Looking back on the last couple of months, it’s all been a bit of a blur. Amidst the chaos of packing up 4 years of life in London, dashing to Portugal for a week of summer rays, and re-acclimatising to the move back home in Melbourne - I've barely had time to catch my breath, let alone sit down and reflect on how I'm feeling. In amongst all of that, I’ve moved homes twice, started a new job and adjusted to unforeseen circumstances – all since returning to Melbourne just 7 weeks ago.
It’s all a bit of a shock, to be honest.
In the initial weeks, it felt as through I’d never actually left Melbourne - like the past 4 years living in London were nothing but a dream. Maybe it’s because I’d spent the first 25 years of my life in this city - my home - which felt as familiar to me as the back of my hand. Maybe it was because I started working just 5 days after touching down, falling effortlessly back into the daily grind of Melbourne life. I came home with a fresh perspective and excitement for discovering the best parts of my city, which was quite an exciting feeling.
And then it all changed…
That familiar feeling that I was earlier comforted by has started to feel unsettling and somewhat suffocating. It’s not that I’m not enjoying being home, but that “honeymoon” period has certainly ended. Reality is sinking in - this isn’t just a quick trip to visit friends and family, packing up again in a few weeks to go back to my London life. This is it. Time to start building a new life and social network for myself in Melbourne.
Travellers in the same situation refer to this as “reverse culture-shock” – that feeling you get when you’re trying really hard to readapt to a place that hasn’t changed much, when you yourself have grown so much. All the experiences that I’ve had in the past 4 years have shaped who I am today, which is a vastly different person to who I was prior to leaving. New experiences, changed perspectives, and a different outlook on life itself.
A big part of the shock of moving home is the fact that nobody really questions you or asks you to reflect on your experience. I’m desperate to share the things I’ve learned from both living abroad as well as from all my travel. Equally, I’m eager to share some of the most challenging moments that I’ve experienced. Maybe those conversations came more naturally when I was in London as I was constantly surrounded by people living in similar circumstances, so both parties could relate to the anecdotes shared. I know this is a struggle that so many others have experienced when moving home, as I also know that it’s not happening because people don’t care about the experiences that I’ve had. It’s just about finding a common ground again which takes some time.
Above everything else, it’s the spontaneous and carefree travel lifestyle that I’m missing the most. Of course, everything was so accessible from London – weekends away were part of my lifestyle. Escaping the big smoke when I needed a break was relatively cheap and easy, and travelling to new cities for solo trips was both refreshing and exhilarating. Whilst I knew that moving back to Melbourne would mean less travel for multiple reasons, I was definitely looking forward to maintaining this lifestyle as best as I could. I don’t think I realised just how expensive travel in Australia is, and my dream of travelling every month or so was maybe a little unattainable. But, travel is a fundamental part of who I am and is what makes me feel the happiest and most fulfilled. I know that there is so much beauty in both Australia and all our surrounding countries, and deep down, I know that this part of my life isn’t going to ever be lost. It’s just maybe coming to terms with the fact that my trips now might require slightly more planning and budgeting for, and that’s ok.
So, to my fellow wanderers looking to relocate home. My advice to you is this: do it. Just be ready for those ebbs and flows, and ride them as they come your way. There are so many wonderful parts to being home – from seeing friends and family whenever you want, to having your support network close again, to rediscovering the best parts of your city, to owning and driving a car again! Whilst there are some challenges involved in the readjusting period, I’m reminding myself that it was just like this when I moved to London. It took a good year to find a solid social network, to feel settled and comfortable and to recognise that it had been the right choice to make. So just two months in, I’m going easy on myself, and giving myself time to figure things out.
To quote my wonderful mum, I’m just “riding the waves of life” right now, and trying hard to find my groove back home in Melbourne. Who knows yet what life back home will bring or where in the world I might end up. Stay tuned, my friends!