It has been just more than a year since I left the comfort of my Melbourne life and headed to Shepparton for work.
I was definitely apprehensive, but I looked forward to embracing this new challenge and drastic change.
Growing up in the north-east Melbourne suburbs, I never thought of myself as much of a ‘‘city gal’’.
The train came every 45 minutes and the local pub was the only place you could grab a drink late at night.
No-one from inner-city Melbourne would consider you to be one of them.
It was not until I made my way into Shepparton, past the flat, dry paddocks adorned with pivot irrigators and headers that I realised there would be some real lessons I needed to learn — including what the heck pivot irrigators and headers were!
One of the biggest things I have noticed about moving to Shepparton is you need to learn quickly when abbreviating Shepparton that it is Shepp with two Ps, rather than one.
When I receive messages from loved ones back home, the lack of a second P on the end stands out like a sore thumb and quickly makes me feel like a Shepp local.
Any credit I feel I have gained from mastering the extra P on the end of Shepp is slowly taken away though when somebody asks for my last name and I lack any relation to others in the Goulburn Valley.
It is probably not something many Goulburn Valley people would notice from one another, but barely an exchange with a stranger goes by when someone does not ask: ‘‘What’s your last name?’’
Some days I think it would be lovely for people to know my aunt or uncle or second cousin who they used to play footy with, but then again, I feel popularity can sometimes be a curse.
I have never had the last name experience in Melbourne, which makes me sure it is a country thing.
As much as using the word ‘‘town’’ over ‘‘suburb’’.
This one continues messing me up until this day, as I often find myself calling Camberwell a town and Tatura a suburb.
It’s like the extra P situation again.
It makes you an outsider and labels you instantaneously ‘‘city’’ or ‘‘country’’, depending on your location.
All I can say is I am enjoying the steep learning curve and when I am feeling out of place, I think of one of my favourite quotes — ‘‘Every experience is a learning opportunity’’.
I am hoping one day soon I will comfortably fit in both places, but for now, thank you to the Goulburn Valley for embracing me.
Ash Witoslawski is a News journalist.