The Best Of Both Worlds

I’m about to have a chat on the radio. I think it’s about blogging, perhaps it’s more about expat life, I’m not really sure – fingers crossed it’s not about fishing as today’s fishless river trip has proved I’m pretty low on expertise. At some point I will be asked where my favourite place to live is and if my children see themselves as Australian. On verbal autopilot I will say I don’t have a favourite I’ve liked them all for different reasons, and yes, my children are very much Australian.

“It’s the best of both worlds.” I keep hearing myself say it. And if I’m not saying it, someone’s saying it to me, offering it as an explanation of our current geographical state. Being able to come home for these long periods of time, having a house by the beach and an expat life to return to – it’s the best of both worlds.

I have no idea if it is or not.

It’s two very different worlds that we float between, grasping on to one while living the other, unable to make a decision. Where would we live? Where would G find a job? Would he have to change career? Could we start something new? Were we ready to call it quits? Was it time? Just a bit longer, another two, another five, another ten? We’ll know when it’s time. 

We met up with friends recently, they’ve returned to Australia. They have all the stuff we expats dream about: a family home in a leafy suburb, local schooling, relatives, and the familiarity of an Aussie life. How was it? How were they finding it? They’d been lucky, fallen on their feet, great job, good schools, nice neighbours – although, well, nobody really wants to hear your stories, no-one cares. We all giggled. No-one cares. It was said in jest, but it’s a lesson every expat learns – don’t go on too much about that other life, it’s a bit boring really, much easier if you just fit in, get local, lets talk about the car park at Coles, the politician who was caught drink driving, the fabulous new bakery. How much do you reckon Bob paid for the landscaping in his backyard?

We’ll think about it on the plane, as we we talk about school supplies and first days and which teachers we’ll get this year. We’ll wonder about the other kids on the compound, their holidays, what did they do? We’ll think about when baseball practice is going to start and which sports we’ll sign up for. We’ll think about it on the plane, the beach house, the neighbours, the kitchener buns at the bakery, parking our car in Coles car park and checking our mail box. We’ll think about Granny’s house and catching a fish with Grandad.

Grasping on to one while living the other.

The best of both worlds.

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  1. Ketaki Bardalai says

    So well said and food for much thought…its true no one really cares about this life when you are back home. Although I do get asked how I like Doha, a lot, and each time I have to think hard before I respond. It is so different here, but then that’s life! All the different and diverse experiences add up to a better you!

  2. Makes me sad you think no-one cares about your Doha life. It’s your life, of course people care. xx

    • Kirsty Rice says

      You’re my cousin – of course you care! In context of relocating and making new friends, not everyone’s all that interested in your travel stories, and they shouldn’t be (it’s kind of like making someone look at your holiday snaps.) my inlaws explained it perfectly last night, in the expat world people meet and play catch up, exchanging stories constantly to get up to date – whereas at home things tend to move in real time. Does that make sense?

    • Kirsty Rice says

      This was from a friend who recently re-located “You are spot on about the moving back – the hardest part is not saying too much about your past “life” as most people don’t want to know or understand why you would move away”

    • My reply to your comment disappeared? I’ll try again but I think Virginia kind of answered it better than I did, as did Eliza on the Facebook page “You are spot on about the moving back – the hardest part is not saying too much about your past “life” as most people don’t want to know or understand why you would move away”.

      I think in our situation it’s a bit different though, you’re my cousin, you’re meant to be care! 🙂 But in the case of relocating and making new friends it’s a different ball game, kind of like if I was making new friends sit through my family slide show of our travel pics. Does that make sense?

  3. Well said (as usual), Kirsty. With my husband away and me back in Australia for a while, I know that expat emotion tug of war. And I am all too familiar with the glazed expression when you mention anything from your ‘other life.’

    We all have that familiar story we trot out about why/where/when we have lived outside of (in my case) Australia. And then you get the questions: “Is it safe?”, “Do they have supermarkets, restaurants, schools, tampons … there?” (Yes, they shop, eat, educate and menstruate just like everywhere else in the world), and the classic “Why would you want to leave home?”

    Well my answer is that living away makes you appreciate even more what “home” has to offer, but living away is exciting, exacerbating, exhausting, engaging and educating. My answer to that question is always “Why wouldn’t you?”

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