Every new path in life is a gamble. It is this risk of the unknown, of leaving the comfort of everything that we know, that often stops us from going anywhere new at all. What if things go wrong? What if I don’t like the place? What if I run out of money? What if I don’t make any friends? What if..? I think back on my own past, on my first few times out of the UK (with my family as a kid), and all of them are very positive. It was these positive experiences that must have instilled this desire to see more of the world. And the more I saw, the more I wanted to see.
When the opportunity arose, during my third year of university, I chose to live outside of the UK. I studied in Canada which is a fairly easy transition from the UK and I very much enjoyed my time there – the people were friendly, everything is in English, and the cultures are pretty similar. Not only did I enjoy it, but when I started exploring Canada (BC and Alberta), I found it to be breathtakingly beautiful. If however, I had chosen to live in Istanbul (and had the experience that I had while living there), I think that I would have come running back to the UK with my tail between my legs, wanting to never leave again. Sometimes things do go wrong and when I was in Istanbul, an unfortunate chain of events led to me having a rather unpleasant time. But you deal with them, you move on. Or you hold a grudge against the entire world and crawl inside your dark, lonely shell.
Like gambling, this roulette wheel of life is addictive. The more we play, the more we get hooked. Just one more spin… one more. I’m betting this time I’ll get a winner. During the end of 2014, I felt that I got stuck a few times, fearing what could go wrong. I moved to Jeju (which was quite enjoyable and offered a few little adventures like cycling the island and cycling to Japan), then left for Norway, Iceland, and Greece. After these three months I was a rabbit in headlights, wondering quite what to do next. And for a month, I did very little. At length I headed off to Ireland and Spain before seeing out the year in the US, but during some of these times, I wasn’t doing so much and felt a little lost. Going new places for the sake of going new places – travelling for the sake of travelling – is, to me, entirely pointless. It’s why I have a problem with the word traveller. Why would one go somewhere just to say they went there? I went to Norway to volunteer on a farm, I went to Iceland to walk the country with my brother, I went to Greece to free camp with a good friend. Each spin of the wheel, each gamble, was a calculated risk with a loose, intended outcome.
For the past few years, I have learnt to survive on small sums of money, working here and there when the opportunity arose. So in 2015, I decided that I would work for a bit. Working hard is one thing, but working hard is not enough. You have to work smart and you have to get lucky. For someone in my position, the smartest thing I could think to do was to come to Australia as it is the home to the highest minimum wage in the world and I was not looking for skilled work. It was a big risk, paying for the visa and flights, then flying across the world with less than nothing. As I understood it, there was a big demand for casual workers in Australia. Immediately we settled in Perth, got a nice house, started a job for a charity – then realised it was the hardest (most awkward) job in the world (for us). Leah quit after one day, I quit halfway through the second day – sometimes it is important to know when to give up. A friend then called me and gave me two minutes to decide if I wanted to jump on a plane to Carnarvon, a town of 4,000 people that I knew nothing about, and work in the kitchen of a pub. I said yes, packed my bags, and headed north.
This was a risk and between the two of us, we lost over a thousand dollars on the lease we had just signed on the house. Plus the flight was expensive. However, we started working immediately and soon repaid the debt we had accumulated. Living in the small town was far from my ideal, but we worked hard for several months, sacrificing the time in exchange for what we hope we can achieve in the future. Was the gamble worth it? Yes and no. Now that it’s over, I feel more positive about the situation. Upon leaving, we saw lots of Australia’s west coast and have now settled in Darwin for a few months. After, I hope to go back to Europe – less of a gamble as I have spent much of my life there.
Taking the leap to move to a new part of the world, not knowing anyone or what will happen, is a risk. But without taking any risks we would live in our tiny bubbles, always wondering what else is out there – although at times this might be for the best. After many years of nomadic living, gambling on a daily basis, I have decided that it might be nice to have somewhere to put the few belongings I have, somewhere to go back to at the end of an adventure. I suppose now the problem is trying to find that place. I might go live in a forest instead.
If you are debating similarly large decisions, you might want to try reading The Avant-Garde Life. It’s completely free and I have had some friendly emails from people who have found it useful.