In the territory of the lost souls

I was reminded of them in Copenhagen, and it was a timely reminder.

I’ve often considered that life abroad consists of various phases. From post-arrival disorientation, to the honeymoon period when everything seems perfect, to integration and establishing a balanced perspective on your new home’s strengths and weaknesses.

But then there are those who never settle, who are always in search of something better. I call them ‘the lost souls’, and it’s important to guard against becoming one of them.
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The loneliness of the long distance traveller

I don’t quite know what I’ve let myself in for. In a moment of mad enthusiasm, and in a bid to assuage some of their larger doubts, I have committed to my work clients in Europe that I’ll stay visible to them by making working trips to Europe at least three times per year.

When we first announced our move, I felt it was an important thing to do. After all, Australia didn’t just sound like it, it actually, literally was on the other side of the world. “But hey, I’ll still see you every 12 weeks or so,” seemed like the perfect antidote to the initial wave of questions and doubts that followed my revelation. Now, freshly back from the first of these ‘contact trips’, I wonder what I’ve let myself in for.
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The distance of time

My return visit to Copenhagen is at an end and, after a 24 hour stop-off in England, I’ll be on my way back home to Canberra very shortly.

Being back among familiar faces and places has been simultaneously fun, exhausting, repetitive and like I’ve never been away. But being here has also taught me something about why it’s hard to be away from our former home. Continue reading

God bedring København

Last night, I walked past the main synagogue in Copenhagen with a friend. We’d just had an evening of catching up, having dinner and enjoying a beer in a favourite local bar of mine.

At the synagogue’s gate, a burly man eyed us intently, darkly even, as we sauntered past. I remember making a passing comment about it to my friend who speculated that it was the temple’s security guard. We both agreed that it was very ‘un-Copenhagen’ – a city characterised by its easy informality – and then the conversation turned to other things.

Half an hour later, back at my hotel room, I start to receive messages from friends and family – are you okay? We’ve seen the news? Are you safe? Continue reading

Home from home

A Carlsberg billboard ad proclaiming Denmark as the world's happiest country.

The perfect welcome awaits at Copenhagen airport.

I’m back in Copenhagen for the first time since we moved to Canberra and it’s wonderful (no pun intended) to be here.

During the long flight over from Australia, I wondered how I would feel about being back in what is my favourite city in the world – would I regret leaving, would I feel that the place had moved on and lost its personal welcome, or would I realise that the time had been right for a separation and that all things, however good, have an end. Continue reading

Sometimes, it’s the little things

A Qantas plan waits at an airport gate.

The latest Qantas ad campaign makes much of the airline’s role in reuniting families.

Being a long way from anywhere else can do odd things to your sense of belonging, and it stands to reason that Australians have good reason to feel special about the notion of ‘coming home’ as they’ve invariably travelled a pretty long way to do it – whether domestically or internationally.

This was made clear to me the first time I visited Australia, back in 1999. As we crossed an endless, parched looking coastline, stretching left and right of the aircraft, the pilot, with a sense of occasion, announced that passengers could get their first glimpse of Oz by glancing out of the windows. After a suitable pause, he added: “We’ll be landing in Sydney in approximately five hours.” It’s a big old place. Continue reading

Things to make you go ‘hmmm…’

With three months in Canberra under our belts, we’ve racked up a fairly long list of things that have wowed us since we arrived. As new arrivals, we are looking at many things for the first time and occasionally, one or two of them make us go: “Hmmmm…” Here’s a short list of things that have bemused or confused us, so far.
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Taking stock, three months in

Two years ago, when we came on our research trip to Canberra, we holed up in a hotel in Gungahlin and discovered a lovely Chinese restaurant, just a few doors down.

It was a small incentive against the backdrop of our move, but the food was so good that we promised ourselves we’d go there again on our first night in our new country. We did, and despite our jet-lag, the food was every bit as good as we’d remembered.

Last night we found ourselves there again – we’re on first name terms with many of the staff now, and it remains our restaurant of choice for family birthdays and celebrations, or just when we feel like a treat.
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