The trials and tribulations of life abroad!
I was born and raised in Australia, The Great Southern Land. The envy of so many for its warm weather, wide open spaces and abundance of possibility - but it has its downsides too! one of those being extreme isolation. Being so isolated makes it time consuming and expensive to travel so for a very long time Australia was all that I knew. When I was 16 my parents took my brother and I on a trip to Thailand and I absolutely loved it! we went back a few more times in the following years but Southern Asia was as far as I had ever been. At the age of 20 I decided it was time to spread my wings and venture further afield! I'd dreamt of seeing the world for as long as I could remember, reading stories like Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island as a child had a big influence in that! When the idea of moving from the Southern Hemisphere to the North began formulating in my mind I felt nothing but excitement. My plan was to travel across Europe for a few months before settling in London, I began planning, saving, telling everyone about it and it was all that I could think about for an entire year.
Twelve months later though it was time to stop dreaming and get the ball rolling! I needed to book a seat on a flying carriage that would whisk me away to the adventures I'd been dreaming of, thousands of miles from everything and everyone I had ever known. Naturally I started to panic. When previously my heart had pounded with excitement at the prospect of this epic journey, it now pounded in fear. It was all well and good in theory but I knew that once the flight was booked there was no backing out. I don't blame myself for panicking, anyone else in the same position would freak out too. The point of this story isn't how scared I was, it's that despite the fear I did it anyway and I thank myself for it big time today! I hope reading this helps you to do the same.
It wasn't until I'd boarded the plane and had nothing else to think about or do that I felt myself begin to relax. Until that moment it had remained in the back of my mind that a spanner could be thrown in the works at any moment and prevent this from going ahead, we might get stuck in bad traffic and miss the flight... I might trip and fall breaking my leg and ending my journey before it had begun. Sitting here now, 5 years later I smile with happiness and gratitude that nothing hindered me and I made it smoothly onto the big metal tube that would carry me to my new life, but in all honesty until that moment I was secretly hoping something out of my control would happen so I could remain in my safe, warm little comfort zone because I was terrified!
Fast foward a few days and my perspective had completely shifted. I realised that the other side of Earth isn't the moon - there is food and water here, the people and the culture are not all that different to home and I'm totally capable of working things out on my own. With that new found confidence everything became exciting and I started to feel incredibly proud of myself and SO glad that I hadn't let fear get the better of me and thrown it all away.
My 3 month trip through Europe was amazing, it taught me so much and by the end of it the confidence I had in my own capabilities was through the roof! but it was short lived because once I arrived in london I was terrified all over again. I needed to find a place to live, a job, set up a bank account and I needed to do it all very quickly. On top of that I didn't know a single soul and had never lived in a city before... I was petrified! Big city life would prove challenging for this small town girl but ultimately it was the best thing that ever happened to me. If you're moving to London give this article a read; You’ve moved to London – now what? It's filled with great tips for newcomers, from where to live to setting up a bank account - things I wish I'd known before arriving!
A month later I was on my feet (albeit a bit wobbly!) I'd moved into my new London home, landed a well paid job and made a few new friends. I was still scared but the hardest part was taken care so I knew that I was going to be ok. It took a good 6 months for me to start really loving my time here in England's busy capital, the fact that I arrived in October and 6 months later the weather was getting warm may have had something to do with that! but whatever sparked it, once I started to like London just a little bit I was hit with a huge surge of love for the city. The rain became endearing, the grumpiness of locals and sardines on the tube became funny, and the high cost of living became part of a package which I was very happy to be recieving. Life abroad is hard, it's really hard! but take my advice and give it a real shot before deciding it's not for you because t's difficult for everyone in the early stages. Make sure you get to know the place well before giving up on it too, it's no good spending everyday inside watching movies and then 6 months later saying "I don't like it here" how do you know you don't like it if you haven't experienced it?! I'd be lying through my teeth if I said that it's all easy breezy now, even after 5 years of living overseas I still have tough days. Days where I cry ALOT! it's important to remind yourself in those moments why you came, how much you've achieved, and most importantly that it's not forever. It's ok to have bad days but don't let yourself have more than one a month! this is a once in a lifetime thing and if you spend it being gloomy I guarantee you'll regret it one day.
The hardest part?... I've seen my parents 6 times in 5 years, my friends even less. I missed my best friends wedding and the birth of her first child and that is by far the toughest part of this gig. But would I give it all up? everything I've achieved just to be present on a handful of my loved ones significant days? I know the answer to that question is no, if it was yes I wouldn't still be here. Plus, the hard parts don't even come close in comparison to all the good parts!
People often ask if I miss home and my answer is always the same; "Of course I do! I miss being in warm weather for 350 days of the year, I miss the feeling of being kissed by the sun and salty air at the beach, I miss my loved ones... but what I don't miss is the monotonous lifestyle" I'll be ready for it one day but I'm not there yet. I still have a relentless hunger for wild things, for adventure, for freedom and I know that hunger needs satisfying before I can be happy in the next chapter, the one where I'll be surrounded by the familiar and my favourite people. At that point my adventurous soul will sleep peacefully having been awake and at large for so long, if I tried to put it to bed now it would be restless... it would scream for attention and it would make me very unhappy. So I will continue to let it reign over my life and all of my decisions until I feel it begin to tire, only then will I put it to rest.
If I could say just one thing to anyone who is thinking of moving abroad it would be this; Do it. Commit and do it. Don't suppress the urge to travel, to do more, to be more. Don't be scared to let that urge go wild for a few years! Throw yourself in the deep end of life, because if you're anything like me it'll make the shallows far more enjoyable and worthwhile. As I said it's scary at first but nothing worth having comes easy right?! and there's no hurdle that you can't get over, so don't be the girl who was too scared to follow her dreams. Be the one who was brave and pushed through the fear because she knew that what was on the other side would be worth it.
And so now, after all the miles I've crossed and everything I've been through the tables have turned. These days instead of being scared to leave my comfort zone, I'm scared of staying in it! I'm frightened of missing out, of being old one day and wishing I'd done more. In fact sitting here right now I'm realising that the thing I'm most fearful of in life isn't heights, or sharks, or clowns... it's regret. That decision to book the flight, and the decision a year later to stick it out in London turned me into a whole new person and the very thought of having made different choices and either remaining in or returning preemtively to my little home town makes me shudder.
What would I be doing now? who would I be? no doubt I'd have my sh*t together. I'd be in a stable, well paid job. I'd have a husband and a house with a perfectly manicured lawn... a couple of dogs and probably a kid. I'm sure I'd think I was happy, and maybe I actually would be. But I know for sure I wouldn't be the fierce, confident, mature, compassionate, ambitious woman who's writing this. The one who's seen and experienced SO MUCH.
The moral of the story is this "fear is temporary, but regret lasts forever" as cliché as it is that quote still resonates with me all these years later and whenever the moment calls it will burn in the back of my vision reminding me that new things are always scary, but only for the first bit. Please don't hesitate to make that first concrete move toward your dream, I know it's scary but trust me everything that comes after will not only be a breeze it'll be SO worth it.
Over and out! x