"When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around"


By Shanathalas
expatriate: a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence.

The Expat Women site have just invited me to list on their site (thanks gels) that focuses on woman living as expats. Its given me an opportunity to reflect on my own expat status. I have essentially been a expat from the age of one. My Aussie parents moved to Canada in search of snow and adventure when I was a bub. And even though I grew up with Canadians, Aussie culture was mixed in with my development via my folks. While not obviously different, I was often noticed for strange turns of phrase. I always identified as an Australian living in Canada. Then when I moved back to Sydney in my twenties, I felt more like a canuck living in Australia. Everyone identified me as a Canadian, and poked fun at my odd ways. Now that I've moved back to Vancouver after eight years downunder, I don't know who I am nationally. I am culturally both Australian and Canadian. While I generally have the Canadian trait of being very polite, I also have the Aussie nature to tell things like they are and not beat around the bush. Example: "Excuse me, sorry to be a pain but you're being fucking wanker. Thanks kindly".

My accent is a bizarre mix of Aussie-Canuck that can only be called mid-pacific. Oddly, people here in Vancouver tend to think I'm English, and the folks in Australia thought I was Irish. I've noticed that I've developed a slight stutter at times when my brain comes to a fork in the lingistic road. Example: "Can you please pass the .... tomato sauce/ketchup". And I very much enjoy mixing my Canadian and Australia colloqiullisms i.e. "I'm flat out like a lizard drinking, eh" and "Don't be such a hoser, mate".

But honestly, if Australia and Canada went to war today and I had to choose a country, I don't how I do it. Both countries are beautiful in their own way. Australia is an ancient dry, weathered rock, with red earth, white sands, and blue gums. Canada is a noobie geography with growing moutains, temperate green rainforests and vast snowfields. Sydney is a lively sprawling city with beautiful beaches, many cultures and opportunities. Its also polluted, scorchingly hot and ultra-corporate. Vancouver is relaxed, friendly, and temperate with beaches, mountains and multiculturalism. Its also dark and rainy three months of the year, losing its soul by virtue of being Hollywood North, and a little physically close the States for my liking. Sydney is a trendy nightclub with glitz , smoke and neon. Vancouver is a coffee shop with comfy chairs, a good view and Amsterdam treats*. I'm enjoying living in Vancouver at the moment. Its fun, relaxed, beautiful, clean and stands to handle global warming much better . But not a day goes by when I don't miss my friends and family back in Oz. I wish I could could walk through some time-vortex wormhole and visit my brother in Canberra or have a drink down the pub with my mates from the uni. I miss you all so much. I don't want to have to choose.

And luckily I don't have to. Since 2004 Australia has formally allowed dual-citizenship. And now I am on a mission to get my Canadian citizenship (I'm just a permanent resident currently). Once I have that, I can truly call myself a Canaussie.

*You know what I mean.

2 comments so far.

  1. Kass 4:02 PM
    Hopefully if you and Jaime stay here long enough, Jaime will get an accent, and then you can have weirdo accents together! Yay!
  2. Kass 4:02 PM
    I mean, not that you're accent is weird or

    Its cute!

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