Those of you who have been reading this blog for more than a minute know that I’m a proud Former Student of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. As a result, I’m a proud member of the Aggie Network, a worldwide camaraderie of Former Students of Texas A&M University.
Need a job? Find an Aggie who works at the company you want to work at and reach out.
See an Aggie Ring anywhere in the world? Walk up, say “Howdy, what year are you?” and you’ll immediately have a friend and will likely be invited to sit down for a drink or two, exchanging great stories about the school we hold dear along the way.
It is used to help recruit college athletes to come to play for Texas A&M. Heck, the Association of Former Students even uses www.aggienetwork.com as its website.
As I approached graduation I used the Aggie Network to get interviews with companies who might have otherwise overlooked me, I regularly speak at Texas A&M events around the USA, and have shared countless conversations with random Aggies around the world, so I’ve seen bits of the Aggie Network in action.
But then I moved out of Texas. Out of the USA, even. In June 2023, I relocated with my company 8500 miles away to Sydney, Australia.
The Big Move
I had prepared for the move for almost a year, and I hit the ground running. Aussie mobile number, Aussie bank account, I even managed to rent a place in famous Manly Beach directly facing the ocean!
I settled in, bought furniture, and started getting some work done (with the help of some of the best colleagues in the world, my company’s Sydney office has some truly special people). I was sitting on my couch one afternoon and I had a sudden thought, having built all of my IKEA furniture and finished unpacking:
“What do I do now?”
Oh, right. Make a life here.
But how? Sydney is a massive city. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world (which always surprises people, due to my general volume I guess), so I knew I would need some help.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve spoken at numerous Texas A&M Former Student gatherings over the years, and I always include one particular quote in my speeches and it popped into my head sitting on that couch:
“There’s no such thing as an Aggie stranger, just Aggie friends you haven’t met yet.”
I knew what I needed to do.
An email that changed everything
There are Texas A&M Clubs all over the world, and I happened to know there was one based in Sydney. I found the contact information of a wonderful lady named Lori and shot her an email, introducing myself and hoping to get involved with any Aggie gatherings in the area. I remember very clearly that it was a Thursday.
She almost immediately replied, asking for my contact information, and gave me a call. It just so happened that there was an Aggie couple who was grilling and having some people from Texas over to their home that weekend. I asked where they lived, worried they would live two hours away (which is very common in Sydney).
They didn’t live two hours away…they lived two miles away.
That Saturday I showed up, and it was like I was home again. Maroon shirts, hugs, everyone saying “y’all”, and, most of all, community.
Of course, there were some folks who went to other schools there, and we afforded them requisite sympathy. We talked about our Aggie experiences, what we were doing in Sydney, and exchanged contact information to stay in touch and meet up. Another couple that I met happened to live around the corner from me.
Only a week later, some of those same friends came to my place on Sunday morning at 5:30am to watch some Aggie football together (the time difference is a doozie when it comes to sports).
The Aggie Network was true. All of it.
Life in the Aggie Family
It wasn’t just the Aggies in and around Manly, the broader Australia Texas A&M Club in Sydney is full of fantastic people. They’ve brought me in, many of them having been here quite a while (some even becoming Australian citizens), and showed me the way and have been there to answer my countless expat questions (by this I mean “I heard this bit of Aussie slang, what does it mean?”). Inevitably, we started planning more stuff to do, and will soon be heading out to watch a former Aggie basketball player, who happens to play for the Sydney Kings in the Australian National Basketball League, play in a game, so he can see some maroon and his Aggies again.
We all come from different backgrounds, are up to different things in Sydney, and would probably find plenty of things to argue about back home. But here in Sydney? We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we.
I finally felt like Sydney was home. Or almost my home. My mom, who is, it needs to be said, the best Mom in the world, sent me to Sydney with a little present to make sure I never forgot where I’m from. It was the first thing that went up in my home.
To Eric, Leslie, Lori, other Lori, her adopted-Aggie husband Clay, Rhonda, Jake, Erin, Shannon, Sharon, Scott, and some non-Aggies who are Texans so we lovingly accept them, thank you for making me feel at home and for living out every bit of our beloved Aggie Network. (I didn’t ask them if I could put their pictures all over the internet so I didn’t include any here).
Oh, and Gig ’em Aggies!