Welcome to Australia?

Not taken at my ceremony. Picture Glenelg Shire Council.

Not taken at my ceremony. If only I’d lived in Glenelg Shire, I’d have got a plant.

In the four years while I waited to qualify for Australian citizenship, I’d occasionally imagine what my ceremony would be like. I’d read about them – jolly events where the latest batch of immigrants celebrated their newly-earned Aussieness amongst family and friends. I’d heard tales of sausage sizzles and gifts of trees, of handshakes from Mayors and enthusiastic flag-waving.

And even although I told everyone I was really only upgrading my permanent residency to citizenship so that I could vote and choose the appropriate passport for the shortest queue at the airport, I was still a little bit excited about taking the pledge. Continue reading

Becoming Australian

Australian flagIn less than a week the Silver Fox and I will become Australian citizens.

Our Aussie citizenship has been almost five years in the making. First there was the 457 visa that got us to Perth, swiftly followed by an application for permanent residency. A few months, one excruciating English test for the (native English-speaking) Silver Fox and a quick trip to Sri Lanka for activation purposes later and we had PR. Then, just like with Australian health insurance, there was a waiting period: four years before we could apply for citizenship.

Four years is plenty of time to fret about the next stage in the process – the exam.

The citizenship test has almost mythical status among ex-pats here. Rumours abound as to its content. Don Bradman’s batting average features heavily in these rumours, as does an encyclopaedic knowledge of AFL teams. In reality, the knowledge you need to pass is probably far less useful in everyday life. You are quizzed on the various Australian flags, on the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the way government works. More than one Australian friend has told me they would struggle to pass. Continue reading