Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been one year since we’ve arrived in Australia (actually, at this point, it’s almost one year + one month). It’s been quite a ride. I remember in the weeks and even days leading up to leaving the U.S., it almost felt like we were in a haze… as if we were just going on some extended vacation or something (despite having sold our car, handed over the keys to our first apartment, sold/gave away most of our belongings). But it finally hit us when we touched down in Melbourne… we were going to start a new life here. We were uncertain of exactly how long that ‘new life’ would play out, but we were willing and excited to find out.
Initially, we told our families and friends that we “only wanted to stay for a year — NO longer than that”, and we giggle to ourselves now looking back at not only how fast the last year has flown by, but how our mindsets have done a complete 180. Some close family members and friends know (and others may have just figured it out), but after prayerful consideration, unless something drastic changes, we’re planning on staying for the entire length of our visa, which is 4 years. It was something we had decided after only a month after living here. We kind of just had that, “Hey, what do you think about staying here for longer than a year?”-type moment, followed by a mutual and excited YES! Melbourne has had this special effect on us, blessing us in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of, and affording us a rich and fulfilling life here. Not that we didn’t have a special and fulfilling life back home in the U.S., but it just feels different here in its own way (obviously, Kelly, it’s a different continent, lol).
We thought it would be cool to write about what we’ve learned since moving to Australia. There have been many lessons along the way, and figured it may be helpful for anyone planning to move away from home — whether it’s to another city, state or country.
- Relying on God. My faith back home was, admittedly, lukewarm. I barely made time to actively read my Bible and grow closer to Him, but that’s changed since arriving here. We got to Melbourne on a Friday and were in church that Sunday. We knew coming here would require an immense act of faith within itself, and recognized that we could only rely on God to sustain us. As a result, we’ve made some amazing friends within the church and even lead our own Bible study, which we cherish deeply. God has blessed us more than we could’ve ever hoped for and imagined, and to say we’re thankful is an understatement. He is the reason we’re here and for our experience being such an amazing one thus far. Jeremiah 29:11 is my life’s verse because I truly believe He has amazing plans for us to come.
- Growth within our family. Going off the last point, there has also been immense growth that we’ve seen in each other and as a couple. I remember my mom telling us that moving to a new country would really bring us closer (which I didn’t think was possible bc we were already so close!) because we’d only have each other to rely on. And man, is that the truth. Relying on each other (and God) for strength through the tough times and encouragement during the happy times (there were much more of those :)) has really made our marriage is stronger than ever. <3
- Never say never! Had we declined this opportunity to come here, we never would’ve been presented with any of the amazing opportunities and experiences we have now. Take that seemingly crazy leap of faith and see where you land up — you may be surprised (as we have been).
- Comfort zones are not only boring, but dangerous. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the last two, but we had it pretty easy where we lived in Virginia – great friends, laid-back and beautiful area, pretty close to family, amazing home. But comfort zones can be a trap where little to no growth happens + challenging yourself becomes something you put off to the side. Coming to Melbourne was waaaay out of our comfort zone, and we’ve had to tackle said challenges head-on (see below) but it’s been completely worth it.
- Understanding and embracing a new culture/ways of thinking. Although Australia is similar to the U.S. in some ways, it’s also vastly different. Having come here has taught us more about how other countries run/function, and the values of Australia and its people. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own way of thinking and how it’s “right” (that’s the sociologist part of me coming out!), but going/moving to a new city/country teaches you in more ways than you could’ve imagined. And on that note…
- Choose to be loving and respectful over condescending and judgmental. It’s very easy to believe we have it all figured out and, when that happens, we use our “immense knowledge” to create a worldview that, while likely similar to many others, is uniquely our own. Unfortunately, no one alive on earth today has a complete understanding of the universe. You will undoubtedly meet people who have an entirely different worldview and belief system than you, and that’s a good thing. These people are oftentimes some of the best people to be around because they cause you to think, maybe even reconsider prejudices and preconceived notions you have. Because of these interactions, you gain a new perspective on your own worldview and beliefs, which leads to a deeper understanding of that which you thought you understood completely! Be loving, respectful, friendly, kind, and open to all people. Choose that instead of self-righteousness, judgement, and condescending attitudes. Who knows — maybe they’ll reconsider prejudices and preconceived notions they’ve held on to because of their interactions with you.
- Welcoming challenges. It isn’t always easy to take on challenges – depending on what they are – but your attitude toward challenges speak volumes. We’ve always tried to make the best of taking on this biggest challenge of our life, and we’ve been extremely blessed to have had such a great experience here.
- Going into the wilderness builds the connection back home. It’s a pretty strange concept, but since we’ve moved so far from home, it’s brought us closer to family/friends, and we do our best to make sure we keep in touch with our families + friends back home. When we were still in the U.S., it was no big deal to plan a trip to Pennsylvania or Alabama to see family, or to plan a trip within VA to see friends… or really, to even just call them! But since we’ve moved here, despite the 14-hour difference, it’s given us more motivation to make sure we don’t isolate them or ourselves. No matter how relatively easy this move has been for us, speaking to our loved ones makes us happy and feel connected to home. :)
- Put yourself out there. This is more of one that I, Kelly, have personally learned. As a self-proclaimed introvert and proponent of having few closer friends in lieu of 100 not-so-close friends, I never felt the need to make new friends outside of our inner circle or workplace back in the U.S. But when we moved, something switched in me, and I realized I needed to shake whatever that Myers-Briggs test said about me and put myself out there. It’s really brought about some amazing consequences, and I’ve made some really special friends here!
This post was a bit more vulnerable but, again, we hope it’s useful to anyone also moving/thinking about it… and for our families/friends to read a bit more about what we’ve gone through. Also, it’ll be pretty fun to read these later on down the road and reflect on them! :)
Love you guys!
Will + Kelly