Although I have lived in Australia (“Oz”) since I was a very young lad in 1951, most people still recognise me as Dutch.
Not often because of an accent. But my family name, looks, tastes (from spekulaas to salted herring), my character, wife, church connections, many of my friends, and yes, sometimes my ways, are unmistakably from the Netherlands. And when I’m back in Holland I feel immediately “at home” and even tell myself I could be quite happy living there – although I suspect I’d find it tough in reality.
I find it amazing how strongly we are formed by our upbringing, cultural conditioning and usually unconscious identification with where we came from.
I also feel perfectly happy being an Australian. It’s enriching in many more ways than it is depriving to belong to two countries. Yet there are downsides: as a migrant kid I grew up without relatives and often feeling an outsider socially. Historically and culturally also I miss the richness of the Country of my birth and heritage.
But in terms of sunshine, the natural world and beauty, and freedom – Oz is tops. And so are many of our Aussie ways!