Our First Week in Australia (On A Working Holiday)

Bike rentals in Melbourne, Australia CBD.
Around a week ago now, our plane took off from Christchurch and we watched as New Zealand disappeared beneath our feet.

After our 11 months in New Zealand, it started to feel a lot like home. However, it seemed like we had explored it all and that it had no more secrets. Like an on old lover, we’d gone through the honeymoon phase and were now completely in the comfort phase. We’d stopped trying so hard to explore the country, preferring to spend our days sitting in our pjyamas with it, being lazy.

We learnt to love New Zealand in the end, but as so often happens we found ourselves falling into a dull routine. It was about the right time to head to Australia. I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to New Zealand, does it have any more to offer us? Maybe we’ll miss it in future on lonely nights. Homesick for a place that’s not even our home.

Now we find ourselves in Australia. A new place. A new home?

As we travelled through New Zealand people would often ask us where we were going next and we’d always have an answer. We’re going to Australia on a working holiday.

In our naivety we saw this as a fully formed plan. We thought little more about it. We had our flight booked. We had accommodation lined up for a week. Everything else would just fall into place. Wouldn’t it?

It is strange of me to be so positive and disorganised. Maybe Jamie’s positivity has been rubbing off on me. Regardless, it wasn’t until our first full day in Melbourne that things truly sunk in for me.

Coming into this new place meant starting all over again and all the challenges that came along with it. We would have to find a place to live, get jobs, get tax numbers, set up bank accounts. Figure out all the rules of this new society. Then, a long way in the future, maybe we’d all live happily ever after. The thought immediately overwhelmed me. It all seemed like too much to take on at once.

First up, we decided to focus on finding a place to live. Without an address there would be nowhere to send our tax number or bank card.

So we trawled through classifieds online for days, sending emails. Getting barely any replies. It was halfway through our week before we even managed to get somebody to agree to see us. On our way to their house we got a text: Sorry, the room has been taken.

Melbourne skyline seen from Brighton Beach.
It’s five days before we actually see inside another apartment. We spend all weekend doing little but sending emails to people. Our standards getting lower with each moment that passes. Two days to find a home. The pressure suffocates me. I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning as I can’t handle another day where I’m sure nothing good will happen.

Another travelling couple contacts us. Maybe we want to move in with them? Finally some progress. When I mention our lack of jobs, they shy away. Our application to real estate agents will get rejected if we don’t have jobs. They tell us something we should have known long ago. We talk to another few people, they say the same. We realise our mistake right then. We shouldn’t be looking for a place, we should be looking for jobs.

We learn the lesson too late. In two days we have to leave our current apartment, so now our time is dedicated to finding somewhere that will take us on for a month. We look through AirBnB listings all day, begging for somebody to take us for at least 2 weeks, but with 2 days notice we get nowhere. Finally a young Indian girl agrees to give us a room for a few days before we discuss staying with her long term. She’s our only hope.

This is the only brightness we see. By this point each moment is dark. We’re in a new city, new country, but we’re spending all day inside on a laptop. Whenever we do go outside it’s overwhelming. We’ve gone from the rural quiet of New Zealand to one of the biggest cities in the world. Crowds walk together along the streets and the noise is unbearable. I keep thinking we’ve made a huge mistake. Why did we come here?

Our patience is drying up and worry starts to set in. I’m scared we’ll be unable to find a job. I check my bank balance constantly, watching it quickly disappear with the expense of our temporary accommodation. I’m afraid we’ll never find a place to live, that we’ll run out of money. That we’ll both end up penniless, living on the streets.

I think about how I might have to look for a retail job, or a job in a cafe and the thought makes me sick. I know I won’t be capable of doing such a job. I have no confidence when it comes to dealing with others. I can see myself panicking before work, not wanting to go in. I see this thought in my head so clearly that it seems like it must happen. It’s inevitable. We will run out of money, I will be forced to do something I know is beyond me.

Laneways in Melbourne, Australia.
I feel like I am trapped in a box filled with water. The water level rising slowly. I’m clawing at the sides but I know nothing will help. Eventually I will drown.

This all seems so melodramatic, but this is how my mind works. One moment I’m happily travelling around New Zealand. The next I’m plunged into a world of uncertainty, overwhelmed by the negative possibilities around me.

And it could have all been avoided if we’d just planned a little. We arrived in Australia with nothing. No research, little organised. Just a bare idea that Australia is a place that exists. Then when things haven’t instantly fallen into place, I’ve crumbled.

A thousands problems have been thrown at me and I have nothing to draw upon to find the answers. Without answers the water just keeps rising. I’m overwhelmed by everything I need to do. I don’t feel I have it in me to succeed.

So maybe I’ve learnt a lesson here. That I should always plan ahead, never jump into things blindly. Make sure I know what I’m doing.

In our second week, we’re going to start again. Do what we should have done to start with. Learn from our mistakes and hopefully stay a little more positive. We’re not going to stay in our room all week in a constant battle with the internet.

We’re going to go out and enjoy ourselves a little. See some of the city. That way if the worst happens and we do run out of money, at leadt it’ll have been worthwhile. We’ll have something to show for our troubles. I hope.


Bikes by Frank Jaquier, Melbourne Skyline by Robert Schrader, and Laneways by Angela Rutherford. All published under a CC license.    

 

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