An Aussie living in the UK. Pretty cliched really, however, the story of what got me here isn’t your run of the mill gap year tale.
I’ve now spent a 3rd of my life living in England and to be honest I’m really not sure when or if I’ll be heading back to my island home anytime soon. Over the years I could have racked up some pretty good frequent flyer miles but alas foresight wasn’t my strong suit. I’ve flown backwards and forwards from Australia to England almost 20 times.
Most Aussie’s will venture to the UK as part of a gap year before Uni or for a year out after Uni to enjoy the last of their freedom before a working career prevails. It’s the perfect base to explore Europe, live in London, try and meet the Royal Family and wind up some poms about the cricket. Usually, the time living in the UK lasts for 2 year which is the common visa length, however, some just end up embracing the grey dreary weather and the way of life and stick around for a bit longer. This is me.
The most common question I have been asked (and still get asked) is ‘Why are you here when you could be in Australia’ and it’s a fair question Australia is paradise but the real answer is- I was always meant to end up here.
So I promised above that mine isn’t your run of the mill moving abroad story so hold onto your hats here it comes…
When I was young (much younger) my parents took part in an international teacher’s exchange which meant that they swapped jobs, cars, houses and lives with a family in England. They went to our small town in the Snowy Mountains in NSW and we came to their home in Somerset in the South West of England for a whole year and here is the kicker- this is where I now live- in that very same village. Some 25 years later.
I was 10 years old and my life’s path was in motion and I had no idea.
My sisters and I went to school, we made friends, we got to live in a two-storey house, we even got cute English accents. We loved our life in this foreign country.
My parents also made friends and when it was time for us to move back to Australia we all kept in touch. As it was the 90s this was mostly through being pen pals! We had some of these friends come out to stay with us and the relationships remained as strong as ever. One set of my parent’s friends had a daughter my age who was my best friend so it was great that when they came to visit our friendship remained and still does.
We then, when I was 16 ventured back to the Northern Hemisphere as a family and went back to our little village home. We all caught up with our friends and also made new friends. I had my first pub and clubbing experience. I was sucked into the British life then and there and wanted so much to stay and live in England. My friends back home in Australia even knew after this trip that I would always end up back in England.
While I was in my final year at school my best friend from England came to stay with my family for 3 months and then when it was time for her to head back I packed my bags with her and started my gap year back in the village. I worked in the local pub, made an even wider set of friends and fell for a few boys (standard). I embraced my English life wholeheartedly. I didn’t have any Aussie friends or family around and weirdly felt at home.
Sadly by being on a gap year before uni meant that I had to go back home AGAIN. I didn’t want to at all and I remember my parents telling me that when they picked me up I was miserable and just complained about how bright and sunny Australia was (silly girl- I totally wouldn’t do now).
For my 21st birthday, I went back again for a two week holiday. I just couldn’t stay away. Then when the time came for me to finish my degree, there I was back at the airport with my blue suitcase ready to move to England till I was done living there. That day just hasn’t come yet.
I am still friends with those I went to school with, I have other friends who I call my school friends but never actually went to school with them, I’ve made friends who are now considered my family, I have history in the village and can remember when the florist was actually where the old swimming pool was, I play ladies football for the village and actually feel like a local. When people would tell me how brave I was to move abroad I always thought I wasn’t actually that brave or adventurous as I was just moving to my second home. Which is actually a pretty awesome feeling to have. One of my favourite quotes at the moment is.
‘You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place’ Miriam Adeney
I often wonder if my parents didn’t do their exchange would I have still ended up here. Would my life have been on this path anyway or would I have never made it to England? I do find it funny that I’ve basically moved to the other side of the world to live in a village so very similar to where I grew up and all I wanted to do growing up was to move out of our small town to a big city.
Life is a funny old thing and you never know with the decisions you make where they will eventually lead you. I’m just pretty damn lucky my parents took the gamble and brought me here to my home away from home all those years ago.
Do you have an interesting tale of why you ended up living abroad but would love to hear your stories if you are a fellow expat so do leave them in the comments below or get in touch?
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