Unpacking my expat life; or where’s (go)anna(tree) now?

by Anna Blanch on September 24, 2012

Where are you now?

That’s the question i’ve most been asked over the last few months. It’s not a question I blame anyone for asking, because at times i’ve had to remind myself.

I even made a map!

I still didn’t answer the question did I?

I’m in Newcastle, Australia.

Though every new place is different, I’m looking to find ways to find my feet and make a home here.

Faced with unpacking my Scottish (and the remnants of my American) life on return to Newcastle is a revelatory experience. Ostensibly it is 11 boxes of books, clothing and other items. But it is more than that, it is the moment where my different selves coalesce.

Trying to unpack my cottage even without furniture into really just one room in a house is a difficult proposition. I’m already missing my own space and feeling more like i’m encroaching on the space of others rather than feeling like this is home. I’m not sure yet what that means except that i know that I struggle to write when I don’t feel like things are in their place and I can’t afford to waste the precious time I have.

I don’t have an conclusions about this place yet, but I do have some observations:

  • The sunshine is not going to get old anytime soon.
  • I saw a number of groups from a local church(es) out cleaning windows, scrubbing graffiti and picking weed last weekend. It made me happy to be in a place where this is happening.
  • I’ve been catching buses a lot. I’ve got off at the wrong stop a couple of times – but mostly they’ve been good. I’ve been reminded of how spread out Australian cities are without the density of population. Most trips are 45 minutes each way.
  • There are lots of coffee shops here: I found the Newcastle BakeHouse — good wifi, good coffee, however the atmosphere is lacking — and the Gourmet Goose — pricey, but the atmosphere, food and drinks are fabulous. I sat outside among palm fronds with a breeze blowing. So, I’m still left with the goal of finding a cafe with wifi, atmosphere,and  good coffee that won’t break the bank. If you have any suggestions I’m definitely open to hearing them.
  • When I drive around here I need the GPS and probably will for a while.
  • I’ve not been to the beach nearly as much as I would like.

As I start to find my way around i’m thinking about what it means to be part of the community, and selfishly, how I make friends in this new place.

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