I now call Australia home
This ANZAC Day, I’ve got much to reflect on -– for the first time I’ll be observing it as an official Australian.
I’ve lived here for much of the last decade, but a few weeks ago I formally took the oath to make Australia my adopted country.
It may seem an unusual decision for an American.
It was one that was difficult for my father -- an immigrant himself to the United States -- to understand.
Here I was, seemingly ungrateful of his work, going to live half a world away as –- gasp –- an immigrant. Unthinkable.
But I’ve got one simple answer. Australia –- and more specifically Sydney -– is as good as it gets.
More than a decade ago, I touched down on these rugged shores as a bright-eyed backpacker. I was a few months out of university, with no real plans other than to pick some fruit and sit on a beach.
Naturally, I was immediately seduced by Sydney’s natural beauty: the beaches, climate and easy-going urban lifestyle.
But as time went on, I began to seriously consider its other more subtle qualities that ultimately pushed me to want to call it –- and Australia -- home.
For starters, I feel safe here. In general, I can walk down the street in most neighborhoods at any time of day and not worry about someone pulling a gun on me. I know this may not be a lot to ask, but coming from Miami –- not the safest of American cities -– this is a big deal.
No matter how many people are murdered, nothing is going to change America’s love affair with guns. Ever.
Thankfully, Australia is different. Sure, politicians are photographed in “budgie-smugglers” (Speedos, as the Yanks more commonly call them). But when it comes to gun reform, the grey suits took “real action” after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
Semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns were banned. I’m not saying bad things don’t happen here, but the country is much better off when it comes to gun control.
It doesn’t stop there. I’ve got no problem paying taxes for a safety net for the poor, public healthcare and paid parental leave schemes. To me, it seems an obvious thing to do in any civilized society.
And it’s multicultural. Once largely white-bred, now about 34 percent of Sydneysiders were born overseas.
There’s nothing really for an American to fear with so many Chinese and Lebanese kicking about. It’s easy to feel at home.
Sure, living on this side of the world -- in one of the most expensive cities -- has its drawbacks. I’ll probably be dead before I can pay back the mortgage on living quarters that are comparable to the size of American walk-in closets.
I can spend a good sum of my weekly wages purchasing a coffee -- and still struggle to get the pretentious owner to remember my name.
But ultimately, this is easy to overlook.
As this ANZAC Day, I’ll take my son for a stroll to the park -- and a quick dip in the ocean.