PART 1 - As post is too long!!!!!
Today 20th May 08 we have been in Australia for seven months, where has that seven months gone?? At 08.20am on 01/11/07 we landed very weary, excited & apprehensive at Adelaide International airport ready to begin our new life.
Those first few days & weeks were exciting but also had many moments of sadness and apprehension however those days all seem a lifetime away now as we sit here in our own beautiful home settled & happy.
Our lives have changed immensely in most ways for the better. The worse part of emigrating here to Australia is the separation from our wonderful family & friends. I knew we would miss our loved ones but none of us fully appreciated just how much we would miss everyone. For me the separation from my Mum has at times been unbearable & I long to see her and hold her again. I often say to John that I wish I could go back to the UK for a day just to see my mum and hold her close. Whilst this is not possible until she arrives here in November, for now I will make do with seeing her on skype. I of course miss my sisters but the pain I feel the most is not being able to hold & hug my Mum and my 2 small nieces.
We have all felt the impact of not having our friends here in Australia with us. Some friends we saw very regularly, some not so regularly however all were our friends. We all miss the history we had with special friends in the UK & I for sure know that my friendships with those very special friends will never lessen. Of course those friendships have changed but only because now they are conducted via email, telephone & skype. All of us have at times felt a little disappointed that not all those who said they would keep in touch actually have, this has of course been harder for the girls to deal with although as I say disappointing at times for all of us.
The excitement in the house of using skype is immense as it is so very special to be able to see our family & friends on the computer. I still can’t get my head around how it all works but I think it’s amazing all the same. We all feel that skype has made the separation from family & friends much easier. It is of course now much easier to speak with and see family & friends because in those early days I just cried & cried as it was all too much.
John & I are very fortunate in that we are more than happy with our own company without the need for too much socialising. In the UK we loved nothing more than entertaining at home, having friends or family over, our house was always busy. It has been hard for us all as we have not got to know many people other that acquaintances from school etc. We have had a couple of coffee mornings which was a nice way to get acquainted with some of the other parents. I know friendships will come with time and for now we are not greatly concerned but it would be nice.
The girls are very happy and it is so lovely to see them flourishing. Franchesca loves university life and particularly loves studying law, she has made lots of friends and thankfully is settled and happy. It has been very hard for Franchesca and in those early days/weeks we wondered if we had done the right thing, however the best thing that happened for Franchesca was university & passing her driving test. Would I have emigrated with my parents at aged 18, NO not in a million years but I am very grateful that Franchesca trusted our judgement and decided to try life in Adelaide for herself.
University fees are very high for us as Franchesca is classed as an international student, this is because we are here on an SIR visa. The yearly fees for Law are $18.500 and whilst we knew we would have to pay international fees it is still a shock when you get the bill every 6 months!!!. On top of the fees is of course books etc, fortunately Franchesca has purchased all of her own books which has been just great. Franchesca works in-between study as an admin assistant for a mining company on King William St which gives her some financial independence and is a great help to us as she is able to run her car etc without any financial help from us.
Olivia started at Scotch College in Mitcham just days after we arrived in Adelaide. We had enrolled Olivia from the UK before leaving as we had visited many schools when we were here on our previous three trips and chosen Scotch on our last trip. We met with the head of junior school the day after we arrived and whilst he had not met Olivia he had been sending emails from himself and the pupils of the then grade 4 which was great. Olivia knew before we left Brentwood that she was going to Scotch College & for us/her we feel that this made the transition much easier as she simply left her old school in Brentwood and days later started sat Scotch.
We are very happy with Scotch and happy that we know Olivia will stay there until she finishes her education in year 12. Olivia is now in grade 5 and is very happy and settled with her new life. We are often asked is the schooling is better/worse that the UK, for us it is very similar as the girls went to the same type of school in the UK. I would say that generally the approach to schooling here is more relaxed but the standard of work and teaching is just as good as New Hall in Chelmsford. This is purely our opinion as I cannot comment about any other school except for Scotch.
When we look around South Australia, read the papers, watch the news etc I know we have done the right thing for the children. We were a very happy family in the UK but like lots of families we felt that something was missing. We did not leave England to escape as such however we were genuinely concerned about the impact that the ‘war on terror’ was having on the UK, we truly feared for the long term future of our girls. Our main reason for emigrating was ‘Because we Could’ & like most people we grumbled about the many problems the UK has, but thankfully we were in a position to be able to actually change our life and take on some new challenges. Now, I am not saying England is crap & Australia is excellent because they both have their good and bad points and whilst Australia definitely does have minus points the good FAR outweigh the bad. Life here is reminiscent to England 15-20 years ago and that too can have its frustrations
We were of course used to 24 shopping, internet shopping etc etc , little of that exists here, I personally think that it’s a great thing that the shops only open 9-5.
Every single town here has a high street with traditional shops e.g.: butcher, baker, greengrocer, fishmonger, newsagent etc and it is a joy to go to the high street on a Saturday in the local town and shop at the local shops and meet & chat with neighbours. We very much like the café life here and have breakfast most Sundays at Café Rimini in Blackwood which is a very civilised way to start a Sunday morning at a price of $9.90 for a full cooked breakfast. I am sure that in 10-20 years life here will be the same as that in the uk whereby everything revolves around 24 hour shopping & the internet but for now we are enjoying the way life is now and hoping that those changes happen very slowly.
Professional Life here has perhaps been one of the bigger challenges. I am working as a Lecturer at TAFE (tertiary & further education) and I thoroughly enjoy the subjects I am teaching (social science) however the work practices are somewhat frustrating.
I was used to lecturing in University’s where the course was presented by all teachers in a cohesive manner from universal lecture notes. I have found that lecturers here are given a very basic course outline and expected to research & prepare the course and deliver in their own way. This therefore means that in a department with say 6 lecturers all teaching the same subject that all teachers are teaching something different. I know that TAFE is not at the same level as Uni, however I certainly find the way of lecturing here is quite antiquated. The resources are very minimal with few textbooks and absolutely no prepared course handbooks etc as you would find at colleges/uni in the UK. On a positive note the students are lovely and very keen to learn and this of course is the only motivation that I need and it is a pleasure to go to work and teach such lovely students.
John my husband is thoroughly enjoying his retirement and can’t believe that he has actually been retired for 2 years. John is a wonderful house husband and I think he was wasted at Ford Motor Co for all those years!!!! John had a senior position with Ford Europe travelling extensively, however he is very glad that he took his retirement at aged 50 as it is giving him the opportunity to live comfortably at a very young retirement age whilst having the wonderful advantage of being very involved with Olivia’s school life which he had missed out on for such a long time