Month: June 2013

From DC to Sydney, Part 1

Music and travel are two of my “great loves,” you might say, and sometimes they coincide in my life, such as when I went to Asheville, NC to see Lykke Li or Denver to see New Order, or even how this blog’s name (and former name) both came from songs.  But I had never really had a “life revelation” while listening to music until I listened to the Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs in March 2011–the day that someone I loved moved away.  The revelation I had was this:  I had things I needed to do with my life before I settled down with anyone…things like moving to Australia.

I fell in love with Australia when I was there at the age of 16.  My high school economics teacher had put together a trip to Australia and New Zealand to counter all the trips to Europe, trips he termed “boring” because all you would see were churches.  I was on board, as were my parents, my uncle, and a friend of the family.  Originally, the trip was to occur in the summer of 2000, but with the Olympics happening in Sydney, we decided to push our trip back a year, also allowing ourselves more time to get money in order for the trip.

Our group got to Australia and we discovered how warm and funny the people there are.  I definitely appreciated their dry wit.  There was something about Sydney that really appealed to me though, even though I couldn’t articulate exactly what it was.  (I am a sucker for cities by the water, with the exception of my own hometown…)

After that trip, pretty much whenever Australia came up in conversation, I mentioned how much I would love to live in Sydney…if only it weren’t so far from home.  For someone who has only ever lived in one state, that’s a big commitment.  (I’m still kicking myself for not studying abroad in college.)

My college had an unusual feature called “JTerm,” which allowed students to take one or two classes or maybe get an internship during the month of January.  Many of the classes traveled abroad.  And so I found myself in Australia again in January 2007 for the “Chemistry of Winemaking” class, whereby I was lucky enough to get college credit for learning about and drinking lots of wine (that was the only way I was ever going to get a decent grade in a chemistry class).  We were in Sydney just to be there for a few days; the only scheduled events we had were in Adelaide and Melbourne.  I was so glad to be back in Sydney, and while I enjoyed Adelaide (and was even lucky enough to spend my birthday there),  for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to really like Melbourne…the surest sign I was a would-be Sydneysider, considering how the two cities have a huge rivalry.

In the past couple of years, I had given some small amount of thought to the idea of moving to Australia, but never seriously considered it.  In April of this year, I decided that if I was ever going to move to Australia, now was the time.  I finally applied and was almost immediately approved for a Working Holiday visa.  The Working Holiday visa is good for people 18-30 years of age and allows them to work, study, and have fun in Australia.  Now that I’m 28, I have very little time to waste.  In retrospect, I wish I’d gone in the second half of 2011 before I gave myself a chance to be irresponsible with some of the money I’d so diligently saved over the previous four years.  The exchange rate was more favorable then as well–now each of my American dollars will be worth a few cents less when exchanged for Australian dollars.  (As much as I wish Australia well, I do wish their dollar would fall just a couple cents more so that the exchange would be just a tad more equitable.)

But I can only keep looking forward.  I know I have a lot more research and work to do before I get to Sydney, but it’s a good goal to work toward.