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The Return of the Native - 6 Months in


BackToLife

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I haven't posted my return story before, as I have just got connected to NBN in the last few weeks, so up until now, I was at the mercy of the local library.

 

In a nutshell, my history is - I left Australia in 1974 on an around-the-world trip, then ended up living in the UK for the best part of 35 years, after having married a Brit (no longer with him).

 

After much soul-searching, I returned home in September to my home town, to live in the house I grew up in on the mid-North Coast. Some of my family still live here, so the challenges facing me won't be the same as those facing someone who has no ties with Australia at all.

 

However, there will probably be a common, underlying fear linking us all - will I be able to integrate into the Australian way-of-life, or will I be too European in my thinking/outlook to adjust to a country so fundamentally different to Europe/UK after nearly 40 years abroad?

 

Because make no mistake, Australia is NOT the UK with sun, as has been so often re-iterated on PIO. It is an entirely different country, and requires an entirely different mindset.

 

Australia has a different set of values to Europe, both in the way life is lived and in people's expectations of what life can offer them.

 

Australia no longer considers itself a 'colony' of the UK. It has grown up and is forging closer relationships with countries in the immediate geographical vicinity. Europe is just another continent, with no real pull any more on Australia's development.

 

Assimilation will be difficult unless you both recognise and accept this. Constantly comparing all aspects of the Australian way of life to what you have left behind will fuel your prejudices, and could mean you will never accept Australia for what it is, including the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

 

On a personal note, I find waking up to endless blue skies and sunshine energising, not enervating, although we do get the occasional very fierce storm which washes off the dust and the dirt and reveals an unexpected freshness. In fact, some nearby areas could well be in Europe, or the USA, or Canada, with lush green meadows, gently running streams, rainforests, cane fields of purest green, and flowers so vividly coloured they could have been painted in oils. And the foam-tipped green of the Pacific Ocean washing over the sandy yellow beaches will always have the power to stop me in my tracks.

 

And even when the sun has scorched the earth to a dullish brown, I still find an amazing beauty in this very different view of nature's harsh mantle.

 

Of course I still miss the life I had in the UK for many reason, including the fact that it was familiar, and safe. I miss the wild life, including the blackbirds, robins, coaltits, bluetits, etc, and particularly the hedgehogs; the richness of its incredible history; the architecture; autumn and spring (but NOT winter or the usual summer washout), and much, much more. But I want to be able to reminisce with remembered joy, instead of allowing those memories to become my constant companion which will then effectively exclude me from trying to forge a new life in a different country. In real terms, this means focusing forward on Australia, not backwards to the UK.

 

Because the most important lesson I have learned since being back is - let go of your prejudices, otherwise you will always be prejudiced.

 

All it takes is for you to open your hearts and minds to the differences.

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I love your post. It's refreshing as you have thrown a completely different spin on the two countries. I think we often get caught up in the more superficial stuff (I'm not saying by any means this is not Important), both have so much natural beauty, we don't always see it... I remember going to Cape Tribulation and literally having a lump in my throat at how beautiful it was, just stunning. The colours of everything just seemed so much more heightened and Intense. Mother nature- you can't beat it:wink:

Edited by Buttercup
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Thank you for sharing your story. It resonated with me as I haven't been back to Australia since 1986 and wonder now if I'm too "British" in my thinking for a successful move back. Like you, I have family in Australia - some in QLD, some in WA, some in NSW and friends that are almost like family in TAS. I hope that I will be able to adjust my thinking back again without too much difficulty but we shall see.

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Great post and it made me think about my life here, and my former life in England. I was watching a programme on Saturday arvo, 'Angelic Voices', i think, about the choristers in Salisbury Cathedral. I didn't know it was on, but I got interested because Salisbury is close to my home in Hampshire. The odd thing was that although I enjoyed watching it, and it made me think about 'Home', it did not unsettle me the way it might have done in the past.

 

Hedgehogs! I have not thought about them for a while, so vulnerable on the roads. There is a lane in my village, 'Staplewood Lane', which runs for about a mile and has just about everything you could feel nostalgic about along its length. Thatched cottages, farms, hedgerows, copses, (one with a rookery), frogspawn, primroses, bluebells, blackbirds. I can picture it, but I don't feel any urge to walk or cycle it again.

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Really great post, completely agree about Australia being a totally different country and having the correct mindset. It throws a lot of people off and hence they return to what is familiar/safe.

 

I also find the Australia blue skies and sunshine rejuvenating. Hearing the sound of native animals is always great and I love hearing them wherever they are. The sound of a Kookaburra always makes me smile but the sound of owls in UK makes me feel at home.

 

Country walks in England are fantastic I agree but not so great when the dog jumps into a dirty stream and has to get cleaned up.

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Hedgehogs! I have not thought about them for a while.

 

I absolutely adore hedgehogs. I used to feed them in the conservatory, which was not intentional, as I didn't know they could climb....boy, can they climb....so they used to come in through the cat flat and demolish the cat food. :laugh:

 

Also, how can one small animal be so noisy?

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Over the next few days, I will post the second part of my return on whether or not I am finding living in Australia expensive.

 

So although there may be a (slight) mention of sausages, there will be absolutely no mention of the price of lemons. However, have you seen the price of mushrooms recently? Yikes!!! :cry:

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That was a great post BTL, and so true. However, I do think it takes a while to realise that the differences are quite profound- a whole mindset if you like. Different values in life, different ways of looking at things. What brought it home to us was meeting with relatives from the UK after many years- they were just so very different from us in the things they valued. No right and wrongs about it, just a different emphasis. Before someone asks how, just about anywhere- education, health, social, financial, certainly political.

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