So this week and especially these last 4 days can only be described as being nostalgic. I packed the rest of my belongings, sent out my boxes, and said good-bye to some really great human beings. I can’t even believe that its already been almost 5 years since I got to Australia. I can still remember the day I arrived in Sydney, walking out of the hostel and then deciding to go right or left. It was the greatest sense of freedom, just the best feeling. I am feeling really grateful for my time here and what I have learned, but it definitely hasn’t all been great. I’ve had a lot of struggles here around finding my identity, and also identifying with the Australian culture at times.
What can I say about my time in Australia? I have become the person I have wanted too and I found what I was looking for through all my experiences, good and bad. I have to say that I do have some resentment within me from some of my lesser experiences, and I still cannot understand why some people have to be so down on themselves that they feel they make others feel just as bad as they do, I find this really messed up. I look back on some of those experiences, for example, when I was working at a pub, a regular came in, looked at me and said, “what you think your pretty enough not to wear make-up?”. I was shocked, appalled. Who says things like that??! I dealt with many comments of this hurtful nature throughout my time in Australia, so I can’t say that I have had the best impression of Australians. On the other hand, I did meet some amazing people, really loving people that are working hard to be a productive and bring positivity to the Australian culture. To those people I want to say thank you. Thank you for showing me that there is beauty in human nature. What else can I say about my experience? I truly want to just unload. It’s a beautiful country, absolutely beautiful. I wish I could have met more people that respected the landscape as much as most of the internationals I met, but maybe I didn’t surround myself with the right kind of people. I mean the sky is the sky and people are people everywhere, but I have never been met with so much opposition and blatant hurtful criticism from other cultures I have visited. I don’t want to bag on Aussies, I have Aussie friends that were beautiful, positive people and gave me nothing but love, I am simply sharing MY experience, I am allowed just like everyone else. I want to say that some of my best memories are from meeting internationals. The one thing that I absolutely loved about Australia was just the sheer number and variety of cultures that reside there. You can’t walk down the street without hearing another language. I think this is a huge positive for Australia, but again, unfortunately, I have never met a more racist culture. My first real racist Aussie experience was literally my first day in Australia at the Sydney airport. My plane had landed along with about 4 planes from Asia, most from Hong Kong, and immigration was packed. After a while I finally reached the officer. I remember having this bubbly air of excitement so I decided to make small talk. I said, “look’s like your pretty busy here”. He replied, “ya…..Asians….” and then rolled his eyes. I was taken back. I have never heard a Canadian or anyone else say something racist to a blatant stranger. I had heard the Australian culture was like this, but seriously my first day!? This kind of negative air kind-of stuck with me, which was pretty disappointing after all this time. I kept hoping it would get better, that people would start to except me and others for our different opinions, understand that we are foreign and that things in other country are some-what different, maybe even learn something from us….but most of the time I was made well-aware that I was foreign, and that, that was not okay. Now, I say again, this was not all the Australians I met. My friend Josh is Australian and one of the most positive, amazing, smart people I have ever met. We travelled Asia together and I could not have asked for a better travel partner. I am thankful for meeting an Aussie like him, or else I would have been deterred from the culture many years back. I think another major influence in my time in Aus was Dan. From friend to love to friend. Now he is a New Zealander, and just a great human being. I grew with him in a major city that if given the chance will chew you up and spit you out. There are many shady back-streets to lose yourself in Melbourne, but if you meet the right people they can help you climb out of that hole and find yourself again. This is what happened to me. I think I went through bouts of depression throughout my time. It’s hard to travel half-way across the world and be met with less than positive attitudes towards you not being Aussie. I feel even worse for internationals where their first language isn’t English. I want to share an experience again around racism in relation to this. I was working and this Japanese man came to the bar to order drinks for his table of friends. He didn’t speak the best English, but he was trying really hard to talk to my British manager (but she had lived in Aus 10+ years of her life). She all of sudden said, “next!”. The man looked confused, and so did the couple waiting in line behind him. The couple behind said, “Oh well, he is first”. She then replied, “she can help him” and waved her arm towards me, simply motioning he should move out of the way. Needless to say I was shocked. I took his order, and he was very pleasant, and his order turned out to be quite simple, just a couple beers. I pondered this event for a long time after. How could she just treat a person like they were not worth anyone’s time or effort? This happened in my first year in Aus. Needless to say there were many more examples of this lack-of empathy throughout my remaining 4 years, sad really. Okay so on a more positive note, throughout all these experiences I felt a sense of pride in myself, and my country and I look forward to going home. Now I haven’t lived in Canada for 5 years, so I’m not sure how the attitude there has changed, but my experience in Montreal about 4 months ago was great. The people in Montreal were so nice, so positive, a really friendly air that I haven’t experienced in a while, except for my recent trip to the Aussie country side and my going away party, I think it was a lovely positive send-off. Any-ways this is just a snip-it of my time in Australia. If you are thinking of travelling to Australia then I think you will have the best time. Most Australians have big personalities and are open to any type of fun, most are really great people. If you are met with negativity, just realise that it’s more likely something within someone, and not about you personally. Australia is a beautiful place with a huge amount of opportunity, so enjoy your journey. Maybe you’ll end up like me, finding yourself, finding inner strength and growing like you never thought you would. Thanks for reading, and be aware and eat with care 🙂