Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas (Islamabad) anymore

Tuesday, February 13, 2018



My first night in Aussie land was long, dark and lonesome. I missed the warmth of home. The recurring pangs of homesickness kept me awake that entire cold night. I woke up every half an hour, in a state of utter fright, looking around trying to make sense of everything. This went on for hours as I ached to go back home and regretted to have come here, I mean ‘hea’.

Moving to a new place and starting school can be a daunting and fearsome experience, especially when you haven’t been a student in years and also when the country you travel to is 16-hours long flight from your home. Anyways, the morning sun, the bright killing Aussie morning sun, brought rays of hope and light. I woke up at the unacquainted sound of the train running through the tracks just outside my window. Still jetlagged, eager to explore and curious to see the country that I just moved to, I started my incredible journey of exploration, new friendships, knowledge, adventures, lessons, and freedom.

The first day I stepped out to explore, I was like an exuberant kid in a candy shop, who had just learned to walk (and of course the kind who enjoys being unsupervised). I walked around on Glenferrie road; which happens to be just outside my campus. ‘So many white people’, I said to myself in my head, ‘have I stepped into my TV set while watching HBO?’ One moment the sun shined brightly, the other moment, the clouds would start outpouring, followed by a gush of wind that lasted a few seconds, and then calmness, stillness, like there was nothing. I was enthralled to actually see and experience myself the notoriously unpredictable weather of Melbourne.

So this extraordinary country is that part of the world where June and July are freezingly cold, while December and January are burning hot, where swans are black, where kangaroos and koalas live, the north is warm and the south is cold, and the ozone layer has a hole so the scorching mighty sun can really bite you in the skin. In short, this country is a place of absolute wonderment and absurdity. Only when you think it might cease to amaze you, there it rolls the dice again and outplays you by revealing its truly magical uniqueness. So, whatever I learned my whole life, I need to unlearn and relearn the Aussie way! June for me should not be about air conditioning or frequently taking cold showers anymore. Instead, maybe ugg boots and smoking hot coffee. Phew! This will be tougher than I thought! 

Everything about Australia fascinated me, still goes on to fascinate me, and will go on to fascinate me a long way. I am fascinated by the duration of the sunlight – the sun is not willing to exit the Aussie sky anytime before quarter to nine in the evening. I am fascinated by the equality in this society, where everyone is treated equally regardless of what they do. I am also fascinated by the freedom everyone enjoys by being themselves and worrying less about how others might judge them for the way they are.

It has been a little over a month and I have already met people of at least 30 different nationalities. The Australians embrace diversity, which is why Melbourne is so richly diverse in culture. Only while strolling down the street just outside my campus, I walk along people from almost all the countries under the sun. It is interesting to see how I can hear multiple languages (even my own), smell food from different parts of the world, and see faces that narrate stories of their own distinct cultures, ethnicities and races on one single road in this vastly spread-out city. 

This country is beguiling and so are its inhabitants, who are always willing to help if you ever lost your way in this big, most liveable city in the world. It is not my home…it never will be…it doesn’t have to be. My home is miles away, but it’s okay! This place doesn’t feel cold anymore, as I begin to bask in this new kind of warmth. I have started to recognize people and places. I have started to discover a new life for myself in this beautiful country. I am looking forward to forming lifelong friendships while exploring this wonderful part of the amazing world. Here I throw myself into this crazy sunshine and let the warm, sunburning adventure begin!

Until next time, 'mates' !!!

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36 comments

  1. Moving is always hard! I moved across the country 3 years ago and it took a while to get settelled, but stick it through!

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    1. Yeah it is hard but I guess I am doing OK :) thank you !!!

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  2. Wow! I can't imagine moving that far away from home. I'm a wimp and I'll probably never do it, but I commend you for your courage!

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    1. Awww thank you.. yes, it needs a lot of courage :) Don't know where I got all this courage from but it feels good !!!

      P.s And I am sure you aren't a wimp.. people can be courageous in different situations !

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  3. Moving is always exciting...and terrifying! I have moved every two year religiously for the past 14 years (sometimes a block away, sometimes 657 miles away) and it never gets easier! I can't image moving that far away, although hopefully it will come soon! Good luck in school! I hear Australia is an awesome place to live

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  4. I really can't imagine how it feels like to be away at home. But I know how hard it is. I love how strong are you away from home.

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    1. Thank you, Drake :) It takes quite a lot of courage but the plus side is the experience you gain by being on your own :)

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  5. It's awfully hard to move such a long way from home and start a new school too, but it looks like you are doing a great job at taking it all in and really starting to enjoy your time there.

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    1. Oh yeah I am trying my best to stay strong !!! Thanks :)

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  6. Best of luck to you in Australia! It is wonderful to hear that the people there are so helpful to you as moving to a different country can be imitidating. I love Australia, I've only been to Sydney so far but hope to return and see so much more.

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    1. Good to hear about your experience in this incredible country :) Yes, the people are amazing and that makes it easier to settle in! Thank you :)

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  7. Good on you for taking the plunge and moving to unknown territory - it's a very brave thing to do! I hope you settle in soon, and the feelings of homesickness subside, but I know it will take time. Wishing you lots of luck x

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    1. Yeah I know too but I guess the way things are keeping me busy here, it is actually helping.. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this :)

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  8. Wow, such simple and elegant writing style :) Wish you more sunny Aussie summers as you bank in the warmth :)

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    1. Awww thank you.. that's a beautiful wish. I hope you come over to share some of that sunshine hehe

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  9. It reminds me the days I moved to Oxford. It is awefully hard. But it is also rewarding in so many ways. I am glad you have started enjoying this new phase. All the best!

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    1. I think it is more or less the same for everyone, especially the initial shocks and challenges, and also the excitement and wonderment :) I remember your Facebook posts from your initial days at Oxford :D You looked happy but also longed for home haha.. Anyways, thank you for reading <3

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    2. It's always a delight reading you. Keep up posting. <3

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    3. You’re kind :) I’ll keep posting xx thank you !!!!

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  10. I have never moved more than an hour away from home. I wouldn't really know what to do with myself. I am kind of jealous of your new adventure.

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    1. Hahahaha are you? Well, try doing it yourself, you might be surprised of the strength you suppose. Thank you for your presence on my blog :)

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  11. Thank you for sharing this! I will be living in Australia for several months soon and this is really helpful. I have heard its cities are incredibly diverse and am looking forward to learning the "Aussie-isms" abroad.

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    1. Oh that's amazing.. Let me know if you need any help or guidance with anything. The cities are very diverse so you'll never feel like a fish out of water. There are so many people coming from different parts of the world here, it is actually amazing! Thank you for your comment and all the best :)

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  12. How fun! Good for you in taking a risk to a new country. As a younger person, I moved around the US several times and to Paris, France. It was incredible! I wouldn't change any of it.

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    1. Yeah moving around on your own could be fearsome but at the same also very exciting and fun :) Thank you for reading my post!!!

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  13. I love this! I am getting ready to move from Kansas to Florida! Leaving my very large family here and I am excited, but still apprehensive. I totally get how you were feeling!

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    1. Aww good luck to you with the move. I know it seems hard at this time but eventually things get okay :) thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

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  14. Enjoy your sunny adventure, it sounds like you are in the right place for yourself ;)

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  15. I can't wait to hear how Australia treats you. Safe travels and I wish you the best.

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  16. Moving cna always be difficult as it takes time to adjust to the changes. I hope you do get to be able to take advantage of new adventures.

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  17. Hi Amna,
    I found your blog! And I remembered your name! �� Your a great writer. I loved hearing how you felt moving to AUS. Definitely a brave thing to do. It was also great talking to all different nationalities last night. I find it very exciting. :)
    I hope you continue to settle in well. Mitchell

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    1. Thank you, Mitchell :) I'm happy to see you on my blog !!! Yes, interacting with people from different countries is surely exciting and it's one reason why I chose to study in Melbourne. Very soon I will write something solely about this aspect of my experience in Australia so far.

      P.s Hoping to see you around !! I didn't participate in any residents' activities today.. taking a break from socializing :D Hopefully will see you tomorrow.

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Amna's Goodreads Bookshelf

To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Frankenstein
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Les Misérables
Eat, Pray, Love
The Poisonwood Bible
The Joy Luck Club
Middlesex
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Lolita
Under the Tuscan Sun


Amna Tariq Shah's favorite books »