Back in high school I played on the tennis team and met a really sweet girl named Molly. We kept in touch a little in college and years later when I asked her to be part of my Interview Series for the blog, she didn’t hesitate for a second to participate. She is still as awesome and outgoing as she was back in the day. So last year, I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard she was taking a year to live abroad in Australia.
I have always wanted to go to Australia and plan to in the future, so when I started this series I instantly thought of Molly and her adventures. I knew she had to have some amazing stories and I had so many questions for her.
She had so much great information that I decided to split her interview into not one, not two, but three parts. Today Molly talks about her decision to live abroad for a year, what she did to prepare, and some differences she saw between Australians and Americans. Next time she’ll cover her travels to South East Asia, New Zealand and her reflections on her year abroad.
Check out this amazing video Molly captured a picture or video everyday for her year abroad. It gave me goosebumps watching it! I think it’s one thing for her to share her stories and talk about them, and a whole other thing to be able to see them. She really had an incredible year filled with so many experiences. Definitely come back for the next two Thursdays to hear about her trip in parts 2 and part 3!
The reason why I decided to travel abroad was because I didn’t want to wake up in 10 years and have a sinking feeling of regret that I never traveled or lived abroad. That was always something I regretted about college, so I figured there was no better time than the present to do it. It was also very strange how it all happened- I had a dream one night that I boarded a plane and moved somewhere foreign (Kazakhstan to be exact), and woke up from that thinking how weird, but also how cool that would be to do something like that. 8 months later- wa la! There I was in Sydney!
My brother studied abroad in Sydney and then lived there after he graduated and really loved it, so hearing all those wonderful things about it made me want to see it for myself. I never really considered anywhere else- it was English speaking, people were friendly, weather is amazing, and they offer the work and holiday visa to travelers. The choice was pretty clear for me.
My brother and sister in law went through the program when they moved over there and had a great experience with it.
If you visit: http://www.bunac.org/usa, it will give you all the details that the program includes and what they offer. It is a one time up front cost, but does not include the visa fee, or the flight. I recommend it for travelers who like to have everything arranged for them ahead of time, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to go through them either. It’s fairly easy to navigate your way around Sydney and figuring out your bank account, tax file number (which you need in order to work), living arrangements, etc.
My mom had no problem telling me several times that I over packed- and I hate to admit it but she’s right. I had two large suitcases and a backpack. It’s very difficult to know how to pack and what type of weather to plan for, but I probably packed a little too much of my winter clothes. The only time I needed my thick coat was when I traveled to New Zealand! After traveling for about 4 months and living out of a backpack, I can safely call myself a master-packer. It’s important to remember that you can always buy things when you’re there!
My mom had a “we’ll believe it when we see it” reaction, but was supportive of my decision. My dad was excited for me, as he loves to travel and wanted to come visit me if/when I moved. My friends were all really supportive and excited for me as well. My siblings and their spouses were my biggest advocates for doing this as they both had lived/traveled abroad and knew it was my time to go.
Yes! My best friend Kristen came out for 10 days and we had a blast!
There were definitely days (especially in the beginning) that I was homesick, but as soon as I started meeting people and built a group of friends that definitely helped combat that. I knew I was only a Facetime away!
Not really. To be completely honest, I felt safer in Australia than Chicago!
I was a little hesitant to tell people I was American at first, just because I wasn’t sure of what our reputation was over there. However, as soon as I started talking to people and they asked where I was from and I told them, they could not have been friendlier. They are some of the most welcoming, hospitable people and I never felt out of place. Quite the opposite in fact!
Australians have it right- they put much more of an emphasis on enjoying life outside of work. They don’t stress themselves over the little things. Whenever they have a bad day or need to relax, they go to the beach. The drinking culture is also very big over there and the bars are always pretty busy regardless of day/time. I would get done working at 5:30 and I’d notice the bars were already crowded when I’d be done. It’s one big happy hour over there! They also place such an importance over travel there. They are given much more vacation time that we are (as most other countries do), but it’s very common for people to take several weeks off of work to go travel abroad. Overall, I felt like they live a very carefree, relaxing way of life and we could learn a thing or two from them!
In a heartbeat if it wasn’t so far away from my friends and family.
It can be a little difficult to stay in touch with the time difference and busy schedules, but thankfully technology makes it pretty easy these days to stay in touch with them! I will hopefully see some of them again at some point in my life!
Ha, this is a question I ask myself every day. Towards the end of my time there I definitely wish I could have stayed longer as I didn’t feel ready to come home at all. I think I would have liked to stay for at least another year or two max. But, home is never a bad thing and there are plenty more adventures to come!
Do it while you’re still young, before you have a spouse, kids, mortgage, etc. There’s no better time than now (and the work and holiday visa is only eligible to people 30 and younger). You have the rest of your life to be settled down, so stop making excuses of why you can’t, and just go. Worse comes to worse, you’re homesick, broke, whatever the reason may be- home is always going to be there. Very little changes (especially within a year), and all those things that you’ve left behind will still be there when you come back. It’s so easy to get caught in the routine of things and feel like you need to take this specific route in life, and after traveling and talking to people from all over, you realize there’s so much more out there. Traveling and living abroad is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I absolutely love Molly’s positive attitude. And she is so right. We really all do make excuses for why we can’t do things, but we need to make our dreams bigger than our excuses and step up. She is such an inspiration and I’m so glad she did this for herself. It was obviously a very positive experience for her and one she will be talking about for the rest of her life. Couldn’t we all use a little more adventure in our lives?