Expat update: ONE YEAR

Welcome to our one year expativersary celebration post! We made it a whole year in Australia! Now, this may not mean much to anyone else, but I believe life is all about celebrating the small wins as well as the big ones, and I am choosing to celebrate today. One year ago today, we stepped off a plane bleary eyed and full of excitement (and bad plane food, boiled fish for dayyys), ready to start our journey.

Instead of the usual monthly update, I thought I’d do something a bit different this time and share a bit more about why and how we moved to Australia in the first place. Normally, when people ask why I moved to Australia I just tell them it was because we wanted to. Whilst that is the truth, it’s also not the full truth. Actually, a lot of people don’t know the full truth – when things are important to me, I tend to go a bit sheepy about them. So I thought the occasion of our first expativersary would be a good one to use to share the Story of Australia.

So come back with me, to the time of butterfly hair clips, global hypercolour t-shirts and Sony Walkman cassette players….

1996

My uncle, aunt and two cousins move to Australia for two years. My parents decide to take us to visit them one summer holiday instead of our usual camping trip to France, and I go on my first plane flight at the age of 10. I spend it eating jelly babies and side eyeing the curry that Cathay Pacific serve (I was a fussy kid). We stop over in Hong Kong, and land at the old airport where the plane comes in to land between skyscrapers. It’s my first flight; I think this is normal and have been disappointed with pretty much every plane landing since.

I have a great time on the trip, in a childhood holiday sort of way. It passes in a blur and now I mostly remember the great ice creams I had, seeing the sharks in the aquarium, and the really steep hill you had to walk up to get to my uncle and aunt’s house. Apparently, at some point, I also awkwardly hold a koala although I now have no memory of this.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Baby Rachel! Taronga Zoo, Sydney

2006

Ten years later, I board a plane to Australia with my parents and third eldest sister again. It’s the summer holiday after my first year of university, and we’re going to visit my second eldest sister this time. She had such a good time in Australia in 1996 that she took a job out there after qualifying as a doctor. She’s been out there for a couple of years at this point, and we haven’t been to visit her yet. She lives in Manly, so we stay in serviced apartments right on the quay and have a great time doing All the Touristy Things. Notably, we take a minibus tour to the Hunter Valley where I decide I do quite like wine after all.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Yes, I am actually 20 in this photo. Hunter Valley Gardens, NSW.

2008

I’m heading back to Australia for my second eldest sister’s wedding. Yay! It’s the end of my third year of university so I maximise the use of my long holidays and go out early. I meet up with a future housemate and her friends who happen to be travelling round Australia, and piggyback on their plans. We go to Cairns, and I snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. I see my sister get married, which is amazing, but then get very sad that this means she will most likely be staying in Australia for a very long time (spoiler alert: she’s still here).

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Sisters <3 one of my favourite photos of 3/4 of us. Manly, Sydney.

2009

Due to an airline snafu on my trip in 2008, which is rectified thanks to stringent intervention by my sister’s in laws, I have some airline vouchers to use. S and I decide that we will use them to… go back to Australia. I’ve just graduated so it seems a bit extravagant, but the tickets cost us £150 each after the vouchers are applied and we stay with my sister and brother in law to save costs. We go for around 7 weeks in total(!) during which we do side trips to Perth, roadtrip up to Exmouth, and around Tasmania. I also find out I passed my degree with a first. Oh and S and I get engaged. And just like that, we have one more major life event tying us to the country.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Engagement day. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney

2010-2011

S and I get married, and try to settle down to normal life in Birmingham, UK. However, we retain strange hangovers like a penchant for listening to Australian radio and eating carefully rationed supplies of Old Gold chocolate. We even go and see a lesser known Aussie band that we’re fans of, some dudes called Powderfinger. Their fan base in the UK is quite small so we are third row from the front in the ‘intimate’ venue. We sing along to their songs at the top of our voices, along with the rest of the Australian diaspora in Birmingham. We talk about Australia a lot. People politely pretend not to notice.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

(3rd to) front row with Powderfinger. Birmingham, UK.

2012

Suddenly, my second eldest sister gets taken severely ill. It’s touch and go for a few days and we’re all terrified. My eldest sister and I rush out to see her as soon as we can, and luckily by this point she is getting better. The primary objective of this trip is to spend time with my second eldest sister and make quite sure she really is on the mend. We also get to hang out with my niece, who is about to turn one. We do all sorts of gentle, getting back on your feet type activities including going for a delicious afternoon tea at Gunners Barracks as a sisterly trio. This is my first trip to Australia in the warm weather (technically it was autumn…) and you can definitely tell in this photo!

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Tea for three. Gunners Barracks, Sydney.

It’s an emotional trip as I’m sure you can appreciate, and I stay for almost a month. I really don’t want to go home (although I do miss my husband). During this trip, a number of people ask me why I don’t just move to Australia. Of course I can’t do that, I say.

And then a still small voice.

When I get back to the UK, I tell my husband I think we should move to Australia. He agrees.

2013

Everyone has an Annus Horribilis, don’t they? I think 2013 was mine. The gist of this year is trying to get myself in a professional position to be able to move to Australia with work – S and I quickly decide the working holiday option isn’t for us. The result of this is a lot of changes for S and I, most of them pretty tough ones. I start a blog in protest at my woeful life.

S gets a job with an Australian company based literally around the corner from where we just moved to in St Albans, and starts to really enjoy it. The timing of this doesn’t line up with ability to look for a job based in Australia, and we prioritise his career. I basically give up on the whole Australia thing for the most part, and end up accepting a job I think I’ll probably hate/be really bad at (spoiler alert: I still have it).

2014

It turns out I quite like this new job, so I decide to stay a bit longer. S and I move to Bedford and talk about buying a house there eventually. Rumours of a project at work in Australia come to nothing, and I’m disappointed. I keep my head down. The time limit I had mentally set myself for moving to Australia quietly passes.

We decide to spend Christmas and New Year in Sydney, because we missed our family and the moving thing wasn’t happening so we thought we might as well have a good knees up instead. For our Christmas present, my sister and brother in law got us afternoon tea at… Gunners Barracks.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Tea for two. Gunners Barracks, Sydney.

Over tea, we talk about how much we want to move here but how we can’t seem to make it happen. For now, we’re just happy to be here even just on a visit.

2015

My company acquires an Australian branch. I do not think this is a good thing – now I’ll never get to go there on a project because they’ll just use local staff instead. S and I get into the house buying process in Bedford, which stalls due to some interesting legal issues on the seller’s behalf. We are committed to settling down here and Getting Serious.

And then my Dad dies. Everything I thought I knew, or wanted, suddenly explodes in a cataclysm of grief.

We realise that the dream of moving to Australia will stay just that unless we do something about it. We pull out of the house buying process.

S’s job sends him to Australia for a company get-together, and I decide I won’t be left out so I book a ticket as well. Also I want to grieve with my sister. We do this in many ways, some involving extravagant paddling. Overall it’s a good trip, a healing trip. It gets S and my thinking back on track. Are we really going to do this?

My sister tries to ask a few times whether we might want to move here. S and I not-so-skilfully change the topic.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

1, 2, 3… Palm Beach, Sydney.

2016

Our minds made up, I trepidatiously enquire with my manager as to whether my company may wish to transfer me to the new Australian branch. He doesn’t see why not, and kicks off the necessary discussions (sidenote: total legend of a manager) and we decide to aim for a move in 2017. We have some things we want to do before we go: I make this the year of Why Not and tick off some things I’ve always wanted to do, like get braces to fix my teeth and travel to the USA.

Towards the end of the year I receive my formal offer, and I finally share the news with you all. I did drop some fairly unsubtle hints throughout the year, so I don’t think anyone was that surprised.

2017

I work out my last three months as a UK employee, we do a Grand Tour of Visitation around our friends and family, and I am sent on a surprise project to Australia a month before we move.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Landing in Sydney, 22nd April, 2017. Here we go!

My eighth trip to Australia is the one I’m still in; the one I didn’t think I’d manage. The semi permanent move! Who knows how long we’ll stay here – that’s sort of not the point. The point is, we made that dream come true, even though it took a really long time. And today we’ll be celebrating with tea at… Gunners Barracks.

If you want to celebrate with us, I’ll be taking tea over on Instastories. Cheers!

-Rachel

Linking up with Kristen for What’s New With You

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

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24 Comments

  1. 23rd April 2018 / 06:16

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Wow what a journey Rachel! And you made it! Hope we get a chance to catch up in a few weekends time!

  2. 23rd April 2018 / 07:10

    Congratulations on your anniversary, what an awesome year, you really did make your dream come true! I think Australia is one of those countries you just fall in love with. There’s so many wonderful things here. I’ve had friends from overseas come over repeatedly, they’d love to live here but haven’t been able to make the move yet. I’ll settle for holidays and getting to see them!

    Enjoy your tea – what a lovely tradition to have 🙂

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Our weather wasn’t as bad as predicted so we got to spend some time outside and by the pool which was awesome. 🙂

    Away From The Blue Blog

  3. Jen
    23rd April 2018 / 11:04

    Wow 1 year already!? I can’t believe it has been that long! Happy 1 year!!! 🙂

  4. 23rd April 2018 / 16:17

    Happy 1 year!! I love this story and how you made it happen!! You go, girl!! I hope you guys get your permanent residency soon so you guys can truly settle down there!! I love how you have a tradition in Sydney already!! Enjoy Gunners Barracks!

    London was the one place I dreamed of living and I made it happen, though it ended up being very spontaneous in the end! I’m trying to think of where I would want to move to next. Hmm.

  5. Julia
    23rd April 2018 / 19:38

    No words…just all the feels ❤️😊😢🍾💔 So.glad.you’re.here! Love you xxx

  6. 23rd April 2018 / 21:11

    I think you would’ve ended up there sooner or later!

    Your family connection makes it seem much more doable than just moving to another part of the world on your own.

  7. 23rd April 2018 / 22:25

    Happy one year expativersary! So great to see your full story – it really has a few twists in there huh?! But so happy that you guys have made the dream a reality – well done!

  8. 23rd April 2018 / 22:42

    oh i love this story. it’s funny how you can kind of fall in love with a place. and i love seeing your journey to get there. i cant believe it’s been one year already. and who cares how long you’re really there in the long run – it’s that you did it and you’re experiencing something new and all of that is quite lovely!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  9. 24th April 2018 / 02:58

    it’s always great to see when someone achieves her/his dream:) yours was Australia and here you are, already living for a year in Australia:)

  10. 24th April 2018 / 06:23

    I can hardly believe it’s been a year since you moved to Australia, Rachel! It sounds like this move was something you were contemplating for years! I’m so glad everything worked out. Hopefully things will continue to work out and you will enjoy staying in Australia for years to come … And if it doesn’t, I’m sure you will find the perfect new place to call home. After all, you had years of planning behind this move, so who says you couldn’t do it again if you wanted? 🙂

  11. 24th April 2018 / 14:15

    I loved reading all of your history with Australia, and I’m so glad that you finally made it here!

  12. 24th April 2018 / 15:31

    I love a bit of backstory! I love Powderfinger too, ironically, I’ve seen them quite a few times in London but never down under! Hope you had a wonderful time at the Gunners Barracks – I enjoyed tagging along on instastories!

  13. 24th April 2018 / 20:46

    I loved this so much. What a journey you’ve had!

    Jesse always says that Sydney is one of those places that wraps you around it’s little finger and reels you back in time and time again. From his first trip here (and his first plane flights were on that trip too!) he couldn’t think of living anywhere else. I’ve never lived anywhere but Sydney so I can’t comment – but I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world I could see myself living!

  14. 25th April 2018 / 11:39

    Aww I love the story you weave with this post – I was smiling through it all. What a process! I had no idea it was your dream to move to Australia for so long. I’m so happy for you guys that you made it happen <3

  15. 27th April 2018 / 02:25

    Long story short…It was meant to be!! If you hadn’t tried you’d always wonder and have it in the back of your head. Now, whether it’s temporary or you stay there forever like your sister you’ve done it and got to live that life and experience it. I hope you get to stay as long as you want to. It seems that everything you have had to go through to get there was worth it.

  16. 27th April 2018 / 08:10

    What an incredible journey! It’s wonderful that you are living your Australian dream 🙂

  17. 27th April 2018 / 08:41

    Oh my gosh wow, what a life journey getting to Australia it was for you! So glad you’re here now and hope it works out in the long run!

  18. 30th April 2018 / 22:45

    Congratulations, I’m glad you managed to make it out there after flirting with Australia for so long. I can’t believe how fast this year has gone – as soon as I saw the title for this I couldn’t help but think how it didn’t seem that long ago I was reading your updates for having been there three months.

  19. 1st May 2018 / 21:13

    Hi Rachel, great read. I’m from Solihull and moved to Sydney at the end of 2016 (after a long trip around Oz)! It took me years and years to make the move too, after I first lived in Australia as an exchange student in 2001. I’ve never heard of Gunners Barracks. I’ll have to check it out!

  20. 3rd May 2018 / 16:32

    Wow, what a journey. “Because we wanted to” is one way to sum it up, I guess 😉 At least you can genuinely say you had a dream and you did everything possible to make it come true. It doesn’t seem like a whole year since you went!

    My moving abroad story is totally lame. I always hear there are three reasons people move abroad: love, work, (their own or following a partner) or studies. I originally went to Germany for my year abroad, went back to be with my German boyfriend and moved to German for his work, so I fit all three categories and am a total cliché.

    Also, you got a first in your degree? Feeling totally inadequate with my 2:1 over here!

  21. 3rd May 2018 / 21:18

    I loved seeing your history with Australia and how it all worked out! Now I’m off to read your posts about visiting the US!

  22. 5th May 2018 / 07:33

    look at you holding a koala before it was illegal! even though you don’t remember hahaha.
    lol omg Powderfinger?! i love that you have so many life events associated with Oz. and lots of visits to this Gunners Barracks place haha. but i really love that you were able to visit so many times, and of course glad you were able to live there for a year (and more, however long it is). i’m glad you were able to make it happen.

  23. 8th May 2018 / 23:43

    This is such an emotional post!!! Thanks for sharing your great story and even if I don’t know you I’m so so so happy your dream of moving to Australia came true!!!

  24. 13th May 2018 / 12:11

    What a journey!! Can we talk about how adorable you are with that koala? And you’re SUCH A BABY at 20?!?! It’s unreal how young you look! It’s actually incredible how many visits and ties you have to Australia, considering it’s across the world from you. I hate the reason you decided to move, but I understand the need to grieve and to figure that piece out. I hope you enjoyed celebrating at one of the first places that your adventure began. Hugs all around for surviving your first year!

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