seem younger? Well, I can no longer judge these moms because this smallest unit of time description is EXACTLY what I did when I first got to Australia. At first it was days, and then weeks, and then for some inexplicable reason it stayed weeks well beyond 1 month, 2 month, etc. “How long have you been here?” “oh you know, like 12 weeks?” WHAT? Why am I saying this? I think it was because 1 month seemed like too long and 4 weeks felt like it more adequately described how new this life still felt. When I heard myself say 12 weeks out loud though, I realized I needed to suck it up and accept the fact that my move was no longer “new news.”
Still, I wouldn’t say Australia feels like “old news” to me just yet. It does, however, feel a bit like a home. It’s funny because I don’t feel like home here replaces home back in the states….I just feel like I now have two homes. When I went to the states in June, I was “going home” and when I came back to Oz, I was “coming home.” Home to me is where I can feel settled, safe, and at ease. While I never felt completely lost here, even when I first arrived, it’s not been until recently that I’ve actually felt settled.
You see, I’ve finally pieced together an every day norm here and it’s such a relief. I’ve made great friends, found a nice apartment, and I don’t actually need my google maps on 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, I do still miss pieces of home. Aside from the obvious family and friends aspect, I miss having people around me that just know the culture I grew up in. The people that know my state, my town, the weekend haunts, college sports….well, they are all thousands of miles away.I knew coming here that I was an international student (my acceptance letter clearly stated this), but I don’t think I truly understood what that meant until I arrived.
Being an international student, even in a country with the same language, is a challenge. It’s a fantastic, life altering, self-discovering adventure….but a challenge nonetheless. There you are seeing a country and its people for the first time, and you can’t help but to question every little saying, tradition, and norm because it’s all so new and different. No matter how “similar” countries are said to be, believe you me, when you get there you can’t help but to see the differences. While noticing the differences is beneficial and helps foster understanding of cultural variations, adapting and settling into a new country requires that you notice, but then look beyond them. Sure things aren’t the same as “home,” but does that actually make them worse? Or better? Or just….not what you’re used to. It’s all a matter of perspective really.
What is funny is that I’m not just gaining a new perspective on Australia. This experience has given me the opportunity to see my own country and culture through the eyes of non-Americans….and, to say it is enlightening would be a huge understatement. I won’t go into all of that in this post, as I will save that topic for its own post. For now I’ll leave this point by saying that I am very thankful to have found friends here who are open-minded enough to have real conversations about cultural diversities in a respectful manner that allows all sides to break through the pre-conceived notions we have of people from other countries.
So yeah. Australia and I are pretty serious. But I’ve got some budding relationships on the side with France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the UK….Maybe I need some time to play the field. Maybe I’m just not a one-country kind of girl? Who knows what the future holds. All I can say for now is that this American girl has gone international. And she’s loving it.