A few weeks ago I found out my host mother was only 37. She has 4 children, the oldest of which has a beautiful 6 month old baby girl called Aurel. By these standards, I should be married by now and at least have my first child. But I am studying, travelling, taking risks, and not being too concerned about the future. I’ve been told that the 20’s are a time for me. Independence is so important to Australians. Having to let your family know when, why and with whom you are leaving the house, thinking about your family’s needs and values before your own and the fact that your Ibu (mother) may go through your luggage and wash all your clothes (clean or dirty) probably feels invasive for most of the Australian participants.
There are moments, though, sitting together on the floor in the living room, when I feel as though their lives could be perfectly parallel with my own. The way the arrival of a young baby brings the life back to a family that is jarred by routine. How a family of women lovingly tease their outnumbered father. That there is always food on the table and the home is always open to family and friends, new and old. The sweet way my host family call my name as ‘Tashya’ sounds hauntingly close to hearing my name echo from my mum’s room back home when she wants to chat.