In the past ten days I finally made the second overseas move of my life. This time from Melbourne to Leipzig.
It was a different period in my life from the last move as I was no longer a single man with a suitcase and a guitar. I had a wife, an ageing cat and an entire house of stuff to deal with.
But first, Melbourne.
Melbourne has been a great home to me for the past 7 1/2 years. I have met many people who were involved with many things, and I consider it my second home after wherever I happen to be living. I will likely return at some point in the future. Some of the things that at first attracted me to Melbourne have changed, or my attitudes to them have changed. I would like to thank all the various groups who looked after me over the years from the music scene to tech crowds, to the activist and sustainability crowds, to the bike fun crew and the role-play and board game groups. And of course all the many friends I have made and met over the years, many of whom I intended to stay in touch with.
I feel like I have been in Melbourne (and Australia) at one of the best periods in it’s recent history (Late 2006 to early 2014). A time of creativity, positive disruption, new thinking and change. All new things finally become the mainstream and/or fade away and I feel like it was a good time to move on to new pastures and adventures, at least for a little while. ’Cos Melbourne, I do luv ya.
I could write post after post about my thoughts on Melbourne/Australia and advice for the future, but who’s got the time and I think it could all be summarised in one succinct and blunt statement.
Melbourne/Australia, take your head out of your arse a bit more and everything will be just fine.
The moving itself was fairly painless all things considered but took a very long time and we have learned many, many things that surprised us along the way. I intend to start pouring a lot of these learnings into a new blog, “The Lean Traveller” as I feel that people would benefit from a lot of the work we put into the process and I want to continue living my new stripped back lifestyle to make moving around in the future far easier.
We had quite a strange final few days in Melbourne as the house slowly emptied of items and utilities were disconnected. As we had both lived in the property for many years it was peculiar to watch this happen and it certainly confused our cat who was constantly finding spaces he could never access before. In some ways the house was a little bit of a representation of our lives in Melbourne. Affordable, full of happy memories, but in need of some love and time to move on.
Our flights were fine, long and arduous as always, but painless really. Many of our worries were unfounded, our long stopover in Frankfurt was fun and we had no problems whatsoever with immigration (in fact they didn’t seem to care about us in the slightest). However, our problems started when we left Frankfurt for Leipzig, especially with regards to our cat, who was on different flights and we were supposed to collect in Frankfurt to take on board our final flight.
Despite having spoken to many people prior about the whole process in Australia and in Germany it seemed that all the advice we had been given was wrong. Not only incorrect, but contradictory and in some cases, not even possible. Bear in mind we had also paid quite a lot of money at this point to.
We ended up having to leave our cat in Frankfurt for an extra night and making a rush mission to bring him home the next day by train. Suffice it to say, complaint letters are being fervently prepared.
My Wife also managed to lose her phone in Frankfurt, well, we think on the plane there. You would like to think that if you do something like this that the airlines you pay a tonne of money to would make it easy to resolve your problem. Hell no. Lost property involves a phone line that rarely gets answered, several web site pages that contradict themselves and don’t get you anywhere and taking to forums to find a hidden email address that still leads you in circles. After nearly a week we still have absolutely no idea if her phone is even being looked for!
Since arriving we had to face yet further bureaucratic delights from dealing with things not completely right with our apartment (and getting used to living in an Apartment block generally), the postal service and many other things. On reflection none of these experiences (major and minor) are any better or worse than what they would have been in Melbourne. They are mostly due to small cultural differences and our massive language barrier, being a tourist and living in a foreign country are two very different things. No language class or phrase book prepares you for the kinds of conversations you are going to need to have and this dents your confidence and impetuous to resolve problems.
Now, enough of the negative, what of the positive aspects of our experience so far in Leipzig? Well we have a great apartment, recently renovated, clean and plenty of storage. it’s also about 5 minutes walk from the city centre and the public transport hub, this also means it’s noisy, but we’re getting used to it.
Whilst I now realise that many of the things I liked to get involved with in in Melbourne will be harder due to language barriers. And that’s fair enough, I shouldn’t expect others to have to speak in English, just because of me. Leipzig seems like a buzzing town for events and there has been plenty to keep me entertained. Even after a week I’ve found music, history, activist, theatre and social events a plenty and look forward to exploring more. Considering that the population here is a sixth of Melbourne, people are very gregarious to support so many events.
I am feeling relaxed and excited and it’s all positive from here on… Hopefully!