Moving to Australia | Part 1

Since I was a child, about nine or ten years old, I’ve had this dream of moving to Australia. I can’t remember why but I had this idea and I was obsessed with it. Throughout the years and the idea kept growing on me, I just couldn’t get it off my mind. Today I can safely say that I’ve realized one of my biggest dreams and here’s how it all happened!

Why move to Australia?

To put a little bit of context into my story. In 2015 I had dropped out of college after one year in Transport and logistics management, followed by a year in Tourism management. I personally didn’t want to go to Uni or College, I wanted to work, earn money, travel, and eventually move to Australia. I went to college only because my mom really wanted me to at least try because she didn’t get the chance to go to Uni or College.

In College, I had met a few people that had lived abroad, and it was so inspiring! I was amazed by their stories and wanted to experience it as soon as possible! I was 21 at the time I believe some of my friends and especially their parents would see me as the black sheep. The mentality in Belgium and western Europe in general at the time was to get at least a bachelor’s degree. For you to be successful in life, you had to get a degree, get a boyfriend, buy a house, have kids, and travel when you retire. 

I’ve always felt apart, I’ve always felt like I was just not in the right place and nothing was making me truly happy. It was really hard because no one would understand. I had this urge of getting away from that mentality, from that environment where I felt like I couldn’t be myself. 

Fast-forward in 2016, I was working in a call center for one of the leaders in the TV-Internet-Phone providing. I had never really done sales and had no idea where I was getting myself into. The job was advertised as admin position with inbound calls (so receiving calls), the training was provided, I’m not going to go into details but if you have worked in a call center, especially in customer service you will know that 80% of the people don’t last long in these positions. Anyways, after securing a long-term position, I really wanted to go on holiday to celebrate and treat myself. 

First step

I didn’t really want to travel with my mom and none of my friends were free or had enough money as they were almost all studying. So, I decided to just go by myself! But where would I go? I started searching for random flights, the cheapest on Skyscanner, I love it because you have an option where you put your city of departure, leave the destination empty, and it gives you all the options average prices. 

I was searching for days and somehow, I ended up booking flights for Miami! It was only 400 euros return tickets! I was shocked, I didn’t even think twice, I just booked it. I found a hostel on South beach that looked more than decent with 3 meals included in the price and I think that was about 35USD per night. I was all hipped up, sis was going a week in Miami for less than 1000 euros. 

It made a lot of people talking! “you’re going to Miami?!” “By yourself?!” “who do you think you are?” and so on. LISTEN don’t let anybody kill your vibe. You do you boo and that’s exactly what I did! It was my first solo trip, first experience in a hostel. I will have a separate post detailing that trip.

After Miami, I was just so proud of myself! And I thought, if I can do this nothing can stop me from realizing my dream to go to Australia. At that point I was talking about moving to Australia so much, most of the people thought I would just never take the step and do it. People were just bored of me saying “one day I want to move to Australia” and that day was just not showing up. 

I’m moving to Australia!

WELL, straight after my trip in June 2016, I decided to finally apply for a working holiday visa in Australia. Two weeks later July 4th it got granted. I was over the moon, I couldn’t believe it, I was finally going to do it!

My mother wasn’t pleased at all. She was scared and couldn’t understand the idea of backpacking in another country on the other side of the world. So, there was a bit of work there to be done to ease her fear. I searched for everything I could. I prepared myself as much as I could for her to trust me and have faith that I could do this! I had planned to leave around April the following year. 

Fast-forward in September – October, I started dating a guy and for me, it was a real crush. I was in love with him (I know, I know), he was just treating me with so much respect and was everything I wanted at the time. But I was very honest with him and told him I was preparing a working holiday in Australia. He was cool with it and we were even projecting ourselves into a long-distance relationship. 

That being said, there were a few issues… For my trip to Miami I had to get myself a credit card that I didn’t stop after my trip. I was spending my money like crazy, decided to get a second credit card with a different institution and ended up paying one with the other.

No one knew about it; I was living with my mom but most of the time was staying at my boyfriend’s house. I had a car, that was very expensive at the time as a young driver, my salary was pretty good but I was living above my needs and that was a big issue for my mom and that’s also the main reason why she didn’t want me to leave for Australia. 

Impactful loss

In November, we lost a family member, my aunt through cancer. It was absolutely devastating. Some of my family members tried to convince me not to leave, making me feel guilty of leaving my mother by herself. Anything could happen and it was better for me to stay in Belgium, get a degree, find a better job and yeah just stay with my family. 

To be honest, it did cross my mind, but I was just so close… For Christmas my mom gifted me a plane ticket to Sydney with Emirates! I was a bit surprised because she was still not convinced, especially after getting “serious” and official with my boyfriend.

But when we booked the ticket through an agency, she actually said: “I’ll buy you the ticket, because you won’t have the money to buy it yourself anyways”. This hurt me so much and still hurts. Why would you do this if you don’t have faith in me? 

Anyways, here come January, I celebrate my first year working for the call center. But we were under a lot of pressure, my health was starting to get affected by it, especially my mental health. I couldn’t sleep properly anymore, and I had anxiety attacks.

My mom’s health wasn’t great either, we got into a massive argument that led us into not talk to each other for a month. She was having hypertension and was blaming me for it because she was worried about me leaving. 

What’s next?

When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my doctor diagnosed me with a burnout and depression, I lost my job and my boyfriend broke up with me at about 3 weeks’ time.

This was the lowest and darkest time in my life so far. At 23 years old I was taking medication for depression and insomnia. I decided to cancel everything and not move to Australia. I was crying every day, I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone, I wasn’t going out at all. It was just me and my darkest thoughts. 

What saved me from this cycle and get over my anxiety. This might sound cheesy, but it was actually the travel community and I will explain why in my next diary post.

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Love Grace