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Posts Tagged ‘skype’

I knew the minute I decided to move to Australia that it would alter the friendships I had in the UK; how could it not? But I had high hopes of maintaining most of the relationships I’d built in Preston and Bristol, albeit from a distance. I left Britain with a selection of VOIP providers installed on my computer, and looked forward to taking advantage of the technology that makes emigrating so much more feasible for those susceptible to homesickness. For months my emails back to Blighty would be signed off with a cheery ‘Get Skype!’.

But not many people did. While I fire up Skype and Messenger most evenings and weekends, the truth is they’re not used that often outside of the regular Sunday night call to my parents. Most contact from British friends is restricted to a few emails a year, the odd comment on Facebook or Twitter and the very occasional Skype conversation, organised meticulously weeks in advance to work round the time difference and other commitments.

There are some real stars – one friend in Bristol emails me religiously every Monday morning, which I appreciate so much, and an ex-boss of mine is great at responding to the pleas for conversation I make on Facebook from time to time when I tire of talking to my husband. I really do value each and every contact, no matter how brief or infrequent.

But I have accepted that people back home have moved on without me. Who can blame them? I’m the one who decided to leave, and let’s face it, I probably wasn’t the best friend in the world even when I lived in the same town. The eight-hour time difference is a pain, and if you’re not online most of the time like me, it probably is a bit of a faff to get on Skype.

In terms of making friends here, I am definitely past the must-say-yes-to-everything-or spend-every-non-working-hour-at-home stage, so Mum, if you are reading this, don’t worry – I’m fine. But my confidence was knocked by a couple of potential pals moving away within months of our meeting (although one may be coming back – yay!) and when I do meet someone I think I might get on with I often hold back rather than suggest doing something in case of rejection.

In that, at least, I am not alone; I stumbled across this blog post and as you’ll see from the comment I left, it really struck a chord with me. Like my fellow blogger, I’d really like to make one or two friendships here that would last the distance. Unfortunately, as I have mentioned before, I suspect it may not happen – although I remain hopeful. It’s number one on my list of new year’s resolutions.

And while I am working on that, I will keep waiting for those calls on Skype, and will be grateful for the friendships I do have, here or overseas, for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

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I’ve never been too keen on Christmas.

I don’t believe in God, so its primary (though often forgotten) meaning is lost on me. I’m not a huge fan of rampant consumerism, so the spend-fest that so often marks the season makes me feel a bit sick. And I’m naturally a bit miserable, so the jollity expected from December 1 onwards is frankly quite stressful.

Don’t get me wrong; my childhood Christmasses were fun. But they were more about watching the Coronation Street Christmas special than anything else. When I married, and started spending alternate years at the in-laws’, I was slightly astounded that they ate while Jack and Vera (RIP) et al were doing their thing in Weatherfield. How can you enjoy your sprouts knowing that Don Brennan is going to try to end it all (1996) or that Deirdre Barlow is about to get it on with Dev Alahan (2001)? Actually, I think I prefer sprouts to thinking about the latter.

So if I found it hard to feel festive in the UK, you can imagine how hard it’s been here. As I write, on Christmas Eve, it’s 33C outside and I’m wearing shorts. There are Christmas decorations up in the city and indeed in my lounge, but the bright sunshine makes the lights almost impossible to see. The breeze from the fan swishes the tinsel on my tree, erected mainly to remind me that it is not, in fact, July.

Last Christmas – our first here – we went to the beach, which I believe is an obligatory activity for all new immigrants. I fussed with the sunscreen, whinged about being too hot and felt self-conscious in my bikini, secretly wishing it was cold enough to wear my usual December uniform of opaque tights and warm dresses. We took photographs of ourselves, smiling on the sand, and ate ice cream to cool down.

This year, who knows? We might take the kayaks over to Penguin Island. We’ll certainly Skype the folks back home and have a laugh at the snow that’s brought Britain to a halt these past few weeks, while bemoaning the environmental and financial cost of running our aircon here. Despite the rising temperature, I’ve insisted on cooking a roast dinner; not turkey, but lamb, in a kind of blend of UK/Oz culture. For now a seafood barbeque is still a step too far. It’ll be lonely without Corrie, but in time we’ll create some new traditions, I’m sure.

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