Brayden (right) with friends at the beach.

In celebration of Australia day this year, Emma Guise caught up with two Aussie nationals, one based in Nottingham and the other over 10,000 miles away revealing just how different life is for each of them.

Being that the last 12 months have been quite peculiar for everyone, it was interesting to see how our friends down under are faring. Hearing the success of how they handled the pandemic initially may have made Brits all a little jealous, but hearing first hand how they are spending their summer days now, well… still triggers the jealousy.

Brayden Capstick is a recent University graduate from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. When asked about how his life contrasts now from what he was doing a year ago, the 23 year old reminisces:

“A year ago I was on exchange in the Netherlands. I had just settled in and was really enjoying myself. I think on this date a year ago a bunch of us had gone on a trip to Prague for a few nights. The world was completely different then. I can vaguely remember Covid being mentioned in the news every now and then, mostly about developments in China. I wasn’t the slightest bit worried.”

Going on to explain that:

“It’s hard to remember what things were like before all this, and how completely unaware we were a year ago. In Sydney I feel many of us have normalised the situation we’re in, people tend to be pretty good at doing that.”

Currently, New South Wales Health strongly recommends having no more than 30 visitors at a time if the residence has no outdoor area. The rules being no more than 30 people to meet outside publicly in the city, and no more than 100 in the wider state of NSW.

Speaking about his current day to day schedules, Brayden describes:

“Well, it’s summer here in Australia, so most days we have beautiful weather. For me this means going to the beach almost every day, usually after work. I often do an ocean swim from one beach to another along the coast. On the weekends the grass areas along the beaches are packed with young people drinking, as restrictions have eased.”

“I’ve mostly spent my weekends at BBQs and parties at friends places, or hosting at mine. It’s been pretty good for me when I think about it. Though I am eager for all this to be behind us, reading about how other places around the world are doing does make my problems feel quite trivial.”

This definitely feels like a long way from the reality people are living in the UK right now.

Recently, snow has blessed the streets of Nottingham and other parts of the UK, the white snowflakes giving a glimmer of beauty and excitement to this otherwise dreary January.

But what is it like living in the UK for an Aussie national? Susan Tait was born and raised in Brisbane and moved to the UK as a young adult in 1990.

As everyone is all too well aware, the UK is in nationwide lockdown at the moment, so Susan’s story may have less flair to it, however, remaining optimistic is essential as she explains:

“I have always loved England – the gardens, long summer days and the general politeness of English people. I was bought up reading Beatrix Potter so the English countryside has been in my mind long before I got here in 1990.”

Susan with her son (left) and partner (right) enjoying summer in her English Garden.

“We are passing the time as we normally do and are hugely grateful for a big garden and pets to keep us busy. Working from home is no different as I was home office based anyway.”

Susan states that the last time she was able to visit Australia was in 2018, describing it as “mind numbingly hot”. She wishes to visit again at the end of this year, if Covid-19 allows.

Comparing the two nations, the 57 year old remarks:

“Australians are generally laid back, but I have to hand it to them … they got it right with Covid! Whilst we deliberated and let everyone arrive from everywhere with the disease, the Aussies locked down!”

As for celebrations for Australia day, Susan normally bakes a few Aussie treats; such as Lamingtons, which are delicious little cakes rolled in chocolate and coconut.

“I normally like to ensure I get time to sit down and have a Bundaberg rum with ice and ginger ale. But this year I am meant to be on a diet and I have run out of rum so it will be a glass of Australian white instead!”

All in all, the most important thing to take from these stories is the encouragement to keep going and stay positive. Looking at the images of smiling faces reminds everyone to remain hopeful for the future, in the hope of getting back to the pre-Covid lifestyle. This pandemic is something we can and shall get past.