Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Back in Sydney

How Are You Settling In?

Through a series of decisions entirely my own, I seem to have recently entered into a somewhat permanent state of settling in. Perhaps not so recently, actually, perhaps since September 8th 2010, when I first touched down in Germany and began the process of settling in, in earnest, and crafting my ever-evolving response to ‘how are you settling in?’ And once I started settling in, I never stopped. After Münster, sticks were upped and I wound up in Weiden and settled in there, or rather, became increasingly anxious about Australia while putting down far sturdier roots than I gave myself and Weiden’s soil credit for. And in an effort to assuage that homesickness, I pulled those roots up again and landed back in Sydney and now when everyone asks me The Question ‘how are you settling back in’ I make this weird noise because I’m not really settling in. And that’s not because I don’t want to, it’s more because I can’t. I can’t settle in.

Being here only temporarily puts paid to the ‘settling back in’ thing – I can only settle so far as time will allow – and instead nods more to the ‘being in flux’ thing, another state I seem to have slipped into with a view to remain in long term. I’m here, but I’m looking over there. Just like when I was there, I looked over here. And I’m thinking about What’s Next and when I’ll get there and what that will look like. This state of flux comes about because I’m not settling in here, or anywhere. And I won’t for a few more years due to circumstances quite beyond my control (as opposed to the circumstances within my control that got me into this state of being to begin with. I started the ball rolling, but I didn’t design the course.) So ‘settling in’ and ‘flux’ are brothers, mates, two sides of the same coin we just keep on flipping. Although I seem to be spending a lot of time trying to ‘settle in’, perhaps people would be better off asking, ‘how’s the flux going?’ as bizarre and awkward as that sounds, because then at least I could give a more accurate response.

Anyway. I chose this. I like it. There is something within me that quite enjoys the knowledge that something else is not far away, that feels a sense of security in being unsecured, unattached. In flux. It will probably wear thin, as I get older, as my priorities change, as things happen and grow and gain weight. But for now, I don’t mind constantly settling in somewhere, it keeps things interesting, it keeps things big and rich and complex.

But off the back of the past little while and with the present as it is and the future lottle while lying in wait – and with settling in/fluxing here, quite frankly, not going as smoothly as it could – I feel it’s time to actually get a grip on what settling in actually is. What it entails. Can someone tell me? Is it things? Books, coffee cups, weather appropriate shoes? Furniture? A bed, a wardrobe, a couch? A space to cram these things into? Is it making sure the paperwork is in order – the visa, the insurance, the bank account, the rental contract, the drivers licence? Is it a job? Coffee dates, a local pub? Or is it a state of mind? Is it a sense of understanding of your surroundings, a feeling of competence within them? And does this understanding, this feeling stem from all of the things and papers and a good collection of coffee mugs?

And if that’s settling in, what’s being in flux? Being a little astronaut on earth, gravity-less and bouncing around rooms full of things, waiting until the next door opens and you get sucked into the room on the other side, full of more things to bounce between?

Do you know, for all of my settling in, for all my being in flux, I couldn’t quite tell you.


  1. Crissouli

    16 August, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Settling in happens when you no longer question it, when you start noticing that you’re smiling with delight at the little things, seagulls on the water, soft rain cleansing the leaves, the calming lap of water… take time to notice and relish in the small things, then you will be at peace, and settled wherever you are…look around, not back or forward, just in the moment.

    1. Liv

      17 August, 2012 at 11:41 am

      Yes!! I like this idea! And it is a conscious thing, looking around … Thank you for this little pearl, like Diana above you, you’ve given me a little breakthrough!

  2. dianasschwenk

    17 August, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Could it be you’re living in the future? I know that I have to make a conscious effort to be present in the moment….what do you think?

    1. Liv

      17 August, 2012 at 11:39 am

      As always, you’re right … I need to get better at the moment thing, not always look backwards and forwards, but around!

      1. dianasschwenk

        17 August, 2012 at 12:01 pm

        I have the same issue LOL! I’m trying to live and be present in the moment…

  3. amandaroederwrites

    17 August, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I think it’s definitely a state of mind (which I suppose can be shaped by the daily repetition of books, coffee cups, etc.)

    I’ve lived in the same place for nine years, and in the last 2 years I’ve started to feel unsettled there. Nothing has changed in my physical circumstances or lifestyle, but like you, I often find myself “looking over there.”

    Lately I’ve been wondering – if I were to uproot my life and move “over there,” would I find that sense of “settled” that I crave? Or would I just carry the mindset with me?

    Eh. I’m not really articulating my feelings clearly, but then, it’s a complicated feeling to process. I guess I just wanted to tell you that I understand.

    1. Liv

      17 August, 2012 at 11:38 am

      I tend to agree, it is a mindset and I think once you’re in it, it follows you around. I think you have to WANT to settle first and foremost.

  4. Katie

    17 August, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I don’t have any advice, but I just wanted to say that when I read your blog posts I feel like I could have written them. It’s surreal to read your words sometimes because of this, but also comforting to know that I am not the only one experiencing this. So thanks. 🙂

    1. Liv

      17 August, 2012 at 11:36 am

      These kind of comments make me so happy. Maybe we don’t have the answers, but we can muddle along together and figure things out eventually.

  5. Annie

    17 August, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I’m sorry I don’t have any wisdom to offer, just wanted to finally (after meaning to for ages) comment just to reiterate what so many people have said – you write so beautifully and perfectly capture the mixed feelings and ups and downs involved in relocating and living abroad! I find myself nodding along emphatically at so many of your posts (especially the one about decisions — repeat ad nauseum — completely hit the nail on the head!).
    Always look forward to reading this 🙂

  6. Around | A Big Life

    18 August, 2012 at 11:14 am

    […] situation that somewhat forbids settling down – at least for now. Perhaps forever. Who knows. In response to this, several readers gave me this advice; stop looking forward, stop looking back. Just look […]

  7. gmtnunez

    19 August, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Oh, Liv, I’m asking myself the same thing. I’ve been in Chile for more than a month now and I’m still telling family and friends back home that I’m settling in. I don’t know what it is. I tried to write about it recently (, but that was a few weeks ago and I’m still asking a lot of the same things. I’m just trying to move along, act like I know what I’m doing, act like I belong here (because I know I do!), and maybe one morning I’ll wake up and I’ll be settled in. Whatever that means.
    Keep on writing! Based on other comments I’ve seen, your blog is a major help for those of us laying down roots in a country and a language different than our own. It certainly is for me!

What do you think?