Three years living abroad…can’t believe I’m typing that. I love the life I’ve built in Australia, but I would not say every single day is easy. I wanted to share some reflections as I think about the past 3 years and all the growth they have brought me.
This quote really sums up what it feels like to move away from home:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adney
I love a lot of people in a lot of places. And I will forever feel like I am being torn in different directions, but it’s about managing the pull as best as I can.
I left a life I loved in Chicago back in 2019. I told myself I would give Sydney 2 years, maybe only 1 if I didn’t like it. I planned my return in my head. Those first 6 months were incredibly lonely. And had the pandemic not hit, I might have given up.
But slowly, I built a life here. I found friends who feel like family. I learned how to maintain my relationships back in the States without the feeling of missing out. I realized that while it is challenging, it is also a blessing to have two homes and love so many people around the world.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:
You are going to miss out on things.
You physically cannot be at everything. The first time you miss a friend’s birthday party, a wedding, a family holiday — it sucks. I learned quickly that the group FaceTime made me feel worse rather than better. I needed to just do my own thing and then check-in with how it was after. But my best advice here is to feel your feelings. I cried that first Christmas Eve away from my family. I felt like I wasn’t as close to my friends as I used to be after missing out on so much, but it does get easier. The first few are the hardest.
You will probably talk to your friends from home less often.
You are no longer in the day-to-day with people you used to talk to all the time. So, your communication changes. I had to think about what forms of communication now worked best for me. With the time difference between the U.S. and Australia, there aren’t a lot of hours of overlap that work well for calling. I started voice noting and using Marco Polo to leave video messages so that friends could respond when it was a good time for them. I still schedule video chats with people and call my parents once or twice a week, but most of my friend chats are on our time. That works. It might be less often than it used to be, but it is intentional and we keep in touch because we want to.
You will try new things.
Moving across the world where you don’t know anyone is scary. It’s a big leap. And by moving, I became more of a “leaper” in all areas of my life. I decided to work for myself and start my own business. I set my fear of the ocean aside to experience so many fun adventures here. It’s as if the decision to move helped me be less fearful in general. And I love that.
You will question your decision to move OFTEN.
I won’t tell you how many times I wanted to quit in the first year of living in Australia. Six months in, the pandemic hit and I was “stuck”. It was HARD. I had a lot of days I wanted to pack up and get on a plane. But I stuck it out. Those days will come up where you question your decisions and that is okay. You can feel more than one thing at once. I will always be homesick.
You will make new friends who feel like family.
It took me a while to make friends. Making friends as an adult is hard in general, but you have to be patient. A cool thing about moving abroad is you will meet people in a similar situation as you and you will meet people you never would have had the chance to meet before. My friends here truly feel like family. I cannot imagine my life without all these relationships. I like to think people enter your life for a reason and I am extremely lucky to have met so many incredible people here.
I could talk about the last 3 years forever. I am proud of the version of myself Australia has helped create. The opportunity to live here has been life changing and I still have to pinch myself. I never would have thought I would still be living here after 3 years, but this adventure does not feel done. Grateful to have two homes.