The boy who strayed from his path

‘Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn.
Work hard, and never give up on your dreams,
even when nobody else believes they can come true but you’

– Phillip Sweet

It is suffice to say that 2017 didn’t really turn out the way that I thought it would. When the year began, I was of the opinion that I would have spent some time soaking the sun up in Byron, that I would have whale watched over in Western Australia, and that I would have travelled to hell and back completing the necessary 3 months of agricultural work required for a 2nd year visa up in Queensland. However, the reality is that none of the above occurred. And yet, looking back on my 2017, I don’t believe that I would really want to change it at all.

This year saw me forge some extremely strong friendships, revisit destinations that I first went to all the way back in 1999, and finally fulfil a bucket list wish that I have dreamed of for as long as I could remember. Most importantly though, it allowed me to spend time with – and get to know – family members whom I have very little contact with over the years because of, well, the distance. The support they have offered me throughout this year has been both staggering and wonderful. It has been fantastic to get to spend quality time with them and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me.

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The Magee family + me

In my 2016 review The boy who moved away, I wrote that ‘2017 is where it really begins though. I am living abroad in Australia and currently on the hunt for a job, still living out of backpack in a hostel. I have no idea what the next 12 months will bring, but hopefully they will be filled with joy, laughter, fun, friends and adventure’. Breaking that down, my immediate thoughts were on the following:

  1. Finding a job
    – I spent the majority of 2017 based out of Melbourne, and actually worked four jobs whilst living there. The first was a ill-fated short-lived stint as a door-to-door salesman (100% do not recommend). The second saw me return to Topman and handed me a taste of life in Australian retail. After the expiration of my contract due to the restrictions of a WHV, I worked two jobs simultaneously; as a sales assistant for MJ Bale and as a housekeeper for the hostel I was staying at. Whilst I found the former to be extremely enjoyable, the latter taught me to avoid  housekeeping jobs in the future (at least in establishments as poorly managed as the one I lived at).
  2. Move into a house
    – During my time in Melbourne, I found myself going through 7 addresses; 1 apartment, 3 houses and 3 hostels. The differences between each of these places of residence were stark, my housemates and I were even forced out of one of the houses due to “unsafe living conditions”, a fancy phrasing used to dress up the fact that the roof was unstable and could collapse on us at any time.
  3. Make friends
    – As a backpacker, friends come and go frequently, but every now and then you end up in a situation where some people stick around for longer than others. I met some absolutely phenomenal people from all over the world throughout 2017, enabling me to add many new entries to a book that I keep. Although we may have parted ways now, I hope that I will be able to stay in touch with some of them, and hopefully seem them again in the future.
  4. Go on adventures
    – Adventure can be found anywhere if you only look hard enough. I had plenty of fun experiences in and around Melbourne, whilst I was also able to go on day trips to some of the famed destinations around the state of Victoria that eluded me during my 2015 visit. However, the biggest adventures were to be found during my trips to Fiji,  Uluru / Ayers Rock, and Sydney.

Looking at this list, I definitely achieved my goals even if they didn’t follow the path that I had originally planned out.

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Sunset at Uluru / Ayers Rock

‘I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet
is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents’
– Marla Gibbs

Elaborating on the above, the highlights reel for the past 12 months is pretty long, more than making up for the fact that I didn’t quite do as much as I had wanted:

and, of course many, many more.

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Celebrating the Melbourne Cup with just some of the fantastic people I  met in 2017

Because I didn’t fulfil the requirements for a 2nd year working holiday visa in Australia, my time here won’t be extending into 2018. Although that is disappointing, I do find myself in possession of a tourist visa which still allows me to travel the country for up to 3 months at a time, I just won’t be able to work whilst I am here. As a result, 2018 started with me finally getting across to Western Australia.

On a more personal level, February 2017 saw my Dad and Helen fly out to visit Melbourne for a family wedding, whilst December 2017 had me spend Christmas and New Years with my Mum in Sydney after just over 13 months apart.

January 2018 will mark 11 months since I last saw my Dad, so I am very excited to be spending his birthday with him out in Thailand at the end of the month. The exciting news is that, after spending 15 months away, I will be returning to the UK temporarily in the middle of February, before heading back to Asia in April. From there everything is up in the air as to what I do or where I go next, so I guess we will see what happens.

I’ve lived abroad for a year and now it is time to begin anew. Three cheers for 2017, it has been a pleasure.

Now 2018, show me something new.

‘I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads.
Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it’

– Rosalia de Castro

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