Thursday, July 31, 2008

Swapping Italian caffe for a cup of Earl Grey tea

When my husband's work asked him to transfer to Europe for an ex-pat assignment, we made up a big list of pros and cons before we made the big decision to come here.

The cons list included things like:

- I would leave my career for 18 months and possibly go insane without a full-time job (this has nearly happened on more than one occasion, chocolate helps)
- We would miss our family and not be able to bring our beloved golden retriever with us
- Both of us would become unrecognisably obese due to the Italian food we would daily gorge ourselves with. Thankfully this hasn't happened, but there is still another 9 months to go before we move back so watch this space.

We also had a big list of pros which obviously outweighed the negatives and hence we are in Florence. One big ticket item on the pro list was that by coming to Europe, I would be able to spend a lot more time with my family that I don't otherwise get to see.

I emigrated to Australia from Poland in 1983 but still have a lot of family throughout Europe especially in Poland, Germany and the UK.

So, when Jason asked me if I wanted to accompany him on a business trip to London last week, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to spend time with my step-sister, my cousin and both their new babies. Due to the distance, expense and everything else that goes with living 24 hours flight time away from each other, I realised that I had only seen my step-sister a handful of times in my life. And I had never met my neice. Here is a picture of me holding my cousin's divine little baby and my sister Natalia and her beautiful daughter. Look at how slim she is even after having a baby not long ago - I'm so hoping that's genetic.

Natalia moved to London with her husband some time ago as she told me that there are just not as many opportunities to get ahead financially in Poland. Coming from Australia where opportunities are on each street corner (provided you are willing to work hard), it was interesting to hear about how life was in Poland just a few years ago when they were still recovering from the effects of Communism.

When Jason and I briefly lived in the UK as part of this ex-pat assignment, I was surprised at just how many Polish people are living and working in London. Not a day went by when I wouldn't hear at least five different Polish conversations whilst I ran my errands. There are also many Polish restaurants and specialty stores all around the UK. Even Sainsbury's (like the Australian Coles/Woolies) has a dedicated Polish food section and there was a Polish section of the bookshop I visited.

I'm looking forward to our next holiday when we get to see more of my family in Poland. They love hearing about life in rugged, outback Australia where thanks to the National Geographic documentaries they are convinced we have kangaroos in our backyard. But for me, nothing is more intriguing than hearing about the country I was once a part of and how it has changed over the years. I'm so happy to have this opportunity of visiting my family more frequently.


Sue said...

Sweet picture! Beautiful babies!

I just love London. I've been visiting there 3 times now, and just can't get enough. I love the hustle and bustle of the city, the fun pubs, traveling on the Tube, etc. Great place to visit...but home is still home.

Boby Freight said...

Earl Grey tea is the bees news and I've give as many caffes as necessary to get the earl tea. I go to Italy often and always make sure I have a bunch of English tea bags packed.
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