I think I’ve already broken what might be rule number one when it comes to travel writing…
Don’t have so much fun travelling that you forget to actually write.
Seems stupid I know but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since my last blog post over a year and a half ago (my bad) – living a very real and very non-travelly life, so much so that to be honest I forgot I was even away from home at all (we’ll blame the lack of posts on that, not that I was in Melbourne for most of it so my head was constantly fuzzy from nights in some of the best bars in the world, not ideal for getting you head down and writing legible posts) . Since I last blogged I have spent a year in Australia, a couple of months back home in London (always saving for the next trip), 4 months in South America and am now on a second Working Holiday Visa in Wellington, New Zealand. That’s where you find me now; broke, exhausted and a little more cuddly (hello caipirinhas, parilladas and dulce de leche) after my Latin adventure.
My move to Australia in November 2014 (where has that time gone?!) on a working holiday visa was one of the best decisions of my life. The feelings of nervousness and of fearing the unknown quickly evaporated and soon I settled into a wonderful, crazy, hectic way of life.
You spend so much of your time before going away worrying about finding a job, a place to live and, if you go alone like I did, making friends that you don’t think about what will happen when you find them. What happens once you’re settled and you get to pack away your most loved and hated possession, your backpack? When you’re no longer living out of a bag, you’re just living.
If you’re reading this and you’ve got a move abroad planned, just take a moment to think about what happens after everything you’re nervous about. Chances are you’re worried about the same stuff I was, but what about once that’s sorted? Don’t forget that won’t take too long at all and then you’ve got the rest of the year (or however long the move is) to actually live. I never imagined or even thought about finding such great mates, such a fun job or such an ideal living situation. It’s natural because I was thinking more about the stuff I would leave behind (which of course I missed every day and coming home to my friends and family was absolutely one of the best feelings ever) that I didn’t think about the stuff I would gain, but trust me, you will gain a hell of a lot.
Moving away on your own is scary, of course it’s scary, but it’s wonderful scary. It’s challenging, it’s daunting, it’s maybe against the advice of people you know, it seems silly because you’re comfortable where you are, it’s reckless, it’s expensive but it’s WORTH IT. I am firmly of the opinion now that absolutely everyone should do it. Just for a while, just throw yourself into a whole new country, away from home, and see what you can make of it. I’m not naive, I know the culture shock of moving from the U.K to Australia is hardly a big one, I know it’s probably one of the easiest countries to move to, I know that given the amount of young people doing it it’s hardly surprising that I met amazing people and had a fantastic time. I’m not saying I did anything profound or challenging by packing my bags and going to work in a bar in the most liveable city in the world, especially given the billion ridiculously helpful blogs out there literally giving step by step guides of how to prepare and what you need to do when you arrive, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of making that leap and making the life that I made.
It forces you to get rid of your old crutches and just see what happens when you’re left on your own. Of course the friends you have had since school are amazing, your family are always there for you and your past relationships were absolutely what you needed at the time, your job is comfortable and steady…there’s no denying that or taking anything away from those things, but what if they weren’t there? What if you had to find these comforts all over again in another country? It’s such an unprecedented thing if it’s the first time you’ve moved away, to have nothing and no one and not be able to just do what you’ve always done. It’s the very definition of a fresh start, a clean slate, you are quite literally starting your life again as a grown up, weird I know.
You’re forced to decide what you want, or more likely find yourself in a situation and realise that it is, after all, what you do or don’t want. After all, as we’ve already discovered you’ve got nothing, and the old saying does state that beggars can’t be choosers. So you take the first job that comes up, you move into an apartment with people you don’t know, you go out with people that may or may not turn out to be serial killers… Probability states that whilst yes, some of these decisions might not be the best (in all seriousness it’s probably best to avoid potential serial killers) but some might just be the best you’ve ever made. With your home gone you’re left without a frame of reference and that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’ve never relied more on my intuition and my gut more in my life. It’s exciting (and still scary) to me that I’m doing it all again now in New Zealand after only arriving 3 weeks ago.
You’ll face new situations and you’ll just have to judge how you feel and what you want to do. Of course you’ll make mistakes, isn’t that the point of being young? You might move in with a total weirdo, but that just makes you appreciate your next (totally awesome) housemate even more, plus you’ve now got some more anecdotes in your repertoire…. always a good thing. Yes you might start a shitty job, yes you probably will go on a few nights out with people you really don’t get on with just because you’re worried you need to make friends the instant you check into a hostel on your first night, yes you’ll probably then drink too much on these nights to liven up the banter a little, but you will also get through all that. With the bad comes the good. You’ll meet people you click with, you’ll find a new and better job, you’ll suss out the area, make friends with the guy who runs the corner shop next door, get matching tattoos (check… sorry Mum!), find a routine, learn new things, take risks, explore, laugh, cry and most importantly, you’ll never regret it.