Exploring Australia: My Life Down Under

Lam Ka Man (’99) 

Melbourne Holds a Special Place in My Heart

During my visit to Australia in 2012, I could not help but notice the exceptional size and quality of the country's fruits and flowers.  It left a lasting impression on me, leading me to conclude that it is a place blessed with abundant resources and self-sustainability.  The experience sparked a desire to call Melbourne my home.

Another primary reason is the presence of close friends who have already resided here.  Additionally, my then 3-year-old daughter quickly formed a friendship with our friends' 5-year-old daughter when we travelled to Melbourne again in 2019, leaving me with a sense of joy and anticipation.  The prospect of having a family with whom my loved ones can feel at ease adds an extra layer of comfort and happiness towards my decision.

Friendly Work-life Culture

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to relocate my work to Australia in April this year.  My new colleagues here are incredibly friendly.  When I first came to the office, whether it was at work or during lunch breaks, they would approach me and get to know me better.  During lunch hour, there were colleagues joining me at my table in the pantry (of course they would ask first), initiating chats. This gesture has made me feel welcomed.  However, engaging in conversations about local topics, such as sports teams, geographics or politics, can still be a learning curve.  Additionally, acclimating to the distinctive Aussie accent remains an ongoing process.  Yet I would continue immersing myself in the culture and further embracing all that Melbourne has to offer.

The Australian work culture places a strong emphasis on achieving a healthy work-life balance.  Employers acknowledge and accommodate parental responsibilities, with regard to absence of domestic helpers.  This flexibility allows parents to engage in school activities and routines, such as picking up their children and continuing work remotely if needed.  I have experienced first-hand the consideration of my colleagues when I stayed at the office at 4:30 pm during the school pick up hour, prompting them to inquire why I was still there.  This aspect of the work culture does foster a sense of support to me.

Huge pine fruit that I found, larger than my both hands combined
Chickens at my elder daughter's school

The Art of Adjustment

One of the most significant adjustments I faced in Melbourne was the cold weather.  In Hong Kong, temperatures rarely dipped below 10°C.  It is not unusual when it drops below 5°C here, and 15°C can be considered as warm.  Melbourne's reputation for unpredictable weather became evident as I experienced the phenomenon of "four seasons in one day".  Planning my attire became essential, as I had to be mindful of the changing weather conditions throughout the day.  Layering clothing and hoodies became my trusted companions, ensuring I was prepared for any sudden weather shifts for my family.

Another challenge I encountered was getting around without a driver's licence.  A short 9-minute car ride could be a lengthy 45-minute bus journey due to waiting time and transfers.  I am currently working towards obtaining my driver's licence ASAP, in order to significantly improve my mobility.

Living here has given me the freedom to choose the kind of lifestyle I desire.  I have observed that people here have diverse approaches to life, allowing me to reflect on my own preferences.  I can opt for a more cosmopolitan, Hong Kong-style existence or embrace a more open and laid-back lifestyle.  Witnessing the variety of lifestyles around me has sparked introspection and encouraged me to contemplate the path I wish to follow.

My daughters (aged 3 and 7) were watching the Female World Cup and supporting the Matildas (team Australia).

Pleased to attend a YWGS alumnae gathering on 26 July 2023 (thanks to Ms Chow Siu Fung’s connection)
Back row, from left: Doreen So Shuk Sze (’58), Gina Yeung Sau Lan (’73), Cecilia Siu Yau Miu (’59) 
Front row, from left: Eunice Cheung King Fong (’57), me

School Life for my Elder Daughter

The school's emphasis on creativity and play-based learning has made education more engaging and enjoyable.  From using hands-on activities like skittles to learn math to encouraging reading without overwhelming homework, my elder daughter has blossomed into avid learner.  Her school also incorporates elements such as chickens and farming on the campus, and multiple playgrounds for different forms.  This vibrant school environment has broadened students’ perspectives and nurtured their love for learning.

My elder daughter has now found immense joy at school.  The school environment encourages her to build connections with a diverse range of friends, fostering inclusivity and a sense of belonging.  Unlike the norm in Hong Kong, where friendships often revolve around one or two individuals at school, here I noticed my girl interacts with different individuals on different days and so do other students.  I believe such experience has taught the students the value of embracing different people in their lives. 

I am Grateful

Melbourne's allure lies not only in its rich resources but also the possibility to live the lifestyle I desire for my family.  As I continue to explore my new chapter in life, I am grateful for the opportunities, friendships and experiences that have been bestowed upon me and my family.