I wanted to write a post to coincide with Australia day, about what it means to be an Australian expat living far from home.
That was yesterday here in Canada, two days ago for my Australian friends. Time differences are weird.

The thing is, I have a complicated relationship with the country I was born in, lived in briefly somewhere in the middle of my childhood/adolescence, and then went to University in.
I am Australian, according to my passport. Australia is “home” according to that small navy little book, with colourful pages, my details in the front and a tracking chip in the middle. But if you flip through it, the stamps in it, the time-line… well… they tell a different story.

That’s what this blog is about, me and the Austraalien experience. Being an Alien in every culture. Someone different, noticeably outsider-ish whether it be because of the colour of my skin and hair, my accent, or my lack of cultural identifiers. I felt like a complete idiot when I started University, people talked and laughed about things that I had never heard of. They used slang I wasn’t familiar with, and had social cues that went right over my head. But then so did my Hong Kong Chinese friends, laughing in Cantonese, a language I vaguely but-not-really tried to learn.

But then, I have never tried to fit in.

Call it stubbornness, link it to my generations love of individualism.

The perceived otherness, the thing that sets us a part. The thing that makes us special.

Because that’s what everyone wants to believe. That they are some how different and special.

I’ve written blog posts before about seeking a home, that elusive construct that I’m not sure exists for me.

But I’ve never let my roots grow too deep. I could have stayed in Australia after my Masters degree, 2012 would mark six years. But I didn’t. I got out. I had to. I was choking and suffocating, not happy in myself, my relationship or the path I was headed. When I lived there, I couldn’t stop dissing it. I compared it constantly to my other “home” Hong Kong and ridiculed things that I perceived as being inferior to that Asian shopping and eating Mecca. I refused to see the positive qualities, the things it did extremely well.

The thing that kills me now that I’m over in North America, is how many people are busting their asses to get over to the country I snubbed. Canadians, Americans, and those from the UK (the majority of people I meet here) are DYING to go to Australia. Many have already been, and used up their one year living visa. People are incredulous that I would trade Sydney, Australia, that haven of beach blondes, bridges and blue sky, for the great white North.

And when I think about Australia, being far away from it, I am ridiculously proud of some aspects of that wide flat country. Yes we have beautiful scenery, but we’re also a notoriously fun and friendly people, big drinkers and big talkers. People love Australians- and everyone has a cultural anecdote or joke to tell.

I’m ridiculously sentimental, and when I hear the qantas song, I tear up. It’s here if you haven’t heard it before.

Tear jerker for me, here are the lyrics:

I’ve been to cities that never close down,
From New York to Rio and old London town,
But no matter how far or how wide I roam,
I still call Australia home.

I’m always trav’lin’,
And I love being free,
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea,
But my heart lies waiting — over the foam.
I still call Australia home.

All the sons and daughters spinning ’round the world,
Away from their families and friends,
But as the world gets older and colder and colder,
It’s good to know where your journey ends.

But someday we’ll all be together once more,
When all of the ships come back to the shore,
I realize something I’ve always known,
I still call Australia home.

But no matter how far or how wide I roam,
I still call Australia, I still call Australia,
I still call Australia home.

Even though Australia day doesn’t really mean anything to me, here in Canada it gave me pause to think about what it means to be an Aussie, and it did make me feel homesick for that sunburnt country.

There are lots of songs and poems which I do identify with, that do speak to something deep inside me, a nationalistic pride I suppose.

But then I remember how out of place I feel when I’m there. Is that something I’ll grow out of? Will I ever truly feel as though I belong there?