Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Secret Rules in Oz

So, we live in Australia. Which the 7 people who read this blog already know. Anyway, I realized something the other day. We've been here nearly three years, as you also know--and a couple weeks ago were granted our Permanent Residency Visa.** (Never take your citizenship for granted, by the way! Cause it sure is a pain to gain legitimacy in a country you weren't born in!)

Having our PR means that we can now access Medicare (the public health care system), eventually receive benefit payments from Centrelink, and if we have another baby, receive the $6000 baby bonus. (Woo hoo!) Gotta love the nanny state! Okay, so that's just background, it isn't what I realized the other day. (By the way, when I spell "realize", I have to make a conscious choice to spell it with a 'z' and not 's'. Dear God, what's happening to me?)

In the next week or so, we'll go to the equivalent of the DMV here and get our New South Wales driver's licenses. You can drive on your home country's license till you get your PR. It occurred to me the other day that for the last three years, I have had a continual low level of anxiety whenever I drive. Not because I'm driving on the "wrong" side--I got used to that a long time ago. It's because if something were to go wrong--a fender bender or speeding ticket or whatever, I'd have to show the police my Texas driver's license. I have this weird thing about being "caught"--that someone will say, "Wait a minute, you're not supposed to be here!" It's like I'm back in middle school and don't have the right jeans on. The funny thing is, I'm not actually breaking a law or anything by driving with my TX license. But I still worry that I'll be, like, found out or something!

I guess I also get tired of explaining, no, we don't have a Medicare card so we'll need to pay cash at the doctor's office, or yes, Ava has been immunised*, but she doesn't have the "blue book" that all Aussie kids have. Or no, I have no idea how to properly spread Vegemite on toast!

Isn't that dorky? It goes back to my whole "secret rule" thing in kindergarten! Even as an almost-5 year old, I worried about breaking some rule that I didn't even know was a rule. At 31, I still worry about getting caught--when I didn't even do anything! :) Craziness.

Anyway, just some random musings from the bottom of the earth. I think walking around upside down all the time has done some funny things to my brain.

*Spelled with an"s". Good Lord!

**I feel the need to also add that having our PR doesn't mean we'll be here permanently, it just makes life here easier. So, don't freak out or anything, ok?


wayne1725 said...

Amy, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I laughed at your general apprehension of breaking the rules. I realised that I share that fear.And I'm standing right side up ! Keep up the good work with your writing. We enjoy learning about your experiences as a "stranger in a strange land".love and "good on ya'". Mom

Becky said...

I totally get what you mean. It is just a constant low-level hassle when your papers are not in order. So now will Ava get a little blue book? And how can I get a $6000 baby bonus!!!

Amy said...

Well, it's complicated.

A. Move to Australia
B. Apply for Permanent Residency
C. Get pregnant.

Since all those things would cost more than $6K, it may not be worth it for you.

A. Petition Congress to introduce Socialised medicine.
B. Pay heaps more taxes so that things like baby bonuses are possible.
C. Get pregnant.

Hmmm...don't like those odds either! :)

Veronica said...

Amy, I think I live in constant low-level apprehension about breaking secret rules. I'm so relieved to hear I'm not the only one!

On another note, one of Patrick's sisters, who still lives back in Ireland, was complaining to me once about how the child benefit check she gets from the government every month doesn't QUITE cover the costs of day care for her kids (but, presumably, it comes close). It's amazing to hear these stories of what other governments will help you out with!