Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Process of Returning: again and again

The Process of Returning: again and again

Greener on the other side?

It’s the dream of many to live on a Greek island. You imagine you’ll be lying on a beach, forgetting home problems and doing nothing as you soak up the sun. And, after reading too much about Australia politics you might even believe the Australian Greek Diaspora leave for Greece in order to leave Australian politics behind!

Grass (and lifestyles) need water to stay lively

As a couple of returnees my husband and I left Australia with different expectations. Takis decided he’d explore the question that dogs so many of the Greek Diaspora, ‘Will I feel more ‘at home’ living in Greece?’, while I went with him, looking forward to travel and adventure. What Takis found was that Greece, like the rest of the world, had changed, while I found that we were not ‘adventuring’ but committed to one old house in one village.

However when our retirement adventure draws to a close, as it probably will soon, we will not regret this experience. After nearly fifteen years Takis and I have got used to living between cultures and we will be sad when we have to give it up. Each year, as we unlock the red door of our ‘retirement’ home in Lemnos and unpack our cases, we know we will once again be re-engaging with the local Greek lifestyle and traditions. As James Clifford writes in his latest book Returns ‘coming home’ is always a process of ‘re-immersion’. And, for those of us who return ‘home’ to a couple of times each year, 'returning home' becomes a continuous process.

Re-turning to Australia: a large and growing country

It is now nearly winter in Lemnos and nearly summer in Australia and last month as we once again climbed the steps to the door of our mock-colonial home in the Victorian Dandenongs. And once again we unpack our cases, and we begin 'again' the process of re-familiarising ourselves with our Australian home (where do we store the salt shaker here?), with our Australian garden (where should we first begin weeding and cutting back?) and with the Australian cultural (what is the government here up to now?). 

Here too we have a life we enjoy, though it takes a little while to ‘re-familiarise’. And, though it is challenging to re-immerse ourselves in Australian culture, this switch finds us making some comparisons and learning again what it is we value about each place.

Australian Immigration Statistics   2012-2013

(The Age, 6.12.2014)
From India 40,100
From China 27,300
From UK 21,700
Working holiday visas 258,250
International student visas 259,300
Illegally living in Aus. 62,700
Number granted citzenship 123,400

Melbourne in the State of Victoria

Melbourne’s Vital Statistics (published  by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.)
Greater Melbourne has more than 4 million residents
In Melbourne more than 200 languages are spoken
13% of people over 65
69% of people aged over 55 have internet access
14% of the population is aged 15-24
1 in 4 young people aged 15-24 were born overseas
12% of young people are unemployed
1 in 6 people are obese
More than 18,500 people estimated to be homeless
1 in 5 households spend more that 30% on housing
People are concerned about recycling and the environment

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