These days, when someone asks how long I’ve lived in Australia for, I’m never really sure what to say. Technically, having arrived what seems like a lifetime ago in September 2015, I’ve been here for thirty months today. Yet with much of last year spent abroad – I lived in both Bali and Los Angeles for three months, as well as spending an extended eight weeks in London over the festive period – I was only in Sydney for little over four months in 2017.
Regardless, however, of the technicalities around my time abroad, I thought that on my thirty month Aussie anniversary away from home, I’d share three of the most important life lessons that living abroad has taught me.
The future is uncertain
Speak to almost any ex-pat living in Australia about how long they’re planning to stay in the land down under and more often than not you’ll be met with a degree of indecision. One of the most lasting memories of the weeks leading up to my departure was when my friend Mona told me I wouldn’t be back after a taste of the Australian way of life. A number of her friends, she said, had gone with the plan of staying just a year, never to be seen on English soil again. I rolled my eyes – I was different, I thought – I loved my friends, family and life in London far too much to ever contemplate a permanent move. Never did I imagine that two and a half years later I’d still be here; despite the many and varied obstacles, still with no immediate intention of ever returning home. Before I left London, I had an idea of what I hoped my future would look like – what I’d be doing; where I’d be living, the sort of life I’d have; moving abroad has thrown caution to the wind; it has meant finding peace with the notion that the future is uncertain, that mine may be spent in Sydney; it may be spent in London; it may be spent in neither. What I’ve learnt is that wherever the future may lay; and whomever it may lay with, is that while happiness can be affected by the places and people around us, ultimately it’s something we have to find within ourselves.
True friendships are a blessing
Living abroad intensifies many things; life becomes that bit more magical, that tiny bit more tangible, that altogether more real. Even after over two years of living away from the UK, the smallest things can still leave me in a state of wonder; the beauty of this city; the hidden gems the country has to offer, the solitude and silence that can be found within a short drive of Sydney. The joy of every day life becomes more acute; but so too can the stresses and strains. Perhaps most significant of all, however, is the impact my living abroad has had on new friendships. I developed almost familial-like reliances and relationships that were borne within an instant; and the friendships are the sort that will stay with me forever. They are the kind of friendships that, despite their length or longevity or lack thereof, are bound by a shared experience that have shaped the course of my life as I once knew it, and whether those friends are in my life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, I am certain that my life is richer for it.
The importance of independence
Prior to leaving my life in London, I don’t think I had ever really known the true meaning of independence, nor had it ever been put into practise. I had travelled, yes, and lived away from home for the best part of a decade, but with friends and family within easy reach, I remained very much wrapped in a blanket of safety and security; however much it didn’t feel like it at the time. Leaving a life in London that I had nurtured for almost a decade was, in a sense, a ridiculous risk – and of course looking back on my reasoning for doing so it’s a wonder I ever really thought things would work out as I hoped them too. But while my time here has taken on more bumps in the road than I ever could have imagined, the often perilous path has taught me resilience, grit and an independence I never would have learnt had I stayed on home turf. It has taught me the importance of living life outside of my comfort zone, the benefits of both risk and failure; and that in the end, the journey we make through this thing we call life, is one that we walk alone.
Love this post? Click here to subscribe.