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With my impending trip home I’m anticipating the many many conversations about ‘what I’ve been up to’. Given the impossibility of describing two years of travel, growth, adventure, terror and joy i’m thinking in snazzy screen-grab terms. Summing everything up in a few short sentances. Because, on paper, my life sounds amazing (don’t get me wrong I know it is). Paid to see Europe with Topdeck, met amazing fellow travellers and lifelong friends, worked a ski season and met an amazing man on a bar crawl, travelled a little more and now establishing my life in Vienna. Rosy, right?
The gap between the snazzy summary you tell people and the mundanity of everyday existence is huge. I’m sure everyone does it – Facebook and social media were basically invented to advertise how awesome your life is to everyone you know. The thing is, in my instance, how do you possibly explain to someone the excruciating stress of waiting for Visa approval for months? How do you express the daily feeling of being a failed feminist because of your current dependancy and lack of employment? I ‘have it all’ on paper but no career or gainful employment to speak of. Which, for this modern 20 something woman is a huge huge issue. Unavoidable but grating just the same. (More on that in another post). How do you tell people that the life of the eternal traveller is as exhausting as it is rewarding? You can’t avoid people reducing the responsibilities and work of the job down to flippant comments and misunderstanding.
Expat life is hard. There’s reams of blogs, books, stories and writings dedicated to it. What’s harder is trying to explain why this is so to those who only see your life through the rosy shades of Facebook, or occasional conversations. For the most part, and for my own sanity I like to play up the positives, tell people i’m keeping busy, trying to get fit, writing and reading lots and engaging with the expat community. Which I am. What I don’t tell them is the reality – that not speaking the language is a constant struggle, that lacking a job burns my sense of self and independance daily and that ‘expat life’ isn’t as glamourous as it sounds.
The main point though, is that I don’t regret any of this struggle. I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t move back to Australia, and I don’t feel lonely (yet). I’m lacking in some things but the gut sense that I’m doing the right thing by being here, that my European adventure isn’t done yet is what drives me though these endless, mindless, repetitive days of nothingness in the apartment.
There is a job interview on Friday. If the Universe sees fit to grant me gainful employment before we leave for Oz I think I may weep with the relief of it. I can’t face January treading water (snow?) day after day. Vienna is enchanting, I’m genuinely happy with my life right now but I fear if this stagnation continues it might just drive me bonkers. So, fingers crossed. I have a fabulous new pair of boots to get me through (courtesy early 6th December present from S) so surely the odds will be in my favour! Here’s hoping!
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