Friday, June 17, 2011

Who am I?

I suppose a question that arises in an expat's mind from time to time, is to what extent they consider themselves part of their new country compared to part of their old country. And of course, this will differ for each individual, and even change for individuals at different times of their lives.

I left England in March 2005 and almost immediately felt at home in my new country. I have loved getting to know Australia and, more locally, Melbourne and the more I see the more I like. I must admit that I wasn't initially drawn to Australia, but rather felt the need, along with my wife, to leave the country of my birth. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what the reasons were for deciding to emigrate, and a whole set of rationales could be imagined. But essentially, the fact was that I didn't feel comfortable in England. It just didn't feel right for me, it wasn't my home. And my wife felt pretty much the same way.

So after 6 years in my new country, what exactly do I consider myself? Well I can certainly admit that I feel more at home here than I did in the UK. I actually get homesick for Melbourne when I go on trips. I haven't lost my English accent, and I doubt I ever will, but I now identify with my new country and am losing my memories of the old country. Becoming a citizen of Australia was quite an emotional experience, and gave me a sense of pride in my new country. So all in all, I guess while I might sound English, I feel Australian.

Now the reason this issue has cropped up is because of my international chess affiliation. At the moment I am currently registered as an English player which has some benefits for myself and the local chess community. The main advantage is that I count as a foreign player for tournaments, which may require a certain amount of foreign players to reach a level where players can achieve international titles. As there are a lack of high rated foreign players resident in Australia, or willing to travel to Australia to play chess, I suppose my English affiliation has some importance.

But it doesn't feel right to me. I feel Australian and as such would like to play under the Australian flag. It is a quandary that I have not yet figured out, and if anyone has any advice I would gladly hear it. The question I'm asking is should I change affiliation to my new country, or should I remain affiliated with England?


  1. Hi Carl,

    Whilst we understand your comments regarding the advantages of counting as a foreign player for tournaments, you are now Australian and we feel you should play as such. Wave that Ozzie flag.

    On Ya Cobber!


  2. I think there are enough damn Australians playing in Melbourne already. Make some of those New Zealanders (it is an open secret who they are) or Queenslanders acknowledge their true nationalities to FIDE and we will have foreign players aplenty.

  3. I don't identify with being Australian, Italian or anything else really. After all what does it mean to be English or Australian? For me identifying as 'Australian' means footy, beers and laid-backedness (of which I like none!). At the end you are Carl and I say reap the benefits of something relatively unimportant to who you actually are.

  4. Who am I?
    I'm Jean Valjean!

    Who am I?