Monday, September 15, 2014

Reflections on Repatriating

We've been back in the States for about a month and are slowly settling back in to life in our native country.

All told, we lived in Australia for three years and six weeks. Long enough to make lots of wonderful friends and to get used to the pace of life in Australia. Long enough to settle in and for it to feel like home.

Packing up our apartment

During our last couple of months, there was a long list of things we wanted to do One Last Time, many of them food-related.
The day before we left, my friend Kelli came over to show us the true way to eat Vegemite—on toast with butter. I had to admit, it was much better than on crackers. 
Gourmet desserts from High Tea with friends.
And of course, we packed our time with movies, dinners and soccer games with friends. 

At a going away BBQ, we taught our friends about an American campfire tradition—s'mores.
Surfers at the beach, photo taken during a Girls' Weekend with friends
Even the animals seemed to be sending us off in style. I think I saw more parrots in the last month than I'd seen in the whole three years previously.

This possum posed for pictures for quite some time before deciding to scamper away.
A very grainy photo of 4 kangaroos, spotted on a hike on our last evening in Australia
It was incredibly sad to leave Australia. I tried hard not to, but ended up crying as our plane took off from the runway.

There is such as a think as 'reverse culture shock' and we definitely experienced it in our first few weeks back in the U.S. First off, we immediately noticed that there are a lot more people everywhere. There are 24 million people in Australia and 318 million in the United States. Now, the countries are roughly the same size but not quite, so another way to look at is that there are 8 people per square mile in Australia and 83 people per square mile in the United States. No wonder we were feeling claustrophic!

The other major difference that I didn't remember from three years ago is the feeling of being constantly marketed to. Everywhere we shop, people are trying to upsell us on discount memberships or trying to convince us to buy warranties and insurance on products (some of which only cost $10 to begin with). As soon as I updated my location on my social media accounts, I started seeing more ads.

Luckily, we had tons of family and friends waiting to welcome us back to the States. A few days after we arrived in Virginia, Drew's family threw us a lovely Welcome Home party. They supplied the food, drinks and games and we brought the Vegemite (which, not suprisingly, was unanimously voted as 'gross').




My mom put this beautiful arrangement of flowers in my bedroom.
(Also, she left me chocolates, which didn't last long enough for a photo op...)
In addition to our Welcome Home party, we filled our first days back here eating our favorite American foods and reacquainting ourselves with the local wildlife.
Peanut butter! The Aussies aren't as enamored of peanut butter as we are, so shortly after arriving, I had to indulge: peanut butter fro yo, with Reese's peanut butter cups and Reese's pieces and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. 
Lunch from The Cheese Shop, a favorite from our college days at William & Mary
Eastern Red-spotted newt
We also treated ourselves to a trip to the beach, a must-have for me so that we didn't go straight from Australian winter to American autumn. On our way to the beach, we stopped in Williamsburg for a delicious lunch from The Cheese Shop and we stopped at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens to stroll through the gardens where we got married.

Tree-lined walkway at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens
Our favorite beach in the U.S.

It's been an adjustment and I imagine it will continue to be so. We'll miss Australia for a long time and a little part of us will always be a little Aussie. Hopefully, there will be many trans-Pacific visits with our Aussie friends in the years to come. 

I haven't decided yet what will happen with this blog, whether I'll continue to write here or retire it and move on to the next project. There are a few more posts I want to put up here before the end of the year though - about wombats and cork trees and maybe some tips for anyone moving to Australia. Then, I'll turn these words and photos into a lovely coffee table book as a keepsake for us to remember our adventures. Not that we'll forget anytime soon...



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