WARNING: LONG POST
I am so proud of my family that we reached this milestone. At one point about three to six months in, I thought we'd stay for the two years, get citizenship and be off as soon as we could be after that. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I thoroughly enjoy my life here.
My daughters have really taken to the Aussie way of life and are throwing themselves into all the activities they can. Those of you who have seen WDU 1 will know my eldest Emily really did not want to come ('I know that living in Australia in Dad's dream but it's not mine' were her words in the summer of 2006) and a great part of my reason to possibly leave was down to her. Her distress and anxiety were just huge. I will never forget a phone she made 2 months ago...the joy and elation in her voice brought me to tears within seconds...she had just gone on a compulsory school trip in order to gather research to do a major assignment for one of her courses. The course was Animal Studies and Marine Biology, and her research task was to swim around Port Noarlunga Reef gathering data. I can't tell you what it meant or how it felt to hear that and to KNOW in just one second that everything we went through was worth it.
My youngest was always more carefree about the move. She became very nervous about what would happen in the event of an accident to me and the OH but a long list of emergency contacts and a clear plan of what to do made a huge difference. It was one of those things that never really occurred to us when we were in the UK but we had to. To see her develop and become not so bogged down with the pressure of SATs as her sister had been has been a relief. Both of them have not lost their English accents, I thought they would sound more Aussie by now. Strange.
We went back to the UK in Sept and that really helped me. Over the past 2 years I have not always found it easy. I really wanted to stay but found it hard to feel as relaxed in Australia and to bond with it. Saying the inevitable goodbyes was almost more than heart and body could stand and I can't tell you how badly I want my sister here, but it did serve to illustrate that this was the right move for us.
Work took a while to get. We tried to get work as cleaners but were told we weren't committed and so they would not employ us. We had to wait for teacher registration, 1 got a 1 term contract, then nothing for a few weeks, then Bob got a 5 week contract, and then a perm job to start in term 1. I then got a job to start almost a year to the day after arriving. It is vital that you assume it will take longer than you think to get a job rather than the other way around or you'll never budget as you should. However I never thought it would take me a year to get a full time perm job.
I have made the most wonderful friends here. Yesterday we went down to one of the wineries in McLaren Vale to celebrate with most of them. I sat down at the end of the day and thought about how full my life has become with these wonderful people in it. Most of us have children and on events such as these (and there are many!!) they play together, and vary in age from 3 to 16. These women and their husbands have played such an important role in helping us all to settle, THANK YOU, you know who you are. Be open and honest with your friends here, they do know what you are thinking, understand what you are feeling and will help.
And finally, my OH. It was his idea, his dream and I am so pleased I listened, supported and stayed. He loved Australia from the very second we landed, and having to sometimes say that I didn’t share that was hard. He has been nothing but supportive and I do think we’ve become closer as a result. Our life here does not compare with our life in the UK. My brother said to me last night that it is not exactly living the dream as you have to work so hard for it. But it does feel better.