I have taken a leap. A leap of faith and decided to pack up my life and leave on a jet plane. As I write my very first blog post from my apartment in Sydney, there is a lump in my throat as I look around at all the things I need to pack. The mental list of everything I need to do before I leave is growing and I’m nervous. I’m nervous and scared but calm and excited at the same time. It’s a huge adjustment for me seeing as the decision to leave was made in a matter of weeks. So let me begin to tell you my little story…
Last October, my relationship with my boyfriend ended. And it knocked the wind right out of me. I didn’t see it coming and it felt like I was being punished for something I didn’t know I had done. I had to keep telling myself that it was his mistake and not mine. So, two weeks later, still not great, I headed to South Africa with a group of friends to do some volunteer work in Johannesburg. I had been looking forward to this trip for months and now all of a sudden I didn’t want to go. But I had to. I had to leave and clear my head and hopefully come back being able to breathe. Our group were headed to a town called Boksburg, 45 minutes outside of Jo’Burg city and we were there to finish building three houses, a sewing centre, a counselling room and a veggie garden. We met some beautiful, kind people who were so appreciative of what we had come to do in their community, yet I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I had wanted to. I felt foolish for feeling so miserable when some of these kids and young adults were going through abandonment and abuse. I was lucky in comparison, so my friends told me before I left. After a week of volunteering we headed to Kruger National Park for four days before we all went our separate ways. Getting back on the plane was one of the hardest things I have done in a long time because being back in Sydney and back in my apartment was the last place in the world I wanted to be.
Being home was shit. I was going back to work and seeing my friends who all wanted to know how my trip was and I didn’t want to talk about it. I felt bad for not having enjoyed myself as much as everyone had wanted me to and felt like I had to feign excitement. I decided not to fake it and told people it was “good but not as great as it could have been” and left it at that. Nobody asked any other questions because they all knew why and sensed it wasn’t a topic up for discussion.
After getting back into a routine of work, bootcamp, daily meals and trying so hard not to be consumed by what had happened, I was chatting to my friend in New York one morning on WhatsApp and she told me I had to make myself available for a visit to Vietnam in July / August where she was headed for two weeks to visit a friend. It was a great halfway point, so why not? I asked what her friend was doing in Vietnam and she said she was on a Remote Year. I had no idea what that meant and asked her to explain. Her explanation was brief and she basically directed me to a website. Her friend was going to be traveling to 12 cities throughout Europe, Asia and South America for a year. One month in each city for a year, all whilst doing her job remotely. It was all I needed to hear to know it was what I needed to do. So as soon as I got to my desk that morning, I typed in the website, filled out the brief application form and sent it off. And then I waited…
Christmas was a few weeks away and I still hadn’t heard back about my application. Then one morning after the New Year, I got an email saying I had progressed to the second round. I now had to answer several short answer questions about why I wanted to be on the program, talk through my travel experience and talk through my job and how I would go working from remote locations. This took me a day to write. I sent it off and then I waited, again.
It took about two weeks for the next email to come through saying I had progressed to the third and final round, a Skype interview with one of The Remote Year recruitment team. I had no idea what to expect from the interview and didn’t know what they were going to ask. But after speaking to my friends friend about her interview I found out it was a very casual chat, more of an opportunity for me to ask any questions I had about the program. I wrote a down a list before my interview and it was great that my questions were all answered. I was so curious about the application process itself and was surprised to find out that over 25,000 people apply for the program, 300 people are asked to interview and 75 are offered a place. It made me realise I wanted to be part of the 75 more than I have wanted anything. I would have to wait another week before I would find out whether I was successful or not. Longest. Week. Ever.
Tuesday morning, before work, waiting to get my eyebrows done and I’m chatting away to my sister who lives in London. Nek minute an email comes through from Dan, my interviewer from the week before congratulating me on making it through. Holy shit. I couldn’t type fast enough to my sister to tell her. After the longest eyebrow appointment ever, I left, called my parents and told them. My mother had to confirm it wasn’t a scam that I was getting myself into, congratulated me and said we would chat later. I called my best friend, something we don’t usually do unless one of us is dying, spoke to her and cried. I was that person walking through Martin Place crying tears of joy on her way to work. Throughout the day I told a few friends who knew I had applied. Their excitement about my news made me more excited about leaving, there was so much love, and it was amazing!
Fast forward three weeks and now majority of my friends know I’m heading off, as do some of my work colleagues. I have spoken to my managers about possibly working remotely and also reached out to an old colleague about freelancing work so things might just work out. Fingers crossed! I’m now trying to get my shit together and get things sorted. That list I was referring to earlier is definitely making its presence felt. I have spoken to my travel agent about booking a one way ticket. A. One. Way. Ticket. Holy. Crap. I need to talk to an estate agent about my apartment as I need to find some wonderful caretakers and I also need to get rid of a whole heap of stuff as I’ll be downsizing my life into three bags. So much to do, so little time!
So you’re all caught up and I hope I haven’t bored you with my first post. I had no idea how long a blog post should be so I hope this was sufficient. If people read this blog, then great, but if not well that’s fine too. I shouldn’t be concerned whether people read it or not because at the end of the day this blog is for me, so I have something to look back on post-travels and 30 years down the track. And if I can pack up my life in a matter of months, quit my job and buy a one way ticket to THE WORLD, then so can anyone. This might inspire others to throw their hands in the air and yell “F@&* it, I’m out!” Hell, you have nothing to lose, so people keep telling me. If you feel inclined to share my blog and my journey, please do. Take from it what you will. Use it to plan your next holiday. Use it as inspiration to pack it in for a while and take a break from the daily grind. Or use it to live vicariously through my travels.
After a week in London visiting my sister and some friends, my first month on my Remote Year will start in Prague, Czech Republic from 1 June. Be there.
“Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
– Ibn Battuta
And lastly, follow me on Instagram @halftheworldaway.co for what I hope will be an amazing collection of photos!