In the time honoured tradition of looking back at the highlights of the year that was, I thought I’d round out the year with a look back at the best of In Search of a Life Less Ordinary for 2011.
|Photo credit: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
A year of extremes
It was an extreme year in Australia – from extraordinarily high temperatures in January and February to an unusually wet and windy start to the current summer in December. When Australia was hit with insanely hot summer temps early on in the year, I asked just How hot is too hot?
Not long after, appalling bush fires, mass flooding and wild cyclones ravaged areas of Queensland and Western Australia as I put pen to paper for the UK Telegraph for the first time in 2011 with First floods, then cyclones, now bushfires: what next for Australia?
The year also showed us extreme attitudes and behaviour when London lost the plot and the UK rioted from north to south. Having lived in a number of cities that had experienced riots such as these, I found myself making comparisons as I watched My London burning.
An extreme issue of a different kind was the rising cost of living in Sydney. Living in the lucky country doesn’t come cheap looked at the true cost of life in the harbour city and the emerging phenomenon of the ping pong Pom.
Understanding the locals
It was also a year for getting to know my neighbours, the friendly ‘locals’, and understanding – and accepting – how things work here in the land down under. Of course, it wasn’t ever going to be easy trying to fit in.
In Winter, what winter?, I asked whether Australians believe winter exists in this fair land and, if so, why am I the only one who seems aware of the ever-present cold and dark at this time of year. Not long after, in What happened to Halloween?, I made that most serious of claims: is it me or is Halloween non-existent in Australia?
More contentiously, I posted on my occasional experiences of racist behaviour in Australia in No place for ugly attitudes in Australia and this continues to be one of my most read and commented-on blog posts on ISOALLO.
You also learned about my love of the coffee culture in Sydney and my surprise at just how good the black liquid gold really is when I guest posted for Why Go Australia in Coffee’s up in Sydney! And I got to grips with local tipping practices, which have always bemused me wherever I’ve called home, when I deciphered the local customs for the Expat Explorer blog in To tip or not to tip?
Learning about myself
2011 was also a defining point in my expat life. I reached the ‘8 years away from the UK’ threshold and I started to better understand my sense of living a more permanent life overseas.
I explored issues of separation guilt and emotional anxiety at being such a long distance away from loved ones in Facing my fears, whilst in When the going gets tough, should I get going? I considered the type of expat I am (if I still am one) and whether it was time to move on as a result of issues causing me concern.
Me, myself and I – living with my nationalities was about my decision to become an Australian citizen and dealing with those initial feelings of guilt in taking on the nationality of my new home, whilst in Defining home I tried to tease out the true definition of ‘home’ for an expat. In the end, I decided that home is where a person feels happiest and, as with love itself, when you find the one that is right for you, you’ll know where your home is too.
|Photo credit: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I learned a lot about the language I’ve developed along this journey from the UK to Canada and on to Australia in Lessons in language when I realised I’m now speaking a mix of languages, thinking and speaking with a hodge-podge of words and phrases from my current and previous homes. I also learned that most of the personal stuff I brought with me to Australia is exactly that, Just stuff, even if I do cherish that record collection which will always come along for the ride…
I eventually came to the conclusion that life by the beach isn’t all that bad in Life’s a beach – what is there to complain about when a typical morning is spent watching humpback whales breach and pods of dolphins swim by?
Looking back, moving forward
2011 was a year of opportunity in which I wrote regularly for the Telegraph’s Expat section, filmed my search for this new life on a major US television show, helped launch our monthly NorthSouthEastWest: Expat Dispatches initiative with three very talented expat writers from the far flung corners of the globe (who could forget my naked sauna?), and was fortunate enough to be able to bring more of my life here in Australia to you in your own home, wherever that may be.
2012 hopefully holds more of the same in store for In Search of a Life Less Ordinary. You will see a few changes in the blog’s direction over the coming months and our search for a different life will perhaps take on its own change of course in 2012 (for the better, I’m sure).
We like-minded expats/nomads/travellers/adventurers/restless souls often like to quote the great Mark Twain when he once said:
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Join me as I do.
Have a fantastic 2012.