Australian Women in New York’s community committee volunteer Tina Chapman shares the experience of moving her young family from Australia to New York City during the pandemic.
Written by Tina Chapman
“Why would you want to move there?” “But you have kids, aren’t you worried?” “You won’t know anyone.” “There’s a pandemic, that’s so dangerous.” These are just some of the comments I would get when I told people I was relocating my family from Australia to New York City.
My husband and I had always dreamed of traveling the world with our family (it was even in our vows.) So, when he was offered a transfer to NYC with his work, we were ecstatic. We definitely didn’t take the decision lightly though. Relocating across the world with two kids (aged 3 and 5), leaving behind family, friends, and all of our possessions all during a pandemic was a big deal. My brother lives in Brooklyn which meant having a piece of home here and we had insight into what New Yorkers were going through. So, after much consideration, we decided to chase our dreams.
It’s been four months since we landed at JFK Airport after traveling 20+ hours on an almost empty plane. I will never forget the moment we drove through the city at night for the first time. The excited chatter turned to complete silence as jaws dropped and eyes popped out of heads as we took it all in — the lights, the high-rise buildings, the sirens. The city that never sleeps had woken us up to a world of opportunities.
So far we’ve had more unique experiences than we could have ever imagined. We’ve played baseball in Central Park, had martinis in Manhattan, enjoyed a slice at Pauly Gee’s, got lost on the subway, participated in a busk in Time Square, dressed-up for Halloween, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, and had a night out at The House of Yes. We’ve embraced everything about New York and have begun falling in love with this magical city.
However, rarely do great things in life come easy, and that is true for our move to NYC. Between getting an apartment with no credit, settling the kids, finding schools, getting an SSN, and trying to find work (I’m a HR director) with no connections and the requirement to be sponsored, there have been some tough times. The hardest part of all was not knowing anyone apart from my husband and brother who are both away for work a lot. I needed someone to talk to, a gal pal, someone who knew what a flat white was!
Thank goodness for AWNY! I joined the Facebook group in hope of meeting other women. When I saw an AWNY Coffee Stroll event 400m from my apartment in Brooklyn, I just had to go, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. We laughed, shared stories, and bonded over our similar accents and strong opinions about Vegemite. I left feeling rejuvenated and inspired.
Since then, I have attended numerous AWNY events including the Emotional Transitions event run by AWNY member and counselor Susie Lang. Susie hosts these events every four to six months and provides a warm and supportive environment for Australian women to speak openly about the emotions experienced when moving to New York. It was such a great way to feel connected to others as we shared the difficulties we have faced over the past weeks, months, or years and realized we were not alone in our feelings.
I have now joined AWNY’s Community Committee with the hope that I can support and encourage other women to take advantage of the supportive community and events AWNY provides. As my journey in NYC continues to write itself, I know AWNY will always be a big part of my story.
Want to volunteer with AWNY?
We are currently looking for a secretary and more social media mavens to join our volunteers at AWNY. The secretary is someone who supports the entire AWNY universe by managing meeting agendas and minutes, responding to email inquiries, and managing internal correspondence. Organization is their thing! Our social team lives and breathes social. They run our social media accounts, by sharing great posts about Aussie life in NYC, events we are hosting, news from Australia, and more. We are active on Facebook. Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn – and – we’re ready for your ideas! If any of these positions interest you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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