I admit, I have been incredibly slack at blogging as of late. This is mainly due to being busy with settling back into life ‘down under’ and also because I haven’t done a whole lot worth writing about. Contradicting, I know.
I returned to Australia at the end of January and dived straight back into 9 to 5 after spending a month visiting friends and family in the UK. I can’t believe how quickly two months have passed; time really does fly when you’re having fun.
Aside from work I have been drinking, a lot. Days at the beach/park, coastal walks and evenings on the balcony also fill my spare time when I’m not propping up bars. I took a trip down to Melbourne to visit the gang I endured farming with and also to spend time with Kerry & Ludo and Lizzie & Alfie. Almost everybody I know in Australia are in Melbourne for some very strange reason so it was nice to go down and catch up with everyone. I planned the weekend around the World Superbikes opening on Phillip Island (which I now have a new found passion and appreciation for). Kerry, Ludo and I got free gold passes to the event through my Dad’s old best pal, Shaun, who owns the Milwaukee Aprillia team. It was an unbelievable weekend as a whole and I was subsequently left feeling pretty sad when I got back to Sydney and of course, broke.
Here’s some amateur photography to sum up the last couple of months…
Drinks in the city
My job at Caritas is still getting me out of bed each morning (bar one day where I had to pull a sickie due to chronic wisdom toothache (still no wiser)). It is becoming increasingly clearer to me that working for a charity is what I want to do (yay my degree wasn’t a total waste of three years and £24k debt). At the risk of sounding extremely hippy-like- it gives me purpose, which makes my 7am alarm that little bit less painful.
In all honestly…I’m the office bitch…the lowest of the low. So whilst the role itself isn’t totally fulfilling, I have been reminded that the not-for-profit sector is where I thrive most. The culture is just so different. I have always had a very strong work ethic, it’s something I really pride myself in but it’s incredible to be surrounded by people who actually, and I mean genuinely, give a toss about what they do (with the exception of one or two, of course).
Everyone wants to change the world we live in some way, shape or form. We’re not working for some corporate spunk stain whom was the beneficiary to their Daddy’s estate. We show up to work to change people’s lives; we care. This is something I find truly unique in the workplace.
I’m aware that I sound like a walking cliché but making a difference, even in the slightest way, means something.
I have regular contact with donors too, most of whom are caring and compassionate individuals. They want to help the developing world and are interested in the work of the organisation. Not to mention our donors are predominantly pensioners who melt my heart (I have a huge soft spot for the elderly). It really is a little community in its own right and I am incredibly lucky to be a part of it.
You can donate here: http://www.caritas.org.au to help some of the most poorest and marginalised communities
My contentment at Caritas has also raised some concerns however.
Firstly what do I want to do within a charity? Where do I want my speciality to lie? Yes I have plenty of customer service experience and a development degree but ultimately I don’t want to work in supporter services forever. My interests are in the programmes; the on the ground projects. But what the fuck do I know? Maybe I need a masters? Can I afford one? Will it make a difference? Can I afford to live on a charity sector salary? Sure I can afford it here in Australia because the rates of pay are so generous but back in the UK I have to consider that the average salary is much lower. I don’t see myself as money motivated, in fact I’ve taken a pay cut to work at Caritas but I’d fear the whole ‘job satisfaction’ thing would soon wear off once the bills started flooding in; I’m only human.
For my role in the UK I would be lucky to bring home £12-14k before tax. Where as if my role were to be salaried here in Australia I’d be earning around $43k before tax with only $9k of that being taxable. This is due to the $18k Australian tax free threshold plus a further $16k fringe benefits tax exemption for working for a registered charity. You do the maths. Part 1 of Wanted Down Under: Income and the result comes in at Australia 1-0 UK.
Now I’m aware that I change my mind about which continent I want to settle in on the regular, but something has come to my attention since living in Sydney that I didn’t realise until very recently; It rains…A lot.
Now I don’t just mean your bog standard showers like back home. When it rains it fucking buckets down. So not only does this mean you can’t maintain a hair-do but also if you want to leave your front door at any stage during the rainy season you better own an industrial umbrella.
Maybe I haven’t lived in Sydney long enough to enjoy its popular weather, I did spend a month of Sydney’s summer in the UK’s winter afterall. It’s possible that I was spoilt with two months of Darwin’s dry season last year (where it spat once) but just like in the UK I can safely say, can you fuck depend on Sydney’s weather.
Yes, generally it is hotter and sunnier than back home. I’m merely pointing out that when you think of Australia just don’t assume it’s a constant ray of sunshine, because it’s not.
Despite the rain and frankly because I’m typically British and stubborn, I still wear my flip flops come rain or shine. Sydney is the only place you can sport sunglasses and a brollie simultaneously. It actually gets quite cold here however, which I’m still yet to experience/get my head around (stay tuned for more on Sydney winter in July/August time). I just can’t imagine wearing a hat and scarf in Australia; everything about it screams wrong.
I must say though, it’s now Autumn and we still haven’t dropped below 18 degrees celcius and I even spent today swimming at the beach, so I really shouldn’t grumble. Part 2: Weather, Australia 2-0 UK.
So, let’s talk about my most favourite thing in life, holidays. My whole life is one big holiday at the moment, I’m aware, but it’s still nice to get away from work and relax. The UK was my last holiday however, and that’s not what I think of when I think ‘holiday’.
Most backpackers visiting Australia, backpacked up to the eyeballs and blinded by naivity, are adamant that they will use Australia as their base to explore Asia and the Pacific (myself included). Many stop off at a few hotspots on their way over (myself included) but many claim they’ll just see it all whilst on their year/two year working holiday down-under (yup, myself included).
Now I’m yet to meet a backpacker who can actually afford to take a casual vacation to Asia, aside from Bali; every man and his dog goes to fucking Bali.
You get really sucked into the Australian ‘dream’ and leaving becomes hard both financially and logistically.
Firstly, Asia is actually not that close to Sydney; a flight to Bangkok is a nine and a half hour flight, so realistically a last minute week away is out of the question as far as Pad-Thai and bum guns are concerned. Secondly, as cheap as it is whilst you’re in Asia, it’s not so affordable to get to (it’s incomparable to a budget flight from Leeds to the Mediterranean anyway).
The UK is the gateway to Europe. On our door step we have access to over 30 fascinating and diverse countries. Island hopping in Greece, wine tasting in France, skiing in the Swiss Alps, city break to Dublin; the possibilities are absolutely endless. There is a vast amount of history, culture and cuisine to be experienced in Europe and I sadly haven’t travelled it any where near as much as I would have liked to. I took Europe for granted having it so accessible to me. Being so far away from it though, has made me increasingly curious. I love the idea that you can hop on a plane and two hours later you’re in a new climate with a different landscape, language, history and culture.
Two hours flight from Sydney and you’ve only just left NSW.
I’ll be fair to Australia though, there’s plenty of camping and outdoorsy activities to enjoy. With the fuel price half the cost of that in the UK, driving further a field, packed up with tents and sleeping bags, is a much more cost effective way of seeking a break from the daily stresses of reality. If you’re looking for a hotel/resort holiday though (what I like to call a proper holiday), you better be prepared to take out a small bank loan or sell an organ.
In August I’m planning on taking a trip to New Zealand to go skiing and I’m already expecting it to cost me over $3000 and that’s to stay in a shady hostel. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to European ski resorts and skiing is something I’m not prepared to give up but equally, not prepared to pay $3000 a year for. Part 3: Vacating, Australia 2-1 UK.
Now here comes the biggie. The one that pulls on my heart strings on a daily basis. The one that trumps Australia on all of it’s beaches and degrees celcius…Home.
Like I said, I haven’t got a huge network here in Sydney yet, nor do I have a single family member here like most people I’ve met. Back home though, my friends are plentiful and my family extremely close. My Mum, Dad and cousin are my best pals for one, which makes being so far away for extended periods of time incredibly tough I won’t lie.
My friends tell me on the regular that I need to get my arse home…and don’t even get me started on my Nan. Being away from home in your 20’s means you miss all the occasions: new homes, babies, engagements, weddings, breakups, deaths… You name it, I’ve missed it. It’s really hard. I feel like a terrible human for the most part, not being there to celebrate or support my friends and family in both exciting and difficult times. I just can’t see a life for myself where I’m not a part of their lives. Staying in Australia would be essentially like saying ‘Thanks for everything but I have a new life now.’
I cannot bare to imagine my parents not being a part of my children’s lives and it breaks my heart to think I wouldn’t be a part of my friend’s children’s lives. I know I’m getting super deep and thinking way too far into the future but pragmatically I’m at that age where these life events will be a reality before I can say ‘birth control’.
The truth of the matter is I don’t think I can live at the other side of the world permenantly and not wonder what ‘adult life’ in the UK would be like. Besides, I can’t afford Sydney property prices anyway, nor have I even been sponsored yet, so my argument is redundant as fuck anyway. Part 4: Friends & Family, Australia 2-2 UK.
To be continued….