Today my thoughts about shadows are more of the figurative variety than the literal. Today I’m thinking about the shadows of the past, in particular one of the most shaping experiences of my life.
On February 1st, 2007 I stepped off a plane in Melbourne, Australia for a year that would change my life forever in so many ways. I was 26 years old and I was about to embark on a year-long university exchange at La Trobe University in the suburbs of Melbourne. This was my first major international trip, and it was the first trip that I had ever taken alone. Looking back at it now I’m astonished at my own bravery – packing up my life and heading to the complete opposite side of the world. I didn’t know a soul in Australia and I didn’t even yet have a place to live. This life altering experience started six years a go today, and it feels both like it was a lifetime a go and just yesterday.
My year-long trip to Australia was a life defining moment for me, changing me for the better in so many ways, and I will be forever grateful that it was an experience I was able to have.
This all sounds very dramatic, but I know with 100% certainty that I would not be the person I am today without having taken the terrifying plunge and setting off on this solo adventure. I left Canada a self conscious girl with a severe case of wanderlust, and over the next eleven months I did 1001 things that I never thought possible. At home I was barely brave enough to go to the grocery store on my own, but in this new place I learned that I was capable of so much more than I had ever given myself credit for. I came back infinitely more comfortable with myself and my self-confidence has been growing ever since.
When I look back to my time in Australia on this anniversary it is with equal parts nostalgia and amazement. Nostalgia for all the places I visited and people who I met, and amazement at what I experienced there, and since.
My time in Australia was amazing and it was really only the beginning. Since 2007 I have graduated university, and just recently completed my M.A as well. I have continued to travel, visiting Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Scotland, Wales, Portugal, and the Netherlands, to name but a few. I’ve also spent the last three years living in England, first in Liverpool and now in Chester. I am constantly astonished that this country girl from Canada had (and has) both the opportunity and courage to do all I have done.
All I can say really is ‘Wow!’ and encourage ever other person out there who dreams big dreams to just take the plunge and see where the world takes you. It might not always go the way you planned it, but it will always teach you something about yourself, which is of the highest value.
Sometimes, like me, you just need to spread your wings and fly and see where the universe takes you.