The first year of the rest of my life.

The second of January 2016 marks a whole year past since the beginning of my European adventure; it was the first day of the rest of my life.  The day that i stepped onto the long haul flight that has changed my life forever.

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Bye Sydney…

To travel is to discover yourself in many different places.

You unearth thought-provoking history and create unforgettable memories. You get to see and experience everything fully.

There’s just something about traveling that makes us all come alive, like we’re breathing for the very first time against a new horizon.

I wanted all I could possibly get of it this past year.

At the end of 2014, I made a promise to myself for the following year. I needed to get out. I needed to grow up. My heart was broken, but I just needed something more. I wanted to really live. I set out to see the world I so desperately craved more of.

Now, that’s quite a promise to make to yourself in your 20s.

It’s quite a promise if you’re someone who’s just started (the chance then) at a full-time career in the real world, is limited by funds and still needs time to breathe. I decided to take the plunge and do something that not many people have the strength to do – I did all of this moving half way around the world. Away from my family, all my supports of home.

There was no trust fund.

There was no sabbatical.

There was no doppelgänger to run my errands or my life or make my money to do everything I wanted to do. I was going to figure it out somehow because that’s what you do when you’re really passionate about something. This last year has been just that for me, figuring out my passion and really going for it.

First stop: Italia.

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I was more passionate about wanting to live out of a suitcase than I was about wanting to sleep in on a Sunday.

So, throughout this year, I’ve seen a lot, eaten too much, slept not at all, accumulated miles, laughed a ton, cried over turbulence and learned to appreciate the first night back in my own bed.

Throughout this whole year, I kept talking about how exhausted I was from traveling, how much I needed sleep, how I couldn’t believe I did this to myself, how catching up on email on Mondays was too rough and how it would all soon get the best of me.

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I was one of the lucky ones. 

After my fellowship, I secured a full time job in Oxford. Now I know, social media paints a pretty little picture, but it is nice to be able to have this time to reflect about myself in this past year, everything that I have done and how much I have grown as a person. When I list it all down, it’s pretty fucking incredible everything I have achieved in 12 short months.

January 2015 – Holiday to Italy – visited Rome, Florence, Napoli and Venice. Started working in Oxford (full time for six weeks as a Research Fellow).

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February 2015 – Visited Paris (weekend trip) Visted Amsterdam (also weekend trip – I spent my valentines day in a hostel in Amsterdam with some Spanish friends I made on my trip). Saw some of the English countryside – Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath.

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I flew back home in February for my birthday, landing back in Sydney on the 25th of February, greeted by my friends and family.

March 2015 – I had (after much deliberation) made the decision that I was in fact going to go back to England to work full time – why not right?! So these next few months were my prep – the VISA, all the boring paperwork – it had to be done, but it was really so worth it.

 

 

Coming home after being away for a while really made me appreciate/miss my family more than I ever thought I would. These next few months I made a point to spend time with people as much as I could back home, as well as go on hikes, see more of the beautiful country that is Australia and start to prepare for my move overseas.

April 2015 – I got my VISA! Spending time with my family and travelling around the great land of Oz was still high on my priority list during April. I was scheduled to fly back to the UK at the end of May (after my Nan’s 80th Birthday) so I was really happy that I got to stay home with them for that.

Another big thing that happened for my in April was the graduation from my university – four years of working super hard had finally paid off. And while I knew that I was going to be leaving to go and work full time overseas – I cannot thank the people who mentored me through my time at University enough, and clearly my family and I take some killer good photos.

May 2015 – It was getting closer. The goodbye-but I will see you soon- was imminent. And I have to say, that this month was one of the hardest in my year so far. Looking back through these photos reminds me that I have amazing friends and family. Who I miss every single day. It’s not all fun and games, and goodbyes, even if they aren’t forever, hurt more than words can ever say.

And when the day finally came to leave – I have not been back to Australia since – my friends and family all made sure that I got a good send off!

And just like that – I was back in Oxford – complete with my Guinness and Black!

June 2015 – Back in Oxford and at work – June this year was the month that I would rent my first ever room and be living *permanently* at another address, other than Taylors Road, back in Silverdale. Settling in to life over in the UK was scary, made me homesick, but was also really exciting at the same time. I spend the majority of the month, getting back in the rhythm of working full time, travelling around the UK and spending time with my lovely work friends, exploring the city of Oxford!

July 2015 – Enjoying the English ‘Summer’ was done well this month – making plans to head to Italy at the end of August and booking trips later in the year had me exploring my new countryside – I also was involved in a production of King Lear in the park, helping out with the local theatre group. It seems like forever ago as I type this now, but it’s amazing that all this only happened in July. I purchased my guitar in July with the aim to perform more throughout the year (I managed to at my works summer party in September) and want to continue to do so in the new year. Receiving care packages from my mum was always a nice little addition and made me feel less homesick.

August 2015 – Now August, this was a big one. I went back to Italy at the end of the month (had this scheduled in since July) but my world was turned upside down from the passing of my Pop. I was in shock, I didn’t want to believe that this was happening to me right now – how was I meant to deal with all of this half way around the world? I felt so guilty and there is a part of me that still really does feel guilty, like I should have gone home. But I was really lucky to have a great support network of friends here in Oxford and family that I was lucky enough to visit in Italy in the last week of August – September.

September 2015 –  September was another big month – I rung it in still in Italy, spending time with my Zia and other family there, going back to the place that my Nonna and Nonno came from and spending some quality time with my Uncle Frank (who very nicely drove me all over Italy – pays to have amazing family!). When I got back from Italy, I performed in my works summer party (came 2nd in the talent comp, I sung and played a song dedicated to my pop) and then was jet setting again the next weekend – this time to Copenhagen! September was the month that I decided (after my brief stint off the rails drinking a little too much) to get my life back on track and I joined up to the Oxford Writers Circle. Getting a little more than I bargained for, the Writers Circle was where I first met Alan – more to come in the following months on this – but little did I realise it would turn into anything.

October 2015 – With autumn set in (and rugby season in full force, this was the first month that I was getting into some sort of routine. Being at work for a few solid months now, the workload was piling up but I still found the time to write outside of my work (thanks Writers Group), I performed my first slam poem and kinda accidentally found myself a boyfriend! (obviously, screenshotting my early message correspondence to ask my friends back home for advice – did he like me, blah blah). But Oxford was starting to feel like a home – my friends, my work, travelling around every other weekend – even though it was heartbreaking to be away from home, I was relishing every second!

November 2015 – Another massive month – saw my first proper gig in London that Alan asked me to come to with him (basically even before we were dating, which was sweet) Megadeth, Lamb of God and Children of Bodom. Throughout November we booked a string of gigs for next February (and also a trip to Berlin for my birthday in 2016!). Even though it was still a month until Christmas, my work got in early with their Christmas party arrangements, drinking half the alcohol in Oxford that November night! 😉
Through all of this, I was also doing Nanowrimo (progress can be seen on earlier blog posts) plus attending more slam poetry events and nights out with the Oxford Writers Circle.

 

December 2015 – There is so much that I can say about the last month. Travelling to Dublin for the first time was such an amazing experience, my first cold Christmas, even though it was the hardest thing not to be with my family and hear much from my friends back home, it has been an absolutely amazing experience. I think that the photos speak for themselves.

2016 and beyond – Now that the year is coming to an end, I only have one trip left.

I leave for another trip to Amsterdam on December 30th (day after tomorrow) to ring in the new year in style in one of the most awesome cities in the world.

Yet, now that the year is coming to an end, I wouldn’t have done it any differently.

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I’m thrilled to have had the chance to see so many new places, meet so many new people and experience life from multiple vantage points.

It hasn’t all been social media perfect – along with the highs of my travels and new experiences there have been some gut wrenching lows. I think that the hard times are always going to be there but regardless, I am going to live every single day of my life to the utmost – for myself – for my family back home – for the people who aren’t here anymore.

Life is tough.

I’m tougher.

What I lost in sleep, I gained in memories.
What I spent in money, I gained in experience.
What vacation days I used, I gained some of the best days of my life.
What I gave up will never compare to what I gained and how I grew.

You should see these cities, too. Take advantage of your life. I wouldn’t have done 2015 any other way, and 2016 has a lot to live up to, but I am ready for whatever adventures are next!

Life is just so beautiful and travel gives you something that is indescribable. Moving to the UK, while being the hardest thing that I have ever done, it has definitely been the most rewarding.  Pushing out of your comfort zone, trying new things exposes you to stories and new ways of thinking, then the travel turns you into a storyteller and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2015 – there have been amazing highs and debilitating lows –
but this has been the first year of the rest of my life and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

 

 

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