Australia is a huge, vast country. Victoria, the smallest state, is easily as large as the UK. Melbourne is a geographically large city. After the recent rezoning of some of the outer suburbs, Melbourne is about the same diameter as the distance from the central business district (always called the CBD) to Bendigo: 150kms. However, in those 8,806,092 square kilometres, not that many people live…by crowded English standards.
People here are really, genuinely friendly. It’s actually pretty easy to make friends, particularly if you get the same train into the city each day. Soon that random person you see every day is asking you for help with the quiz in the newspaper; the next thing you know – true story – your new friend has got you a new job. That’s great, obviously, for a newcomer.
There is, of course, a flip side: there are never a full seven degrees of separation. Usually, anyone you meet is only two or three degrees of separation from someone else you know. If you work in a small industry – and in Melbourne most industries are fairly small – your reputation may well precede you, hopefully for the good, or you might find that there isn’t the breadth of opportunity you are used to.
My son recently moved to a new kindergarten. Last week he brought home a birthday party invitation for a boy in his class’s fifth birthday. When I called to accept, I recognised the voice of the mummy as someone I used to work with (she went on maternity leave to have her second child at the end of last year).
It often feels as though I’ve moved halfway across the world and ended up right back where I started: on the Isle of Wight. Better weather here, though.