Living in Wonderland

“People who live in foreign countries are all crazy, especially Australians!”

When my friend said this to me two weeks ago, I was equally confused about his theory and offended he’d just called me “especially crazy”. (At least, being a fellow Australian, he’s in the same boat as me.) His reasoning? Who in their right mind would venture outside their comfort zone? I guess he’s got a point. We pack our lives into a single suitcase, leave behind friends, family and the safety of our own homes, for the complete unknown. And we’re not just talking about a mere step away, but so far our comfort zones have fallen off the horizon. Definitely crazy!

To do this it takes a lot of courage. Landing in a brand new country where you don’t know anything or anyone is daunting. No…it’s terrifying! Add a language of which all you speak is ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ and suddenly “Lost in Translation” becomes your reality. Clinging to your phrase book you desperately search for any sign of familiarity, finding none. Amidst the madness adrenaline kicks in and you somehow survive the journey from the airport to your new home, conquering your first of many obstacles to come. That rush soon becomes addictive. 

Depending on the country you move to will of course alter the level of exhilarating fear you’ll experience. For an example, an American moving to Germany won’t have a big culture change as the cultures aren’t so different. They will have language difficulties, naturally, but at least they still use the same alphabet (plus Germans have flawless English). However take someone British and stick them in Japan and the culture shock is huge, since there simply aren’t any similarities. Step aside all you mountain climbing, sky diving thrill seekers – this is the true meaning of brave.

What then, makes Australians particularly crazy? Australia is so isolated from the rest of the world that an 8 hour overseas flight is considered short (not including New Zealand). It’s a giant, unique island surrounded by some of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world. Winter is almost non-existent in the majority of the country, the skies aren’t clouded with pollution and people are relaxed and friendly. Australia is an easy place to live. Leaving this incredible island for something else (especially an intense country like Japan) is insanity. 

So why do we do it? Personally, I crave the madness. I like learning the different cultures, attempting the new languages, meeting people from across the globe and I love the independence. However there’s no way I could survive it for long without support so I’m always grateful to the friends I’ve made along the way. As much as I love and miss Australia I no longer find it satisfying. Home is simple – too simple – and I can’t stand it. Australia is my own game over. Often I feel like a real life embodiment of Alice in Wonderland, much to my own annoyance (with a name so similar I’ve been compared to her since I was a kid). Living abroad has been surreal – sometimes incredible, sometimes terrifying – but never normal and I love it. I’ll take the crazy life any day. 

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here”.


3 Responses to “Living in Wonderland”
  1. misslingling says:

    This post made me smile. I’m about to leave the comfort and paradise that is Australia and embark on this crazy new life. And I can’t wait.

  2. celia knox says:

    Love this post! I totally agree, and am living a similar story, too. :-)

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