On Becoming Australian

Telegraph Expat has an excellent little article on something we've been considering for a while…

My guilty little secret: applying for Australian citizenship

I recently took on Australian citizenship after four years of permanent residency. It seemed the natural and logical thing to do. It was my way of expressing gratitude for the opportunities presented to me when arriving here – and a commitment to a life Down Under, and my wife’s home.

In those four years I had become uncomfortable with the notion of becoming an Australian citizen. It was not a part of the plan when we came here on our search for a life less ordinary, and I remained unconvinced that it was what I wanted, or needed.

I had always been content to call myself an expat. The term defined my place in the world – a restless and transient soul, happy to base myself in any number of exotic locales, with no need to put down roots, free from commitment to any country, and able to pack up and move on whenever the mood should take me.

 

I had always been content to call myself an expat. The term defined my place in the world – a restless and transient soul, happy to base myself in any number of exotic locales, with no need to put down roots, free from commitment to any country, and able to pack up and move on whenever the mood should take me.

In pondering Australian citizenship, I could almost hear the people of Britain demanding my head amid cries of treason and disloyalty. Family would be unhappy with my decision, friends from home would turn their attention elsewhere, and I would struggle with my confused identity in a land far from familiarity. Doomed to a life of the in-between, no longer able to call myself an expat, but not quite the genuine Aussie, I would be unwilling to relax into my new environment for fear of offending or alienating my English ties. I would be the guilty new citizen living a lie.

More unusually, my appreciation of this new homeland had deepened my admiration for the country of my birth. While embracing my new home, I still nurtured a deep affection for the memories and favourite things that only Britain could give me. It seemed that I could be both a citizen of Australia and an expat of the old world.

Taking on a new nationality had become my guilty little secret. I feared its restrictions and the many things I would have to give up. These worries never materialised and, if anything, my life is now fuller and more rounded. I have two nationalities, not just one. Two allegiances and two chances to vote. Two delightful locations to share with my family, and two places to come home to. And I continue to view myself as a British expat who enjoys a life less ordinary through dual nationality.

To those who argue that the British coming to Australia must surely describe themselves as “migrants” or “new Australians”, rather than expats, to bond with the country and its people, I say “move with the times”.

You can be British. You can be Australian. And, of all things, you will always be an expat of the world.

Comments

comments

One comment on “On Becoming Australian

  1. can certainly see the benefit… just so long as you and the family know which team to support in any sporting confrontation down under!! but i don’t think you’ll forget your roots in a hurry wink

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