My very first Australia trip took place when I was 17 years old. I went to live with my aunt and uncle for half a year and visited an Australian high school. Besides all the obvious changes and challenges that came with that, today I want to talk about one particular aspect of life in Australia that I needed to get used to.
You see, I’m from Hamburg, Germany. Which may not be a huge metropolis on an international scale, but it’s still a big city with lots of people. In Australia, I lived in a tiny village in Queensland. They now have three supermarkets, but it was two when I first stayed there. There’s a main street with some shops and restaurants, but nothing compared to what you would have in a city. There are a sports ground and a golf course, but no cinema, theatre, or anything of that kind. If you want to watch a movie, or go to a shopping mall, or do anything culturally inclined, you need to take the 30-minutes drive to Toowoomba, the nearest bigger town (I hesitate to call it a city). Which may not seem that far, but I didn’t have a driver’s licence yet at that age. Not having a car (unless my uncle was willing to drive me) certainly limited the options.
Finding my rhythm
Most of the time not being in a city wasn’t much of an issue. I was going to school after all, and in the afternoon I did my homework, watched TV, read a book (not necessarily in that order). There wasn’t much happening besides, and that was fine.
School-free days were a different matter. I have to give it to my aunt and uncle, they did their best to entertain me. We often went on day trips when I wasn’t in school, or spent a weekend at the coast. They took me to the beach, to theme parks, or just to Toowoomba for cinema and shopping. However, we couldn’t go for a day trip every single day that I wasn’t in school. When we stayed home, entertainment was much harder to come by.
Visiting friends was out, too. While making friends didn’t take very long, seeing them outside of school wasn’t an option. In Hamburg, all my school friends lived in my neighbourhood. Visiting them whenever I wanted was no issue at all. In Australia, many came from surrounding farms and had a long way to school. Going for a quick visit in the afternoon was simply not possible.
So what am I trying to say with all this?
Going abroad gives you the option to live a lifestyle very different from the one you have at home. That can take many forms. In my case, I lived a very quiet life while in Queensland. I didn’t run around pursuing one hobby after another but spend the days quietly at home. It was okay, for a time. Although I don’t think I will ever be a country girl for good.
I don’t need to, though. By staying in far off places and with other people, we learn what life is like for others. We might like some of it better and some of it less, but either way, we’re learning from it. That’s what travelling is all about!Have you lived abroad? What was most different about it? How did you cope? Share in the comments!