It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Three factors contribute to the radio silence of the past month:
- my indeciveness to dedicate time in writing and the difficulty of articulating exactly what I want. I have worked on at least four relatively new drafts since Easter ended and they have either remained unfinished or the result is not satisfying enough, so I need to readjust them.
- the preparations of emigrating and my enthusiasm for a new life. Packing suitcases, deciding what to keep and what to leave behind in order not to exceed the weight limit, isn’t easy stuff. Plus I had to run around to carry out any unfinished business. Then I needed to say my goodbyes as well; this didn’t always entail having internet connection.
- getting over that long. tiresome journey, adapting in Australia, starting the diploma course I picked, and doing all the needed procedures to settle here hopefully till I die or Earth gets destroyed -whichever comes first. No way I’m going back to Greece with my own free will. I’m still running around with what I have to do.
This post concerns my first impressions of Australia, Sydney in particular, and is meant to help me warm up to typing my extensive thoughts here again.
I left on 4th July -I want to see it as symbolic, independence day and all- and arrived in Sydney on 5th of July and got away from the Greek crisis by split hair. I had taken care of my bank accounts before everything froze, so I was pretty worry-free in that aspect. I was ready to start a new life of freedom on the other side of the earth. It had been long since I started singing alone, letting myself immerse in the joy music brings, and was daydreaming of clubbing and flirting, two things I never got the chance to experience before due to my strict upbringing.
But as things have it, it’s bad to have too many expectations and I landed not so softly when I learnt that I would be staying in my aunt’s house instead in the flat next to her, as she had promised. So I can’t decorate my own space at will, I can’t bring over friends or do anything naughty, I have to state where I go and when I’ll be back -and the dream for freedom is temporarily curtailed. The transport media don’t help either since commuting stops at midnight and there are no buses after 5 during the weekend. I have to depend on others having a car. By the way as an overseas student, I don’t get any discount. Taxis are too damn expensive, too, probably because the distances are pretty big and I live in a suburb.
I also discovered I need to get so many papers done until I start working as a teacher and every single one of them has a fee you’ve got to pay and they are no small amount of money. I might have to retake the IELTS exam, since the assessment board needs it one year fresh and mine is already 14 months old. Not to mention that Greek schools are a bit more religious than I imagined, but I’ll have to compromise if I have to get a start somewhere. I am honestly worried and my depression acts up again, so perhaps I’ll stay on meds a little bit more.
The institute I go to is really small and I’m the only white student in my class. Most of my classmates are Thai with really bad English, so I can’t communicate efficiently with them and can’t chime in any conversation, since they use their native language. The instructor is a polite Indian lady, but unfortunately her pronunciation and the knowledge of the subject at hand aren’t good at all. I’m almost the only one participating in class and many students often play truancy it seems. This is one of the worst learning experiences I’ve ever had. There few things that annoy me as much as feeling I’m wasting my time and money. I’ll see if I can change classes so I can get a better teacher.
On the bright side of things, I have a place to live without having bills running. My cousins help me run around and get my work done or give me a lift. Most people here are willing to help you in one way or another when you ask them to. I’ll never forget how I met a very kind young man, a public servant on his business trip, who not only told me where to get off and how to reach my destination -an art gallery for a screening- but he also walked me there all the way.
Additionally, I was glad to find ways to connect with the lgbtq community here. I googled and found meetups categorized according to interests and identities, and that’s how I’ve already made some friends and acquaintances. For a girl like me that hasn’t lived much in big cities, seeing pride flags in coffeeshops and being able to connect with people like me floods my heart with gratefulness and bliss. I know I can have a harbor now; a different kind of family. I also intend to get involved in activism, so I’m going to visit Amnesty International and some other organizations here.
I may not like the overly quiet residential areas or the slightly kitsch suburb towns with all the mismatched old and new buildings and bad typography, but the city is plainly awesome. I want to rent a small apartment there when I have a more stable job. It’s the ideal combination of nature and progressive civilization for me. It’s marvellous how I can see seagulls in the middle of tall buildings and from up close as well. There are plenty of parks and I have to admit I wasn’t ever exposed to so many wild animals before (from rabbits to cockatoos) much more within an urban area. The tall buildings, the cafeterias and the bars burst with life and I can’t but fall in love with this. Walking through the train platforms and tunnels, I pass by so many different people, from different races, with so many different stories and I feel “this is where I belong”.
Australia is a great place to live. It’s not perfect -i.e. marriage equality is still not here- but you see how the government cares for people with special needs everywhere -from the airport to the streets with the traffic lights with sound- and for anyone who’s sick. My aunt went to the hospital because she fainted and hurt her back, and every second day she was visited by nurses some hours in the morning to help her with her house chores and her health. Life might not be cheap here, but you get such good living conditions.
Next time you’ll read from me from this column, it’ll probably be next week, since I’m going to attend the SMASH convention. I’ve also visited shortly Kinokuniya, but I want to get there one more time to enjoy myself thoroughly and I’ll give you my impressions. See ya, fellow travellers!