So when I told people I was moving to Australia, everyone would say “What? Why? That’s so far away! Aren’t you afraid of spiders?” (lol). And my family still gets these questions a lot when they tell people where I am, so I figured the explanation would make a great first post for my blog. So, here’s a brief background and a list of reasons why I decided to fly around the world.
Basically, I’ve always dreamed of travelling the world. When I was little, we had a subscription to National Geographic, and I would flip through the pages in awe. “One day, I will go to these places. One day, I will be a photographer for National Geographic,” is what little me said to herself.
In high school, I learned about two girls from my hometown who went to Thailand one summer. There was an article in the newspaper detailing their 2 weeks there, and how they volunteered with elephants for the majority of their trip. I went to this tour company’s website and discovered they had a trip to China too, one where you could volunteer at the panda reserve! Panda’s are my favorite animal, so I immediately wanted to go, and I obsessed about it for months and months. I saved my money up and hoped to go there the summer before my senior year. It didn’t work out for a few different reasons, mainly I didn’t save enough and my mother was way too scared to let me go traveling alone, even if it was with a tour group.
During college, I would read the posters in the hall advertising for study abroad programs. They looked like so much fun, but also really scary. “An entire semester abroad? I’ve never even left the east coast of the U.S., how will I deal with such a long period of time away from home, and in a completely new place? It’s a big commitment. If I don’t like it, it’s not like I can just come home. I’d be stuck there for the entire semester or year. It’s also really expensive… how am I going to afford it?”
It took me a long time to finally take the leap. I transferred schools twice, and went part-time for a few semesters, so it took me 6 years to complete my bachelor’s degree. In year 5, I said to myself “it’s scary, but I need to do this”. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t want to look back later in life and regret staying home, so I reluctantly sent in my application.
I studied in London during the spring semester of 2016, and it changed my life completely. I made new friends (one of them being a lifelong BFF), came out of my shell, and learned so many new things, both about myself and about other cultures. I realized the importance of experiences and relationships. I realized how unimportant material possessions were, which is something I used to place a very high value on. I realized how much I enjoyed learning about other cultures, and I realized how little I really knew about the world. From then on, I knew I had to keep traveling.
When you come home after living abroad for a long period of time, you go through a period of reverse culture shock, which many people don’t realize. It’s not fun, and I took it pretty hard. I was no longer happy where I was in my suburban New Jersey town. I got used to it again, but it took me a while. To be honest, the initial idea of coming to Australia did not blossom from a beautiful place. I was depressed, missed London tremendously, and just wanted to get away again. I couldn’t go back to London, but maybe I could find another place that I loved just as much. I researched places that I could go after graduating. I realized that I could get a 1 year working visa for Australia, and I thought about it long and hard. Of course I was worried as I’d never travelled alone. Thankfully, I casually mentioned my plan to a friend, who ended up being totally willing to join me! That made me a lot more comfortable with the idea. So, it began. I would take on extra classes that summer in order to graduate a semester sooner and I would work as much as possible to save up for the trip. I had one year to save and plan it all.
Here’s a list of some good and not-so-good reasons for my decision:
- Accessibility! The Australian visa was incredibly easy for me to get and I am so grateful that I even have the opportunity to do this.
- The visa allowed me to work, not just travel. So I felt much more secure knowing that I’d have an income.
- I’m still young and if I’m going to do it at all, this is the time!
- I really wasn’t ready for the 9 to 5 life. I’m still not. I don’t know if I ever will be. Some people travel their entire lives and work along the way. (I don’t think I would do that, but who knows?) I just wasn’t ready to work 9 to 5 and settle down. I didn’t want to be stuck in my hometown, and I thought that once I got a 9 to 5, I’d be stuck there. I need to figure out where I want to call home.
- I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I guess I came to Australia partly to run away. I didn’t like who I was in New Jersey, and the culture I was immersed in. During the 13 months I was back, it was a struggle to stay true to my new values. I felt surrounded by materialism and gossip, and I couldn’t take it. The longer I stayed there, the more comfortable it became. But I didn’t want that to be my “normal” again. I wouldn’t allow it. I realized that I didn’t fit in with certain groups of friends anymore, which was upsetting, but I accepted it. I had to distance myself from some people because I didn’t want to fall back into my old ways. (This in no way is meant to insult anyone from my hometown. People are different, and people change. We all have different values and interests, and there’s nothing wrong with that.)
- I wanted an adventure! Studying abroad was COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone, and it turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life. I think when you force yourself outside of that zone, that’s when you really grow as a person.
- I wanted to keep learning and I wanted to experience a whole new way of life! Living somewhere is so much different than just taking a vacation. There is SO much more to learn about a country than just their tourism industry. Australia isn’t incredibly different from the U.S. in terms of cultural values, but I didn’t want to throw myself into the deep end right away. I figured my first big trip would be somewhere seemingly easy to adjust to, which is why I chose Australia over places like South Korea or Indonesia.
Well, I hope this helped answer most of your questions! If you think of any more, please post them in the comments below! I’d love to hear all of your questions and comments.