Six super things about living in Canberra

We’re in our fifth month as Canberrans now, and the place is starting to feel like home.

We’ve been here long enough to notice a few things that seem odd, but also to appreciate things that may not stand out to other locals but which have really wowed us.

Here are our ‘six great things about Canberra’ so far…
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A healthy tip for new migrants

As a new migrant to Australia, there are some things that take longer than others to understand. And none, save pensions, seem more complex to me than the issue of healthcare and private health insurance.

I’d like to say that we’ve cracked it and that, below, you’ll find a short précis of all the things you’ll need to know as a new arrival in Canberra, but that’s far from the truth. But what I have cracked is a little tip that so important that I shudder to think that we may have missed it. Continue reading

When Canberra comes out to play

When we lived in Denmark, one of our favourite days out of the year was the Roskilde Dyrskue, or agricultural fair. It always provided a wonderful mix of great weather, pet and farmyard animals, interesting and bizarre sports, and attractions for the kids. In short, it was the perfect day out and one that we thought we’d miss after our move.

A view of the show's main arena.

Show-jumping in the foreground and a funfair in the background at the Royal Canberra Show.

Not a bit of it, because Canberra has an agricultural show all of its own – the Royal Canberra Show – and it offers all the things you’d expect, plus a few surprises too.
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Changing who we are

Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, gave a speech to the Australian parliament last week, largely in response to the security questions raised by the Sydney siege a few months ago, but also in recognition of the lone-gunman attacks in other countries such as Denmark, the trickle of Australian nationals making their way to fight with Islamic State in Syria, and the highly publicised call for attacks on western shopping malls.

A few days before, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt made a similar address in Copenhagen. But, while Abbott’s speech focused largely on security measures, Thorning-Schmidt included an important additional point: “We have to understand what has hit us, but we must insist on acting as we do. Think and talk like we want to. We are who we are.”

News of the shootings in Copenhagen rolls in on the TV.

The shootings in Copenhagen shocked Denmark.


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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 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

Fireworks above a house.