Joy, a Welsh girl now working in anzuk’s London Bridge office, shares her experience of Christmas in Australia.
How did you spend your first Christmas in Australia? Who with?
I spent my first Xmas on St Kilda beach, Melbourne, with my Aussie partner and his family which was a big change for me from how I usually spent the festive period. I’ve always had a Winter Xmas so spending it in swimwear in 30 degree heat was certainly a first. After working on the tan (weird, on Xmas day) we then went back to our home and had a big celebration with family and friends.
What did you miss most about Christmas in the UK?
I missed the Winter weather (I didn’t think I would ever admit to missing the cold) but when it’s Christmas you resemble it to snow, sitting by an open wood fire, making snowmen and sledging down the biggest hill you could find.
Instead I found myself signing along to ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby in an air-conditioned shopping mall. My first Aussie Christmas was also my first Christmas spent without my immediate family, this was hard as it’s always been a family orientated time of year for me and to not wake up to my baby sister nagging me to open all the pressie’s asap was strange and something I really did miss.
What was your favourite part about Christmas in Australia?
To be contradicting, the sun was actually really nice.
Were there any traditions from home that you brought to Australia with you?
My mum posted over my stocking which I have had throughout my childhood but the most important part of the package was British chocolate (Aussies just don’t have the same dairy milk) and an advent calendar.
What traditions did you take back to the UK with you from Australia?
Nothing that I recall apart from my Aussie boyfriend one year which was the first time he had ever experienced the snow. It was really nice to experience that with him as it was literally ‘like a kid at Christmas’ he found it fascinating and wanted to play in it all day.
What advice would you give other overseas teachers who are spending their first Christmas in Australia?
You’re lucky because you essentially have two Christmas Days because of the time difference so lap it up and start your UK celebrations early on the Aussie Xmas Eve by calling and joining in with the Christmas Day festivities back in the UK. Skype in your parents, your dog, friends, grandparents, everyone you would normally see and you will see how special it still is. After the tears (happy ones, of course) you will get really excited to continue celebrating, speaking with them first really helped me feel like I was still in a home from home and that my family were missing me just the same. But embrace the difference of culture, the Aussie’s do celebrate it well and you certainly won’t be far away from making a friend or two with a bunch of people sporting Santa hats with their bikinis on the beach.