An innate sense of belonging



We arrived in Australia beginning of January – just after the Christmas holidays.

Here January means summer holidays, and the school year starts at the end of the month.

The kids and I spend most of the time in exploring neighbourhoods and playgrounds. But unfortunately for a newcomer, the city is a bit empty, and a bitter sense of isolation comes over us.

Kids are naturally sociable. So, for me was important to find ways of nurturing this side of them, even when there were no other kids in the playgrounds.

As new arrivals in town, we love to do the touristy things. Museums, attractions, aquariums and zoos are must-see places – to get my kids entertained and to find social opportunities. Fortunately, Melbourne has an abundance of the above to explore.

There are plenty of activities for kids in this big town, even if it is the least active month of the year. Also, house hunting is challenging in January, but I will talk about this in another post.

As a mum, I focus instinctively on fulfilling my kids’ desires. This is the first time in our life that we have lived by the sea. The kids love to spend time on the beach, and we spend time there, until the chilly wind starts to blow, generally in the afternoon.

Finally, we receive the first communications from the school which is about to start, and my daughter can’t wait to meet her new schoolmates.
She is turning 9 this year, and Australia is move number 3 for her. It is a crucial age from a social point of view: schoolmates and friends are an important part of a child’s life. My daughter wasn’t immune to huge sadness at having to say her goodbyes to her friends when we had to leave.

Her strong sense of belonging manifests in many ways, and this time school uniform represents a new entry. She just loves the idea of wearing a school uniform. A) because its colours are purple and golden, B) it’s a kind of “dressing up” that she is allowed to wear at school every day. C) it fulfils perfectly her sense of belonging to her new unknown class.

With a thrill of excitement, we head to the uniform shop, to try on the summer dress – yes, there is a uniform for each of the two seasons – and a mandatory hat to protect from the nasty UV rays, abundant in this part of the hemisphere.
On this occasion, we learn with great curiosity, about the history of the two colours which represent the school values, together with the lion crest dated 1877 and the notable motto Sapere Aude – dare to be wise.




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New shoes and a scooter to discover a new land



It’s summer when we arrive in Australia. So that means we have plenty of free time before school starts.

Dad is off to work. And me and the kids are off to discover the neighbourhood.

We are equipped with new shoes, scooters and lots of curiosity.

The kids are excited, I struggle a bit with the phone GPS, then I decide it is much better to go the old way: wandering aimlessly. That was the method I used to discover the old silk dyers neighbourhood hidden in tiny alleys alongside the Chao Phraya river canals when I lived in Bangkok.
There is an abundance of Victorian architecture in Melbourne – one or two storey houses built one next to the other, nicely adorned with lace on the front yard canopy.
The Victorian period flourished in Australia from 1840 to 1890, and the state of Victoria saw a gold rush and population boom during the 1880s (see Wikipedia).

These lovely houses have nice front yards decorated with plants and fruit trees. Most of them have a bench or two chairs to sit and enjoy the day. Our eyes are filled by the sight of nice vases, sculptures, a locked bicycle, luggage, lights and signs left from new years eve, kids’ drawings.


We like to observe and list the known and unknown plants we see on the pathway. Lemon trees are very common, together with more local flora bushes where the colorful parrots and white cockatoo love to visit. Some houses also have rows of tomatoes growing: every centimeter is used to enjoy the outside area.

By walking around I get the sense of the area, I feel the spaces, I smell the fragrances that every corner blows – it might be a flower exhaling its scent or food being cooked nearby. And I am part of the ambient.

The kids sometimes lead the way, propelling their scooters with their strong leg pushes, sometimes they are on their knees observing an ant’s path or another exciting discovery.

At the end of the street we have a big surprise: an Italian ice cream shop!
Great joy for the kids and a heartwarming moment: we have found a tiny tasty bit of our culture in this new city, and we are happy!

When we arrive at a playground we are amazed to observe the majestic height of the eucalyptus trees, that here are called gum trees. Some varieties release red gum if the bark is broken. There are 700 varieties of eucalyptus in Australia, and its oil finds many uses like in fuels, fragrances, insect repellant etc.

Every day is filled with colours, smells, discoveries, sounds and new learnings.
We make our way home carrying virtual luggage: sensory experiences that will inevitably shape my children’s perception of this amazing world we live in.

I feel happily tired at the end of the day, curious about what tomorrow will look like.



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