Our view…

Our views have been shaped by the experiences that have brought us to this point in our life.  In principal this is not very different to the other immigrants to Australia, what makes it unique in its own way are the nuances of these experiences and that is our view.

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Sunset in Hallet Cove, South Australia

I cannot talk about these views without putting them in context and speaking a bit about our last station, Germany.  I have lived in four different countries and Germany is by far the one place that comes close to perfection more than any other and it is the place where I have lived the longest.  The efficiencies, the frugality, the thoroughness and a global conscience  that is the collective German way of life has developed over the past 6 decades is unprecedented.  A good friend of mine from Russia described it as a very boring place because everything works and it is near automatic, isn’t it ironic as it sounds a no worries kind of place yet it so far from it on daily basis as Germans are overall very formal, distant and constantly unsatisfied and then Germany has that terrible weather.

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Footy!

Australia is a great place in many ways, life is for some reason just easy-going and the mild weather makes for an excellent outdoor lifestyle.  In our view though it is far from perfect and that maybe the curse of just knowing to many homes.  Things are made unnecessary complicated  in more ways than we could have imagined when we arrived.  Simple things like setting up and proving your 100 points of id as they do in Oz so you can get basic services takes time, patience and above all it costs nerves.  The surprise is that one would have thought that there would be someone who can or should tell you what you will have to do and how to do it, the onus is on the newcomer.  In a country that welcomes so many thousands of immigrants you would have thought there would be more to it.  That is not the case and while it is not rocket science per se, it is made more difficult by the incompetence, the lack of systems and of processes for new arrivals in the country.  Beyond that even matters that one would believe is common sense are relative complicated, such as trying to get decent broadband, a matter that is trivial anywhere in urban Europe, US or Japan, has cost us at least a couple thousand dollars and countless hours on the phone with providers, as well a broken lease and countless hours on the matter of leasing properties, our rights and obligations.  It is amazing that in 2013 this is an issue, I would understand it if I was in Alice Springs or some other place in the outback or the countryside.

Ben in Melbourne

I am not going to compare here every little aspect but suffice to say that having moved between four countries over the past twenty years, I have never had as many issues, not even when I moved back to Greece in 1996 from the US and had to deal with the incompetent civil servants.  Unexpected because Australia is a modern society and it is one of the most urbanized nations on the planet, the envy of many and the place where many people dream to be able to get a chance at calling it home.

I am not, in any way, saying that this is an awful place, quite the contrary, despite our tribulations and the various costs both monetary and otherwise we are looking forward to the next 12 months with renewed confidence that things will be better, they will improve and we will finally be able to get more out of the Aussie lifestyle.  It is not a post of despair nor is it one of disappointment.  It is merely our experiences and while there certainly have been difficult times we have had luck with family and friends that have supported us all along.

 

It has been a year!


In a few weeks it will be 12 months since our arrival in this beautiful country.

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So many things have happened, so many changes and more is to come in the next few weeks.  Anyone, that sees my FB page would thing it was easy and in many ways it was but it is still hard in different ways as well.  Any new beginning is hard, the heartache for your friends and your home – our old home – is ever-present, we miss our old ways and we miss being in place that is familiar and where things make sense.

We are now in a new home, it bears a German nameAltona North– Altona is a borough in the city of Hamburg in the north of Germany.  Altona North is a suburb to the west of Melbourne.  It is about 15 min drive to Federation Square and the Southbank, it is a 10 minute drive to Altona and Williamstown beach and more importantly it is within 10-15 minutes drive from either Beth’s and my workplace.

Nevertheless, after almost 12 months it is still a place where we often struggle to make sense of things.  The biggest issue and the one we are currently facing again is our dwellings.  We just signed the 4th lease in about 7 months and besides the 1st one where we disputed the lease on account of false claims about the property it has always been involuntary.  The new property, we are picking the keys up on the 22nd, will hopefully be the last place we will have to move for at least a couple of years.  They are telling us it is a good time to buy but it is not yet time for us.  We will want to try it out for another couple of years and make sure that this is home.

In the past 12 months a lot of the misconceptions have been cleared, loads of new views and opinions have been formed, this Lucky Country certainly does not lack surprises… ….more on that in subsequent posts…

The view of the heads protecting the harbour in Sydney from the Sydney Harbour National Park

The new Asia

I love traveling in Asia.  I missed out in my younger years but in the past 10 years I have been to many countries, one could spend a lifetime and not see it all.  I love the people, the bustling cities, the colors, the food.  I am in awe of the energy that is in the air, it is in stark contrast with Germany where things are just settled in many ways just routine.

In the past couple years I have spend time in Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.  This time we spend a weekend in Kuala Lumpur and this time around the Formula 1 weekend was on and we were right in the center of town.  There were a lot of promotional activities going on and we saw our share of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotic and very expensive cars.  I could not help but think how the western world has influenced the globe in so many ways and not all of them are necessarily good.  It does not matter where you are in the world if one wants to buy luxury items, whether a car or a watch it is going to be mostly a European brand and to a lesser extend an American brand.  It is interesting that a local Chinese in Malaysia when he can afford it he buys an Italian exotic car (not a Fiat), a Swiss watch, they go to a French restaurant and when they travel they go to Europe.  I read that most fancy boutiques and shops in Paris, London, etc. employ Chinese speaking staff in order to cater to these clients.  The masses, modern urbanites of the different mega cities all over the developing world, then try to emulate by buying up as much as they can.  This has led to an erosion the local cultures and societies that changes the character and the mentality forever.  It is ironic that we fly so many miles to “exotic” and far away places but end up with people who very much like us have become victims of aggressive modern marketing and peer pressure.

Every time I am in Asia, I wonder how it might have been even 40 or 50 years ago when Asia was truly different and unique in every respect.  I would like, even for the briefest of moment, to able to experience the sights, the smells, the air and the colors of these by-gone places.

I realize that this post may sound judgmental but it is by no means judgmental, I have no right to judge anyone but myself.  It is just an observation, probably a subjective one but that is how I see it.  When I visit places in Asia, I tend to stray away from the beaten path and I try to get to places where I am the only one that looks like me and where I use an honest smile and many gestures to get by.  These places still exist out there and I relish experiencing them every single time.

So long…

Household is on the move

We are done, the household is on route to the warehouse where it will spend the next 6 months away from us. We are sad… very sad… we loved our place and this was our home for a decade. I am sure that in two weeks we will be excited and smiling but today is a day for reminiscence.

Every beginning has an end… and a middle… We loved every minute in this place, it was our first real home. While I am sure we will have a new one soon enough, it still painful. It is here that we grew into a family and where our son, Ben, took his first steps… …well here and during our Australian vacation in 2010.

Ronsdorf we love you, we did not think that this would ever be the case but it is. Australia we love you too and we hope you are everything we hope for…. …see you in two weeks!

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Global Citizen

It is no secret that I despite the fact that I am Greek by birth I feel more at home in an anglophone world.  The irony is, I spend most of my life in the German world and I carry a German passport, indeed it is my “main” passport.  I am at home here. My wife holds two passports, my son holds three, despite his young age of 3 he seemingly understands three languages.  A lot of people here find it peculiar and in many countries the law does not even allow such things.  A lot of people frown upon it as they do not seem to understand how or why that is possible.

I understand that sometimes it is hard to comprehend but I always felt at home wherever I went and I believe we will feel at home in Australia.  I have no doubt that once we have settled down in place that we will have rent or bought we will feel that we had been around for much longer than we actually have.  I have travelled so much and there are many countries where I feel I could settle without any major issues.  This obviously is not a talent, it is just reality that has grown from years of experiences with people from all over the world.  I have family and friends in many places and I can relate to them, I know what routine looks and feels like for many of them and funny enough I have myself been stuck in traffic in many cities around the world be it New York, be in New Delhi or Tokyo.

I believe though that there is a deeper underlying reason for this, I believe people everywhere are very similar in so many ways.  The basic needs of providing for your family, the sense of belonging, the need for recognition, etc. are the same everywhere.  Obviously, there are big differences on how some of those needs are fulfilled and the only thing that I can say is that I have been very respectful and mindful on those differences.  People have a tendency to complicate things but once you can go past that and see the simplicity, there is a lot of beauty.  At the end of the day you get out of most anything whatever you put in, and we are going to put everything in our new lives in our new country.  Hope….

Australia

It has been two years since we were on that trip to Australia.  I have been meaning to write this post ever since we got back from Oz but so many things have happened and so much has changed that I have taken my time with it.  I have refreshed and updated the look of the blog and I mean to do regular updates on the subject of Australia, on our imminent move to the Lucky Country and in general my thoughts on some of the more interesting (to me) current events.

Australia had been a dream for a very long time, it has taken us a long time to finally make it and what we saw, what we experienced is difficult to put into words.  It was an experience extraordinaire, a life changing experience in certain ways.  We saw so much of Australia and yet only a very small part of this huge land, what we saw we liked… …a lot!  We liked it so much that we actually started thinking seriously of moving there permanently.  After our return home and my decision to leave my employer the way opened and it was mostly a matter of time.

English: Orthographic map of Australia centere...

It so far from everything! Image via Wikipedia

I have not come across one person that was not enthusiastic or at least positive towards that far away island nation.  I have travelled a lot and lived in different places, I believe that I am not naive.  I know that there are, there must be, things that are not as perfect as they seem in Australia.  I will find out in due time as I am going to spend the rest of my life there.  That of course does not mean that I will go hunting to find the negatives but it goes to show you that Australia is seemingly a very exciting place with a positive outlook on life in general.  That is in stark contrast to Germany, the quality of life here is at the highest level, yet the people seem to be more on the negative side of things, more on that though in a different post.

So here I go again, I will be again posting regularly hope you will enjoy and follow my posts.