They say travel makes you wiser. Before moving to New Zealand, I had travelled to twelve different countries. I had fabulous experiences, saw new cultures, and met a heap of great people; some of whom I call my best friends today. Despite that, I always returned home from my holidays confused about exactly what I wanted in life. There was only one thing I knew for sure: I wanted to move overseas.
Despite this longing since my first overseas trip to Vietnam in 2016, it still felt spontaneous when I quit my job just over a year later. It began in September at 7am after I arrived home from my third night shift in a row. I was exhausted and aware that the stress my job brought me was unhealthy. I had lived like this for two years now and at the peak of my exhaustion I decided to have a quick search for jobs in New Zealand. That ‘quick search’ resulted in me quickly editing my resume and sending it through to a NZ pathology laboratory. Six weeks later I had a job offer. Three weeks after that I was boarding a one way flight to Auckland.
That was nine months ago.
So here is what I have learnt on my adventure so far:
1. Life is too short to stay in a job you’re unhappy in
I feel like this has been said a thousand times, but I never really understood it until after I quit my job. Before quitting, I feared no one would hire me. I feared I wasn’t good enough. I feared my skills might not be universally applied to overseas countries. I feared I would let my manager and colleagues down by leaving.
My job in Wellington is essentially the same as my job in Adelaide, except better in several ways. I don’t have the stress I used to, the shift work is far more manageable and there are a lot of opportunities to take on projects. I also realized that the skills gained through my previous job are highly valuable. And, just as life keeps on keepin’ on, my old workplace replaced me and is doing just fine.
2. You will make friends wherever you go
I wondered whom I would meet in this country. What kind of people would want to be friends with me? Who would welcome me into their life? From the first time I traveled to New Zealand, I realized there was something different about the country: everyone was friendly. Particularly living in Wellington, with its enormous social and cultural diversity. Basically, It wasn’t hard to make friends here and I am sure it’s the same everywhere you go.
3. Your friends back home will always be there
I worried I would lose my friends back home when I moved country. I felt overwhelmed at the number of people I had to keep in contact with in Australia in order to maintain friendships as well as forming new ones here.
I admit I am still not great at keeping in contact, but I have made it more manageable. After moving overseas I truly know which friends I adore and who will always be there for me.
4. Different is the new normal
I grew up thinking my life would be relatively straightforward. At the ripe age of eighteen, fresh from completing my high schooling, I would move straight to the big city and go to university. I would study what I was good at and what would land me a secure, well-paying job that wouldn’t be replaced by technology in a few years. I would travel to a few countries, perhaps doing a stint overseas, and then one day I would find the perfect man to settle down with; babies to follow. It’s the generic life plan we are all taught and encouraged to follow.
While I wouldn’t change the way my life has unfolded, I also don’t believe there is a wrong or right path to adulthood. In some ways I regret not travelling in my early twenties, but am grateful I have a degree to fall back on as well as crucial work experience. However, I strongly believe in changing up careers, and I know that one day I will branch away from pathology into an entirely different field. So what was the point of my degree? It enabled me to live the life I do today, but there are so many people who gain a huge debt and never use their degree, wasting years of their lives and a chunk of money. If unsure about what you want, I think the best thing is to take a gap year and figure out what makes you tick.
5. You don’t have to have your life figured out
When I look back at the personal goals I wrote down when I was twenty-one and twenty-three, they are completely different to what I want to achieve now in my twenty-fifth year. As humans we are constantly growing, adapting and meeting new people who challenge our way of thinking, forcing us to work out who we are and what we value. Instead of creating a list or vision board of things I think I might want in five years time (how on earth could I know that?!), I simply look at the things I value, listen to what my body yearns for, and chase that instead. If you’re constantly going after goals you set years ago purely to tick a checkbox you’ll never feel content.