Back in Melbourne (July 12-Sept 21): Hellos, Goodbyes, and Some Tough Decisions

I got back to Melbourne at 7:30am on Friday, July 12th and I was absolutely exhausted. I took the bus back to St. Kilda and then grabbed an Uber home. It was nice to be able to go somewhere familiar to relax. That week was the first week of the school term, and I was luckily able to get work for four days… as an Italian teacher. Even though I couldn’t really help with teaching Italian, I was thankful that I at least got work. That week, I met up with Jess and Sabriena a couple of times, and one was to go to Queen Vic Market for Christmas in July. I was so happy to see some Christmas trees and hear Christmas carols, as it truly felt more like Christmas during the cold month of July than it would during the hot month of December.

I had told everyone that I wanted to celebrate Christmas in July, and make gingerbread cookies, have a potluck, do a gift exchange, and watch Christmas movies. However, those plans ended up falling through, and the three of us were extremely disappointed about it. That weekend, I had dinner with Kitty and a couple of her friends. Both of them are accountants from Canada who had moved to Melbourne, and one of them (Sylvia) was on the same flight as me from Vancouver to Melbourne! We all went to an Italian restaurant, and Kevin’s work ended up paying for the entire dinner! The next day, Jess and I had our own Christmas in July party, where we made (and decorated) Christmas cookies, made our own ice cream, and watched the Bachelor.

The next day (Sunday), I went for a brunch with Jess and a bunch of Canadians who we had met that day since it was an event planned on the Facebook group. Then that evening, Kevin had Kitty, Sylvia and I over for hot pot at his house, which was delicious!

Meanwhile, my flat was driving me insane. I really wasn’t happy at home or at work, and something needed to change. The first week that I moved in, the plumber had to come fix the tap of the sink because it kept dripping. Then just over a week later, the toilet detached from the wall, so the plumber had to come back to reattach it. The next week, the handle for the cold water came off in the shower, so we could only use the hot water. Unfortunately for me, this meant I had to have a scalding shower, jumping in and out as fast as I could in order to wash my hair. That week, the landlords also had a routine inspection, which they warned us about the night before, when it was too late to get any cleaning done. The following week, the plumber came in to fix the shower. Therefore, he set up a temporary shower and shower curtain in the bathtub for us to use, which lasted for 2-3 weeks (until after I went back to Canada). A couple weeks after I came back from Canada, our washing machine started stopping halfway through the cycle, which I told our landlord about but she didn’t do anything. Then a couple weeks later, one of the breakers blew in the house, so that night, we didn’t have any heating, and couldn’t use the microwave or the kettle. And no internet! Plus most of the food in the freezer ended up thawing. Someone had to come in to replace the breaker the next day. I was so finished with the apartment, and gave my month’s notice to move out, since something seemed to break down almost once a week. The next week, the landlord warned us of ANOTHER inspection (which legally they’re only allowed to do once every six months). A couple weeks later, the washing machine completely broke down. It was no longer draining properly, so the clothes were getting locked inside the machine. The landlord came to check it out and said she’d have to buy a new one, which wouldn’t arrive for at least a week (after I moved out). Literally an hour after she left, the light in the bathroom went out, so I had to bring my nightlight into the bathroom so that we could have a dim light to shower with at nighttime. This also stayed that way until I moved out. Not only that, but my flatmates were definitely in Australia moreso to party, so every weekend, I was woken up at some point between 2 and 4am by one of them loudly coming into the flat. And then I’d be woken up AGAIN because one of them would order UberEats, so the doorbell would ring at 4 in the morning. It didn’t feel like a home at all, so it was difficult to even want to keep the place clean. I knew that I would be moving out in October, whether I found farmwork or not.

The last week of July, I got work everyday (although one day was just a half day), and only one day was in primary school! Our weekly bachelorette nights started dying off with the big group, so Jess and I just continued doing them ourselves. I also had a dinner that following weekend with some more random Canadians that we met through the Facebook group, as well as with Jess, Kitty, and Sylvia. I ended up going to monthly wing nights, doing an axe throwing event, going out for sushi, and doing a Canadian Trivia event (where our team got second place and won a $100 bar tab!).

The following week, my friends went to a taco night, Jess and I had our last bachelorette night, and then that weekend, we all used the bar tab for Jess’ going away party. Jess would be moving back to Canada to do her Masters, so she would be gone for the next two years.

The next day, I met up with Sylvia to go to a tiny Glow Festival, which was a small festival of light displays. Then the next day, Sabriena had a birthday boozy brunch. This is where we get unlimited drinks for three hours, so it was a good way to spend a birthday.

This was also the last time that I’d be seeing Jess, and I took it really hard. I HATE crying in front of people, and I couldn’t stop crying when saying goodbye to her. We became so close, having our weekly bachelorette nights and seeing each other at least three times each week. It’s now over two months later, and we still regularly write each other long messages, but it’s hard not having her around anymore!

Our group kind of shifted, and we had a bunch of new additions, which was great! I became really close with Brooke, who I had met at one of the primary schools I worked at and invited to wing night. Joshua was one of the bartenders at wing night, and he started coming to events as well. And then Christian and Marcus are roommates, and Christian was one of Sabriena and Nathan’s first friends in Australia. Corinne and Daniel also hung out with us a lot more, and Corinne met Jess through the au pairing facebook group. Many of us went to events such as White Night, dim sum, more wing nights, and bottomless cocktails.

That September wing night was the biggest one we had ever had, and about 40 people showed up! It was amazing to see, because it was the 10th one that I had planned, and I had started planning them exactly a year earlier.

The first few wing nights were usually just my friends showing up again and again, but eventually new people started showing up and it caught on. It was so bittersweet, knowing that it would be my last wing night that I’d be able to attend for awhile.

During the weeks, I started getting more and more work in primary schools, which meant I started getting sick more and more often. I was really losing enjoyment in teaching, and it was getting more and more difficult for me to get up in the mornings since I didn’t know if I’d be working in a secondary school or a primary school. One day, I was even sent to a German-immersion school! I was once asked to “teach” chemistry in a really nice school, and it actually reminded me of how much I actually enjoyed teaching. After four years of doing substitute work, which really just felt like a glorified babysitting job, I didn’t feel any satisfaction being in the classroom anymore. In London, I had been asked to teach most classes, whereas in Melbourne, the only classes I would teach were primary classes. It made me start wondering what I wanted to do, because I felt like I needed a break. Before I went back to Canada, I had wanted to stay in Australia for as long as possible but when I got back to Melbourne, I wasn’t so sure if I wanted to anymore. I had enjoyed my time at home, and I was starting to feel more and more guilty about being away from home. I had this discussion multiple times with friends here, and with people I met on my Southeast Asia trip. Since both of my parents were retired, I felt like I should be enjoying the time I have with them, especially hearing about more and more friends and family members who had permanently lost that time with their parents. However, I also realized that I had no physical home to go back to in Canada, that my parents would be in Arizona for half the year anyway, that finding work would be a lot more difficult compared to other places in the world, that my salary would be a lot less, and that it wouldn’t be as easy to have a group of friends that were willing to meet up multiple times each week. Logically, it made more sense for me to stay in Australia for another year. The government introduced a third year visa in July, so in order to stay for a third year, I’d have to work on a farm for six months (compared to the three months required for the second year). If I hadn’t went to southeast Asia, I likely wouldn’t have had the chance to complete the farmwork for the third year (since you weren’t allowed to start the farmwork until after July 1st), so I kind of felt like this third-year visa was MADE for me. I loved my life in Melbourne, and I was really enjoying myself. The only thing that would be annoying is that I’d have to find a car. One night after watching the Bachelor with Jess, I took an Uber home and told the driver my conundrum. He listened to everything I had to say and then replied, “Well, to me it sounds like you’ve already made up your mind about what you want to do. But for some reason, you’re holding back.” I realized that he was completely right. Along with all of the people who gave me advice during my southeast asia trip, who always said, “You can’t keep living your life in fear – you have to do what makes you happy.” When people asked if I’d be happy moving back to Saskatoon right now, I realized that I likely wouldn’t be. Which is a difficult realization to come to, but I still feel like I’m at a different stage of my life compared to many of the people back at home. So I decided I’d do the six months of farmwork, and stay another year. Plus it was the perfect time to do farmwork – Alexa was still back in Canada, Jess had left, Sabriena and Nathan would be leaving at the end of September, Liah was still doing her farmwork, and Brooke was also looking for farmwork to get her second year. However, getting my job back at the tomato farm wasn’t as easy as I had thought. In the middle of August, I sent in an application and wrote the company. I knew that it would be a slow part of the season since it was still winter, but I was hoping that the HR manager would find a job for me. To my dismay, the HR manager had changed and she said that there weren’t any jobs available, and that she would add me to the waitlist. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try to apply to other jobs – one, because it was still winter and most places wouldn’t start hiring until at least December, and two, because if I had to work for six months, I’d rather do it somewhere that I liked. I also wouldn’t be able to afford missing multiple days because of bad weather, so since the tomato farm was in a greenhouse, I wouldn’t be affected by the weather. Because I wouldn’t be able to start working until the beginning of October, and my second year visa expired April 23rd, I’d really be cutting it close in order to finish my six months of farmwork. I wrote my supervisor and asked him if he thought he’d be able to talk to the HR manager, and he said he would get back to me. At the beginning of September, he told me to email the HR manager again, so I did but she just had the same answer. I wrote my supervisor and said it sounded like there was nothing available, but then he said that she would be in touch with me soon. He had went to talk to her about it, so that Friday, I got a phonecall while I was at school. I called back right after school but the HR manager had left for the weekend, so they said she’d call me back on Monday. I called again after school on Monday, but the HR manager was gone again. Luckily, I finally got a call from her on Tuesday and she said she might have a position available. That evening, I got an email with a job offer, which I obviously accepted. I would be starting in 13 days, which meant I had to find a place to live and a car before that. Luckily, I had already given my month’s notice to move out of my flat since I was planning to move out regardless of whether I found farmwork or not.

The next two weeks were my last two weeks in Melbourne. On Tuesday, I went mini golfing with Sabriena, and then went for dumplings with the crew.

On Thursday, I went to a comedy show with Sylvia, Corinne, and Daniel. Daniel also helped me search for cars online that evening, so I took the next day off and went to check out the car. It was a 2000 Honda CR-V, and the dealer who I got it from just seemed so genuine and nice. He even said that he had a couple of daughters that were my age, and he hopes that if they ever live abroad, someone would take care of them in that kind of situation (considering I know nothing about cars, and would normally have my dad to help me). I ended up purchasing the car that day but left it there so that it could get an oil change and inspection the next morning.

That night, Corinne and Daniel had a Friday the 13th party at their house, which was great! They even set up a Photo Booth in their living room, which we definitely took advantage of. Somehow, I was the last person there but luckily, I was only a 15-minute walk away from home. The next day, I went to pick up my car. On Sunday, I drove out to Warragul to look at a couple of houses. I really liked the first house, which would be with three flatmates (as well as the landlord’s boyfriend). The landlord (Lily) is a secondary school teacher, while her boyfriend (Jesse) is working on his Doctorate so he’s usually at home writing. Then Yang is here for a 6-month placement, and he’s working in one of the hospitals here. And Losa is going to school in Melbourne for law, so she commutes back and forth everyday. Later that evening, I was offered the room and I happily accepted! I got back to Melbourne, met up with Sylvia to check out the last half hour of the Ukrainian festival, and then we met up with the rest of the group for Christian’s birthday. We all went bowling and then went out for dumplings. That was the last time I saw Sabriena and Nathan, because they would be moving to the UK until their visa went through. I knew I’d see them again in less than a year, but we weren’t sure how long they’d be gone for. The next week was the last week before school holidays, and luckily I got four days of work that week. I ended up packing most of the week, and then on Saturday, September 21st, I met up with some of the group for a good-bye brunch, and then drove to Warragul to move into my new place! Love always