Finally settling in as an expat

You would think that after nearly 5 years of living in a new country one would have grown completely accustomed to the ways of life in that (not so new anymore) place. In many ways I have, in others I feel I still have so far to go.

When I first moved here, I just couldn’t allow myself to settle in. I was working from home and dating an airline pilot and therefore was able to go back to California whenever I wanted. I would visit every 3-4 months and to me this way of life was grand. I still did 95% of my clothes shopping in the states. I was never one to get my hair done often so I simply got it cut and coloured on trips back to CA. I had expat friends but was hesitant to get too close in fear that they would one day move home. I would hang out with these friends only on nights when Andrew was away on a trip- which would usually be 1 night a week at most but even then I still didn’t always make plans. I didn’t even realise I could take the ferry to the city for nearly a year of living 10 minutes away from the wharf. What about a job in Sydney? Why on earth would I want to get one of those when the job I had (albeit not in the field of choice that I had seen myself working in) was convenient and allowed me such flexibility.

But all that changed. After our wedding  I decided it was time to really settle in and build my own life away from Andrew. It was time to suck it up and  get a job here. Doing so was one of the hardest decisions I had to make.

Getting a job meant I could no longer visit California every 3-4 months. Although it pains me to say, I finally had to start shopping in Sydney. My wardrobe could not wait 6-12 months for a refresh. My hair could not wait either so I finally found a great hair stylist who I now love. And as for friends? Well, that one was a bit harder for some reason. Maybe it was resentment that I couldn’t automatically have the same quality of relationship that I had back home. Maybe it was lack of convenience since I couldn’t just jump in a car and be at a friend’s house in 5 minutes. Maybe I just was too dependent on Andrew and didn’t like leaving him on his nights home with me. Well, when Andrew got a new job- and had to go away for 8 weeks for training- I broke out of my shell. While it was hard having him gone for so long, it was one of the best things for me because it forced me to spend more quality time with my friends. In those 8 weeks apart, my friendships grew immensely and it has made an amazing difference on how I feel about my life here. One of those friends I actually met through this very blog and three of us just spent a few days in Bali. It’s been years since I had a girls trip with friends!

So I guess I finally am settling in. It only took me nearly 5 years to get here but it can only get easier from here on out, right? Things still surprise me, irritate me and excite me on a regular basis even after all this time… but I’ll leave that for another post.

9 Responses to Finally settling in as an expat

  1. Amanda July 5, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    I know you are assimilating to life in AUS because you’re adding U’s into words that don’t need them. 🙂

    • Elsja July 5, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

      That’s what happens when you start working for an aussie company! haha

  2. Barbara July 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    It doesn’t seem possible that you have been away for FIVE years. Heavens!! Thank God for Skype, email and facebook…..AND this wonderful Blog. xoxox

  3. Juli July 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    So glad to hear Elsja! I hope I will manage as well as you have. I’m scared!!! Countdown 3 months to go!

  4. Natasha July 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    Yay, love this one! 🙂 It’s good to see you have new expats following you – reading something like this would have helped comfort me immensely at the beginning!

  5. Jess July 9, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    I know how you feel- it’s been three years for me and I still haven’t found it easy to shop for clothes in Sydney. I’m glad I’m not alone in taking a while to settle in and commit to establishing new roots. Letting go of your old life is hard but Sydney is an awesome city to build a new one! Thanks for revitalizing your blog- it’s a great read, especially for us expats.

    • Elsja July 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Thanks Jess! I’m glad people find it helpful.

  6. Lainey Bird July 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Elsja, where in CA are you from! I’ve lived in Melbourne for over 7 years, I’m from Chico, CA (NorCal). It took me about 3 years to break it in. After traveling back to CA for a 3-week visit I returned to Melbourne and said “I’m home”. I’ve felt that way ever since. Do you live in Manly? You described the ferry to get to the city.

    • Elsja July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      Hi Lainey! I’m from Huntington Beach (South). How do you like Melbourne? I’ve only been once for work so didn’t see any of it- but I’d love to visit. Maybe when it’s not so cold though.

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