How far would you go for love? Diana Schumacher went far...over eight thousand miles. Diana, originally from Seattle, had posted a travel related question on the Lonely Planet site in 1996, which happened to be answered by an Australian man. As fate would have it, Diana, and Bruce, the Australian, were both going to be in Cairo at the same time. After weeks of emails and phone calls they decided to meet up there. They fell hard for one another. Several months of 'relationship building' and trans Pacific traveling resulted from that first meeting.
Diana had a tough decision to make. Stay in Seattle where she had built a life, where she had worked as a nurse at the same hospital for twenty-five years, where she had family or uproot her whole life to take a chance on love. She had never had much of an interest in visiting Australia due to the distance and the fact it was not as exotic as other places she had traveled and now found herself contemplating moving there. Her only other experience of Australian men was the character Crocodile Dundee, laconic and easygoing.
What spurred her to make such a bold decision? Diana simply decided that she didn't want to be sitting on her veranda in her retirement wondering "what if"? As someone who had married and had children young she found she was now in a new phase of life with her children grown and out on their own. A recent massage therapy course had changed her thinking and made her ready for a change.
Overall, her colleagues, friends and family were supportive. The technology at the time would make it easier to stay in touch than when her father had worked overseas with the Department of Defense. It never occurred to Diana herself that the relationship might not work out; she was so smitten with Bruce. On his part, Bruce was fascinated that Diana was not like any other women he had known and that she wasn't like his image of American women who drink a lot of diet coke instead of wine with meals.
Diana describes the differences between American and Australian men that Australian men are more forthcoming and open with women. If an Australian man talks to you it doesn't necessarily mean he is hitting on you. They are good conversationalists and well-educated and interested in politics, particularly American. If one "shouts you a drink" it means they want to buy you a drink. Australian men can be skeptical and don't like authority according to Diana. She feels this may stem from the convict heritage that populated the country. As an example she notes that even though there might be a "No U Turn" sign, if there isn't anyone coming an Australian man will do a U Turn anyway. An American man is more likely to follow the rules as they have a stronger sense of law and order due to their Puritan church going foundation. She has noted that men tend to stick together, particularly at social gatherings, like barbecues, and speculates that this may stem from the fact that a lot of Australian schools are separated by sex. American men are more sentimental and traditional. As an example she points out Valentine's Day and the fact that the majority of American men will follow the traditions of flowers and candy for their mate. An Australian man is much less likely to pay much attention to traditions of the holiday. American men are also much more casually dressed on dates compared to Australian men. Australian men wear leather shoes more often than sneakers -- and flip flops only at the beach -- and never sweats unless exercise is involved. In fact, casual Friday is really not a popular concept in Australia. Even polo shirts are not common office wear; Australian men wear collared shirts.
One thing they hadn't counted on was how hard it would be for Diana to settle in to her new country. She took a pay cut and a step back in the career ladder though she did find the longer vacations and long service leaves a great benefit. Coming from as patriotic a country as America, Diana couldn't help but make comments that caused the occasional awkwardness, as Australians don't mince words. According to Diana, Australians are not politically correct and she found she better know her history and politics when entering a discussion.
Although Diana and Bruce went their separate ways in 2001 after three years together, she had a new love by then - Australia. She had fallen in love with the people and the easygoing way of life. She remains astonished at the fact that there are only 20 million people in all of Australia despite a similar landmass to the United States. The beautiful beaches remind her of California. Therefore, despite the fact that the relationship that brought her there had ended, she stayed on, bought an apartment and became a citizen in 2003.
This year is Diana's tenth anniversary of her move to Australia. As Diana put it, "It's ten years on, I'm on my own and live a very different life to that which I had expected. It's been a marvelous, magical and tumultuous ten years. The journey continues." Diana has noticed some changes in herself as a result of her move. "It has opened my mind, taken the blinders off. I realize America is not the center of the universe. Australia, a nation of immigrants has a worldwide focus that has made me less rigid in my thinking and more open to new ideas through exposure to different ideas, thoughts and populations."
These days when Diana returns to the U.S. for a visit she misses Australia. Home now means her new adopted country. As she put it, "There's the land of your birth and there's the land of your heart."