By Kristy Kenny
LEAVING London — those words invoke different feelings to different people. But regardless of who you are, if you’re an Aussie living in London, then these two words cross your mind often.
Returning to Australia can be a blessing for the homesick or punishment to those who see it as the end of reckless fun. The latter is probably more common, because let’s face it, that’s why we left in the first place.
I was one of those people. But after a two year stint gallivanting across as many countries as possible and living in London, it was time to face the blasting reality of life back on Australian shores. And whatever type of mental preparation I thought I’d given myself, it wasn’t even close to being enough. Each day waking back home is like a fresh slap in the face — on a really bad day it’s like I’ve been completely KO’d! And after talking to other returnees, I’m not alone.
So before you prematurely book a ticket to the homeland because you a) just broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend b) can’t afford to stay in London earning such little money or c) miss a love or the life you left behind, think long and hard about the decision.
Readjusting is tough and nearly two months in I’m still as unsettled as day one – minus the jetlag! The 24 hour flight was agony, dragging me closer and closer to the life I wasn’t prepared to go back to. And shock horror — when I got back nothing had changed. Except that every single friend I left behind was either pregnant, has had a baby, wanted a baby, wanted another baby or couldn’t stop talking about babies. WARNING: while you were learning, growing and discovering the world, your mates were breeding like wildfire and cannot relate to your experiences unless they have also had them. Best have an overseas baby story prepared to hold their attention for a little while at least. The alternative to this conversation is marriages and mortgages. I can’t decide what’s worse!
You are most likely coming home broke. Even more likely is that you’re coming home in debt — to your parents. And it gets worse. Because you’re broke and jobless, you live with your folks rent free knowing that the first few months pay, when you eventually get a job, is going straight back to them. It’s pure humiliation; you’re brave and independent enough to take on any culture of the world but still need mummy and daddy to help you back on your feet!
And then throw in this equation: Australia = extortion. This just compounds your ‘brokeness’ when you get home. I got off the plane at Melbourne Airport and feeling parched bought a small bottle of water….for six bucks! And things got worse — a pint cost $9.40 – and apparently that’s a good deal! If you’re a smoker, well I hate to be the one to break the news, but you’re looking at around $17 per packet. Ah, I remember Eastern Europe where a bottle of water is 10 cents, a beer is a couple of bucks and a pack of smokes is $3. But when it comes to rent, it’s Australia winning the race. It’s still bearable in most parts, compared to a London Zone Three equivalent!
Australia cannot compete with London’s entertainment and nightlife. And with nearly half of Australia’s entire population equaling the quantity in London, it’s not surprising why. But it’s a tough readjustment nonetheless — life just seems so quiet in compassion.
Returning to Oz also means returning to the road, not the pub. The public transport situation in Australia hasn’t changed a great deal. So catching a taxi home or walking is still the answer to those nights at the pub. Turns me off drinking somehow!
Australia is still the same wonderful country it was when you left — albeit more expensive with the ever present feeling of a time capsule — but still the same. Each year too many people rush back to their homeland over a rash decision and then regret it. London is far away and can sometimes look intimidating, expensive and bleak. But from where I’m standing it’s the other way round.
Home isn’t going anywhere, so make sure you return when you are 100% ready!