A Year On: 10 Learning Points!

When the opportunity came up to move to Australia, I have to admit I was lacking knowledge about the geography, the climate, the culture, political and social issues. I did some research to gain some initial knowledge but it is, of course, living the daily routines in a new country that helps the most. Some things surprised me, others confirmed some thoughts and initial perceptions. I write about 10 main learning points, the ones that surprised me the most…

  1. The sun heat is particularly intense. It feels very direct and hot on the skin. It is not cool to be tanned and not funny either. In fact, people worry about you if you have a sun burnt. People are very cautious about sunshine and heat and particularly sun burns. At the peak of summer, you still tan with 50 factor cream. Hats are a necessity. In fact, in all schools, there is a hat policy imposed from October to April. I don’t live in the most heat affected area, but I can imagine how difficult it may be at 35-45 degrees on most days. I am not sure I could live in these areas. In the Melbourne area, we have noticed some very hot days followed by 1 or 2 cool days, which has been a relief. These days are welcomed. It is impossible to do lots of jobs during the high sun hours. Initially, we were like ‘we must empty boxes, cut trees, etc.’ but it became unbearable to work like that in the sunshine. BBQs have a clearly purpose. On these hot days, it is too hot to cook inside. We need to remind ourselves to drink water…
  2. Similar to Canada, Australia is vast, one hour drive does not get you very far. The states appear very distinct (although we have not travelled interstate yet) with different state governments and particular unique and specific issues. Although we live in a fairly populated area there is space around us, farm land is on our doorstep and we are an hour away to the city.
  3. It is incredible to discover so many new animals and the wildlife. We have been truly amazed! The kookaburras singing make me smile every time as they sound like monkeys. Possums although cute are very invasive and will take every single little opportunity to get in small holes to get through the roof, the garage, etc. Once established it is very hard to move them on, they are at finding new holes, new ways to get in. I learnt a lot about keeping possums out! Seeing wild kangaroos has been great. It is always incredible to see parrots, blue ones, green, ones, pink ones, all coloured, just beautiful!
  4. The nature also truly amazes us all. Palm trees, bushland, native trees, flowers. I love the smell of the forest, particularly the eucalyptus trees. I am looking forward to grow birds of paradise at the front of the house. The sceneries are unique, yellow burnt grass fields and lines of native tress, the farmland and countryside are beautiful. A very picturesque scenery and very unique to Australia too…We love just being outdoors…walking and exercise has to be planned according not only the weather but mainly the heat…
  5. The proximity of Pacific islands, Indonesia, China, Japan brings a different dimension to the news, politics and culture. These countries are well represented in the culture and the news always present key news about these countries. Links with these countries also appear developed in terms of politics. These holiday destinations are also well developed. Foods from these countries are available everywhere. We have had some great Thai and Japanese food. There are also some markets and stores selling these foods in lots of places. You can find nail bars, massage places, everywhere.
  6.  America appears to have a big influence on Australia, more than I anticipated. One 12 hour flight will take you to LA. There are number of American programmes on TV, even more than the UK!
  7. Buying cars is interesting! Cars are advertised as ‘Drive Away’, but you can’t drive them away! A big mistake: buying a car with no air conditioning!
  8. The history of Australia fascinates me, particularly the aboriginal culture, which I would like to learn so much more of and visit areas more in the North. Again a number of incredible similarities with Canada and aboriginal culture, colonisation, subsequent oppressions, dominant discourses.
  9. Pub culture is not so important. People tend to have BBQs or dinners at people’s houses. Parties at people’s houses appear to be popular. Food and coffee are great everywhere in restaurants. There is a big coffee culture…
  10. People are incredibly friendly and kind. People pop in to see each other and spontaneously create a dinner party. We all love the easy going lifestyle and this great sense of community.
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