Posted by: dsduffy | August 24, 2012

How Australia has changed me

A fellow American expat and I were having a discussion and she posed this question: How have I changed since coming to Australia? It got me thinking. There are quite a few significant changes that I have seen in myself, and then I wonder: why? 

For one, I have become more outgoing, independent and confident. You really have to come out of your shell (if you are in one) when moving to a place where you know nobody. Unless you are comfortable continuing to know nobody, which doesn’t work well for me. I put myself out there in ways I would have never dreamed of back in America. Yes I moved from NJ to MA and had to make friends there, but it wasn’t the same. Here I was a foreigner. I had to be more confident to even speak to people, now knowing how they would react to me being American, an expat, an immigrant, a temporary fixture in their lives. I sometimes felt like I had to have something to offer for people to make it worth their while to invest time in me building a friendship. I know, that sounds crazy but think about it. If you met someone that seemed nice enough and then you found out that they would most likely be high-tailing it out of here back to the other side of the planet never to be seen again, would you even bother getting close to them? 

Thankfully I have been received well. I have made more than my fair share of good friends – people who take care of my kids if needed, people who I go to for support, opinions, and girl’s nights out. 

I’ve realised that the size of your house, the type of car you drive or how much money you have in your bank account are NOT important. Yes having nice things is something we enjoy, but I don’t need a ridiculously massive house to make me happy. THINGS are not important, yes they are nice, but happiness doesn’t stem from having the best of the best. I have learned to focus on what we do, places we see and the people we spend our time with. 

People aren’t as different as we think they are. Everyone has their story. Everyone feels pain, happiness. Everyone just wants to be loved and feel special. No matter where you live, what language you speak, or what you look like. We all just want to belong. 

I used to think a flight to California from NY or PHL was far. Six hours was my limit. Our honeymoon to Hawaii? I was freaking the hell out over the 9 hour flight. I thought that a trip to Australia or New Zealand was SOOO far away, the 20+ hour flying time made it a pipe dream, a thought in my head that oh maybe one day I’ll get there. You know what? It isn’t that bad. It isn’t that far, and it is worth it. If you spend your life thinking that things are too far, too hard, too this, too that, then you will miss out on some pretty awesome things. If I had said no when Craig posed the question to move to Melbourne back in February 2008, I would never have had the last four years of the most amazing adventure of my life. I have opened my children’s eyes to the world, shown them that they can go anywhere, see the world and enjoy all of it. 

Our adventure in Australia may be ending at some point in the near future, I am not saying much about it because I don’t have any details. I will update you all when I know something for sure. 

I am beyond thankful for this time, for the people who have embraced my family, for the culture that has opened my eyes to so many wonderful things. I am thankful for Melbourne, for being so easy to fall in love with. 



  1. Great post! Have to ask if you omitted that you probably now appreciate your own home country even more? I know I did. Your kids will also have life long memories and a more worldly outlook on life. The travel bug will never leave y’all either! x

  2. When I read a book or watch a movie about women from other countries, I am surprised (not sure why) and reminded that indeed we feel the same emotions, live through drama with family and friends, worry about bringing our kids up “right” – I have only experienced it through a writer’s eyes, but you have experienced with your own – pretty cool Dani!

  3. I have not commented in awhile but I am still reading your blog and I just wanted to say that this was a great post and I have come to many of the same conclusions that you listed. You have the advantage of figuring these things out at a younger age however. I loved your line “If you spend your life thinking that things are too far, too hard, too this, too that, then you will miss out on some pretty awesome things”. I plan to post this where I can see it because I have been in a rut and I need to pull myself out of it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Excellent post, Mrs. Duffy 🙂 You need to keep pumpin’ out good blogs like this one!

  5. great writing…

  6. Hi…as a new resident of Melbourne (just moved over from Texas), I stumbled across your blog. I love this post because I am just moving here and wondering how my next few years will impact me. You are a great writer! Saw that you are moving back to the States, so I wish you well! Leave a little of your “Melbourne magic” here for this new expat girl!

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