When I decided to get a working holiday visa for Australia, it didn’t come from a place of burning desire to visit or live in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously had no aversion to the place, but I know for a lot of people, they go to Australia because they desperately want to visit it. It appeals to a lot of people, it tugs at their heart strings.
I felt tugged towards South East Asia for years – the culture, food, weather, temples and religions, weird modes of transport – it all appealed to me. I also felt the same way with New Zealand, which I attribute mostly to my love of Lord of the Rings – the mountains, fiords and rolling hills, I wanted to be a part of that. But Australia? I liked the idea of visiting, but I didn’t feel that desperation, it wasn’t the highest on my priorities.
So why on earth did I decide to apply for a working holiday there?
Because I thought…. why not?
I had had a break up two months before I booked those flights. What was meant to be a seven – nine month backpacking trip turned into a year and a half long trip including me living and working in another country, because now I had had that break up, I had no commitments in the uk. I would have graduated, wouldn’t have started a career, and no boyfriend (at the time) to come back to and attempt to start some sort of life with. So why the hell not? I could make some money, meet friends, and explore. The prospects and opportunity to earn was good in Australia, better than in New Zealand I’d heard anyway. And the idea of living somewhere that is mostly sunny and hot really appealed to me.
I didn’t decide on it recklessly, I did put thought in to it, but those thoughts never came from a place of worry or concern, or even nervousness. I researched into it not because I was doubting it, but because I was serious about it. And then I booked it all. I bought my flights and applied for my visa, at the end of January 2014. I can remember that day so, so clearly. I was living in Cardiff, and I walked into STA Travel and booked it all. I couldn’t do it soon enough. I wanted it there on paper, clear proof that I was going on this journey.
Weirdly, I think the fact that I had never had a burning desire to visit Australia meant I had a better experience than I ever could have otherwise. Why? Because I had no expectations set out. I knew it was supposed to be hot, I knew people liked to surf, I knew they’d be lots of weird animals and things that want to kill you. Basically, I knew about the stereotypes and that was about it. Because I had no expectations of what I wanted from Australia, it meant I allowed everything to happen really organically. It meant instead of overthinking everything and listing out what I wanted, I just allowed myself to roll with the punches. The only pull I felt was towards Melbourne, and I’m so glad I followed that instinct, because Melbourne was the city that made me realise what it means to fall in love with a city. Melbourne introduced me to incredible people, and an amazing way of life.
Even when things didn’t go so well and I felt like we made mistakes – when we underestimated how much travelling the east coast would cost, when we went on the Whitsundays tour from hell, when we did farm work and earned next to nothing and were stuck living in a hostel, when we spent a month in Brisbane just trying to rack up some cash – I feel like these opportunities provided important lessons in travel, and in life. I felt like I needed those experiences to grow as a person. I hated farm work, and I resented it even more that I didn’t even get a second year visa for it, but farm work not only provided a once in a lifetime opportunity, it allowed me to meet awesome people, and it humbled me in a way that only picking raspberries at 6 in the morning for next to no money can.
Now that I’ve left Australia, I love it. I can’t believe there was a time I was indifferent to the idea of going there. I can’t think of anywhere in the world I’d rather be and I hope that fate allows me to move back there one day and call the country my home. But for now, I just look back on it and thank my stars that I had that experience at all.
The moral of the story? Yes, do the stuff that your heart pulls you towards and listen to your instincts, but also do the stuff that you’re not really bothered about, just because why not? Whether it’s moving to a different country, or just making an impromptu decision to go on a last minute weekend break or a festival, or the decision to simply try something new, just do it because you can. Even though you may not feel that pull, or even though it may never had of appealed to you before, just those last minute thoughts can still be signs that its what we are meant to do. It may be the best decision you ever made, it may shape your whole life. Or it may just end up being an incredible amount of fun. Either way, don’t be afraid to go big and bold and do things just for the hell of it.