Saturday, 2 April 2016

6 months on...readjusting to life back home!

You make some good decisions in life and you make some not so good ones. But I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason so each of those decisions will bring you to where you need to be in life. I don’t always get it right, but when I do, I get it 110% right. That’s how I look back on my decision to go away travelling last year.
 
This post isn’t strictly a health and fitness related one so a little bit different to the usual but it’s something I wanted to write about and I hope you enjoy reading.
 
I can’t imagine what my life and my mind would be like without my memories and experiences of 2015 when on the 22nd January I hopped on a one way flight out of here heading to a land Down Under with zero plans other than the first few weeks when I would enjoy some family time with my parents, my sister, her fiancé and his family.
 
I don’t often realise unless I stop to think about it but a lot of those experiences influence the decisions I make now and it certainly altered my outlook on life. 6 months ago today I stepped on the plane back home and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind 6 months so I wanted to write about what it’s been like readjusting to life back on British soil.
 
Before I went to Australia I just craved some adventure. After working hard building my career in my early twenties my heart ached for some excitement, fun and new experiences. I had terrible wanderlust always day dreaming about what life might be like in another culture, another country and just wondering what else was out there. As I got a career break to go away and I had a job I loved in the NHS at home I purely just saw it as a chance for me to go away and follow my dreams for a while and ‘get it out of my system’ so to speak so that I could put down some roots and feel a little bit more settled when I returned home.
 
 
New countries, new experiences, new memories
 
I was a little naïve in thinking that to be honest. I had such a range of emotions during my time in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji which I didn’t quite prepare myself for. Naturally when I had a job in the heart of Sydney, spent my weekends at the coast, the sun was shining and I got to spend time again with my sister who moved out there a few years ago, there was part of me that wanted to stay and build my life over there.
 
Equally I had days where I missed home massively and more so my friends and family and just the normality that comes with being ‘at home’. I had about 4.5 months where I had a settled lifestyle over there with a job and a regular residence and I was able to build friendships and sample proper Aussie living. The remaining 6 months were spent travelling so a completely different experience.
 
Since coming home I often get asked ‘do you regret coming home?’, ‘do you think you’ll ever go back?’, ‘do you miss it?’
 
Do I regret coming home?
 
Absolutely not. With most things in my life I follow my gut instinct and towards the end of my time in Australia I weighed up whether I wanted to try and stay there or whether I wanted to come home. And my gut instinct was to come home. Once I’ve made a decision my heart is fully in that and I can honestly say I’ve never looked back. My job prospects in England were much better than if I had stayed in Australia and I love my new job that I’ve come home to. Still in the NHS and with Yorkshire Ambulance Service it’s been a crazy few months settling into a new role that comes with additional responsibility and pressures but I can’t lie, that’s the way I love it and that’s when I work best.
 
It was nice in Australia to have steady jobs when I worked. I got temporary administration jobs to give me a bit of money and it was nice to not have much responsibility for a change. But towards the end I missed having that mental challenge, having work where I felt like I was making a difference and working to my full potential. And it made me realise during my time away, how important having a good career is to me.
 
I built up some great friendships in Australia; mainly in Sydney and Canberra which were my two bases and I’m so grateful for those friendships. My time there just wouldn’t have been the same without those people and I still keep up to date fondly with what everyone over there is doing. But I’m very much enjoying being able to hang out with my friends here again; friendships built over years and since I came back it’s like I’ve never been away when we’re together.
 
My college besties
 
It's so nice being able to hang out with my girls again
 
I’m very much appreciating having my family close by too. My parents are a 5 minute drive away so I regularly just drop in for a cuppa or call for my dinner after work and I really love being able to do that.
 

 
Easter lunch with the family last weekend
 
And England. There are some things you don’t appreciate when you live here that when you go away you realise how much you do enjoy it. Take winter for example. Now don’t get me wrong I’m never going to love the cold weather that inflicts itself on us for what seems like forever but the fact we have Christmas during winter is actually really nice. I lived in Canberra during the Australian winter which despite popular belief, no it’s not like our summer, maybe if you live in Queensland but not in Canberra. So we had a good few months of cold weather but without any festivities that we get to enjoy here such as bonfire night, Christmas and New Year. That’s something I enjoyed when I came home, having a proper English Christmas.
 
Enjoying a hot chocolate with Baileys at the Christmas markets
 
Also having Europe on our doorstep. The Aussie’s go on about how lucky we are to have so many amazing countries on our doorstep as for them a 4 hour flight will barely get them out of the country. And it’s always a case of you want what you haven’t got because I remember my friends in Canberra saying to me ‘oh you went to Ibiza for a long weekend, we only get to go to Sydney for a long weekend’. But for us going to Sydney for a long weekend sounds amazing but for them they just take it for granted now. It’s just Sydney. And we do the same with Europe. But it’s certainly made me more keen to see more of Europe over the coming years and take advantage of being able to be in a number of countries in under 2 hours.
 
A lot of other little things that I enjoy about being back home too and you appreciate things you didn’t before, even things like the Yorkshire countryside which I never thought I’d hear myself saying I appreciate that. But maybe it’s just from seeing and appreciating things whilst being away, it makes you do the same when you’re back home. And it’s been nice for things to just be ‘normal’ again as weird as that sounds. Everything is a bit different naturally in a different country.
 
Weekend getaways to the country
 
Saying that it did take a bit of adjusting to coming back home. I’d fallen into Aussie ways of life and doing things a bit differently and the people are quite different in their ways so I found that a bit bizarre when I came home getting used to everything here again. It took me a little bit of time to get back into working in the NHS as I’d worked in private sector in Australia which is a whole other world. And same as when I moved to Australia and everything seemed a bit different, moving back everything seemed a bit different yet again.
 
Overall though I soon got back into the swing of everything. Maybe because I came back to live in the same area as I did before I went away and I came back to the same organisation so that certainly helped. And it’s true what they say in that everything else and everyone else generally stays the same while you’re away so you come back and it’s like nothing’s different, except you, you’re a bit different and that’s probably what’s been the biggest adjustment for me.
 
I see things differently now as I have a wider perspective on things and I have more life experience behind me. It certainly taught me a lot and made me a bit more open minded about things. I've also made a conscious effort to bring home some of the Aussie traits I picked up whilst away. It's well known that the Aussies are pretty laid back when it comes to life and I certainly got into this lifestyle when I was away. Since coming home I've tried very hard to maintain that and so far I'm doing pretty good. I make an effort to have a good work-life balance and for some reason things just don't stress me out as much as what they used to. Even when life is hectic I don't tend to get that stressed; I deal with things quite calmly and don't let much mess with my inner peace. That's one thing I'm super thankful for Australia having taught me.
 
Do I think I’ll ever go back?
 
I’m going back in September for a holiday and my sister’s wedding. Will I ever go back to live there? I would never say never. It is a fantastic country and the weather does make it such an attractive option. Plus I have family there which makes a big difference. It won’t happen in the next couple of years I doubt as I’m going back to University in September to complete my Masters degree and I want to get more experience in my industry field in different healthcare backgrounds but who knows after that. I know my sister is desperate for me to go back and I would love one day to think of my sister and her family, my parents and I to all be over there together. But who knows? A lot of that depends what happens for me personally in England over the next few years; who I meet, how my career progresses etc.
 
Do I miss it?
 
Absolutely. I miss heading down to Coogee Beach on a weekend. I miss having weekends in different states; visiting Melbourne for Easter or flying up to Brisbane for a game of rugby; as you do. I miss the variety that Australia has to offer; one weekend I would be horseback riding at sunset in the Hunter Valley and the next weekend I would be on the slopes up in the Snowy Mountains. I miss my friends; Friday night cinema and pancake dates or getting drunk in the city at the work’s end-of-period night out. I miss my Sydney crew; my housemate who also became my bestie out there and my fellow gym buddy. I miss going for coffee and cake on a Tuesday night with my friends from the church. And I miss my family so much. My heart aches to spend time with my sister. My sister, her fiancé and his family gave me a home from home for which I’ll be forever grateful. I miss babysitting for my sister’s niece and nephew and going for family dinners which were always full of life, love and laughter.
 
Our final evening together...celebrating an amazing year
 
Constant laughs with these babes
 
And of course I miss the experiences that come with travelling. Seeing new places every day, meeting new people and without even realising at the time but those experiences influencing your life, you as a person, your perspective on things, everything.
 
I’m so grateful for those 10 months away that I had. I have a collage on my living room wall which I’m just looking at now that capture some of the highlights of my year and I can’t help but smile when I look at it. My heart is filled with love for Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and I have such fond memories. Nothing and nobody can ever take that away from me and I’ve grown so much as a person for the experience and that helps me each and every day in every walk of life.
 
My collage that brings a smile to face every, single day
 
 It takes a lot of courage to go. To pack up your belongings, leave everything and everyone you know behind and head off to the other side of the world on your own with a blank canvas in front of you. Sometimes I’m not quite sure how I did it when I look back now but I’m so proud that I did. I still remember the day I left my sister’s in Canberra after only 3 weeks in Australia to start my own life in Sydney. I arrived in Sydney at 6pm not knowing the city or a soul. I had a week booked in a hostel to sort my life out and I remember laying on my top bunk that first night just smiling to myself thinking ‘you’ve got this’. And I did. I’ve built a massive amount of resilience and inner strength over the last 3 years and I have the confidence in myself now that any situation I find myself in, I’ve got it covered. And those are invaluable skills to have and ones I’ve brought back to my life back home.
 
It wasn’t all fun and games throughout the year, there were some definite lows along the way but the highs far outweigh them. I had the most incredible 10 months and I came home raring to go for the next chapter of my life and I feel content with everything right now. It did cure my travel bug; don’t get me wrong there’s still so many places in the world I want to visit but I feel much more settled at home now than I did before I went. I have a job that I love (most of the time!) and I’m surrounded by such great friends and family that bring happiness to my life every single day. Not forgetting my gym life; that has brought so much happiness to my life since I got home, being able to fully get back into my healthy lifestyle and who’d have thought 6 months after coming home I’d be preparing for my first bodybuilding competition in just a few week’s time.
 
Just a few years ago my life was so different. I was in an unhappy relationship, my confidence was at an all-time low, training properly at the gym wasn’t even something that crossed my mind, I never imagined I’d spend the year in Australia, my career was still very much in the early stages and some of the most important people in my life now, I didn’t even know. It’s funny how life works itself out sometimes but I know the big guy up there has his plan for me and I work hard every day to better myself and improve my life. I have faith and I trust in the process that everything will fall into place as it has started to over recent years and that whatever’s meant to be, will be.

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