On the eve of Australia Day (or Straya day as we refer to it back home) I find myself in a much different setting than one three years ago. Three years ago I decided to make the big jump in my life and move to Belgrade after a good 16 year absence. It’s obvious where I was before, Australia. Three years ago on this day I was making my way home from work and preparing for the long weekend and the upcoming Australia Day celebrations which usually entailed a lot of beer, prawns on the barbie (not shrimp), sun baking in the hot and humid weather in beautiful Brisbane and listening to the top 100 count down of “Top Aussie Songs”. For the purpose of this article and my nostalgic feelings i will be referring to Australia as Straya. Straya Day was a day in which we could relax and really take in the beauty of Straya, appreciate all the is Strayin like, vegemite, pavlova (yeap, definitely not yours Kiwi’s) and Lamingtons (also not your Kiwi’s).
So what brought me here, to Belgrade? Well the real question should be what made me leave in the first place! As all stories, start at the beginning so does this one. I was almost ten years old when my family left Serbia in 1994 during the heat of the war. We left Belgrade on a snowy and rather cold winters’ day, much like today, in the beginning of January and set off for the “unknown” others wise known as a “better place”, and while we are being honest, anywhere was better than here at that point.
We arrived in New Zealand’s windiest city by far, Wellington on the 16th of January 1995. My family and I became New Zealanders over night and embraced the “Kiwi way of life”. Then, in early 2000 my Karate escapades (a tournament) took us to Brisbane (our motto in Brisbane is – sunny one day, perfect the next) and shortly after falling in love realised that we had had enough of the wind and let’s be honest, who could ever resist Brisbane’s charm and laid back attitude? From the day that we left Serbia, I was infected by the travelling bug; apparently there is no cure…
I completed my schooling in Brisbane’s south and whilst completing university slowly decided what it was that i wanted to be when I “grew up”. I met “human resources” sometime in 2006 and fell in LOVE. I worked for Hayes in Brisbane for sometime when the nasty travel bug reappeared in my life and forced me to do the unthinkable. Yeap, I sat at home and sent off my résumé to companies in Belgrade, I expected nothing, not even a response. Much to my surprise a few days later my inbox was near enough full with replies.. Some were genuine others were nothing less than a joke “haha, you are from Straya and want to return to Serbia… Yeah right!”
Next came the joy of telling my fiancé, family, friends and boss that I was in fact moving to Serbia to work as a senior HR consultant for one of the BIG4. Most people thought I was mad and had completely lost the plot…apart from my fiancé and family (they didn’t have a choice!) which brings us back to the start…. Belgrade.
On the eve of Straya Day I’m sitting in my apartment, drinking a warm chamomile tea (trying to get rid of this horrible fever) watching the snowflakes slowly gathering on my window sill and the road below, do I miss Straya, absolutely, but no where near as much as I love Belgrade and all that’s wonderful and crazy about it.
I hope you all have a fabulous Straya Day weekend. Until next time…
Hooroo! (or goodbye in the fair dinkum’ language of Strayan.)