The Egdal Family chose Nillumbik to relocate to from Denmark nearly three years ago now, this is their story and some of the challenges they faced with varying differences between countries.
Submitted and written by Mette Egdal.
Two and a half years ago my family and I made one of our life’s biggest decisions which was to move from our lovely home, family, beautiful friends, school and great jobs in Denmark to relocate to the other side of the world, Eltham, Australia.
We decided to make this big move across the world because we wanted to have an adventure with our kids and for them to learn another culture and have a different experience. We were also wanting to have some quality family time before the kids grew up.
The opportunity came along, when my husband was offered a job in Australia where he always wanted to return, after having a life-changing experience living here 25 years ago as a teenage exchange student through a Rotary Program.
Before travelling there were so many things to research and understand and it wasn’t easy researching a place I had never been before, and doing it all from google maps was tricky. The hardest thing about our relocation to Australia was moving our kids away from family and friends they had in Denmark.
When we finally got to Australia after a long flight, it was the first three months that we found very challenging, we were driven out of our comfort zones every single day in every aspect of our normal daily life. It was everything from a new address, driving directions (on which side of the road!) which materials to recycle and what kind of dishwashing soap to use!
I went looking for dishwasher salt, because in Denmark we have a lot of lime in the water, and therefore you fill both the rinse aid and salt in the machine. The lady in the supermarket looked at me very strange when I asked for salt for my dishwasher. After that a realised that salt for the dishwasher doesn’t exist in Australia because of the lack of lime in their water!
One of our goals when we left Denmark was to prioritise seeing and experiencing ‘our’ new country, so we set travel goals on a large map with coloured pins and from the very first school holidays we set off exploring different parts of Australia and have loved spending time as ‘locals’ rather than ‘tourists’. We have visited so many wonderful places including Perth, Shark Bay, Byron Bay, McLaren Vale, Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Grampians, Warrnambool, Apollo Bay, Phillip Island, Wilsons Promontory, Blue Mountains, Sydney, Jervis Bay, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Noosa and Fraser Island. And there are still a few more red dots on our map to cover!
Another thing we wanted to achieve when we left Denmark was the gift of learning a second language for the kids. Although my husband lived here many years ago, we both felt we could improve our English language too. It has been a fantastic experience to watch our two children (then aged 4 and 7 years) quickly pick up their second language. I remember the first time I heard them having a conversation in English it made all the difficult things worth it. They now speak both Danish and English fluently. Sometimes it’s a blessing to have a ‘secret language’ with the kids in public places!
In hindsight, I see that one of the very special things about moving to another country is that we were challenged and therefore forced out of our comfort zones in new and unknown situations. It made me learn alot about myself and my family. My kids had a tough start at school, my youngest did not speak much English so it was difficult for them but I knew they would flourish if they could get past the first hurdles they faced. They made such an amazing transition, I think because they were open-minded and flexible to their new school, sports activities, friends and the new community that made us all feel welcome.
After living in Australia for more than two years learning a different culture, it has given me a new perspective on my home country, Denmark. I am now more aware of cultural and traditional standards in Denmark that previously I had been taking for granted. It has also made me start to question how things could be done in a different way back home.
I love much how the Australian people gather everyone together over a barbecue in the most relaxing way. In Denmark when we gather people together it is all about “dressing up”, having the whole house cleaned, setting the table right with a tablecloth, napkins and a menu. We could learn to be more relaxed and just enjoy the company. We could also focus more on teaching our kids art/music in the early years, as you do here, because it gives them so much joy and kids are natural artists when they still are young. In Denmark kids are only creative after school ends, if they are in after school care, and they don’t study the art in the same way. As a family we can now reflect over both positive things about Denmark and other opportunities.
Last but not least, this life adventure has brought new friends into our lives and this by far is the best gift of our experience. We feel very blessed to have these friends in our lives.
All these beautiful memories have given me and my family a very special bond to Australia and when we go home to Denmark it will be with a feeling of leaving our ‘new home’ country and we will without doubt be returning again and again and again…