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Old Nov 2nd 2017, 5:40 am   #1
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Default Second year thoughts of a sun baked country

(Actually on time with this update, unlike last time out!)

It’s funny, I’ve recently re-read my first year update and it seems to me as if it were written by another person, well not quite another person entirely but a version of me that now no longer exists, like when you think back to the type of person you were as teenager or at uni. Still indelibly you but not quite, you know?

This of course is an obtuse way of saying our second year has been different to our first. It’s been tough. A bit of a drain. Frankly, a f#@king horrendous slog.

For starters the family support we had leaned on so heavily when we first arrived unexpectedly departed back to the UK. This was a big blow to us as truthfully the only reason we decided to settle in Queensland was because of them, to have that crutch already in place to help us settle in to our new lives. But off they went and while this has undoubtedly been a good decision for them it sucks for us. Queensland wasn’t even on our radar when thinking about living abroad all those years ago…funny how life works out eh?!?

So early on in our second year, there we were…suddenly all on our own, with two young children. At the time we were both feeling a little isolated and lonely (especially true of my OH)...that distance issue I talked about in my first update coming home to roost.

This put another load of stress onto our already stress-laden plates…what we really struggled with was when it’s just you there’s so much pressure on making family time ‘perfect’…no one can live up to those standards and it started to really impact on our relationship. You bicker, you argue, you scream and you shout and there’s no hiding, in an almost literal sense there’s no one else to call upon…just you and your partner. We have found that the move has put just as much strain on our relationship as having kids did and if you’ll allow me, I’d just like to say we are so proud that we got through it largely in one piece and we're stronger now than ever before!

So…with time comes perspective they say and I think once we weathered the storm we were forced to come out of our shells and start to actually build up a social network for ourselves. Naturally we tended to do almost everything with my family when they were in Australia, and don’t get me wrong this was lovely and we had some great times, but it did curtail our efforts to ‘get out there’ in our own right.

I’d like to think that now we’re in a much healthier position network wise. My OH has a fantastic burgeoning group of friends she’s made at work and with some of the mum’s from our eldest little monster's school. As for myself, I’ve always been a bit of a loner (and I am more than happy with that arrangement thank you very much!) but I do have some colleagues I go out for drinks with in the city every now and then...I’ve also started playing football during the week.

Our other big struggle this year was with work, firstly me and then for my OH.

I had been contracting with a small government agency in the city and my contract was extended time after time. Initially this was fine as I was still finding my feet and figuring out what I actually wanted to do but after a while you look to get a little permanency. As soon as I started to make moves to go elsewhere in the department or secure a more permanent position it seemed like the iron curtain fell down from my line-manager and the relationship quickly soured. So I started to look externally for a fresh opportunity. And look I did, I looked full on for a good 6 months with no joy at all, not bites, not even a nibble…I recorded each application too, but gave up around 300 when it just got far too depressing to look back over. Had my resume & cover letters looked over by heaps of different people just in case there was something in there that I was missing…but no. All the while working in a job I knew I had no future in, for a manager that on a daily basis clearly expressed their dislike and downright disdain for me.

Running into the last week of my contract I finally got a call, I interviewed and (thankfully) got offered the job. All in I was only out of work for 2 weeks in between end and start dates, which of course is amazing and something I am immensely grateful for, but it was so touch and go and the not knowing nearly done me in. Where would the money come from? We had already started making plans to cut costs…thrift mode activated when shopping, had started the process of pulling our youngest from family day care, no expenses, no big days out unless to the beach with a packed lunch, no socialising etc.

There was a 2-3 month period that was about as bad as it’s ever been in a professional sense for me.

Then issues started for my OH at her work…more that she became depressingly disillusioned with the people running her early years centre. Which when you work with kids can really get you down…it’s one thing to see management not to give a toss when working for a wholesalers, it’s another thing when they’re meant to be nurturing the development of children. Luckily my OH is amazing at what she does and as soon as she started putting feelers out in the market she was snapped up by another centre.

But again it was another stress, which started almost immediately after my had ended.

Added to our wonderful year was the sudden and initially debilitating illness my OH developed out of nowhere. Again, thankfully, she’s pretty much back to her amazing self but you know…there’s only so much crap you can take. Immigrating to a new country can feel like struggling to tread water at the best of times but this felt like the surf kept breaking over our heads…we just about had enough time to catch our breath before another wave hit and another and another…you can only tread water for so long before going under.

And truthfully I started to give very thorough consideration to moving back to the UK. Life is hard man, even at the best of times…why did we make it so much harder than it needed to be by moving to the other side of the world?!?

And thought I gave it. I consider myself a very methodical and analytically minded person, almost clinical (my OH would say cynical more like!)…as such I find it quite easy to park emotion to one side (or as much to one side as the human mind can) and think about the whole process logically.

My conclusion on the whole thing…it was a wobble, our (inevitable) first big wobble…oh don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusion that it will be our last and we’re scot free but it was the first time the ‘return’ question had legitimately come up between us and we decided to persevere and push through. All the stuff we went through, strictly speaking had nothing to do with Australia…she was just an innocent bystander. And could/would just as likely happen in the UK as it would here, or NZ, or the USA, or Canada, or wherever.

Sure the lack of family/friends didn't help matters but like I said we’re in a much better place with that now, so is not perhaps the factor it once was.

Also, and I’m referencing here from another BE post I read a little while ago, which in turn is referencing Bill Bryson, who may well have been referencing from somewhere/someone else…but I have come to peace with the fact that there really is no ‘going home again’. Once you make the move you can’t ever go back and have it exactly how it was, you’ve fundamentally changed and so has how you view the world around you and how it views you back. You’ve been Frodo’ed. That’s what I believe at least.

I realised that even if I wanted to I couldn’t responsibly base any decision on going back to the UK and picking up where we’d left off…I just don’t think it works that way. Hence the number of ping-pongers or folk that move back to the UK but to a different area and for a different lifestyle to the one the originally left.

And sure I was a little perturbed by this at first, like mourning a part of my life I let go without realising that’s what I was doing. But I also felt liberated and felt a lot of the conflict I held re should we/shouldn’t we go back to the UK dissipate. Ironically the realisation that going ‘back’ as it were isn’t an option for me gives me more freedom.

Ha…this feels like it’s been more of a therapy session/confessional rather than an update but I think it’s important to put these things out there. Life experiences are very rarely binary, and you need to be comfortable swimming in the grey area between ‘this is amazing’ and ‘this is shit’.

So perhaps it’s time for a more traditional ‘update’…

Funnily enough, looking back over our second year (family abscondment, twat-face managers and ill-health aside) much of what I wrote after the first year still holds very much true after the second. Our savings continue to grow more than they did in the UK and fingers crossed in 6-9 months we’ll be home owners, we have a second car for the first time in our lives (oooh get you!), our little monsters are truly flourishing in a way only children can…you can almost see them give off this glow of blissful contentedness. And we actually have a social life now that isn’t 100% dependent on our dependents! We’re like proper grown-ups and everything!

We’ve really started to fall in love with our little pocket of SE Queensland too, still finding new places to go and explore and now that we have most of the coastal areas ticked off we will be heading inland to experience more of this breathtaking country.

Def more acclimatised to the weather…as in we felt genuinely cold at times in the winter and struggled in the heat during the height of summer but maybe just to a marginally lesser degree than we did last time round…and I fully expect more of the same going forward…small steps made in dealing with the heat and humidity as we experience more summers. But do be warned, when that sun is bearing down on full blast and the humidity is set to treacle there’s nothing you can do…except chin up and crack on. Hell, I’ve even played football in the evening humidity now and apart from this old frame creaking a bit more than usual I made it through!

I’m truly excited for what our third year will bring and no doubt will bore you all to tears again with an overly long update this time next year! On with the adventure…
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Old Nov 2nd 2017, 11:52 am   #2
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Default Re: Second year thoughts of a sun baked country

I absolutely love your updates and find myself grinning, frowning and even laughing out loud as I read of your experiences. A great resource for those thinking about moving to Australia, and on a less clinical note, just a bloody great read. Congratulations to you and your wife for weathering some pretty severe storms.

Here's to a great third year for you, your wife and the two monsters, with continued good health, lots more 'oooh get you!' moments and definitely no more twat-face managers!
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Old Nov 4th 2017, 7:02 pm   #3
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Default Re: Second year thoughts of a sun baked country

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sten2206 View Post
(Actually on time with this update, unlike last time out!)

It’s funny, I’ve recently re-read my first year update and it seems to me as if it were written by another person, well not quite another person entirely but a version of me that now no longer exists, like when you think back to the type of person you were as teenager or at uni. Still indelibly you but not quite, you know?

This of course is an obtuse way of saying our second year has been different to our first. It’s been tough. A bit of a drain. Frankly, a f#@king horrendous slog.

For starters the family support we had leaned on so heavily when we first arrived unexpectedly departed back to the UK. This was a big blow to us as truthfully the only reason we decided to settle in Queensland was because of them, to have that crutch already in place to help us settle in to our new lives. But off they went and while this has undoubtedly been a good decision for them it sucks for us. Queensland wasn’t even on our radar when thinking about living abroad all those years ago…funny how life works out eh?!?

So early on in our second year, there we were…suddenly all on our own, with two young children. At the time we were both feeling a little isolated and lonely (especially true of my OH)...that distance issue I talked about in my first update coming home to roost.

This put another load of stress onto our already stress-laden plates…what we really struggled with was when it’s just you there’s so much pressure on making family time ‘perfect’…no one can live up to those standards and it started to really impact on our relationship. You bicker, you argue, you scream and you shout and there’s no hiding, in an almost literal sense there’s no one else to call upon…just you and your partner. We have found that the move has put just as much strain on our relationship as having kids did and if you’ll allow me, I’d just like to say we are so proud that we got through it largely in one piece and we're stronger now than ever before!

So…with time comes perspective they say and I think once we weathered the storm we were forced to come out of our shells and start to actually build up a social network for ourselves. Naturally we tended to do almost everything with my family when they were in Australia, and don’t get me wrong this was lovely and we had some great times, but it did curtail our efforts to ‘get out there’ in our own right.

I’d like to think that now we’re in a much healthier position network wise. My OH has a fantastic burgeoning group of friends she’s made at work and with some of the mum’s from our eldest little monster's school. As for myself, I’ve always been a bit of a loner (and I am more than happy with that arrangement thank you very much!) but I do have some colleagues I go out for drinks with in the city every now and then...I’ve also started playing football during the week.

Our other big struggle this year was with work, firstly me and then for my OH.

I had been contracting with a small government agency in the city and my contract was extended time after time. Initially this was fine as I was still finding my feet and figuring out what I actually wanted to do but after a while you look to get a little permanency. As soon as I started to make moves to go elsewhere in the department or secure a more permanent position it seemed like the iron curtain fell down from my line-manager and the relationship quickly soured. So I started to look externally for a fresh opportunity. And look I did, I looked full on for a good 6 months with no joy at all, not bites, not even a nibble…I recorded each application too, but gave up around 300 when it just got far too depressing to look back over. Had my resume & cover letters looked over by heaps of different people just in case there was something in there that I was missing…but no. All the while working in a job I knew I had no future in, for a manager that on a daily basis clearly expressed their dislike and downright disdain for me.

Running into the last week of my contract I finally got a call, I interviewed and (thankfully) got offered the job. All in I was only out of work for 2 weeks in between end and start dates, which of course is amazing and something I am immensely grateful for, but it was so touch and go and the not knowing nearly done me in. Where would the money come from? We had already started making plans to cut costs…thrift mode activated when shopping, had started the process of pulling our youngest from family day care, no expenses, no big days out unless to the beach with a packed lunch, no socialising etc.

There was a 2-3 month period that was about as bad as it’s ever been in a professional sense for me.

Then issues started for my OH at her work…more that she became depressingly disillusioned with the people running her early years centre. Which when you work with kids can really get you down…it’s one thing to see management not to give a toss when working for a wholesalers, it’s another thing when they’re meant to be nurturing the development of children. Luckily my OH is amazing at what she does and as soon as she started putting feelers out in the market she was snapped up by another centre.

But again it was another stress, which started almost immediately after my had ended.

Added to our wonderful year was the sudden and initially debilitating illness my OH developed out of nowhere. Again, thankfully, she’s pretty much back to her amazing self but you know…there’s only so much crap you can take. Immigrating to a new country can feel like struggling to tread water at the best of times but this felt like the surf kept breaking over our heads…we just about had enough time to catch our breath before another wave hit and another and another…you can only tread water for so long before going under.

And truthfully I started to give very thorough consideration to moving back to the UK. Life is hard man, even at the best of times…why did we make it so much harder than it needed to be by moving to the other side of the world?!?

And thought I gave it. I consider myself a very methodical and analytically minded person, almost clinical (my OH would say cynical more like!)…as such I find it quite easy to park emotion to one side (or as much to one side as the human mind can) and think about the whole process logically.

My conclusion on the whole thing…it was a wobble, our (inevitable) first big wobble…oh don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusion that it will be our last and we’re scot free but it was the first time the ‘return’ question had legitimately come up between us and we decided to persevere and push through. All the stuff we went through, strictly speaking had nothing to do with Australia…she was just an innocent bystander. And could/would just as likely happen in the UK as it would here, or NZ, or the USA, or Canada, or wherever.

Sure the lack of family/friends didn't help matters but like I said we’re in a much better place with that now, so is not perhaps the factor it once was.

Also, and I’m referencing here from another BE post I read a little while ago, which in turn is referencing Bill Bryson, who may well have been referencing from somewhere/someone else…but I have come to peace with the fact that there really is no ‘going home again’. Once you make the move you can’t ever go back and have it exactly how it was, you’ve fundamentally changed and so has how you view the world around you and how it views you back. You’ve been Frodo’ed. That’s what I believe at least.

I realised that even if I wanted to I couldn’t responsibly base any decision on going back to the UK and picking up where we’d left off…I just don’t think it works that way. Hence the number of ping-pongers or folk that move back to the UK but to a different area and for a different lifestyle to the one the originally left.

And sure I was a little perturbed by this at first, like mourning a part of my life I let go without realising that’s what I was doing. But I also felt liberated and felt a lot of the conflict I held re should we/shouldn’t we go back to the UK dissipate. Ironically the realisation that going ‘back’ as it were isn’t an option for me gives me more freedom.

Ha…this feels like it’s been more of a therapy session/confessional rather than an update but I think it’s important to put these things out there. Life experiences are very rarely binary, and you need to be comfortable swimming in the grey area between ‘this is amazing’ and ‘this is shit’.

So perhaps it’s time for a more traditional ‘update’…

Funnily enough, looking back over our second year (family abscondment, twat-face managers and ill-health aside) much of what I wrote after the first year still holds very much true after the second. Our savings continue to grow more than they did in the UK and fingers crossed in 6-9 months we’ll be home owners, we have a second car for the first time in our lives (oooh get you!), our little monsters are truly flourishing in a way only children can…you can almost see them give off this glow of blissful contentedness. And we actually have a social life now that isn’t 100% dependent on our dependents! We’re like proper grown-ups and everything!

We’ve really started to fall in love with our little pocket of SE Queensland too, still finding new places to go and explore and now that we have most of the coastal areas ticked off we will be heading inland to experience more of this breathtaking country.

Def more acclimatised to the weather…as in we felt genuinely cold at times in the winter and struggled in the heat during the height of summer but maybe just to a marginally lesser degree than we did last time round…and I fully expect more of the same going forward…small steps made in dealing with the heat and humidity as we experience more summers. But do be warned, when that sun is bearing down on full blast and the humidity is set to treacle there’s nothing you can do…except chin up and crack on. Hell, I’ve even played football in the evening humidity now and apart from this old frame creaking a bit more than usual I made it through!

I’m truly excited for what our third year will bring and no doubt will bore you all to tears again with an overly long update this time next year! On with the adventure…
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