LeShell was born and raised in rural Kansas. We grew up together (during those formative and awkward middle school and high school years) riding bikes, going to camp, and doing Chinese fire drills in our underwear:) And then LeShell decided to go to Australia for University our Sophomore year of college and she never really came back…Her plan was to study abroad for one semester but then she extended her “studies” for the full year. When she came back for the summer she made me listen to ‘Aussie Wipe Out’ hits (which I secretly loved) and not so subtly began inserting Australian slang into her vocabulary. That summer we painted a deck together while listening to music and of course talking in length about Ben (her real reason for studying). LeShell was really the first person I knew that took a risk. Took a risk to travel and live outside of her comfort zone and live without fear. She came back so alive and eager to see the world. She was (and still is) truly inspiring. Thank you LeShell for encouraging my own adventure and living out yours!
Why did you move to the country you’re in?For love of course! I think that is why many people move to other countries. However, at first it was to explore and get out of my comfort zone. I had small experiences of going off on my own, like to University and to visit Sasha in Germany and I think that just sparked something in me to want to travel more and see this big wide world. I love the feeling of going to a new environment, new culture and just having to figure everything out.
What unique differences exist between the U.S. and Australia?Australia is very similar to the US but i think there is one major difference. Australians work to live and many Americans (not all) live to work. Australia has a really great work/life balance and they know how to enjoy life and sit back and relax a lot. They also love to socialize and have parties which I love! Australia is a much smaller country too and because of this, it has a small town feel about it. The radio station I listen to is national and I hear about the town I live in on the news and radio all the time. I hardly ever heard about Kansas on the national news 🙂 Another thing that is totally different is the road system. The U.S. has such an amazing road system and it makes trips so much easier. When we drove up to Queensland, 14 hour drive, most of the time we were on a 2 lane country roads and some were even gravel. Also, in Australia voting is compulsory. So now that I am a citizen I have to vote. In one way it is annoying because I don’t like that I am forced to, but I think it makes citizens pay more attention to politics and issues that are going on in Australia and abroad which is great.
What is the weirdest thing that has happened to you while living in Australia?Being contacted by someone who is from my hometown (McPherson) who lives in Canberra.
What are some unique cultural nuances?The use of the phrase ‘Fair Dinkum’. When eating out at a restaurant it is a long affair. There is no rushing you out the door and most of the time you have to push them to bring the dessert menu and the check. Also, no one will spell my name with a capital S. The computer systems won’t even allow it!
What don’t you like?I don’t like being so far away from my family. And living away from Ben’s family as well. It is such a large country and everything is so spread out so it takes a long time to get to places. I don’t like that living costs are so high, spending 1/3 of your income on rent just doesn’t seem right to me.
What do you miss?Mexican food! And sometimes I just miss seeing people at the shops that I know and feeling like other people know me and care about me. And of course my family and friends!
What is your favorite food and drink?I love all the fresh fruit and veggies we get here. We have fresh markets and the produce is all grown locally so it is just so tasty. I also love Aussie wine!
What do you love about the people?Aussies have a real ‘mateship’ society so they always help each other out when they can. For example with the recent floods and cyclones, people were so giving of their time and energy to help others that they had never met. I think that’s another reason why Australia has a small town feel.
What is easier in your new country?Government support. Because they are more of a socialist society there is heaps of support for families, especially with kids. Going to University is easier as well because now that I am a citizen I can defer all my fees and only pay them back in tax.What is harder?Buying crap that I don’t need 🙂 Everything is so expensive I really can’t justify spending money on things I don’t need, so I hardly ever go shopping.On a more serious note, I find it much harder to tell others that I am a Christian. Religion is a tricky thing here and even though there are a lot of Christians, I come across so many people with very bad viewpoints and I struggle with that a lot!
How does the country/culture make you feel?It makes me feel special because I am different. As time goes on I feel more and more at home and like a belong, but I will always be a little bit different.
How has it changed your life/perspective?Living abroad really opened my eyes to the world. It makes me want to live in other cultures to see what they are like. In the last year or so I have come to realize more and more how fortunate I am to live in such a great country! Which then makes me focus on the less fortunate. Because of what I am given, I feel a duty to give to those less fortunate and always be mindful to not complain about what I don’t have, because I do have so much!
How do you relax?I read a lot and watch movies. It hasn’t changed much.
How has living abroad made you a better person?It made me more responsible because I didn’t have my Mom there to guide me and tell me what to do. I had to find my own way at the start and now. With the difficulty of telling others about my faith I feel I have become stronger over time because I have decided that I don’t want to slip into secularism like most people and just live for myself. I had to seek God out on my own because I wasn’t surrounded by Christians.
How long do you want to stay in Australia?I think Australia will be my home for the rest of my life but I would love to go live in other countries for a few years at a time. It sometimes makes me sad to think that I will never live where I grew up again but to be honest I just don’t think I could.
Where do you want to travel or move next?Anywhere. If Ben gets an opportunity to work at an international sporting event then I will tag along. I would find any culture fascinating!
LeShell currently lives in Canberra, Australia with her charming husband Ben and beautiful daughter Aaliyah. (doesn’t that sound like a scripted ending to a magazine article that gives no information?)Alternate Ending:LeShell and Ben live on this golf course (which I’ve seen from a Skype chat) with their daughter Aaliyah (whom I’ve also ‘chatted’ with on Skype). They have a cool couch from Ikea and I don’t think they have A/C or else it was the middle of summer when we talked and LeShell was roasting. Also, LeShell and Ben got married in Australia and I couldn’t go which pissed me off so they came back to KS for me and had a reception. The End.(In all fairness the reception might have been for LeShell’s family)