Hmm. Every time I visit WordPress, it feels like it has been months since I last wrote anything here. This time it has been almost a year. Since writing is one of the ways I tend to clarify what’s going on in my head, this is obviously not good news from the point of view of my mental health! It has been a pretty rough year and a confusing one, moving back to Australia from China after 11 years living overseas. It made me feel less inclined to write when I probably actually needed it the most.
So, I came home. It was difficult financially, which was draining emotionally. I guess because it reminds me of being a uni student and living in student poverty. That experience might have been a long time ago, but it is certainly not forgotten and tends to lurk in the back of my head every time I get stressed about money. I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything quite as demoralising as having to worry about money all the time. Other things in life can be a lot more shocking or upsetting, but being worried about bills all the time wears a person down, like a constant weight on the shoulders. I think I am generally an extremely cheerful, optimistic person. However, it is hard to be sunny and bouncy like a fluffy little bunny when you are having your spirit sucked out of you just keeping your head above water. OK that’s an exaggeration, the last year has not been anywhere near that bad – I’ve always had more than enough to pay bills and do stuff I enjoy, but there has not been much of a margin for error, which definitely scares me because it reminds me of when times were a lot tougher.
While I lived overseas, I always had enough money to live comfortably. It was an unpleasant shock to come home, grapple with casual contracts offering zero in job security, a fairly nasty and expensive rental market and piles of paperwork to be conquered in order to achieve anything at all. Try getting a Medicare card after you’ve been out of the country for years and you will understand what I mean – I thought being an Australian citizen would have been enough, but despite already working and paying taxes, I had to sign a statutory declaration saying I intended to stay in Australia for the forseeable future. After teaching Chinese university students an Australian Culture and Society unit where our textbook said that healthcare was universal for Australian citizens because of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, I felt like a bit of a moron being told by Medicare that a Medicare card was not actually a right and I had to prove I was going to be a resident of Australia. Uh huh, because a Medicare card would be really useful in China – huh! One of my friends said there have been some cases of fraud of the PBS and that could be why they were so anal. My thought is that the hoops you have to jump through to get the damn card after returning to Australia are such a pain in the butt, there is no way I would have bothered with it if I had not been planning on living here again! Wow. That was quite a rant, especially for something that happened ages ago now, but I feel heaps better!
I guess it has been a little hard in some ways, but I found work fairly easily and I enjoyed it a lot. I sat the HSK (a Chinese proficiency test), which I have been meaning to do for ages. I made some new friends and saw lots of concerts, which is something I really missed while living in China. I also managed to do a little travelling to boot. It has been strangely easy to adjust to life here, which really surprised me because I thought I would suffer hideous reverse culture shock, but it just never seemed to happen.
I guess the most exciting thing that happened last year was a rabies scare after I got bitten by a monkey in Bali. That freaked me out so much, the whole story got written out almost immediately (it was either that or a shrink – writing is much cheaper). I have to go through an edit it before posting it to my travelpod, but it is on my ‘to do’ list
Anyway, this post is an attempt to rectify my recent lack of writing. An attempt to carry out at least one of my New Year’s resolutions. If I don’t come here again for another month, I guess my good intentions didn’t last long!