Next month it will be exactly 11 years since I went on my first trip to Australia. At the time I had no idea that this was the start of a relationship that continued to draw me back to the land down under time and time again.
To this day, I have visited the country four times, coming up to a total duration of almost 19 months that I lived there. I have gone to school and to university. I have travelled the country alone, with friends, and with family. During those trips, I have crossed a whole lot of things off my bucket list. I visited family members I’d never met before and who instantly took me in as one of them. I made many friends who have become an important part of my life, even when we don’t see each other for several years.
How it all began
Exactly three years ago, I left for my – up to now – last trip to Australia. Like the first time I visited, I was going to stay for half a year, this time to study abroad rather than go to high school.
So much had changed in these eight years.
In 2005 it was the first time I was all alone on such a long trip. I had to navigate plane changes and stopovers before I arrived to meet my aunt and uncle, who I hadn’t seen in a few years.
Despite the fact that my older sister, who had gone through the same experience three years earlier, equipped me with a load of information and accounts of her experiences, it is always different when you finally get to see it for yourself. I thought I knew what to expect because I had spent years listening to my sister and my mum retelling all their adventures. But no matter how much I thought I knew, real life exceeded my expectations by far.
Everything was new, and exciting, and unknown, and scary, and beautiful. It was love at first sight.
My home away from home
When I went to study down under in 2013, I was much more relaxed about it. I knew the country. I knew Sydney. I had been going to school, working, and backpacking in Australia. If I could handle all of that, I was sure I could handle university.
Coming to Australia now felt like coming home. Still, every trip is different and brings its own challenges. Australia is like an old friend who I know I get along with, but who has yet to reveal to me all her secrets. Every time I visit I am stunned with a new aspect she had not shown me before.
One blog post is hardly enough to acknowledge all those experiences, friends, and adventures. So get ready to hear a lot more about it in the future.
Some part of me will always stay behind in Australia
I don’t know how long it will be until I get the chance to go again. Since my first visit, I have managed to come back every two or three years. This time it will be longer, because it is very unlikely I’ll make it to Australia this year, or even the next.
No matter how long it takes, though, I know I will one day return to my home away from home. My aunt’s friends have taken to calling me their “adopted Australian”, and I find that term fitting. Maybe it is not so much that Australia has adopted me, but that I have adopted her as my second home. Either way, she is an important part of my life, and I can’t wait to see her again.
Do you have a home away from home somewhere in another country? What does it take for you to make a foreign place feel like home? Share in the comments!