The 6th of August was one of those landmark days for me as it is the day, at 24 years old, that I left Sydney, my home, my job, my friends and family, to move to London. I didn’t know how it would turn out, if I would last, if I would even enjoy it, if I could be self sufficient. But here I am, six years on, still here, and very happy in my decision to leap, to give it a go and see what happened.
I have made London my home, work in a job I love, with an amazing team of people, have made some incredible friends who are my surrogate families, I have had so many experiences that I would not have had if I hadn’t moved half way around the world. It hasn’t always been easy, there is so much I have missed out on, weddings, babies, funerals, celebrations, and countless small everyday moments that I will never know about. I am sure there have been many missed opportunities because I haven’t been here. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I first moved over I arrived just as some areas of London were rioting, and I felt the need to rethink about where I wanted to live as a result of that. I needed to find a job, so that I could pay for somewhere to live! It was all so uncertain and all a bit scary. There were many times I felt overwhelmed by it all and couldn’t work out what I really needed to do next in order to succeed.
But then I started making friends, was booking holidays, seeing things with my own eyes that has only ever been a photo for me. Within 6 months in the country I knew that I needed to find a job that would sponsor me so I could stay longer than the 2 years of the visa that I was on allowed. I was so lucky to find that. I have created a life here which I love, and visiters from home can see that too.
Now I am one year off being able to apply for perminent residency in the UK. I cannot believe it has been 6 years! (Or that the rules in the UK make it so difficult for a tax-paying resident who has the right to vote to stay when the reverse situation is very different).
I have been thinking about those feelings I had when I first moved a lot lately because a very dear friend is about to embark on her big overseas adventure, moving to Kenya to teach at a school there. The almost crippling fear of being worried you are making the right decision, deciding what to take, the excitement as it all gets closer and it becoming more and more real when you starting doing things for the last time and saying goodbye to people. The overwhelming feeling of realising how much you mean to different people as you go through that process. Then the move, and doing everything for the first time. Shopping for food and not recognising any of the brands, not knowing which shop to go to for certain things, or companies to contact, how long it takes to get from one place to another and not understanding cultural references in conversations.
I feel though that there is nothing more exciting than the unknown, than a new adventure, whatever it may be. Moving, starting a new job, trying a new sport, making new friends, learning a new skill. You don’t know what the outcome will be, you know there is a chance you will fall, but you push through that fear and find a way to succeed.
I am going to miss my friend so much, as I know I am missed back home, but there is something so special about important friends that distance and time can make the friendship stronger. I cannot wait for her adventure, and have been loving being able to reminisce about the beginning of mine. I am so excited for her and all of the new challenges and experiences she has ahead of her.