Hi. If you saw me, you might assume, from my skin and hair, that I might be Anglo-Australian.
But I’m a migrant. A Kiwi migrant to be precise.
A lot of Kiwis “cross the ditch” and move to Australia. And we sort of fit. At least until we open our mouth! Sometimes it’s fun when people ask me to say “fish and chips.” Other times it gets plain annoying.
The first months were just exhausting. It was all so new – buying a car, finding a house, enrolling the kids in a school, applying for medicare, working out health and dental care. All your energy goes into surviving.
There were some pretty dark days. Like when I tried to transfer my drivers license. My New Zealand license said that I have full car, plus a learners bike license.
The local Council branch took one look, pointed at the “L” and declared that I was a learner. Of all vehicles. Request for South Australian car license denied. While I’ve driven in New Zealand for nearly 30 years.
All the time I kept thinking. “At least I speak English.”
It’s hard enough understanding what I needed to do next: contact my New Zealand embassy in Canberra – be told they never do that – instead email New Zealand Transport Agency – pay the money to get the paperwork- return to the local Council office – run into the same man – try to convince him that despite his insistence, the New Zealand embassy simply actually does not handle this – suggest, politely, he really should check the websites for himself.
Imagine doing this in another language!
Finding friends has been hard and folk seem pretty busy with their existing social networks. I have Kiwi friends who realised, after 8 months, that they had yet to be invited to an Australian house. Everyone they were meeting over a barbeque was like them – a migrant. It was a sharp reminder that cross-cultural relationships take time and work, from both sides.
I’m a migrant. Even though I might not look like one.