Gone (Moving to Australia)

Hello again, world! My short time in Saskatoon has already come to an end – I left on January 18th, and the 19th would have marked five months back in Canada. The transition to moving back was tough for me. I had no home to come back to, no cat to come back to, and everyone else had been continuing their lives for the past two years without me. We drove up to La Ronge as soon as I left the airport and I spent the next two weeks there. Everyone knows that La Ronge is my happy place, but I was having a really tough time trying to find that happiness. I spent the majority of my time lying on the couch, feeling sad, and randomly bursting into tears for no reason at all. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house or visit anyone. The familiar feelings of the depression that I went through when I was 18 came creeping back. I was grieving a city I loved, friendships I cherished, and a life that I would likely never get back. It took me over a month until I finally started meeting up with friends again. I moved into my cousin’s place in Saskatoon (which was a lifesaver!), spent a couple of weeks searching for jobs, worked a week at Red Lobster and hated it, and then started working at Hudsons, which is where I met tons of awesome people and friends who I’ll have for life. I found my happiness again, and I felt like I had a sense of belonging in Saskatoon again. Within a couple of weeks, I actually contemplated just staying in Saskatoon and cancelling my plans to move to Australia. However, I’m here now!
So far, the moving process to Australia has gone A LOT more smoothly than my moving process to London (KNOCK ON WOOD!). The only hiccups so far are 1) my teaching license didn’t arrive before I left Canada, so it will need to be mailed to me once it arrives in Saskatoon (thanks mom!), and 2) in order to work in Australia, you need to have a tax file number, which takes 28 days to process. However, in order to apply for the TFN, you have to be IN Australia. I applied the day that I arrived and did everything that my agency told me to do. Then, three days later, I was informed that the agency had temporarily moved their office, so the address I put for the TFN application is no longer valid. I called the TFN office to ask if I could change the delivery address, and they said I’d have to wait the 28 days and then I could get it resent to a different address. So hopefully those 28 days will go by quickly! Everything else has been easy – the visa application literally took a half hour (as in I got my visa emailed to me a half hour after I applied), as opposed to having to drive all the way to Edmonton to get my fingerprints done. The week before I left, I went through many panic attacks and wondered if I was doing the right thing. However, I got everything done on time and packed my two 50-pound bags perfectly! I had to leave the house at 5:30am on Thursday morning and flew to Vancouver. Then I had a 6-hour layover and my flight was delayed, which was fine cause

Hello Los Angeles!

my layover in Los Angeles was supposed to be 5 hours. Therefore, my next layover was shortened a bit, which was nice. My flight to Melbourne was 15.5 hours long! We left at 10:30 that night, and had dinner shortly after. I made myself watch two movies (even though I was exhausted from only sleeping three hours the night before) so that I could try to sleep during Melbourne nighttime. And I think I actually succeeded! They served us sandwiches halfway through the flight, and then about an hour before landing, they served us breakfast. I went through passport control, which was all electronic (meaning I didn’t have to talk to anyone). I was quite confused when I got to the other side and no one had checked my visa or stamped my passport

L. I then got my luggage, bought a ticket for the bus, and made my way to my hostel. Within that first hour, I already noticed how friendly the people were, which I guess isn’t difficult when compared to London people! I had booked three nights at Summer House Backpackers, which is located in St. Kilda (southern Melbourne) and is a ten-minute walk away from the beach. The neighbourhood is so nice! However, I’m not allowed to live there when teaching cause apparently it’s too difficult to transport from. I got to my hostel at about noon and they let me check-in early so I was able to

I brought too much stuff 😦

shower before going to find some food. Well, the food here is EXTREMELY expensive! When people warned me that Australia would be expensive, I was like, “Yeah yeah, so was London..”. But London groceries were SO cheap, especially compared to here. There’s a VERY slim chance that you’ll find any type of meal that’s less than 10 dollars here. I even went to a grocery store to save money and thought I should just pick up a sandwich (which I could buy in London for a pound) and their cheapest sandwiches were 6 dollars! I’ve been buying sushi everyday here because they sell handrolls, which cost about 2.70 each. I spent some time on the beach that afternoon and then that evening, I had dinner with Tiffany, another Canadian who lives in Nanaimo and who also just arrived in Melbourne and will be staying for a year.

On Sunday, I got a temporary SIM card so that I could make some phonecalls and then I also did

The huge sushi rolls

some research about St. Kilda. Tiffany had told me that there was a colony of penguins that lived off the pier so I went that afternoon to check it out. I was able to find one baby penguin hidden in the rocks, but that was it. I read that it would be best to see the penguins at sunset because the parents come back from fishing. Tiffany and I went back to the pier that evening at around 8pm and ended up staying for over an hour and a half! We ended up seeing about four or five penguins, which was pretty cool! They all just swim up out of nowhere, and then waddle up the sand under the dock that we were sitting on. The next day, I had a meeting with my new bank. The appointment actually ended up taking about an hour and a half, but I got a bank card and had everything set up! Then, since I had set up my bank account, I was able to get a phone contract, which allows me to have 20GB for $32 each month. So cheap! I went back to the hostel to charge my phone a bit, and then Tiffany and I went to the musical Wicked. It was put on by the Young Australian Broadway Chorus so everyone was between the ages of 15 and 21. I was kind of skeptical about it, but I ended up being absolutely blown away! It was amazing to see such young adults being able to outshine any normal person; they were all SO talented!

On Tuesday, my time at the hostel was over and my plan was to move to a working hostel. I obviously didn’t want to haul around my two 50-pound bags until I found a home so I found this awesome company called BoxIt. Normally, they provide boxes, you fill them up, and then they store them for you. However, I contacted them and asked if they’d just take my suitcases and they said yes. I walked to The Big W (Walmart) and bought a smaller suitcase for 30 bucks, and then filled it up with anything I thought I’d need for the next three months. Then, the BoxIt company came to pick up my suitcases (and then they’ll drop them off wherever I decide to live!). The suitcases cost $14 each to store each month, so I’d say it’s a pretty good deal! Anyway, for those of you who are unaware of my plans, I’ll give a quick rundown. In order to stay for a second year in Australia, I have to do 88 days of rural work before my first year is up. Since it’s summer holidays right now and teaching isn’t supposed to pick up until the second term, I decided I might as well do my rural work now so that if I decide to


stay a second year in Australia, at least I have the work in my back pocket. There are working hostels all over Australia, who charge weekly accommodation and who usually help you find work at surrounding farms. I had my mind made that I’d be going to a place called Maffra, which is about 2-3 hours east of Melbourne. However, I called one of the working hostels who said she had room, but I probably wouldn’t find work for at least 3-4 weeks and she didn’t want to waste my time. I then tried calling the other one, but there wasn’t an answer. I had to catch the train by 12:30pm in order to make the second of three trains that day, but I didn’t want to risk it. I went back to my hostel and booked another night, and the rate had gone up to $36 from $32

L. Luckily, I was able to check in right away so I had lunch and then got down to business. The hostel called me back and said he had room and seemed fairly confident that he could find me work in about a week. However, he also kept implying that I’d need my own vehicle, which I obviously would not be able to afford. I called every working hostel I could find (with high reviews), but most said that they were full, or they had room but weren’t looking for workers. I started panicking because the amount of money that I had wouldn’t last me for more than a

St. Kilda

few weeks and if I didn’t find work soon, I’d be forced to go back to Canada. Not only that, but it seemed like everyone in the hostel was also looking for work. AND the amount of Facebook posts that continuously went up searching for work was stressing me out. Luckily, one of the hostels ended up calling me back and said he’d have a spot opening up on Monday. They charge 165 per week, and would provide transportation for 10-12 dollars each day. This hostel also had amazing reviews about the owner finding work quickly and efficiently, so I have hope that this will work out! I called him back, sent money to reserve my spot, and then booked my train/bus tickets. This hostel is located in a place called Mildura (which has really bad reviews about farmwork, due to a lot of places taking advantage of the backpackers) and is about 8 hours northwest of Melbourne. I then had to figure out where I’d be staying from Wednesday to Monday. I found out that the hostel I was in was fully booked for the week, and all of the other hostels were charging a minimum of 39 dollars per night(!!), which I think is because Australia Day is this weekend so it’s a long weekend. I then looked on Airbnb and found a place for 29 dollars per night! I was completely shocked, cause Airbnb’s are never cheaper than hostels.

Yesterday morning, I checked out of my hostel and made my way to the Airbnb, which is in an area


called Glen Waverley, which is also a neighbourhood that I’m allowed to live in while teaching. I’m staying above a Chinese restaurant, so I walked into the restaurant when I arrived and he led me through the kitchen in the back to get to my room! However, I get a whole room to myself (but without air conditioning, which is a struggle) and then there’s another person renting out the other bedroom, and we get the rest of the place (kitchen, living room, bathroom) to ourselves! That evening, I met up with Tiffany to check out a Night Market in Melbourne. We had dinner there, and then since it was both of our first times actually being IN the city, we walked around for a few hours to check everything out. Melbourne is such a nice city (from what I’ve seen so far)! And it’s so weird how I can walk down the sidewalk and not have to move around for other people. Today, I didn’t do too much. It keeps getting hotter and hotter, so today it was 31 degrees but it’s supposed to go up to 38 this weekend. I walked to the mall, which is about 40 minutes away, and then I spent the afternoon there so I could enjoy the air conditioning. Tomorrow is Australia Day, so I’m hoping to go back into the city so I can check out some of the events that are going on. Hope everyone is doing well everywhere else in the world!! Love always

Gone – JR JR