What a crazy year. This month marks my one-year, my half way, my middle point into my two year visa as an Australian expat in the U.K. This year has been an insane range of emotions from crazy highs and happiness to small bouts of stress and loneliness. My detour so far has been the absolute best year of my life and I can now say with full certainty that the day that I finally stopped wishing and whining to my friends about that far off distant time when I’d ‘travel the world’ and finally stepped on that plane, that it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
In the past year I have travelled to 9 countries (England, Scotland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Spain and Portugal) and many many cities, worked full time in central London, met some amazing people and learnt more about myself than even the most cliche of travel quotes warn you about.
Yes, I know it’s been said a thousand times, but travelling really does help you ‘find yourself’ or as I prefer ‘create yourself’. Before I stepped on that Etihad flight in my hometown Brisbane last year, I was (to be painfully honest) a bit of an irritable, lost, hurt and confused person with the notion that all I wanted at the time was to be somewhere else – and to be experiencing new things.
Moving to the other side of the world and experiencing Prague at Christmas, Budapest at New Years, solo travel in Spain, amazing castles in Lisbon, beautiful scenery in Scotland and a million other amazing London and Europe experiences, really makes you value experiences over possessions and relationships with like minded and fun people. The people you miss are the people who will always be there and the people you spend your time with are the people who are worth your time. Moving to another city allows you to do all the things you felt like you might not be able to do where you grew up. Start a new job, find new friends, drink yourself silly then get up and go to a yoga class, buy a last minute plane ticket or learn to paint – as painfully cliche as it sounds (and I am sure I’ve already gotten a few eye rolls from you while you’ve read this) becoming an expat lets you create yourself to what you really want to be.
I have been thinking about what has made me so happy about being an expat (aside from the travel and nights out) and I’ve come to realise that it’s because as an expat you’re forced to live in the present. If I look too far ahead, I’ll see my leaving date (D-day or my expulsion day as I’ve been calling it) and months and years not knowing even what country I’ll be in. So I stay in the present – planning only the next holiday and the next weekend, making the most of the days I’m in now.
My first year has gone extremely fast, however I have accomplished so much and seen so much that I wouldn’t change a crazy second. If you’re planning on starting your own detour – do it, and do it now. You will never have ‘enough’ money and it will never be the ‘right time’. So just do it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I can’t wait for all of the adventures of the next year continuing my 20 Something Detour in London!