We're Not in Kansas Anymore....

By Lisa Redmon


Moving can be a new and exciting experience.  It can also be quite daunting if you find yourself in a new city, state or even country.  This was my experience when I moved to Australia in 2000.  I suddenly found myself on the opposite side of the world in a thrilling Sydney around the time of the 2000 Olympics.  I am originally from the suburbs in Kansas, USA.  I didn’t exactly grow up in a small town but it was worlds apart from the atmosphere in Sydney at that time.  I was experiencing a strange mix of emotions.  I was filled with the joviality of being young in a big thriving city.  I was overwhelmed at the challenges I faced to find a job and accommodation.  I was also a bit sad about being 15,308 Kilometres away from my family.

I was lucky when I moved here that my mum is originally from Whyalla so I had dual citizenship.  I didn’t have the hassle of Visa’s to worry about.  I also spent a considerable amount of time in Adelaide when I was a kid, but it had been 12 years since I had last been here when I moved, so the country was not completely foreign to me.  There were times though, that it felt like people were speaking a foreign language even when we were both speaking English.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard the word bludger.  I had absolutely no idea what this word meant.  The manager at my new job was saying in a staff meeting that he would not tolerate bludgers during this extremely busy time period.  This terrible image of someone being bludgeoned over the head with a baseball bat came to mind.  When I got home that night I rang my mum up and asked her what it meant.  She had a good chuckle at my imagery and explained that it was a lazy person.  I never would have guessed that.  I still catch myself at times not knowing what people are talking about.  I went and watched some friends play night bowls a few months back and a guy said that it was supposed to be fun, but really they were playing for sheep stations.  A true Australian saying.

I must say that I truly love this country.  The people are so laid back and friendly.  Depending on which part of the country you’re in you can wear thongs all year round.  Living in Adelaide I can go to the beach and a beautiful winery in the hills on the same day.  When I first moved here, I didn’t know a single person.  Now I feel like I know a really good group of people.  While I may have grown up in Kansas, I would definitely say that Adelaide is home now.  I have learnt a lot and there are a few tips that I would impart on others who are thinking of moving somewhere new.

  • Be open to new experiences.  Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.  Don’t be afraid to go places by yourself.  You can miss out on some great things if you feel like you can’t go anywhere alone.  Just think of it as an opportunity to meet some new people.
  • Be willing to adopt a new culture and way of doing things.  You will always be an outsider if you stick to your same old way of doing things and fail to adapt to a different way of life.  Especially in countries that may have a very different way of life.
  • Find ways to create a home away from home.  For example, I still celebrate Thanksgiving every year.  I share this holiday with my Australian friends and family, and people are always curious to try pumpkin pie.

I think if you follow these simple tips when moving somewhere new you are sure to thrive just as I have.

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