At the beginning of this month I officially celebrated my one year anniversary with Australia. I remember it so well, hopping off that A380 at 6am, brimming with excitement after 4 months of seeing Luke only through my laptop screen. I was so looking forward to not having to factor the internet speed into our conversations, and more than that, I was beyond excited to explore a side of the world I’d never before even visited.I knew that moving overseas was going to be tough. For start, I didn’t have a job (just a few networking connections via former coworkers). I was facing an undesirable exchange rate which squandered away a healthy chunk of my Canadian savings, I was starting again with only four boxes and two suitcases full of belongings, and I had maybe 3 friends in this quadrant of the planet.
This isn’t a ‘Things I Wish I Would Have Known‘ post because I did know that it was going to be a really major transition phase in my life. I was sad to leave my friends behind in Canada, but I was also really excited to make new friends in Melbourne, which is something I hadn’t really been doing in Vancouver in a while. And to that effect, I kind of already had some built-in new friends that I was excited to meet: girlfriends/wives of Luke’s best friends that live here in his hometown. So while I knew my life was going to change big time, I also found a lot of comfort in the fact that it wasn’t going to be a true start from zero. Heck, I had a built-in family! (that I’d met twice… haha)When I first met the girlfriends I was pretty stoked. They’re all really nice, beautiful people, inside and out, and they made such a nice effort to include me in their social circle. But while I really enjoyed hanging out with them at group events, I eventually realised that friendships are kind of… more than that. After spending so much time with the boys, it was great to have girl time where we could discuss the important things in life: the best hair curling tools, where the good shops are to buy affordable makeup, and favourite aussie clothing labels. You can laugh at me for sounding ridiculous, but when you move to a new country, you lose a lot (if not all) of the brands and stores that you’re loyal to – have any of you guys made a big move and felt the same? I nearly cried one day in the shopping centre because I couldn’t figure out what stores had good quality clothes at a price that wouldn’t break my unemployed budget. It was hard! So having girl time was really important for me, and was something that was vital to my integration into this new life. I enjoyed having go-to people for my girly questions, and I really enjoyed learning more about the girls and their lives growing up in Australia (it’s suprisingly different, yet even more surprisingly similar to life in Canada). So I got to know them that way, and that was great.The thing that I didn’t factor into my whole move though was that sure, it’s great to meet new people and learn about them and their background. But just because you click doesn’t mean you’re going to be immediate bffs. Probably anybody who’s tried to make new friends in life can relate to that, right? What I really missed (and still miss) was my friendships from back home that allow me to call my besties when I’m bored and just talk on the phone for hours, or go over to their house just to watch tv, drink wine, and talk about pointless stuff all night. I miss the kind of friendships where we can sit together and feel comfortable with the silence, and hell, maybe we’ll even fart and laugh about it. Because your best friends expect your farts to stink instead of being surprised that you’re just that gross; in fact, they probably saw it coming because you ate that piece of chocolate without taking a lacteeze pill. This is all theoretical, obviously.
While my friends are still only a skype session away, they’re also in various time zones around the world. That makes coordination of calls quite difficult unless it’s the weekend – even then, both of you have to be at home and online. It’s not ideal sometimes. I have been a bit homesick over the past few months, and maybe it’s the weather getting me down (it’s pretty hard to be sad when it’s sunny and 38C, but winter is a different story), but maybe it’s just normal.
I think the positive that has come out of this situation is that I really, really value my friends back home and do make a very concerted effort to stay in touch with them, whether via skype, iMessage, What’sApp, HeyTell or even Facebook (any other suggestions for staying in touch long-distance?). And when I first started really realising that I was missing those tight friendship bonds from back home, it drove me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to ask people here to hang out more. It’s really scary to put yourself out there like that, but it’s definitely paid off! It’s a really weird thing to be 26 and feeling like you’re the new kid on the playground, tapping another girl and asking ‘Hey, you wanna be my friend?’. But on the flipside, if you don’t, you’ll stay on the outside a lot longer than is necessary, or healthy. Everyone else already has their established friendships and groups, so it’s up to you to bust into a few of them and find the right one for you. Maybe you hit a few bumps along the way and meet some people you don’t really click with. Who cares? Keep going. This is just such a huge learning experience, and it’s already paid off greatly in the friendships that I have found, and that may only be young but are really different to the ones I’ve had in the past.I’ll never regret taking the plunge to move my entire life overseas, I’m just not that kind of person. This post isn’t meant to scare anybody off from potentially making a similar jump either, because if you are considering that, I definitely recommend it. I think it’s an excellent experience that not many people can claim. Right before I jumped on the plane to fly to Melbourne back in 2012, I was in London with my best friend Alix that had just moved there for a 5-year stint. We were talking about how exciting it was to have an entire country of possible new friends in front of us, with absolutely nothing standing in our way. Does it take a little work to get out there and meet those new friends? It sure does. Can it be a little uncomfortable at times, maybe even a bit lonely? You bet it can. But based on the friendships I’ve begun to build since arriving a year ago, I can confidently tell you that it’s worth every second, ever tear of frustration, and every girls shopping trip to a mall full of stores you’ve never even heard of. The hardest part is taking the plunge in the first place!
What are your guys’ tips for branching out and making new friends? Ugh, it can be so overwhelming sometimes. I do really think though that it’s one of those character building things that you hate at the time, but look back on and laugh at (hopefully with your new friends!). Agree? And as a side note, how funny is it to think back to when you first met your best friends?