We had some disappointing news this week. After all our meticulous planning in trying to ensure our belongings will arrive in Canberra in time for us to spend a comfortable Christmas, the shipping company told us that, yes, while the container would arrive in Australia in plenty of time, customs clearance is expected to take three-to-four weeks, meaning our belongings won’t reach us until mid-January at best.
It’s a small setback, and we’ve had relatively few of them on the path to starting our new life, but it does seem like a kick in the teeth, having worked so hard to get our stuff away a few weeks before we travel.
Despite this news, our days are starting to be taken over with tasks more related to arriving in Australia than leaving Denmark. Just last night, I deleted several Denmark-related apps on my phone and replaced them with their Australian equivalents – news feeds, satellite navigation, airline offers, online banking and so on.
And, since we arrive in Canberra in less than a week, we all began talking about how we would spend our first 24 hours in our new home town.
The top request was to have a celebration family dinner at a Chinese restaurant we visited during our research trip 18 months ago, Jasmine House in Gungahlin. Their speciality dish, chicken with avocado and banana in coconut milk has lived long in our memory and we can’t wait to try it again.
The next most exciting thing we came up with was going food shopping. Now I know that trips to Woolworths and Coles aren’t going fascinate everyone, but a trip to the supermarket, our local supermarket, our local supermarket in Australia, has all of us pretty excited.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that, if I have one criticism of life in Denmark, it’s that the supermarkets here seem to be modelled on those in Soviet Russia. The selection is pretty limited, the quality is generally poor, and the value for money is only to be giggled at. On family holidays to France or the UK, a visit to Carrefour or Sainsbury’s has felt like an expedition into a private banquet of untold delicacies and treats. Our brief trips to supermarkets in Australia have felt the same way, and that’s before we even uncover the delights of things such as farmers’ markets and specialist local shops.
The second reason we are looking forward to it is that it will feel like our first slice of ‘real life’ in Australia. Long-haul flights, hired cars and suitcases are all hallmarks of going on holiday, but doing a massive food shop is a hallmark of real life, and we can’t wait to start our real lives in Canberra.
There’s an addendum to this post which I’m going to save for a post all of its own, and it relates to the friendliness and generosity of people – from the strangers who have offered tips and extended warm welcomes via social media, even though you don’t know me or my family; to those who are going through the same process from different countries and have empathised and encouraged from afar; to the long-standing friends who await us in Oz, who have offered furniture, invited us for Christmas, and who already make us feel like we have ‘family’ awaiting us down under.
When we arrive, I hope we can be the friends that your kindness deserves. For now, just ‘thank you’. We’ll see you very soon.