Just as I was getting used to the idea of living in Spain, I’ve found myself suddenly yanked back into reality, with another marathon flight (and all the economy class discomfort that comes with it), and a shock from my own culture that’s as severe as when I arrived in Madrid.
I’ve spent three months living in something of a fog, where everyone around me spoke in a language I barely understood, and they spoke it so fast their words blurred into one another. I gained some real insight into what the world must be like for people with severe hearing impairments—after a while, you find yourself living in a world of your own—everything around you is simply noise.
When I arrived at Heathrow, the language switched back to English, but it still didn’t feel quite right. The accents I was hearing reminded me of watching the ABC in the evenings, but that aside, there was no hint of being close to home. It wasn’t until I got to Singapore that news related to Australia began to show up on news reports, and the Australian accents began to cut through the noise. Then, coming into Sydney on a clear Friday morning, the slightly posh British accents of the passengers and crew (it was a BA flight), changed to the harsh nasal squawk of Kath and Kim. I’d always thought the Australian accent was pronounced, but here it stood out as strong as a Texan drawl.
Whoever said Australians were losing their strine hasn’t passed through Sydney airport.
So here I am, back in Australia. I still feel as though I am getting ready to go, but my bank account is all but empty and my bank manager swears it wasn’t him…this time. Unless some of the applications I submitted during the curtain-closing throw up a lifeline in the weeks before Christmas, the prospects for me now getting back to Spain are pretty slim.
Even as I arrived at the airport in Madrid, I was holding out hope that my phone would ring and I’d be receiving an offer for work, and that the journey back here would be only for Christmas whilst I waited for a work permit to come through. Once I stepped onto the plane, however, that illusion came crashing down.
It’s taught me a thing or two though, about how differently things work in Australia. I had an interview in Madrid on the day before I flew out, resulting from an application I’d submitted five weeks prior. In Spain, that’s how long it takes to prepare a short-list of applicants; in Australia, if a company takes that long to arrange an interview, they have a very short, short-list, because at least the best cluster of applicants will have been offered a job elsewhere by that stage, and would probably have started it in many cases. Only in rare circumstances does the process move faster in Spain.
Coming back to Australia meant coming back to earth. My uncle is still dying from a brain tumor, my cousin is about to begin treatment for breast cancer, my dad is in hospital, and my sister’s dog Ky’ra has been put down after fighting arthritis for the last several years. On the bright side, I got to meet my second niece, Bridie Tess, who arrived whilst I was on the other side of the world.
Life marches on.