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An Interview with Pollyana

An Interview with Pollyana

A friend in Hobart led to many trips to Tasmania, and Pollyana fell in love with the wild beauty of the island. It was on the way home from Tassie that she met her future husband for the first time. After a few years, and trips back and forth to Australia, she finally departed the UK one proud owner of a Prospective Marriage Visa.

Tell us a little about yourself and family. What were your reasons for moving to Australia?

Basically I moved to Australia to marry an Australian! I had visited Australia several times before I started actual migration plans. A close friend in Hobart had led to many trips to Tasmania, and I had fallen in love with the wild beauty of the island. It was on the way home from Tassie that I met “The Bloke” for the first time – we were both in Melbourne for the F1 Grand Prix, and met while on a guided tour of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). A few beers, we swapped phone numbers, and I came out the following year to visit him in Queensland. Another couple of years went by, and I finally left the UK on Hallowe’en 2003, the proud owner of a Prospective Marriage Visa & a pair of rose-tinted specs.

How long did the emigration process take?

We got engaged in November 2002, while I was visiting him in Brisbane. We filed the initial application – for a Prospective Marriage Visa – in May 2003, after gathering evidence of the relationship, police check, medical, and Statutory Declarations from friends and families in both countries.

In those days a Pros Marriage Visa could be granted over the counter at the High Commission in London, so getting my first visa took about 45 minutes! I handed over the pile of papers, was asked a few basic questions like “Where did you meet?” and “When do you hope to emigrate?” and then had the visa put in my passport! So easy compared to the long-drawn-out Skills Visa process, which at the time was taking 2-3 years.

I left the UK on Hallowe’en 2003 – a date chosen deliberately so as to be memorable, and to make it fun for my sister’s children. I was given a purple witch’s hat as a leaving gift, which still makes an appearance at Expats Meets.

Once we had got married, in Jan 2004, we applied for my Spouse Visa. This is granted in two parts – at first you get a temporary residence visa, and then after two years you receive the Holy Grail of Permanent Residency….. As the two year period draws to a close DIMA contact you and you have to supply various bits of paper – I needed fresh police checks and Stat Decs, and some basic things like bills, to prove that we were still together and still in an “ongoing relationship”. My Permanent Residence Visa was granted in April 2006! At last!!

In which state do you live in?

Queensland, in the northern suburbs of Brisbane

Tell us a little about your personal experiences of the differences between Australia and the UK.

It’s very easy to take life for granted. Only when you are in an unfamiliar place do you realise just how much you have taken for granted, and how much you miss. I have suffered horrendously from homesickness, though I never expected to, and I think it has been worse because I emigrated on my own. If you move as a family unit, then I think it is a bit easier as you are going through the experience together. On your own it’s different. Plunged into a strange culture, with a husband who has never lived anywhere else, life was very hard at first, and is still difficult at times. He takes for granted that you do things in a certain way, buy things from certain shops, and abide by certain laws. He couldn’t understand why I found it odd not buying beer in the same shop as the weekly food shopping, why I hate having to take my passport and prove my identity before posting a card with a badge on it to the UK, (never mind a parcel!), why I hated getting my mail screwed up and wet because it got left on the lawn as the Aussies don’t believe in letterboxes – one of the strangest gifts, but one of the most welcome, was his present of a large mailbox, to keep my post dry!

What are some of the things you enjoy most about Australia?

My husband, the fact I have a better house here than I would ever get on this rent back home in Brighton, the wildlife (apart from the insects!) – love the geckos that live on the sitting-room ceiling! I have made a few lovely friends here, and I’ve had some amazing moments at work while working on various disaster projects.

What, if any, are the things you dislike about living in Australia?

How long have you got?
Lets pick a few things that I really HATE, to make it easier – cockroaches, humidity, red tape, Americanised TV, and the general “she’ll be right” attitude which means things don’t get done until its too late – a good example is the water shortage; they are only thinking of building pipelines to bring water from the north now that we are in the grip of the drought. Forward thinking is rather lacking here. They are so laid back they are beyond horizontal…….

What do you miss most now you are no longer living in the UK?

Family and friends. Even if you think you are prepared for being so far apart, the reality hits only when you want a good laugh with your best friend, or when you want to celebrate something with your family – or of course when you get the dreaded phone call…..

The rain!! It surprising how quickly you start to long for grey skies – waking up to sunshine day after day really makes you appreciate the occasional day of cloud and rain.

Crisp cold winter mornings with frost on the ground.

{mosbanner right}On the more trivial side – decent newspapers, good television, crisps, vinegar in chip shops, decent bacon, the ability to visit Europe easily and cheaply, pints in pubs – I really have to argue in some pubs here to get served anything but “light” beer (low alcohol), and it comes in much smaller measures. Farm shop stuff like real cider, and unpasteurised cheese in loads of flavours – we had a shop near us at Middle Farm in Sussex, used to sell the most wicked horseradish cheese, and had every variety of cider you could dream of.

Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Boots, WHS, Thorntons, Clinton Cards, Waterstones……and I never thought of myself as a shopaholic back then!

How badly, if at all, has homesickness affected you?

Badly, even though I never expected to suffer from it at all. I now find that the best way to deal with homesickness is to always have the next trip “home” planned. It makes life seem more bearable for the family on both sides of the world. At times I feel stifled, almost dead inside, certainly not alive any more. I want to breathe, to enjoy, to feel happy again instead of feeling like an "Aussie battler" fighting against the weather and the insects and the strangeness of things and people and the ever present feeling that I don't belong.

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