Slowly I am getting used to life back here after our fantastic time back in Australia – one step at a time…
My plan is to go back next year once our house in Oz is complete and a little big bigger, and we have a place to live in Melbourne. Many people have been asking me what the difference between Australia and the USA is?
My answer is always that Australians are very relaxed, friendly human beings. Americans take a little while to feel acquainted and are always on the go – an energy that to resonate through the community even on the freeways. Gotta go here, there and everywhere all at once.
So I have done a little bit of reflecting about why I cannot feel settled here and why I want to go back home (my birth home).
Culturally the differences are vast where here in our little bubble of Silicon Valley ego seems rather significant. Understandably people are working hard, and they define themselves by what college they went to – this always perplexed me, but college does cost a lot of money here, so why not talk about it. Australians do not really talk about themselves so much but as my friend pointed out Aussies do like to speak about other people 😀
Whereas back down under people will say hello to you on the street and smile, just because. The friendliness of conversations even with shop owners really makes me happy. When we were visiting the main drag where our house is in Oz, I spoke to a book shop owner about living in the area, and she mentioned her kids go the schools I was interested in going to. It was such a serendipitous moment as it confirmed my decision on wanting to return to Melbourne because she spoke so highly of the school communities and had been a resident there for 27 years!
So fundamentally it is ego (in the Valley) vs. authenticity (down under), and for me, I know where I would rather be. It has taken me a while to feel comfortable here in California these last 10 years so having a connection to an amazing school community really helped me with a feeling I was amongst “my people”. Our elementary school is an incredible community – multi cultural, open minded, supportive and loving, so it has been just perfect.
I want my children to grow up in a school that embraces the arts, music and humanities as I feel it is important to have a whole education that develops the whole child. I feel that once my son hit middle school here, the education is just OK – he is missing out on art at school, but he has had some great sporting opportunities like cross country and robotics/engineering. Hey, he can create his art (graphic novels) at home!
Touring the schools in Australia made me realise that I want my children in Melbourne to complete their education as I feel it will be well rounded including a true appreciation for the arts – which is what that city is about! The arts, friends and family are what my heart aches for when I am in California having the beauty of art around me in the form of gorgeous architecture and the accessibility to amazing galleries embracing arts everywhere.
Here in California, there is art in San Francisco at the SFMOMA and museums around the city that I am yet to explore but time is slim in my life, and it’s tricky to get out and about just for fun these days with study and now work. I am excited to be starting a job as a Teacher Assistant at a local school in August, this is an incredible opportunity for me as it aligns with my Education degree, to be completed way in the future…
So weighing up the positives which are the perfect weather and nature in California and the negatives, where I really miss my time with my family. I feel the decision to move back will be beneficial for myself as I can do my Education placements and the kids will have access to well rounded 21st-century education. A 21st-century education you might ask? It is teaching for the future, and the children learn skills that prepare them for a life of uncertainty in their careers where jobs that exist may be something else in the future.
It will be a bittersweet farewell to California though I know now after visiting Australia two years in a row that I feel more grounded to Australia and that is where I want to be. California has been a great experience, and I have really enjoyed my time here growing up with my family but the time has come to decide on the future and where I see our family. I had a glimpse into the future when we were in Melbourne, and I like the fact we can:
- walk/bike to school
- walk to the shops
- walk to the train
- public transit into the city
- a gym is on the way to school
- a fruit and veg market is down the road
- my sister in law and her family is a drive away
- there are bike tracks close by
- a beautiful park is a walk away complete with a flying fox.
We just need our house to have a couple of extra rooms! That plan is coming along with my friend who is an architect who can help us with our project, so the ball is rolling along.
I really miss my family, and because they do not travel we have to go to Oz, it will be much better to be 2 hours away by plane from my family rather than a whole day travel time. Time is ticking away, and I have investigated our options and feel that the opportunity for the children to enjoy their tween/teen years back in Australia will be a good thing for them, having them appreciate the arts and the academics hand in hand.
As for now, I have a job for the next few months that I have to juggle with part time study, my family and volunteer duties. It will be busy but the time will fly by, and before we know it, the time will come to go back to Australia for good.