american expats, vol 3: first year down (under)


HOLY $H!T. One year went by way too fast. I’m really in shock that it’s already been a year since we moved to Australia. Expat life is full of mostly ups, some downs, and lots of excitement - I've learned to never compare anything as good or bad to life in the states, but to just observe and appreciate the differences. Today I’m going to share some highlights from my experience so far.

tips for moving overseas

Bill Bryson (author of lots of good books, including A Sunburnt Country, which I’m reading right now!) sums life abroad up better than I ever could: "I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses."

It really does make me giddy, almost childlike when I’m roaming around and experiencing new things here. Literally everything was new and unknown when we first arrived. While everyone speaks English in Aus, there’s still tons of differences that you’re just so confused about - from street signs, to pharmacies, language at work, etc. that you almost feel like you’re bilingual once you get it down. I still come across language differences daily, even one year in.

Bear with me since this post is a bit longer than my normal ones (it's about a 5 min read!), but feel free to skip to the sections you're most curious about!

 

TRAVELS

We’ve traveled a ton of the East coast of Australia already. And PS: it’s so weird being an East coaster because I have to remember it’s not West when I am describing something closer to the ocean (so used to California!) From our home base is Sydney, we’ve now visited Byron Bay, Jervis Bay (twice), Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas, Hunter Valley, Avoca (twice), all around Sydney, and even managed to squeeze in a few international trips to Bali, New Zealand’s north island, New Caledonia, and 2 trips home to California. As someone who is obsessed with traveling & seeing new facets of the world, it’s a pretty spectacular feeling to know that nearly everywhere you can go is a new bucket list check mark. The rest of 2018 already has the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Malaysia, Vietnam, a New Zealand (south island) road trip, and Byron Bay (again) lined up. We're ticking off lots of items on our Ultimate Aussie Bucket List!

what to expect as an expat

MAKING FRIENDS

Making new friends has been fun because I really love to meet new people & hear their stories of where they came from & why they’re here. Most of the American friends we’ve made are in tech too, so seems like that’s the industry to be a part of if you’re looking to move to Australia. All the major tech companies open offices in APAC at some point. We've met people in a variety of places in their lives, people from all around the world, in different professions, and with different personalities than we ever would have met in our (somewhat) homogenous group of like minded friends in SF. Don't get me wrong, my best friends from home are my best friends, but it is also refreshing and interesting and challenging to meet people very different from you. I've connected with a handful of people who I don't know I would have if I had my network here and was in my comfort zone, and I think that's pretty damn awesome. We have loved going camping or on weekend trips with new friends because it's a good way to get closer faster. Looking forward to more friends getaway weekends this summer!

While making friends is fun and exciting, it can also become a little bit exhausting! You have to go on a lot of friend dates, and after being more settled now, and knowing plenty of people, I can get lazy to do it. We've made friends here, there and everywhere, but even after one year, people have already moved away -- to different areas of the city (and Sydney is very big!) or home to the States. At this age in life, people who have roots here already have their friends, just like we did in California. Expats are the ones looking and open to meeting new friends, so it's easy to connect with them, but the expat community is such a revolving door, so you never really get to stop making friends as people move home. It takes time to make solid friendships at this age, and you have to be patient, and not compare relationships to those you have back home that have decades on these new ones. Making friends as a couple is also a lot different, and a new experience for me... I would argue more challenging too. Since everything is new, you want to experience all the new things with your person, but at the same time its so important to have girl time & make our friends together, but our own friends too