Nothing is ever too much, no way never too far, no matter what, as long as I can get information for my blog. I just got back from Michigan, USA where I had a nice chat with Jan… I wish! I might have as well stopped in NY!
I liked the intro, it sounded so nice and it is how I feel about my blog anyway!
What's that? Is this not about Australia? Hang on!
Jan is from England, has lived in Australia and relocated to America only a few weeks ago. Jan used to be an art teacher but for the past 4 years she has worked as a freelance graphic/web designer. She also blogs about her artwork and the general nonsense floating around in her head.
We spoke about homesickness, travel budgets, the Australian school system and what you have to do if you really love your child! … And of course about the friendly craft scene in Melbourne.
Eyewitness Jan from England!
For how long did you live in Australia?
Four and a half years
Australia and settling in. What was during this time the most difficult thing and what the simplest?
I think the easiest time for me was the initial “holiday” phase, before the magnitude of what we had done sunk in. I think the lowest point for me was around the 18month/2 year period. I became very depressed, I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I felt very lonely and isolated. I felt I couldn’t cope with the relationships I had formed. I was in a very dark place. I think home-sickness is really underrated.
Australian leave entitlement of 20 days (plus bank holidays) restricts travel plans pretty much! We do have to take into account that a trip to Europe takes about 24 hours. While you lived in Australia permanently, did you find the time to travel? Which landmarks have you had the opportunity to visit while in Australia?
I made 2 trips home to see my family, so that ate up a lot of our travel funds. My husband also returned home when his father underwent surgery.
Within Australia we did some outback camping/driving getting as far “up” as Broken Hill. We visited the Grampians, Wilpena Pound in SA, Adelaide, the SA coast, Perth and Sydney. I really wanted to see Uluru, Kakadu and Queensland ... maybe next time.
Three in one about your time in Australia. How many times did you fly back home, how often have you had family and friends visiting? What was your best cure for homesickness?
I went back twice, once without my husband.
We had no family come to stay as the cost of visiting was so high, and the GFC affected members of our family. I had a friend from my teaching days visit in 2007, and a friend of my husbands visited us in 2010. My cousin from Perth and her daughter came to stay for 3 weeks. We learnt very quickly that although people wanted to visit us, the financial commitment was just too high.
It took me a long time to get to grips with my home sickness. For a long time I thought that if I had lots of friendships that I would be happy, but you have to make yourself happy first. I started to write, and I eventually went on a blogging course. Getting back into my art work. It took me a long time to realize that I was OK on my own. In fact these days I really relish my solitude.
|Love. Make. Think.|
All is so very different in Australia. What is your opinion on school education / school system?
I have 2 children; they both attended a state primary school. It was fine, they were happy there. I found choosing a secondary school very stressful, I quickly learnt that in Victoria, state secondary education is frowned upon, that it is regarded as poor quality. I learnt the hard way not to get involved in conversations about schools because invariably I would be greeted with a look of horror when I said I was sending my son to a State school.
I had one mother tell me that “If I loved my son” I would find the money from somewhere; the same woman told me that there was just a better “type” of child at private school. Other mothers felt that by sending your child to an Australian State school you would be depriving them of the opportunity to do well. I knew a lot of people contemplating a lot of debt to pay for a private education, or they were relying on their own parents to pay for it. The other popular choice was to go for the “cheaper” option and send my son to a Catholic school. We are not church goers, so I didn’t see that as an option.
I was happy with the school I chose for my son, and had we stayed in Australia he would have been going there, but certainly that last year of primary school was awkward, especially when my son was asking why he wasn’t going to a private school. I have a friend who moved to Australia 2 years after we did, she has a 3 year old son and is already going through this. It is the one piece of advice I would give to anyone with kids moving to Oz - be aware of the stigma of State schools, you either have to close your ears to it all and accept the judgment of others, or be prepared to pay the money. I felt very unprepared for it and was completely overwhelmed by the process.
|Love. Make. Think.|
What was your favorite cultural activity in Australia and what can you tell us about cultural life in Australia?
I really like the beach life, once the weather warms up, we would spend the weekends at our favorite beach in Rosebud. If I could live anywhere in Australia it would be by the coast. The first thing that springs to mind with Australian culture is the sport, if you enjoy sporting events there is always something going on.
I think we were very lucky living in Melbourne as there was always a festival of some description going on. My husband and I like to see live music and we were able to see between 5 to 10 concerts a year.
I enjoyed the theatre, a friend of mine is a theatre director and through her I was introduced to the theatre circuit. I love art and growing up in London I was spoilt for choice, so I did miss the variety that London offers.
I really got into the North Melbourne craft circuit and met some gorgeous gorgeous people, especially Pip Lincolne from Meet Me at Mikes. She and some other crafters featured in the documentary “Making it Handmade” by Anna Brownfield, which is a great introduction to the craft scene in Melbourne.
|Love. Make. Think.|
My only issue with it all was that I lived in the Burbs, and once you get out of the city, there is less going on (unless you get out of the Burbs and a good hour or so away from the city). You really have to research and dig to find groups or other people. I joined Netsquared which enabled people, especially those working online and bloggers to hook up. They were a good crowd.
If Australia were a woman, how would you best describe her?
Young, athletic, optimistic, and a little naïve.
Thanks so much Jan!
That were sheer amazing information. Hang on, there is so much more I would like to know. What is her best advice for people who are dreaming of a life in Australia? What song will always remind her of Australia? Why did she ultimately leave the island? We'll find out tomorrow!
More Jan? CLICK!
Cheers from Melbourne!