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I’m kind of freaking out about going back to Melbourne in 2 weeks. I’m excited, of course, to see my family, my friends and the blazing sunshine of an Australian summer. But living between two cities is a tricky balance. The hardest part (that no one talks about) is explaining to your loved ones ‘back home’ how you can possibly love your new home just as much as the city you were born to.
I miss Melbourne, but I love Vienna. The ongoing battle in my heart tends to go something like this….
Things I miss from Australia;
The big bright skies that somehow seem wider and more open than in Europe. Driving with confidence on the correct side of the road. Going to the footy with my dad. Understanding in-jokes and cultural references on TV. Banter with the checkout ladies at the supermarket. Fish and chips on a Friday. And oh man, the ocean, sunshine and sand.
There’s nothing as blue and wide and white as Aussies beaches…the Apostles on our last trip
I’ve missed a lot of my friends having weddings and babies (your late twenties brings on adulthood like a rash). Missed latte’s, brunches, beers on the porch. Missed a hundred glasses of wine and cackling laughter with old friends. I miss singing along at a music festival to songs that I grew up with. I miss girls’ nights. I miss being a fag-hag in trashy dance bars. I miss chicken salt (though surely with better dedication I can find that here). I’ve missed seeing my brother grow up into a real adult. There’s small, everyday things I’ve missed – like being able to walk into a bookshop knowing I’ll find an English book there. Or listening to Triple J at the right time of day, when the playlists make sense.
There’s so much to love about my life in Vienna;
Being in central Europe. Freshly made Josefbrot. Discovering new parts of The city. Having 4 actual seasons of weather, including snow and picturesque falling leaves in Autumn. Alllll the high street stores – H&M, Zara, Mango, BikBok. I love getting to London on a 2-hour flight, love learning a new language, hell I even love my job when I’m not completely exhausted by it. I love Vienna – the people, the architecture, the lifestyle.
Views over the Ringstrasse..I’m meant to resist this somehow??!!
I love the Mountains, skiing and extended family who greet you at breakfast with a bottle of Prosecco. I love the small things, like our apartment’s perfect balcony. The squirrels who scurry across our neighbours roof. Public transport that is efficient and affordable. A thousand small and large things that add up to a wonderful, unbelievably happy life.
So going home is bittersweet.
I can never visit and do and see and eat all the things I miss.
It’s just not possible in 3 – 4 weeks. I can’t recreate my entire life in Australia for Stefan in under a month. Can’t make up to my mum the hundreds of hours that I wasn’t around. Can’t possibly find all the new bars, cafe’s and alleyways Melbourne has opened up since I left (but that won’t stop me trying!).
What I can do, is work towards being ok with having two homes that I love dearly. To forgive myself for ‘leaving home’ and release the pressure – just a notch. I blindly walked into life as an expat, never realising just how difficult having two ‘homes’ is, individually and for my family and friends.
Having two homes on opposite sides of the globe goes against all the cardinal rules of Aussie travellers and expats. Aussies are always supposed to come back. We travel far and wide, and often, but we always come back. The number one thing Stefan and I get asked by all Australians is ‘when are you coming home’. (The expectation being, we will naturally return to Australia.)
The honest answer to that question is – I am home. I just have two homes now.
And one of the homes looks like a postcard 87% of the time. Zell am See this Autumn
That’s where the tricky part comes in. For friends/family who have never lived overseas it’s hard to understand how you can deeply miss your hometown, while at the same time be wildly in love with your new home.
This trip home will be different. I’m setting myself the challenge to confidently explain that Vienna is my home now too. Not for a visit, not for just one or two more years. Maybe for a long time. And the thought of explaining that particular bombshell scares me shitless.
I’ll be keeping you guys updated on our trip to Melbourne here on the blog and regularly via Snapchat (just follow @carlyhulls or scan the code below). If you’ve been through the expat challenge of visiting home when your heart belongs to a new city, comment below with your survival tactics!