Australia Day sees me sitting at my desk and reflecting on how I came to be here in Australia.
I wasn’t born here, but then again, neither were so many others that call this country home.
There’s lots of controversy around the celebration of this day and it can all get a bit political.
It depends on who you talk to as to their perspective. From my own perspective, I see it as a day to take stock and to think about what it means to be able to live in a country that is free.
I first visited Australia as a 19-year-old.
Like so many other young people’s journeys, it started by travelling overland from London to Athens on a bus – a nightmare of a trip with 2 flat tyres but we were young and resilient! Then a flight via Bangkok and Singapore to Sydney and then on to Canberra where I spent a few months before travelling to Darwin to visit family.
Little did I know that Darwin was going to play a big role in my future.
It took a long time for me to become comfortable living in a country that was so totally different from where I spent my childhood.
I’d grown up in the Middle and the Far East; although I went to the UK for my final years of schooling.
I felt like a fish out of water for many years. Australia was so culturally different from what I was used to.
On reflection, I was lucky to have ended up in Darwin as it’s undoubtedly the most multi-cultural city in Australia. A tropical melting pot where everyone lives side by side and there are no enclaves of particular ethnicities.
I didn’t really identify as any particular nationality and even though my passport said British I was not born in Britain.
The lucky country
Today, I consider myself extremely fortunate to live in a country that offers wonderful opportunities and provides, a predominantly, safe environment for children compared to the places where I grew up.
I am blessed that my entry to Australia was relatively easy. There was no citizenship test and I didn’t need to sit any IELTS exams, apply for sponsorship or come on a boat seeking asylum.
Australia has been good to me. It’s the place that I call home.
Happy Australia Day!