This is a hard one to write. Today, I left Australia on a plane bound for Phuket, Thailand. Australia. The place I’d dreamed of since I was 8 years old. I still haven’t processed how amazing this year has been, much less that it’s come to a close. Katie and I spent our last three days in Sydney, exploring the city that never gets old to me. Seeing the Opera House for the last time (this time) was exactly like seeing it for the first time. I was in awe. More than anywhere, standing in Circular Quay reminds me how lucky I am to have had this experience and how everything happens for a reason.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams
If you asked me when I graduated high school where I’d be at 23, I’d rail off a five-year plan that began with college and ended with medical school. If you asked me at the beginning of my senior year at Yale, I’d be far less sure, but still say something along the lines of “Probably grad school.” Never did the thought of a “gap year” cross my mind. It’s just not part of the American student culture. We go to high school, most go to college, some go to grad school… and then we get jobs where most of us end up with a grand total of 2 weeks of annual vacation. But one thing led to another and here I am in Australia on a gap year. So, no, 18-year old Me, I’m not in medical school. And, yes, 21-year old Me, you did figure out a plan for post-graduation, but, no, it’s not grad school (yet). A gap year was the answer I’d been looking for and everything I never knew I needed… Here are my 5 reasons why:
From the beginning, I didn’t envision myself living in Queensland for an extended period of time while in Australia. I didn’t have a particular reason; I just thought I’d end up in Sydney or in Adelaide. But on January 14th, I was on a flight from Adelaide to Brisbane with my year’s worth of luggage. I hopped off the plane to find 5/7 of new host family waiting for me at the gate. That’s right; I joined a family of 7! Host mum, host dad, and five kids (ages 5, 9, 11, 15, and 18), to be exact.
Happy New Year everyone! I’ve just arrived in Adelaide for ten days in South Australia – I’m currently camped out at a coffee shop because my Barossa host family is evacuating their horses due to the bushfires. It’s also apparently 40o C outside so I’m opting for the air-conditioned airport. While I wait, I figured I’d catch up on a bit of writing. I didn’t write much during the holidays, but I wanted to recap a few of the places I visited while I stayed with my Canberra host family in Sydney.
Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey. – Tad Williams
I can hardly believe it, but today marks six months since I arrived in Australia. When I stepped off the plane in Sydney back in June, I knew my dream of traveling here was coming true, but I had no idea how incredible this journey would be. I’ve become part of a family and made friends I’ll have for a lifetime. I’ve recognized changes in myself that I never thought possible. And I’ve thought a lot about home.
I’ve always wanted to visit Australia, but I never expected that my path to the Land Down Under would be as an au pair. Since I’ve primarily written about the places I’ve visited in Australia so far, I’d like to dedicate this post to the reason I’m able to visit these amazing cities without breaking the bank. I’m the first to admit I didn’t know much about becoming an au pair when I first posted my profile. Au pairs, like gap years, were not exactly at the forefront of my American upbringing. By definition, an au pair is “a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money.” That’s basically what we do, but not entirely descriptive of who we are; au pairs are big sisters, family members, caregivers, helpers, teachers, AND travelers. While there are many ways to travel here on a Working Holiday (farm work, seasonal work, resort work, etc.), these are my top 5 reasons why the #aupairlife is the best way to experience Australia:
“I’m not sure what I’ll do, but— well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Last night, I booked a trip to New Zealand in November. Had I planned on doing that for weeks on end as per usual? Had I even really thought about it up until the day before? Nope. I booked the flight because it was cheap. Surprise! While mentally reassuring myself that booking a flight without a plan was not completely insane (conclusion: it’s not), I felt all at once a rush of excitement and a calm sense of satisfaction.