Living in Oz

Story

So this is the story of how I decided to up and move 8,000 miles away from home. The whole process of setting everything in motion didn’t take very long at all. However, the true beginning of this story starts out several years beforehand. And all because of a blog I happened to stumble upon. But we’ll go more into detail about that later.

The first thing I’d like to note is that traveling isn’t something I’ve done for a very long time. In fact, I’d still consider it a relatively recent hobby of mine. Before 2015, the last time I traveled outside of the country (or at all, really) was when I was seven years old, 15 years prior. In 15 years’ time, the farthest I’d ever gone was the occasional drive to San Francisco, and although I frequented Las Vegas during my college years, I don’t think anyone would consider that actual traveling.

It’s not like I was really looking to travel either, not because I didn’t have any interest in it, but because I just had no clue where to even get started. I thought traveling was something that people with more money and more time did. At this point in my life I was going to school full-time and working a part-time job to make ‘just enough’ money to spend on food, gas, and going out.

A year ago, several months after my 23rd birthday, I was nearing the anniversary of my college graduation. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my career (read: life), I was working the same restaurant job as a server for the past year and a half, and I was recently out of the first relationship I’d had in two years. I know I was far from having a terrible life, but I was definitely experiencing a slump. Can we call it that? I’m gonna call it that. So what’s a gal to do.

The year before that, in 2015, I went travel crazy. It started with a six day trip to Europe during Christmas time in 2014 into the new year. I saw an Ad on Facebook (I know, who actually reads those things?) for a travel agency that was offering a glamorous package deal to London and Paris for something like $3,500 a person. They organized accommodations, flights, excursions to the most popular tourist attractions in the area, and some meals as well. Essentially, you just had to show up and the rest would be taken care of.

For someone who, up to this point, knew nothing about traveling or planning a trip, it sounded great. The experience taught me that I enjoy planning my own trips far better, but it still whet my appetite for adventure, which I am grateful for.

In April, during my last quarter in school, I found myself on an eight day solo trip to Japan, and a month after that, I went to Korea. Following my graduation in June, I visited Utah and Arizona. In July I was in Italy and Spain, and in September I went to Hawaii. It was a busy year to say the least (it was nuts).

Fast forward to my slump.

Two months into 2016 and my traveling had come to a complete standstill. After nearly a year of adrenaline-pumping back-to-back trips, it felt like ages had passed with nothing to look forward to. Especially since becoming newly single for the last month, I had a lot of time to think about myself and what I was doing with my life, which was a whole lotta nothin’. I didn’t even seem to have interests anymore, I was just Netflix binging all day every day when I didn’t have work. My eating habits were terrible and exercise was practically non-existent.

I needed something to change. But what?

Then I remembered how happy I was traveling. I felt no fear whatsoever doing it, even if I had no idea what I was getting into. Jumping into the unknown felt like a challenge I wanted to meet. So I thought to myself, why not take it up a notch? I did the whole traveling short-term thing, now it was time to see if I could do it for the long term. At this point in my life, I didn’t have a career, my own family, or even a significant other, and I was young. It couldn’t have been a more perfect time.

First, I spent hours reading blog after blog about peoples’ experiences teaching English abroad. A lot of people loved it. Some people said the experience ended up not being for them, and ultimately, I decided that it probably wasn’t for me either.

That was when I remembered another blog that I read years before. The Blog. The one that ended up convincing me move to the other side of the world.

It was written by a girl named Kate from New York who quit her full-time job to move to Sydney. The first time that I came across her blog, I was still in my second year of college, and although the idea excited me at the time, I knew I had to finish school before I could even think about doing something similar. So I saved it as a bookmark and didn’t end up getting back to it until three years later.

I remember re-reading it for the first time in years and thinking to myself that the process seemed simple enough. I was ready to buy a plane ticket then and there, and although I’m generally very quick to jump into things (can you tell?), I decided to do some research first.

A quick Google search of ‘best Australian cities to live in’ brought up a list of a bunch of cities I had never even heard of (besides Sydney of course) in my life (my knowledge of Australia at this point was a cool zero). Melbourne was a name that seemed familiar, but I could not have told you that it was in Australia, and I was definitely still pronouncing it “Mel-born” instead of the correct pronunciation. Still, there were two things that stood out the most to me about Melbourne, one of them being ’four seasons one day’ and ’most livable city in the world’ five years running. I didn’t really understand what the first description meant, but the second one was a reputation that seemed pretty hard to beat.

So that was it. I bought the cheapest one-way ticket to Melbourne I could find. Then shortly after, I panicked and mentally kicked myself for not getting myself a visa first. Then I regained composure when I got my visa twenty minutes later (not a very long process). And it was done.

You can say I had couple things that I probably should have sorted out before I committed to leaving. I had a year-long lease that required me to forfeit my $550 deposit if I were to leave early, a phone plan that was ongoing, a car that was still being paid off, student loans that also needed to be paid off, and only $1,000 saved up in the bank. I also made the decision to go before telling my mom. Or my older sister and brother. Or anyone.

But that’s kind of how it has to be with these kinds of decisions. You can always tell yourself you have reasons for why you can’t go, but if you put yourself in a position where you have to go, then it’s a simple path forward from there. After investing $1,500 in a plane ticket, visa, and two-weeks stay in a hostel, I put myself in that position, and everything else that followed happened because it just had to.

So life continued as follows:

I terminated my lease and lost my deposit.

I told my family (after an extremely nerve-wracking dinner on my part) and dealt with the confusion and hesitant support that came after.

I worked as much as I could and saved as much as I could, and then quit my job.

I packed up a year’s worth of clothes in one suitcase, a duffel bag, and a backpack.

And I left.

It was pretty straightforward once I got to Melbourne as well…

I got a sim card for my phone.

I reformatted my CV so it was Aussified (a bit different from resumes in the US).

I looked up more affordable and more long-term housing than staying in a hostel.

I took a class to get my RSA and applied for a tax file number.

I got a job.

And all of this was done within my first three weeks in the country.

Easy.

Okay, not easy. But instead of worrying about all the things that needed to get done all at once (moving to a foreign country does require a bit of a set-up) I isolated each issue, focused on doing what needed to be done to solve that issue, and then allowed myself to move on to the next one. I continued on like that for the entire year, doing what needed to be done and dealing with issues as they came up. Thankfully, I never had to deal with anything major—the worst being the development of a short term auto immune disorder and losing my 20/20 vision (no biggie). But now that I’m nearing the end of my trip, there’s a bittersweetness about going back home because in a way, I’m leaving home too.