Life as an expat academic…as i know it.

by Anna Blanch on June 18, 2011

In the last couple of weeks tHome goannatree anna blanchhere have been a bunch of things/events/moments where i’ve been reminded that I am an expat academic. Moments where you are reminded that you haven’t yet crossed the line from ex-pat to immigrant, where you know what it means to be foregoing brother and sisters (and neice) and parents and grandparents and the rest of my quite-big family, when I am reminded what it means to teach, and speak, and write in a dialect not completely your own.

* My new passport arrived.

I’m now legal until 2021.

The whole process of getting this passport was made more interesting by organising the renewal while being in a foreign country and trying to figure out if i was able to be here long enough to wait for the new one….there was some tense days in there as the old cut-up one arrived a good ten days before the shiny new micro-chipped one. Oh, and i was a tad concerned with all the reports of how difficult it is to get the right sized passport photos – every country seems to have their own size! Is this a strange way-to-confuse-travellers-and-expats conspiracy? maybe.
I had to google what it meant for my long-term visa to be still sitting in my (now) expired passport. It’s all a-ok – according to most of the travel forums – i can travel with the old one and the new one together. This is not a problem I would have if i have stayed in Australia.
As strangely arcane as the UK feels some times I was grateful 1)not to have to trek to London for the renewal, doing it all by post was much simpler 2) to have a local cobbler who also takes passport photos….

* I sent a character reference for a former student academic mentee (seriously, not really sure what to call them).

I was never this person’s professor, but I have observed them in a wide variety of situations and I’ve talked at length about their aspirations. I’m not sure I could know them any better if i had been their “professor” – in fact, I probably wouldn’t be able to speak to their character and their suitability for their chosen career if i’d known them in any other way. Still, it’s the third or fourth reference i’ve written this year.

* Recent visits from friends/acquaintances from Australia (and the US) and some upcoming ones.

I’ve lived in quite a few places. I’ve travelled to even more. Church circles are small.  The world is big….but in some ways oh-so-small. Unlike Waco (yes, central Texas) people want to visit me in St Andrews. It’s gorgeous, it’s historically fascinating. It’s the home of golf. I’m here! I say bring in on. The Cottage-by-the-sea and I would love to see you!

* I went on a day-trip to the other side of the country

It was gorgeous. It would be impossible in Australia.
It’s apparently the most beautiful train journey in the world (or at least Europe).
If you liked “Chamber of Secrets” then….you might have seen what I saw.

* I wrote my first “I’m going to be (hopefully) done with my PhD in just over 12 months puhlease consider me for any jobs coming up” email in the last week.

It’ll be the first of many I am sure. I’m not telling which institution it was directed towards. nor which country that institution was in.

Let me know if you know of anything that would be a good fit for me.
I have an open mind.

*I’ve been coughing lots

My lungs don’t much seem to like living here. And because it’s summer and i’m not teaching at the moment and two of my office mates have pregnant wives – and so i worked from home thursday and friday. Sometimes writing your PhD is wonderful for having the ability to adapt where I work based on multiple needs – gotta love that! Please note: this just means i’m working in a different physical location, there is no diminishing of the working happening….in fact, the whole world just ends up your workplace and that’s a whole ‘nother realm of dysfunction.

* Yesterday, apart from the coughing, there were tears.

I haven’t written about this much. I will. I keep saying I will. It’s difficult. My family were together to remember someone very close to us all. I’m sad. I’m still grieving. And I am a really long way from them all.


  • There’s totally an upcoming post all about the passport photos….;)
  • And a post about that day-trip to Western Highlands of Scotland and the most beautiful train journey in the world.
  • And one about the cottage-by-the-sea’s special 1st anniversary present…..(Yes, i bought my cottage a present…what of it?)

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  • Preston

    I can't wait to see you and the cottage again, my friend!

  • Kathleen

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Anna. WIll be thinking of you. And intrigued by the passport photo saga! Love xx

  • Bubi

    There’s a terrific amount of knowledge in this article!

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