I can't believe how long it's been that I started on this French journey, not only learning the language but actually moving to the country... I can't believe how far I've come intellectually, emotionally and spiritually...
I also can't believe the friends I've made through the language learning websites I used. and even though we are not close anymore (and I don't use those sites anymore) we still keep in touch and it's amazing how much people's lives have changed in just a few short years.
Something I think about all the time is if and when I'll return home. I know that I will but it's just a matter of when. But time and time again, I hear the same things from my French and other European friends who moved to Australia. They love it there but it's just too far from home... And I have basically the same and opposite experience too.
I decided to write this post because a friend of mine that I met on a language learning site (Live Mocha) way back in 2009 has been living in Australia the past couple of years (doing the opposite of what I'm doing) and finally decided to move back home this year. I had another French friend (that I met in another country) who also did the same thing a year ago, after expating through various countries he ended up in Australia, and decided to go back to France. I just keep hearing the same thing over and over again. Everybody loves Australia but they can't deal with being so far away from family and friends :(
I think it has a lot to do with age, too. When you are in your 20s or early 30s you are still pretty free and 'wild' but then from your mid 30s on something just kicks in and you start thinking about your ageing parents and if, when (and WHERE in the case of expats) you are going to have kids... It's something quite stressful for me to think about, to be honest. Because I've lived in a few different countries now I know that no matter where I live I'll always miss other countries/continents hugely, and of course when I'm away from home (Australia) like now I always miss home a lot.
There are a lot of great experiences I've had, but as with all expats, there are sacrifices to be made too, unfortunately.
For those of you thinking of moving overseas I would highly recommend it but at the same time just know that it's nothing like in the movies, and it's nothing like travelling. Real life is hard no matter where you are, but even moreso in a foreign (non English speaking) country. And it's super hard when you are going from Australia to Europe or vice versa. If you (like most Europeans) are going from one European country to another you can still visit your family easily and often and there isn't a huge culture difference within western continental Europe. But with Australia it's really a whole new world.. something I'm forever having to explain to my European friends who've never lived outside the continent. Even those in the US don't have it as hard even though the US is also far. Australia has a 9 or 10 hour time difference to Europe, and we have opposite seasons, and we drive on the left hand side of the world, and we have a totally different electrical plug, and... and... ;P Flights are hideously expensive but even if you had the money you need to have a decent amount of leave to be able to go between the 2 continents otherwise it's just not worth it with a 20-30 hour flight each way. You need (in my experience) at least 3 days just to get over the jetlag when you fly to Australia. Luckily going to Europe I only need 1-2 days.
Despite every hard thing I've gone through though, I would not give it up for the world. :)
(image from here)