Posts Tagged ‘perth’

Thanks to http://socialhoneycomb.com/So I’m in Australia. I have a permanent visa. I have a job I like. I am about to move into a rather nice apartment, where I hope to stay for several years. So it’s probably about time I made some friends.

Perth is a friendly city – it’s one of the reasons I wanted to move here. I’ve had more conversations with random strangers on buses here than in my whole life in the UK. But I’m a married woman in her late(ish) 30s, with no children and a tendency to pretend I’m 10 years younger – which apparently means I am not a mate-magnet.

Child-free – so no chance of me meeting other mums in the playground. Too irresponsible (and neurotic about hygiene) to have a dog – so no chats with other pet owners in the park. A husband – so people tend to assume your evenings and weekends are already booked up. And while Perthites are friendly, at the end of the day most people drive home to their detached houses and do their own thing. Distances between suburbs are huge and there isn’t a focus on the city centre like there is in most places, so people socialise in a variety of suburbs.

I do actually have a semblance of a social life that occasionally involves people other than my husband. I made one good friend within weeks of arriving, and although she’s now gone overseas, she’s left behind a few nice people who I’m now getting to know. But I am conscious of the need to widen my circle of friends. Oddly enough, those few nice people are all immigrants to Perth, or have lived overseas at some point, and who knows? They could decide to try another city or country at any time. Besides, I want to meet some locals, who can show me parts of Perth I might not discover on my own.

In the chaos of moving, finding friends was not a particular priority. As new arrivals, my husband and I did get a few, very welcome, invitations. Nearly eight months in, we are expected to be finding our own way.

I know the best way to meet people is to join a group doing something you’re interested in. It worked for me in Bristol. Practically all my friends there I met through dance. It’s not been so successful here. I’ve tried a couple of dance classes. Hip hop was full of REALLY young people wondering who the old bird was; tap, while providing the requisite number of kooky, verging-on-middle-aged women (hair in bunches – CHECK; wacky socks – CHECK), didn’t offer enough opportunities for interaction with the rest of the group…and frankly I didn’t enjoy the class much, which didn’t help.

Here I am doing a lot of cycling – but most cycling groups take it a lot more seriously than I do. It’s a similar story with kayaking, or to more accurately describe what I do, drifting around on the river trying to remember which way to paddle to turn round. Pilates is doing wonders for my flexibility, but so far zero for friendships. Websites directed at new immigrants organise meet-ups, but they don’t appeal – I’m desperate to integrate and while it can be comforting to speak to others in a similar situation, I don’t think it’s necessarily the best thing in the long run.

So I’m now looking for something else that will bring me into contact with like-minded people. A cause for which I can volunteer, or a course I can do. What really appeals is something that is focussed on making Perth the groovy state capital it deserves to be, but a trawl of t’interweb hasn’t thrown anything up just yet. I found out about PERTHour too late for this time, although I hope to make it to the next.

And I’ve just got to be careful not to appear too desperate – as one of my (old, UK-based) friends pointed out, there’s always the risk you’ll ring someone in another office to get a piece of information and before you’ve hung up you’ve invited them round to dinner and to stay for the weekend.

So if anyone has any ideas, I’d be glad to hear them.

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My bike with panniers

This blog is supposed to be about new beginnings but already something is coming to an end.

For the last few months I have been cycling to and from work at least two or three days a week. Monday I bussed so I could carry clothes for the week ahead; Friday I bussed so I could avoid sharing a road with the pay day drinkers who forgot they had to drive home while downing a slab of beer at lunchtime.

Perth has more cycle routes than any other Australian city and we are lucky enough to live near one of the best. It takes you across the Causeway over Heirisson Island (where there are allegedly kangaroos living wild; I’ve never seen one) and along Riverside Drive, which skims the Swan River foreshore.

Western Australia is a state that wakes up early so even on leaving the house at 6:40am the cycle path is often busy with not just cyclists, but joggers, rollerbladers and those just out for a stroll. It’s not uncommon to see kayakers or waterskiers on the river at that time, splashing past the cormorants and ducks that sun themselves by the water’s edge.

My commute to the office is only 5.5km, and takes 15-20 minutes, but it has become the most precious part of my day. I arrive at a job I have mostly disliked feeling refreshed (despite having to use the basement car park showers, with their permanent whiff of eau de diesel) and ready to go. I find myself part of a cycling community in a building where any kind of social interaction is rare. Men in tight white lycra ask me about headwinds and compliment me on my choice of pannier. I pretend not to mind when they then overtake me on the route home as I pootle along, enjoying the view.

But Tuesday will be my last day working in the CBD. From April 12 I will be working out in the ‘burbs, in a job that requires me to provide a car at least some of the time. No flexitime will mean an early start may not be realistic – I don’t think they will take kindly to me leaving halfway through the afternoon – so I’ll be sitting in the peak hour traffic with everyone else, listening to people swear on the radio and wishing I was on my bike.

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Or, more accurately, hello husband. And possibly parents. And maybe a couple of people I keep in touch with on Facebook who are just being nosey.

I have finally decided to bite the blog bullet. Why?

Well, first of all, of course, I am an egomaniac. Why else would anyone assume that the world would be interested in their random thoughts?

But that aside, I’m six months into my new life in Australia. The difficult moving bit is done (although we have yet to buy a house); now life begins. I have a proper job, a social life of sorts and I’m working on getting that perfect Australian smile.

So while the obvious thing would have been to start this blog when moving, I actually think what happens from here on in will be more important for me. I can’t rely on being a newbie any more; I’m a permanent resident, with a sticker in my passport to prove it. I know what a woylie is and I own a large gas-powered barbeque.

I am finding that where I am is increasingly defining who I am, despite thinking I was far too old to change. It’s sunny here in Perth – so I’m now the kind of person who cycles to work. Most Australians are fairly straightforward people, which can occasionally come across as offensive – so I have started questioning my own behaviour, which up until now I have chosen to call ‘honest’ but which may just be plain rude. Everyone swears on the TV and radio – so my efforts to become less foul-mouthed have been abandoned as I realise I was never actually that bad.

So I’m down under, out west, but still working out where I am in life. This might help.

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