Leaving my home country has always been a dream. Since the death of my best friend, I knew I wanted to do what others deemed impossible, go to places where people can only dream of and soak up any kind of experiences I can get my hands on and I haven't regretted anything.
So, I've always had the dream of moving to Australia but it has always been a dream. I almost got it but due to my stupidity, I didn't get enough mark to be admitted into any Australian universities to do the program that I wanted. So I moved to the capital of my home country and did a Cambridge A Levels and was contemplating moving to the UK.
Across the road from my college was an Australian Education Agency and one day, I snuck in to collect a bunch of Prospective Students' booklets. I filled in some of the forms out of boredom - cos they were free - and like any other contest, I entered without any expectations of winning. I totally forgot about it until a letter came. The words, "Letter of Offer" printed on the piece of A4 paper.
I accepted the offer and uttered my goodbyes to my fellow classmates, moved back to my hometown and did a final farewell and preparation for my move. I was incredibly excited but I know
this is going to be a good-bye to familiarity. The air, the food, the people and the culture. I know I am bidding goodbye to a huge part of my own identity.
My classmates organised 3 farewell parties for me. My family organised 2 and my other friends organised another half a dozen. The final few days were the reality check of what was ahead. The packing was done, hugs exchanged and goodbyes said. I took a last drive around my hometown at 2.00am, 4 hours before my flight. I cried in the car, I have to admit. Stopping at shops and landmarks that has become a huge part of my life, or has a significant memory in my childhood.
The excitement slowly turns into anxiety and a gazillion questions ran through my head, but I know all too well that I cannot have any doubt because otherwise, I just wouldn't do it. Comfort zone is such a cosy place its hard to get out of it, but I managed to do it. Many asked if it was hard and I have to say, it wasn't really. As long as you have some savings to last you until you found a job, a place to live even if temporarily, and a few contacts, you are set. Do it or you never will.
So at 6.00am, I drove myself to the airport where I was met by a group of close friends. I exchanged hugs with everyone and said see you in a year. After about 10 hours including in transit, I landed in Adelaide, totally new, curious and absolutely excited. But the excitement very quickly turned into anxiety of the culture differences, sense of humour and accent.
I have to say, I have an amazing, amazing bunch of friends who made me more than welcomed to their hometown and helped me adapt to their culture almost instantly. They brought me home to their parents in the country, in rural and regional areas where we drank rain water, eat real bacon and meat, fresh produce, swam in billabongs and hang out at the RSLs (Returned & Services Leagues).
I dare to say that I have made a huge transition and really adapted well to the point where I engage myself in political arguments and ran a few political campaigns as well even though I don't have any rights to vote. I use slangs, eat vegemite on toasts, watch the AFL and cricket, drink Coopers, Pure Blond or Carlton and sarcasm is my first language - I was corrupted by Summer Heights High. I was such a sophisticated, elegant tourist / temporary resident until I hang around with the Aussies.
Having said that, I am still very much the boy from my hometown. It's like an automated switch that when I go back, everything just turns itself on or off. I fit right in, drinking kopi peng, eating noodles and rice, and speak my local language.
But one question I still struggle to answer sometimes - where's home. To me, home is where the heart is, where my love ones are. Sometimes, this is my hometown, sometimes the other cities I've lived in, sometimes its Adelaide and at most times, its very much Brisbane.
So, how about you? Where would you like to move to, and where do you call home?
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