My first solo trip to Australia and New Zealand more than piqued my interest for a life spent abroad. I was a basketball player as a child and was invited to play as an Ambassador for the US. Besides the basketball tournament. I remember so vividly sitting on a bus with loads of other kids and sitting in hotel rooms with my roommates where the main concern was who was the coolest person to be hanging about with. At that young age I didn’t care about what my teenage years would eventually lead me to believe was important.
I Could Never Forget
At lunch I ordered a simple chicken sandwich with chips. For some reason, they gave me cranberry sauce and fries. I spent the rest of lunch trying to work out if I had said something wrong. Or, maybe she didn’t hear me right? Or, maybe they just call everything different names in Australia? It surprised me and made me realise that if something so simple as a chicken sandwich could be so different in two places, what else might surprise me. What else was I missing out on? What else would I learn? A chicken sandwich seems so trivial now but to 12 year old me, it symbolised all of the unknown in the world. As the trip went on my pre-teen self was completely smitten with the kangaroos jumping in the fields and the accents of the local kids my same age. Every experience I had and every sight I saw was a new highlight. I wanted more.
Australia made a deep impression and I would return a handful of years later during my time at University. It had to be a future option for me when planning my University course fresh out of grade school. I applied for a student visa for 1 semester then crossed my fingers and held my breath like never before. The day it was granted I was elated to say the least! I wanted nothing more than to explore the land that had been in my head for as long as I could remember. I told my boyfriend of the time that my Australian dream came first and that we would have to break up. He was a nice man and it certainly wasn’t his fault that my heart had already been taken by another country long before I had ever met him. So we said our goodbyes and I was on my way to the departure lounge!
Living In Australia For My First Time
I loved everything about my 5 months stint living independently as a young adult student. Making countless new friends, many of whom I’m still in touch with. Tasting Vegemite, Kangaroo, XXXX beer, Lamingtons (thanks NZ), Tim Tams, a ‘big brekkie’, flat whites, long blacks, Aussie sausage rolls, and the list goes on. I walked on new mountains and swam in new rivers, canals, and waterfalls. It’s exhilarating, nerve-wrecking, exciting and relaxing all at the same time. There is so much to take in that you walk down the same street three times before you notice even half of what it has to offer.
I experienced what it is like to be the odd one out by virtue of being an American in a country far from the USA. I certainly appreciate the diversity to be found in my home country. It’s just that, at home, you can’t quite replicate the feeling of being anonymous with a new stamp in your passport and an entire country before you to discover.
This feeling is why I chose to be an expat. Why I’m still an expat. And why I’ll continue on my journey to settling… somewhere.
Have a look through my top reasons why I love being an expat!