Nationality is incredibly important, and in a young multicultural nation they seemed to want to ‘figure you out’- not something I would dream of discussing in general conversation back home. I would often get quizzed on the origin of my dark hair, far from your typical English rose. Mumbling something about my grandmother being Colombian meant I wasn’t just English, but Colombian too- regardless of my 3 English grandparents and my/my parents lives being carried out in the UK. It never occurred to me you couldn’t just be from where you were born and raised. Whilst I embrace lovely latin traditions from my own grandmother, I didn’t feel one could identify with a country I was never raised in to the point of proclaiming it was part of my nationality- but in Australia this is a complete norm. This took me a while to adjust to, but I know now most just want to piece together the jigsaw of their nation, and a part of them retains the immense patriotism of their immigrant elders.
As the years go by, people assume you’re becoming more Australian- your everyday memories of home fade, you become comfortable, you develop routines, friendships. Your opinion as an outsider becomes less credible- you’re one of us now. To an extent this is true, and I’ve adopted some fabulous traditions and hilarious slang. I suppose most people leave their life behind, but what makes me different is that I’m always reaching out towards home. We knew nobody in Australia and with one parent, my whole greater family, friends and familiarity still in the UK, I make the pilgrimage at least once or twice a year. Having one foot in the door back home is fantastic and an absolute must for me to stay in touch with the vibrance and innovation of Europe… but it’s spoiled me to the point of a cultural identity crisis. Who am I? Where do I truly belong? I guess you could say I’m greedy and I want it all. I fiercely follow English life, display inherently British morals and opinions but live an Australian life. I think this is where I differ from most immigrants- I still identify and visit enough to still classify myself as a Londoner, despite the whole decade I’ve racked up in another hemisphere. It’s as though I’ve created a hybrid culture, not quite fitting snuggly into either.