I feel lost in the world I wished for. Waiting patiently in London for months and months, I was more than excited boarding that plane to Sydney. I was finally getting to go to Australia, the dream was coming true. I would work in a nice little café by the sea, have nice friends I could go out with. Live in an apartment where I could see the ocean from my bedroom window and run along the beach every day or surf. The thing is all that was just a dream and after 9 months of being in Australia I’m ready to move on from the dream that never came true.
No one tells you how expensive everything REALLY is, no one tells you that it isn’t that easy to find a job, no one tells you the bad image backpackers have. And least of all no one tells you that Australia does get winter because everyone plans for it and heads north before it starts.
Travelling Australia is everything it’s made out to be, with a huge price tag. You will meet awesome people along the way but you will also meet people who just want to get drunk. The Whitsundays really is that beautiful and the Great Barrier Reef is incredible. Driving on Fraser Island is worth it and you should leave enough time for more than one surf lesson. However when the East Coast is said and done, you realise that real life exists and keeping the dream alive is a lot harder than you first thought.
Landing in Melbourne for the first time was overwhelming, it wasn’t Cairns any more. It was expensive, it was dirty, and it was, well a CITY. Having spent one day out of the last six weeks in a city I had forgotten what it was like. And so we went orange picking in South Australia. The Murray River Land – pure Australia. It was beautiful, we saw sunrise every morning for 88 days and as tough as some days were it was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I saw kangaroos in the wild, I lived on a boat and despite the tough times it never really seemed that long. And it meant I had achieved something I never imagined I could.
Now I’m back in Melbourne, winter has fully hit and I don’t want to be here anymore. This is far from the Australian dream I imagined. It’s cold and the sun doesn’t shine everyday any more. There’s no job by the sea or surf session every week. Instead I’m surrounded by this expensive city that is voted the most liveable place in the world, feeling very out of place. Four months I have been here now, and four months feels long enough of being in the same place, with the same job. Fighting the same issues, day in and day out. Despite what everyone tells you there aren’t a lot of jobs around unless you want to fundraise or have hospitality experience. You might get paid well for it but you have to work bloody hard for that money with a manager who thinks they are so far above you. If you want a job that might be a stepping stone in your career then it’s pretty much a no as soon as you tell them what visa you have. You could be the most suitable person in the world but due to the rule of only being able to work for one company for six months people just say no.
When I dreamed of coming to Australia I dreamed of living by the sea, working in a café on the beach front and being able to enjoy the sunshine every day. Instead I’m stuck in the middle of winter with a job I don’t really like feeling trapped in a life I wished for. Maybe I should have come here just to travel, but I would never have known what was on offer if I hadn’t have looked. Yes the wages are good, but the cost of living is high. Maybe Melbourne was the wrong choice of city but who wouldn’t want to experience the most liveable city in the world. Maybe if I wasn’t so stubborn at putting up with my job and had just gotten a new one when things first went wrong I might be happier now. There are so many maybes, but none of them are regrets. Travelling is all about finding yourself and understanding what you want from life. I have certainly learnt that I don’t want a job where I waste my day and work all night. I’ve learnt to appreciate sunrise and the hope it brings for the day. I’ve learnt that I love to take ‘trips’ not travelling full time. Be that a day trip or six weeks up the East Coast. I like doing something and not wanting it to end rather than spending too long doing the same thing and beginning to hate it. Most of all I’ve learnt that I like to be really financially secure. I like to know when my next pay cheque is coming and how much it will be. I hate knowing how many weeks’ worth of money I have left until I’m broke. It all makes me feel very stressed.
Australia is the land of dreams to any girl who loves the sea and wishes she could surf like the chicks in all the films. Unfortunately that isn’t the life that the majority live. Melbourne is certainly not the city of sun, sea and surf it is more food, drink and events. The East Coast is everything I dreamed of and more but had I have lived there would I be saying the same thing now? It’s easy to say all of this in hindsight but the one thing I do know is I should never try and stay somewhere for more than three months. It’s okay to get stuck in a rut and hate the UK from time to time but when I’ve chosen to travel and live half way around the world I don’t feel it’s okay to live somewhere and get stuck in a rut counting down the days till you leave. I wouldn’t change the way I have done things throughout my duration of being in Australia, if I hadn’t have done them I would never have known. But I would do things differently if I choose to come back to work in Australia or choose to work abroad in another country.
All in all I am looking for that perfect balance of life, work, travel and I’m yet to get it right but that’s okay I’m only 22.