It’s been a big week for this expat, a big week indeed. First, my two-year temporary visa was FINALLY granted! Yeeeeeeehaw! It only took six months, one incompetent (and later fired) migration agent, $2,500+, a gazillion photocopies, two trips to DIAC, about 20 phone calls, a mountain of paperwork, and an assload of stress. But dang, it’s finally done. So now I can work in Oz, I have full medical benefits, I can get a driver’s license (maybe), I can fly back and forth to the U.S. at will, and stay in Sydney for longer than 90 days. Thank you Oz and thank you God.
The irony is that now that I’ve been cleared for a two-year stay, I promptly booked a ticket home. This is my last chance to spend a few weeks visiting my family and friends back in the States before I get a real job and a real life and stop flitting around between countries every quarter. So I’m excited to go home, but now that I’ve logged seven months as an expat, I’m finally adjusting. And while I will certainly miss my husband over the coming weeks, I didn’t think in these last few days I’d be thinking about how much I’ll miss Australia while I’m gone. But I will. Especially on days like today…warm but not hot, a cloudless sky, shimmering blades of glass, glistening turquoise waters.
For those of you who know me personally, or those who have been following my blog since I arrived many months ago, you know this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Leaving the city I’ve spent nearly all my life in was difficult. Being away from friends and family has been excruciating. And if that wasn’t enough, I came to a country where everything is upside down and inside out. The metric system…argh…the grams and kilos and centimeters and liters. The driving on the left side. A hot Christmas and cold July. The clothes lines and clothing flapping in the breeze as far as the eye can see…on balconies, in backyards, on terraces. The one- and two-dollar coins. The absence of provolone cheese, wine, baggers, and paper bags in the grocery store. I could go on and on about the many differences that only added to my difficulty adjusting to this foreign place.
I have acclimated to a large degree. I fought it hard, because I had nothing left of my former self or life once I unpacked my bags down here. I felt lost and often still do, I wish I had friends here, and I still get pissed off and long for American conveniences.
I can navigate the subway like a champ. I’ve been to a show in the most famous opera house in the world, and can go to Bondi Beach any time I want. One person I’m totally not related to in any way knows my name and face, and another knows my coffee order by heart. I’m starting to recognize the work of Aussie fashion designers on first glance, and I’ve adjusted to the fact that mall shopping ends at 5:30pm daily except Thursdays. I’ve even adopted Down Under style…leggings, billowing tops, flat boots, and the ever-present scarf. I’m getting there.
In a couple days I’ll be on that heinously-long flight to San Francisco, then on another to the East Coast, to my favorite place in the world. Back home to the ease of American life for a few weeks. It will be a nice change to drive myself somewhere and actually know where I’m going. To pay $1.89 for shaving gel. To see all those faces I miss so much.
Like I said, I’m getting there.