Discovering Australia

Travelling can be a great way of self-improvement & discovery. Charley (@charleyskyes) was fortunate enough to spend quite some time on a very sunny part of the world. Please read her thoughts on visiting Australia. #yourstory

To me, travel is one of the best types of education one can have. It opens you up to so many different types of people some of which you would never have met staying in one place. In my second year of University, I was given the opportunity to go study abroad. Unfortunately for me I was limited to only one semester due to my course and also limited due to language barriers. This left me with the US, Canada and Australia. I was fortunate that my student loan went up for this semester abroad so I could really use the extra money to go somewhere that I often wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to. Being a 24-hour flight away, Australia appealed to me, not only with the distance away from the UK but also the shining reputation Australia has achieved from British backpackers. I soon found out that Melbourne was my calling and I soon applied to Deakin University, Melbourne and shortly after, I booked my flights.
Arriving in Melbourne in February, this being a part of their summer, the striking resemblance to the UK was shocking. Like many brits, I was expecting desert, beaches and heat. I landed and it was raining and extremely green- it was as if I had never left England. This did seem to change over the next few days when I went on a surfing trip with my university and I managed to burn so badly I could not sleep on my back for weeks. Sun cream is everyone’s friend, factor 50 is a daily necessity. I settled quickly into the way of life and culture. Being surrounded by Australians, I realised that there was a language barrier I was not expecting. On arrival, I was informed that if an Aussie insults you, then they like you. More often than not however, the Australians welcomed me with open arms and I truly felt at home in Melbourne.
After finishing my degree, I made the decision that I had not had enough of Melbourne and so I wanted to move back after the UK summer. Like everything in life, travelling comes with its ups and downs but moving with these difficulties in your stride is extremely important. After our first month, we managed to get an apartment in Southbank and it was everything we ever wanted. We were thrown into a metropolitan lifestyle, going to the beach on weekends, bars and clubs in the evenings and road trips whenever we could fit in. One of the difficulties we did face were the bush fires. I have always had the privilege of never witnessing natural disasters before so this came as a massive shock. Seeing the country go up in flames was traumatic for the Australian citizens and seeing how even with Melbourne being a few hours away from the fires, the smoke that lingered in the city centre would hurt lungs of many. I started to see Australia without rose tinted glasses and saw what can happen to an incredible country due to climate change.
Despite this, Australians were starting to rally together and help out in any way they could. This togetherness of a huge country really made me see how good humanity can be. Following on from this tragedy, my friends and I tried to make the most of being out in Australia, and even with working during the week, we managed to organise trips to places such as New Zealand and Adelaide. Previously during my semester in Melbourne, I was able to go travelling up the east coast to Canberra, Sydney, Gold coast, Whitsundays and New Zealand. While in the Whitsundays, where the great barrier reef is location, we stayed on a boat for 4 days and we went to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, went snorkelling and paddle boarding. At night, the sky was something from out of a film. Never before had I seen stars that bright or that many of them.

This year I was meant to travel around Asia; having planned to head to the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. 2020 was meant to be the year I threw myself into my travel and finally was able to explore places I had never been. This plan started to disintegrate before my eyes with the announcement that Covid-19 was spreading around the world. Before I could even think about it, many countries within Asia were banning UK citizens from entering their countries due to the amount of cases within the UK. Not so soon after I had to make the decision to fly back to the UK with the fear of lockdown in Melbourne, job prospects and financial difficulties as a result of Covid. Making this decision was extremely difficult but I am just thankful that I was able to get 7 months in my favourite city. This experience has made me grateful that I was even able to travel in the first place and knowing that I will be able to have a chance to travel again in the future. I took travel for granted and while I never thought I would see a travel ban in my lifetime; it has just made me more eager to go see the world. I am patiently waiting for the travel ban to be lifted so I can continue my travelling journey.

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