It has been 147 weeks since I boarded my one-way flight from California to Australia. Why would I choose to move to Australia you ask? Well for LOVE of course.
I am speaking of a love and addiction I have for traveling the world. My first exposure to traveling began when I was 3 months old, taking my first flight to New York where my family lived. I feel extremely thankful to have traveled coast to coast throughout my entire life and to have found two places where I felt at home. I then found myself moving to Orange County for University and next to Prague, Czech Republic to study abroad. Before the age of 21 I had traveled to 13 states and 15 countries, so my decision to move to Australia wasn’t completely out of character. Yes, there were other factors involved as well. I had a boyfriend who had recently moved to Australia and I had studied International Business in school (so go figure choosing to work internationally was not random) but I will talk about that story in a later post.
When you think of Australia I bet you think of the Sydney Opera House, Vegemite, the gorgeous Hemsworth brothers, kangaroos, tanned surfers on the beach etc… I don’t mean to crush your travel dreams, but there is a lot more to Australia than the stereotypical and I’ve been learning every day since becoming an expat Down Under (or ‘Oz’ as I like to call it). First of all, it is important to know that the capital is not Sydney (its Canberra), Vegemite is disgusting, everyone is attractive like the Hemsworth brothers and people do not ride on kangaroos (they eat them instead). Oz is massive (the same size as the USA and wider), home to the deadliest creatures and each of the 6 states brings its own breathtaking beauty and unique cultural vibe.
I live with my boyfriend of 4 years in Perth, Western Australia which happens to be the most geographically isolating capital in the world. If you haven’t heard of Perth, you are not the first. Let me emphasize that it is the most isolating capital in the world. I have traveled through the Outback here and you do not want to get stranded or lost in this place! Despite Perth not being as popular as Sydney or Melbourne, it does have some amazing qualities that make it a noteworthy destination. Perth is visually stunning with over 3,000 hours of constant sunshine every year and 12,000 km (7,456 miles) of beautiful coastal beaches. It is just as laid back, friendly, outdoorsy, multi-cultural, and diverse as California, so the initial transition was not difficult (minus driving on the other side of the road which was plain terrifying at first). But soon after this ‘honeymoon phase’ finally ended, things did become more challenging and I had to build an entire new foundation in a country that I could not yet call my home.
If you ever plan to do a super long travel trek around the world or live abroad one day, here are some insights I’d like to share with you. Or maybe you are already in the middle of doing this. Either way, I hope you can relate. There will always be positives and negatives to every travel experience but it’s all about your attitude and how you approach the outcome. Some positive things I’ve learned since becoming an official expat:
- You’ll never get tired of traveling, the bucket list only keeps growing. My 2016 was off to a crazy start with 16 flights in the first three months and I loved every bit of it. I have been very lucky to tick loads of places off my bucket list by exploring both Australia & Asia. I actually find that I can only survive day to day at work by having a holiday to look forward to. (September come sooner!) Side note: Australian culture on taking holidays is very different than America. In Oz, most workers are guaranteed 4 weeks of Annual Leave per year in their contract and they will use every day of it. They also take an average of 9 days of Sick Leave per year (whether legitimate or not).
- Keeping busy is important but finding balance is essential. When I first arrived in Perth I was obsessed with exploring the city, eating at all the hip restaurants, attending every concert, bar hoping on Fridays (plus the frequent Sunday drinking session), and taking weekend trips. I was almost afraid to remain stagnant and really settle into a normal life. Now a few years down the line, I actually find myself looking forward to one or two quiet weekends a month at home that involve sleeping in, casual date nights, experimenting with new recipes, or catching up on my American TV shows.
- Finding fitness and a healthy focus on everyday life. Here in Oz, everyone is on the move. Because of the gorgeous weather, everyone is active outside doing things like fishing, running, cycling, or swimming at the beaches. It’s easy to fit into this culture and it comes naturally the longer you live here. My past self (and my fit-fanatic father) would be shocked to know that I go to the gym at least 6 times a week (thanks to F45 Training!), drink protein powder shakes regularly, and take vitamins twice a day.
- New-found patriotism. When I lived at home I never used to tap into that famous American pride. I secretly craved to escape America all the time and to be somewhere new. Since I’ve moved, I’ve somehow turned into the spokesperson for America here in Perth as one of the few who live here. (GOD BLESS ‘MURICA.) I’ve never felt more proud to be an American and grateful to come from the family, friends, and culture that I do. Side note: It’s a stab in my red, white and blue heart that I can’t vote in the upcoming election. (If Trump wins I’m never moving home and at least I’ll be safe in isolated Oz when World War III breaks out.)
Have these past 147 weeks in Oz been a wild adventure? Ohmygosh yes. But have they been filled with absolute bliss and happiness? Heck no. Keep a look out in the next few weeks as I dive into the harder lessons I’ve learned while living abroad.
P.S. If an expat life is something you’re interested in then check out this Work and Holiday Visa. It costs $300 and allows you stay in the country, work, and travel for one whole year. Not enough Americans are aware of this unreal opportunity.
P.P.S. If an expat life is something you’re not interested in and just want to day dream about Australia then check out this gorgeous Instagram account. You will be looking for that visa shortly thereafter.