Greetings, or more appropriately, g’day mate! Welcome to my blog, in which I will try to record the next twelve months as I move from small town Durham to the thriving metropolitan capital of Australian culture. It has been little over a week since I touched down here in Australia, on the other side of the world, and in a sense the UK already seems much more distant than twelve days away.
On the other hand, I can barely comprehend how in a mere twelve days I have packed up my life for a year, flown 10,502 miles across the globe, settled into my new apartment, completed Orientation Week, and started my classes at the University of Melbourne! Have a read if you fancy a flying tour (pun intended) of the start of my year abroad.
We won’t talk much of the hectic stress that was packing all of my belongings in the three days I left myself. Top tip # 1: start packing well in advance. Spatial awareness has never been my forte, and neither has decision making, so ‘packing light’ was never going to be easy.
Tip # 2 for beginners: you don’t need that many jumpers, sweaters, or jackets.
I was warned that Melbourne in winter would be COLD, and it’s certainly not stereotypical Australian weather here at the moment, but it is definitely not, by British standards, cold. Choose your favourites, pack them, and see if you have any space left – because the chances are you probably won’t.
My last night at home came up so fast I didn’t really have time to stop and worry, or be sad, that I was leaving. Before I knew it I was waking up at an ungodly hour and hauling my suitcases into the car (tip # 3: check you can still lift your cases after you stuff them full of books). Leaving didn’t seem real until I said goodbye to my family at the airport, and for the first time in my life was well and truly alone.
That sounds as if I’ve never been away from home before, but that’s not what I mean. Even when I moved away to university, which felt like a big step at the time, my home and family were only a two-hour train ride away. Leaving to live in another continent, with ten thousand miles separating me from everything that was familiar, suddenly seemed far scarier than anything I had done before. Choosing a year abroad is like a leap of faith: worth it after you make the jump!
When I had daydreamed about my year abroad arrival, as I had for many months prior to take off, I imagined sitting looking contemplatively (maybe a little melancholically, but also excitedly, depending on how I was feeling) out of the plane window, watching as a beautiful vista of sky, sea and beach unravelled before me.
My tip # 5 is to not become too attached to your travel expectations, because the reality will almost never to be turn out as you expect! My reality was sitting in the middle aisle of an airbus, with no chance of being able to crane my neck to see out those tiny portholes – and even if I could, we arrived in pitch black darkness, despite it being only 6pm.
This probably sounds as if the start to my year abroad was downcast and despondent – but the funny thing is, it didn’t matter how I was arrived, or what I could see.
The best part is that even in your wildest fantasies you can’t imagine all the amazing details that will make up your favourite memories: my lasting impression of arrival was the overwhelming thrill of starting a brand-new chapter, and finally beginning this much-anticipated year-long adventure!