As an Englishman, Australia is awfully far away from home. Fourteen thousand, four hundred and twenty kilometres from the village in which I grew up, to Perth, where I live now. In truth though, I haven’t lived in England for many years – nearly five – since leaving university.
After graduating with a degree in mathematics, I didn’t feel like I was ready to enter the corporate world of finance. Instead, I wanted to teach English, volunteer somewhere I had never been, and work a ski season so that I could improve my board skills. As chance would have it, I was walking through university shortly before graduation when someone stopped me and asked me if I wanted to volunteer in Uganda. Yes, I certainly did. And that was a decision that changed the rest of my life.
I went to Uganda and fell in love with it, then came back from the equator to start working in a ski resort where I unfortunately broke my back. Despite this, I was able to recover and finish my season, then headed to South Korea where I taught English for a year. The only problem with this, was that I had done the three things in life that I wanted to do after university and I needed something new. Unsure of what to do, I hit the road and started hitchhiking across Europe. It was meant to be a one month trip, but fast turned into a six month journey and taught me how to live with very little in life. I slept in the homes of strangers, camped in the wild, and even ate food from supermarket bins – it’s far better than you could imagine, but that is a story for another day.
With this taste of the good life, I didn’t want to stop, but I had run down and beyond my last penny in all the world and found myself in Istanbul which seemed like a good place to stop and teach English. Sadly, it wasn’t. The pay was low and the experience was unpleasant due to the part of the city in which I lived. Once again I hit the road and decided to cycle across Europe on a £30 bicycle – because I had such little money – then raft down the Danube river on a raft that I built with my friends. This was the life I wanted to live. Since that time, I have spent many days, weeks, and even months, hitchhiking and exploring. My brother and I walked across Iceland last summer and the list of things that I want to do only ever grows longer.
But there is one thing that nags at me – for the past many consecutive months, almost a year, I haven’t had anywhere to call home, somewhere to put down my backpack and stay for an extended period of time. I enjoy meeting new people and staying outside, but sometimes I want to know where I will wake up in the evening and that I can have my own private space during the day. It was with this in mind that I began looking around the world for somewhere new that I would stay for a while.
I finally came upon Australia, more specifically, Western Australia, and flew to Perth. What I saw in this part of the world were four main issues that would help me with my life:
– The ability to earn money
– Nice weather
– Opportunity to escape the city
– A home for Brits and Americans
The Ability to Earn Money
At the time of the move to Australia, it was home to the highest minimum wage in the world. For the past few years, I haven’t worked very much. Instead I have learnt to live on very small amounts of money and picked up online work here and there, as well as writing my own book. I figure that if I am going to live in a place and work, I might and as well do it in a place that pays me a lot of money to do it. This way, I will also be able to do more in the future when my time in Australia is over.
It sounds silly, but the weather truly does affect how people feel and behave in life. In Perth so far, I have had nothing but glorious sunshine and warmth. This make me feel better about the world when I wake up in the morning and I want to go outside, be friendly, and do things. By contrast, waking up to grey skies kills my mood and makes me feel unmotivated.
Opportunity to Escape the City
I am not a city person, I never have been. I have lived in cities, many of them big (including Istanbul, one of the biggest in the world), but I don’t like them. I feel like the grey concrete wears down my soul.Coming to Western Australia however, I have the opportunity to travel into many thousands of kilometres of land without big cities. Also, Perth is a great city to start in because the centre is small enough to navigate on foot and I live by a large park and river. Even though I am in a city now, it doesn’t feel like it.
A Home for Brits and Americans
For the past three years, my partner in crime has been a lovely American girl, but due to holding different passports, there are only certain places where we are both allowed to go. Funnily enough, Australia is one of them. Here, we are allowed to continue our joint adventures for another year without having to answer to border guards.
Two weeks in, everything I hoped for seems to be possible and coming to fruition. Will I feel like this twelve months from now when my working holiday visa expires? I don’t know, but for the moment, I have done what I feel is best for me by coming to Australia. You’ll have to excuse me now, I’m going back outside to enjoy the glorious sunshine.