Kangaroos, Flat Whites And KFC

April 26, 2017

My dear friend and former Fast Horse experiential expert extraordinaire, Katie Quade, moved in January. She and her husband picked up their lives in Minneapolis and moved across the world to Australia. I know — how amazing. I can just imagine the stories they’re going to have to share with their kids someday about their crazy adventures — exploring that part of the world, meeting new people, hiking around the countryside, hitting up the beach, skydiving… the list goes on.

I can also image how nerve-wracking and challenging a move like that must be. You’re going to a new country: You don’t know a soul, you have to sell your house, quit your job that you love and say goodbye to friends and family. For a natural planner, that’s a lot of change to embrace. They were faced with an opportunity of a lifetime, and they knew it, but with that came so many mixed emotions.

They took the plunge and have been there for nearly four months now. We finally had our first FaceTime date this week. I had question after question for her about their new life abroad. I was so intrigued and interested to know about the transition, their new routine, what work is like there, how people live and if it’s different from here, what they do on the weekends, where they live, if they have met new friends. I wanted to know everything. I love that they went for it, figured out how make the move and are now navigating their crazy new normal. It’s really inspiring!

I learned so much, and our conversation was a good reminder that as hard as it is, taking risks and embracing things that aren’t necessarily according to plan is such a good thing. It’s how we grow, learn and discover more about ourselves. I think that’s something that can translate for anyone, whether you’re moving across the world or to the neighboring state, taking on a new career challenge or embarking on a new hobby. It’s okay to give things a try, be vulnerable and let life happen, even though that can sometimes be really, really hard.

Contemplating a move to Australia? Or just curious to know what it’s like to live there? Read on for the highlights from our conversation!  

What similarities are you surprised by?

Culturally, Australia isn’t all that different. Everyone speaks English — and they have many of the same activities, jobs, brands and events here. They even have KFC and so much advertising for KFC. I’m still super confused about that.

What differences are you surprised by?

It could just be the area we’re living in — Sydney, which has a population of a little over five million — but everywhere you look there are people from all over the world. People from Holland and London and China and Japan and Hawaii. At my job, I worked with three people from England, one French-Canadian, one British-Australian and two Australians. That’s much different than Minneapolis!

Online shopping has only become bigger in Australia in the past few years, so their online-ordering services are actually quite limited. For instance, they don’t have Amazon here yet — can you even imagine? When I first started working and had to order a few things online I had to ask where they got things. Typically, they order from eBay or Gumtree (their Craigslist) or the Big W (Walmart). Thankfully, Amazon will be launching here soon!

Is the pace of life different than in the U.S.?

Everyone gets the idea that the pace of life in Australia is very slow. According to some online articles, the “standard” workweek in Australia is 38 hours. Now, I really think that it’s going to just depend on your area of expertise. If you’re an event planner and have an event coming up, you’re going to work more hours. However, generally it does feel a bit slower/more lax here. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is a lot of people’s lack of urgency. There just isn’t any urgency most of the time, which is a huge shift.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done so far?

I can’t pinpoint one cool thing, because in a new country everything you do feels cool. But here are a couple things I can think of:

  • I’ll never get over riding a boat to work.
  • Traveling to the Hunter Valley (wine country) was not lame.
  • Seeing kangaroos. When you go outside of the city a bit, they’re everywhere – and it’s amazing!
  • There are so many amazing places to hike around here and so much to see. I feel like I’ll never see it all!
  • Showing our friends where we live, and our new life — and exploring the city with them.

 What are you looking forward to doing while you’re living abroad?

I’m definitely looking forward to traveling as much as we can, and skydiving! When we do our New Zealand road trip in a little camper, I’m going to skydive.

 How do you go about meeting new people?

It’s so much harder than I thought! Through work and activities and networking with anyone who knows anyone who has a cousin in Sydney. There’s also lots of online expat groups — I just joined one — so hopefully that helps!

expat: a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship

How do you stay in touch with family and friends back home?

All the FaceTime. And texting/social media. I try my best to keep in touch with my family lots, and my friends as much as I can. It makes you feel like you don’t live on an island 9,000 miles away.

What do you miss most about home?

Hands down, the people. And I’m not joking, my job! I loved Fast Horse and all the peeps there, and definitely miss what I was doing every day.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you come home to visit?

Drive to Duluth as fast as I can to see my niece and nephews. Not really, because we have a wedding when we come home in August, but I’m going to do that as soon as I can! Also, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I already have my hair appointment booked for the day after we get back with my stylist …

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten so far?

They have tons of fresh fish (hello ,Pacific Ocean), and it’s all really good, and so fresh. Their food in general is pretty amaze-balls.

Is there something you had in the States that you don’t have there?

Weird things you don’t realize until you need them. Like Tylenol PM isn’t here — or Tylenol in general. My facewash.

It’s crazy, your whole life you are surrounded by so many brands, and in turn become brand-loyal. Most of us buy brands people have recommended, or that our moms bought growing up – so getting used to all new brands, and what to trust/what not to trust is different.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you so far?

There’s been so many parts of relocating that I couldn’t predict and/or didn’t expect. Applying to live in an apartment was so complicated! I felt like I had to give them all of the documents from my entire life, including our education, financial, housing and employment histories. We also had to compete against so many people just to get our place. Definitely more complicated than in the U.S.

What’s been the biggest adjustment?

It’s just us here. No family, slowly appearing friends and no chores. We went from having happy hours every night of the week, a schedule full of weekend plans and owning a home to living in a foreign country, not knowing anyone and living in an apartment that takes 30 minutes to clean. It’s not a bad adjustment, don’t get me wrong — it’s just much different, but leaves so much time for adventuring, which I love!

Also, my commute. I was used to commuting a total of maybe 30 minutes per day, and now a typical daily commute is two-plus hours total. Albeit, some of that time is on a ferry — but it’s still an adjustment.

Also, the cost of living. Sydney is so expensive, and it’s not easy to get used to!

When did you feel like you weren’t on vacation anymore and realized that you actually live there?

Wait, I’m not on vacation?

But really, when this is my daily running view, I’m not sure it’ll ever feel like real life.

What’s your favorite thing in Australia that’s not in the US?

Well it’s in the U.S, but the COFFEE. The coffee is so much better here. Flat Whites, yum. (Mike Keliher, I know you agree).