Living Abroad

Living Abroad
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As some of you may know, I’ve had pretty mixed feelings about my semester abroad in Australia. Both living abroad and visiting Australia are on my bucket list so I was very excited at the prospect of it. However, I was also terrified. I wasn’t worried about living on my own (been there, done that) but I wasn’t too keen on the prospect of being so far away from everyone I care about. As the day to leave approached, I struggled more and more with these opposing emotions. It was utterly exhausting. I was so conflicted on the day of, that I felt numb. It was just too much to process. As soon as I said my goodbyes going into the security area and emerged on the other side, I ugly cried.

Getting to Australia was pretty long; it took 3 days of travel to arrive. I went from Montreal to San Francisco, San Francisco to Singapore, Singapore (pit stop in Bali – we had to get off the plane, go through security, run to the departure terminal and get back on the plane we had just vacated – a bit ridiculous if you ask me) to Perth. My layovers were pretty uneventful as they were in the evening and most of the airport was closing up shop for the night. I was able to grab my shot glass (for those who do not know, I collect them from places I travel to), get some food and find somewhere semi-comfy to attempt to get some sleep. Throughout the travelling process, my anxiety lessened with each leg of the journey completed and with that, my excitement grew.

Once I made my way to my accommodation (Airbnb), I settled in pretty quickly. It didn’t take long to navigate the Transperth system (at least for places I would be going pretty regularly: school, downtown, nearest mall, beach, etc.), set up a bank account (Westpac had the best deal for students: No fees for 12 months & Free ISIC card – win!), get a local phone number (Optus Prepaid), get a TFN (Tax File Number – needed to work) and explore the tiny suburb of Carlisle that was to be my home for the next several months. What I was not expecting, was to be bored and homesick within the first week.

Heiko, Paul & I @ Caversham Wildlife Park. February 2020

Luckily, two of my flatmates (Heiko & Paul) were pretty social and they made the following few weeks a lot more fun and a little less lonely. Unfortunately, they were short term tenants and were only staying a few weeks but I am very grateful to have met them as they made the transition somewhat easier. I’m also very thankful that Paul was still around when a storm took out the power and flooded the gas stove. He definitely saved the day. I had no idea where the fusebox was, nor did I have any experience with gas stovetops prior to coming here and it seems none of the other tenants did either.

Living abroad and taking a vacation requires two very different mindsets. Having only ever travelled for vacation purposes, I was a little caught off guard. When you’re in a new place to live, you essentially do the same things you do at home (the firsts are exciting but the novelty wears off quickly). When you’re on vacation, you tend to stick to all the touristy stuff that you can’t do at home, which I will definitely be doing too. Stay tuned!

For the most part, Perth is not really all that different from Montreal, with the exception of the weather (it’s a wee bit warmer here), language politics are non-existent and the available tourist attractions (beaches, flora, fauna, etc.). Some items are more expensive but the minimum wage is also $19.49 AUD (~$17.00 CAD), quite a bit higher than at home at $12.50 CAD. Public transportation is pretty easy to navigate and makes most places easily accessible, although they could do better by extending the hours busses are available. Early am or evening travel can become a real hassle as the time between busses is longer and certain busses will skip stops along its regular route, cut the route short altogether or just won’t be available at all. Needless to say, however, adapting to every day life happened a lot quicker than expected. I look forward to the adventures to come, now that I’m feeling a bit more settled.

Have you ever lived abroad or thought about it? Where did/would you go?

Let me know in the comments!

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