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Danielle Duffy, Melbourne

Hello, I am Danielle Duffy, an American citizen currently living in Melbourne Australia with my family. We moved across in September 2008 for my husband’s job and have been so happy living here for the past three and a half years. There were of course many challenges that we faced during the move, especially since our sons were 18 months and 3 years old at the time. I always think back to “the big day” and what a sight we must have been at the airport: 8 massive suitcases, a stroller, 2 little boys and 2 car seats. It was quite a feat for us to manage everything! We also didn’t pack a lot of the things that I wish we brought along and had to go buy duplicates, as 90% of our belongings are in storage in the States. I think we went to IKEA everyday for the first two weeks to purchase items that we forgot!

We were lucky enough to find our suburb at the recommendation of my husband’s co-worker, we are really happy living a quick tram ride away from the city and across the street from the beach.There are some other expats in our area, but many more about twenty minutes away.

It’s always fun to go to parks there and listen out for familiar accents. We have made many “local” friends, mostly through my husband’s job and of course through the kids. The school community has been a great way to meet others and to get involved in the community. But most of my closest friends are other “transplants” as I call them, people who have moved here from other countries but are here for good.

Living where we are is so easy, very family friendly and laid back. We can easily walk to the school, cafes and shops as well as the tram on the corner.

The only drawback about living as an expat is missing our family and friends back home. Besides that there are only a few food items I long for, but other than that, living in Australia is fantastic.

The biggest cultural difference I would say is that Aussies are so laid-back. They take the “no worries” phrase literally. It took a few months for me to get used to waiting for a takeaway coffee for longer than a minute or two. Unlike back in the States, customers are happy to wait as long as it takes for their order to be ready, not giving attitude or expecting it to be quicker. Also, I always say that Aussies have a great work-life balance. You will always find families having picnics at the parks, throwing a footy around, and having a good time.

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Shopping is a bit different. For one thing, the hours are not the same. The shopping malls close at 5pm at the weekends and only stay open until 9pm on Thursday and Friday. During the week most other shops close at 5pm, except for grocery stores and some chemists (pharmacies.) The prices are much higher for clothing, but the quality of food is much better. You won’t find any high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in ANY products, and the meats and produce just seem fresher and nicer all around. There is a big difference in internet shopping, most people don’t do it. The websites are not easy to use and sometimes it just seems easier to go directly to the shop.

Melbourne is known for its amazing restaurants. There are so many international cuisines and critically acclaimed establishments to please any palate. From Thai, Japanese, Greek, Italian and so on, the variety is astounding.

As for our future, we are just happy to be where we are – right here and now. I constantly get asked what our future holds and my most common answer is “I don’t know.” And I don’t, but I do know that we are very happy and will just enjoy the time we have here down under.

Danielle shares more about life in Australia through her blog From America to Australia

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