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How I Accidentally Moved to Australia

The beach in Perth, Australia.

Gillian was supposed to go to law school, until life got in the way.

Living on the other side of the world from friends and family—it’s one of the lows on my list of highs and lows of living in Perth, Western Australia.

I have learned that deciding to travel, and ultimately choosing to live in one of your travel destinations, requires a lot of tough decisions that could seriously impact your future. So while many people think of backpacking as a way of running away from real life, it can actually make you face the reality of what your future holds.

When I first moved over to Perth a year and a half ago, I had my pack on my back, a huge smile on my face and a ready-for-anything attitude. I was so excited to continue my travels to Australia, with plans to return to Canada and start law school at Dalhousie University in the Fall.

Then life happened. I moved to Perth with my boyfriend and we got really settled. Then he got sponsored by his company on a long-stay visa, so we were able to stay and work past the usual working holiday visa time limits, and I decided to push back law school.

Obviously my parents were horrified, the rest of my family questioned my decision and my friends at home started to question when I would ever come back. I felt a little bit ashamed of my decision- was I throwing my life away? Was staying in Perth really the right decision for my future?

In reality though, moving away from home, outside my comfort zone, has made me look at myself and my life from a completely different perspective.

Growing up there was always pressure and guidance from parents, family, teachers and friends to go to school, then to university and then maybe go to post-graduate school—all to eventually land an amazing career. After I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, I felt that the obvious next step was to apply to law school. So I sent in all my applications and set off on my year of backpacking.

Throughout these travels, everything changed. I saw my life from a different perspective. I saw more of the world, met new people and branched out in ways I had never expected for myself. Not that I ever felt restrained when I was at home, but when you head out to travel the world on your own you discover a whole new universe waiting for you.

So now I’m living in Perth where I am actually really enjoying my life at the moment. The weather is amazing and there is so much outdoor activity. I have a great group of friends and my own little apartment across the street from the beach.

This new lifestyle might seem frivolous from an outside perspective but for me it has been more like a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to step back and take a look at my goals. Do I really want to go to law school or is that just what I thought I should do? What do I want to do with my life?

For now, law school is on the backburner. And for once, that’s ok! I’m not saying I’ll never pursue that down the road, but I’ve realized that I’m 25 years old. My entire life is still ahead of me. Maybe I’ll pursue marketing or public relations or go work in the vineyards at a winery! I haven’t decided yet. For now I am living in an amazing city in Australia with all of these opportunities ahead of me.

Living on the other side of the world from my friends and family is extremely difficult at times. But it has also been an opportunity for me to figure out who I am outside the expectations and ideas that have been in place for me my whole life.

It’s scary and exhilarating and terrifying and liberating all at the same time. Yet I may never have opened my eyes and really taken a look at my life if I had made the decision to move across the globe. Who knows what the future might hold for me, but presently, life is good!

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Gillian Arfin

Gillian Arfin is from Oakville, Ontario. After years of travelling and backpacking and constant itchy feet, she has found herself settled in the most isolated city in the world--Perth, Western Australia. Curious what it’s like to live on the other side of the world? Read what Gillian has to say about it.

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