I was meant to be home in February and then I was meant to be home in August. But here I am, nearly one year on, still Down Under, and still coming up with reasons to stay.
1. The Weather
Don’t underestimate the power of the sunshine. I left the UK on August 25th 2013 after spending three months in Windsor (with Wanderlust Travel Magazine) where the sun was shining and I was spending my lunch breaks sitting outside the castle eating ice cream in shorts. For the UK, that’s a big ask. After leaving Summer in Blighty, I landed in Wintertime Sydney which, last year, was pretty much the same deal – beautifully sunny and warm.
It wasn’t until I spoke to my closest friend who was waiting for a bus and on the freezing cold that I realised how much the weather affects our lives. I was sitting on my bed in The Loft in shorts and a vest with the windows wide open and a glass of ice water. It was 6am. There’s something to be said about not having to wear six layers and a hot water bottle to fall asleep; about not being scared to leave your warm bed to get up and have a shower in the morning; about not having to plan the day around the weather except to remember to pack extra sunscreen and make sure we’re all wearing our hats. It’s nice to be able to have a drink on a rooftop bar after work then walk around the city at 10 pm in a dress, a light cardigan and flip flops.
(Note: don’t feel too sorry for yourself in cold old Britain though buddy, Christmas isn’t the same when shorts are getting shorter instead of layers getting thicker. Sometimes I just want to wear my Big Red Jumper! It’s high up on my list of Reasons You’ll Miss The UK From Down Under)
2. Easy Breezy Life
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before but everybody is smiling! The sunshine obviously helps (see above) but it’s also because work finishes when you leave the office. Although there are those people who stay super late and have the pressures of work around them constantly but my friends with real-life jobs (my office is the park, the swimming pool and the library…) tell me that people just aren’t clawing their way to the top like they do back at home. There’s a better quality of life. You work to be able to enjoy your time off rather than working with 110% then spending your time off recovering from working and dreading Monday morning.
Plus you get paid a butt-load more. Yes, a butt-load. For working in a job which doesn’t drain you to the point of exhaustion, even if you work super duper crazy hard. Because let’s face it, when you’re done with a 12 hour day and it’s still 25 degrees outside and you’re in a beautiful city, it’s worth having a shower, getting a bus and going to hang out on aforementioned rooftop terrace.
There are many things that I love, but money just isn’t one of them. I’m not motivated by money. I’m not more likely to take a job JUST because it pays more. I don’t imagine my future being comfortable with a fancy house and expensive car and designer clothes, but I do imagine travelling around the world. Hong Kong, Japan, France, Italy, North America, South America, the list goes on. We all know travelling costs money but after spending about a year of university missing out on fun things because I was saving for my Australia trip, I have not come to appreciate enjoying life whilst saving up for the next adventure. Otherwise you’re just constantly saving then spending for more saving for more spending…the maths does itself). Australia is a great place to save money because you get paid more.
And although Sydney is expensive (here are some budget friendly ideas), as someone who has trouble saying no to pretty shiny things and dining out every weekend and going for drinks in the evenings, I find it much easier than the UK to save up for something special, and I don’t feel like I have to miss out on wonderful experiences day to day. Maybe that’s because the sun is shining and we don’t have to shell out every time we want to do something, because a trip to the park in the summer is a thing of beauty. Or maybe I’ve just become so good at saving up that I forgot what it’s like to not be money aware. I have written a super awesome post about saving for a trip which you should totally read here. If you are thinking of heading off but don’t know where to start, I’ve included some tips and tricks which you should read:
All you can get out of a situation is what you’re willing to put into it, so don’t get me wrong, you can have the time of your life after you return home. However, I really believe that if you’re out of your comfort zone, you’ll learn so much about yourself. It’s harder to take a leap of faith when you’re knee deep in the familiar with family and friends around you. Why would you want to mess with happiness?
Well since I’ve been in Australia I have had four? (I think four…) jobs that I have absolutely loved, have had my own place and have self-built a life for myself in this beautiful country. But not once have I become complacent. Not once have I thought to myself “there’s no point doing something different because everything is just so great”. And although it’s a big claim to make that if I went back home I’d get content and suddenly time would pass me by without me realising, I almost didn’t come to Australia because things were “just so great” back in the UK. If, with all of my motivation for travelling, I can get sucked in to life, then I’m sure the rest of the world can. Do something exciting. I want to channel Sabrina and go learn how to burn the soufflé in Paris! SO GO!
5. Find Yourself
I always think that I know myself. I look at who I am and say “This is pretty good, I’m happy with who I am”, only to find that a year later I have changed so much that I barely recognise myself.
Right now I am sitting on a veranda drinking a soy banana smoothie, it’s 31 degrees at midday, I’m about the finish this post, watch some YouTube then go for a shower. I live in a tin shed. I take solar powered showers outdoors. I fought a dragon fly with my bare hands last night. I saw an ibis just fly over and didn’t get scared he was going to peck my eyes out. For lunch we will be eating salad that I grew in the garden.
A (possibly poisonous) monster frog in the shower was just another silly anecdote to call home about. I am less afraid of things. I am more aware of things. I am more curious and knowledgeable than I have ever been. I’ve started appreciating birds. The other day I saw an unfamiliar giant bird and I couldn’t wait to tell someone about it. It was a falcon! And now I’ve told everybody who’ll listen about it. But who’d have known I love growing vegetables and learning about different birds unless I’d left beautiful old Sydney where everything was perfect and come on an adventure to find some Room In Broome.