happy australia day! {a little personal story about my second home}

by jacin on January 26, 2012

{no big deal, just a picture of my “backyard” in coogee}

{this song always reminds me of mornings in australia getting ready for work}

not sure if i’ve mentioned this before, but i moved to australia after college and lived there for just under a year. i had always dreamed of going to australia, but because i played lacrosse in college, the seasons never worked out for me to study abroad {don’t get too excited, i was on an “intercollegiate varsity” lacrosse team, so it was in no way division 1 haha}. so being as today is australia day down under, i thought it could be fun to fill you in on one of the best experiences of my life.

after graduating from the university of rhode island in 2003, i worked at the newport yachting center in newport, rhode island and planned/designed weddings {that’s when the wedding bug bit me!} and festivals {oktoberfest, anyone?}, and then moved on to work for sailing world magazine, planning their regattas and traveling around the united states to work onsite at each one. i lived with my best guy friends in downtown newport and we had a blast. but i knew my window for moving to another country was closing as each day passed, so i decided after much deliberation to just do it and move to australia. i have no idea how my parents agreed to this idea, but i saved up about $1,500, applied for my work visa, packed up all my things, and jetted halfway across the world with just my rolly bag and backpack. solo.

{view from the plane as we approached sydney}

honestly i wasn’t even phased about moving there alone. i’m not sure why, i just wasn’t! but as soon as that plane landed in sydney on january 1st, 2005, it suddenly occurred to me that i knew noone, except for a friend who lived down in melbourne, who i would visit later in my trip. it was then and there that i realized i had a choice: get nervous, or go out and meet people! and meet people i did. when you’re traveling alone, you have no choice but to make friends along the way. i got a job planning events {not teaching} at a private school in downtown sydney and worked with some of the kindest, most amazing colleagues who treated me like family. i moved in to a small apartment 1 block from the beach in coogee, a beach suburb outside of sydney. i traveled to the blue mountains and camped out with friends from my first hostel. i went to the beach on the weekends, frequented the bar with my group of friends i made, fell in love with tim tams and coopers, and lived life to the fullest.

{this was australia day, 2005. i actually had a normal outfit on before i was bombarded with aussie gear}

once my work visa was up, i traveled to new zealand and toured the north island, and met some amazing friends along the way while there. i then renewed my australia travel visa so i could go back, and then proceeded to travel along the entire east coast of australia, from cairns {home of the great barrier reef}…

{my german friend (on right) and i rented a scooter for the day. she spoke barely any english and i didn’t speak german, but we got along perfectly}

… to noosa {my favorite place on earth}…

{my travel companions, john and marnie (marnie’s on the right). we all still keep in touch to this day and marnie even visited me a few months ago on her way back to calgary!}

… to fraser island…

{i’m the one in the hat holding the car door doing an awesome west coast sign; this was on fraser island}

and everywhere in between.

{back when abercrombie was cool, haha}

once all of my australian visas expired, i made my way back home to surprise my family just in time for the 4th of july {you should have seen my mom’s face at 3am when i woke her up} :). but before i went all the way back home, i made a 2-week stop in fiji, where i visited several islands and was “adopted” by one of the local families.

{i miss them!}

in fiji, life was so simple and i loved it. i loved the people, their warm smiles, and their kind hearts. every day at 4:00, we would walk down the beach to another family’s house for homemade cake and tea. coconut cake, banana cake, it didn’t matter what kind it was, it was always my favorite part of the day, and to this day remains as one of my fondest memories. i can still taste the still-warm-and-just-from-the-oven cake, no icing needed, eaten with our fingers from a little mismatched china plate.

my fijian “sister” even took me to church with her - an open air church where all of the local neighbors would sing in perfect 5 part harmony, no instruments in sight. it was one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever heard.

{our last sunset}

as gorgeous as fiji was, the mosquitos were enough to have me ready to head back home, with a journal full of experiences from the past 9-months and a backpack full of trinkets for friends and family.

looking back i always have a sense of happiness, remembering all of the fun times, and even some of the not-so-fun times. i am so glad i just took the leap and did it, without holding back. life is short but sweet for certain and you only live once - do it up!

so, to my fellow aussies, happy australia day - i miss you!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph {bubblerock} January 26, 2012 at 12:51 AM

I love how you love Australia. One of the reasons why I am in NZ was because I couldn’t get an exchange programme with Sydney otherwise, who knows where I’d be now…
Remember those days is so special right? Love your pics, your stories and the fact that you have had such an amazing and life-changing experience in another country.
That’s one of the many reasons why I like you and we click… Makes me wish we had known each other earlier :)


Nicole Rene January 26, 2012 at 4:47 AM

Wow what an amazing amazing story! I envy you! Sounds like a fabulous adventure! I love going new places & meeting new people! I moved to Savannah, GA only knowing my bf but quickly made friends & made this place home. I know, not as cool as Australia, but still. I think everyone should have one experience in life where they are somewhat alone in a completely new place. Teaches you so many life lessons & is such a great adventure!

Have a great rest of your week! :)



Hannah January 26, 2012 at 5:32 AM

I’ve had a lot of alumni move to Australia and not one has regretted it. Australia never felt the recession so they’re going strong and in demand of an educated workforce. They are currently giving out 2 year work visas to almost anyone who is qualified so I’ve been sending a lot of students there lately. Its a wonderful place to get experience (hey, in this economy - even get hired) and learn a little about life and yourself while there. I might just send this post to some of my students who are looking at taking the plunge! Thanks :)


Jessica T January 26, 2012 at 6:23 AM

Sounds like you had an amazing time! Makes me wish I could travel more.


Lindsay January 26, 2012 at 6:33 AM

Wow! Sounds amazing! I went to Australia for a few days for work last year. I want to go back someday!


Nicky January 26, 2012 at 7:37 AM

How I miss my homeland! I love reading other peoples accounts of trips there, but it makes me miss it all the more. I’m living in Massachusetts for the next 6 months but NZ normally with my kiwi husband and 2 boys. But ‘Straya will always be my home.


valery January 26, 2012 at 7:47 AM

Awesome story!


Laura *You Stir Me* January 26, 2012 at 7:55 AM

this wonderful time in your life has made you the adventurous, kind-hearted, and giving person that you are! I remember graduating college and having that “no fear” attitude towards life - why do we lose that as we get older? I think experiences like these remind us to live each day to the fullest and to take those little (and big!) leaps each day! Have you been back or do you plan to go back? If so, stop in and grab be on your way out!


CC January 26, 2012 at 8:58 AM

What an awesome experience. Life gets so crazy and less flexible the older we get so it’s amazing that you took that leap of faith and went for it; doing something scary but that you might not have a chance to do again. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. The time difference is so huge that I’d have to go and stay for at least two weeks! Maybe some day.


Lauren January 26, 2012 at 12:23 PM

I’m actually thinking about doing similar but I thought I’d save up a little money first. Did you save up before you went? Was it fairly easy for you to find the job at the school? Sorry for all the questions. I’m from the UK, studied abroad in the USA for a year in 07/08 and I’ve been dying for another experience living abroad it really is lifechanging and eye opening as you’ve described! Happy for you that you had such a positive experience, I’d love to move to Australia!! -Lauren :)


Anna (and everything nice) January 26, 2012 at 1:31 PM

This is just amazing Jacin! I’m in total awe of you right now for being brave enough to do something like this. When I moved to California in 2003 I knew no one except my dad and step mom. It hit me on my first day and I just balled my eyes out in my room. The next day I went out and got a job on the spot. You definitely have to let go of boundaries. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia. I could totally see myself wanting to live there. No doubt this post has me wanting to go even more!


Nicole January 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Ok first off…. you’re gorgeous. End of story :)

Secondly, this sounds funny, but either A) your rich, or B) You just took a huge leap of faith b/c it sounds like you went without a job or even a place to live? Or did you know that. Either way, super cool and I might be a little envious!


Miriam Corona January 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM

What an awesome experience Jacin! If I ever visit Australia I will think of you! haha


Bets January 26, 2012 at 7:27 PM

What an inspiring story! I just graduated college a couple months ago and I’ve been wanting to go off somewhere on my own and live somewhere new and different for a change. I’ve been saving up money but may I ask you a few questions about your experience? Was it difficult to find a job or did you have experience in teaching already? Did you have to work a couple of months in Australia before saving up more money to travel to New Zealand or were you using the original savings you started with? Also, is rent cheaper in Australia? Where did you stay in New Zealand? All hostels?? Sorry for all the questions. I’m super interested!


Liesl January 27, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Oh how I love rainbows!!! What fun adventures! I have Fiji on my list of places to visit and I’m a huge fan of Australia, they are such nice people and have a great accent too! ;) You are adorable!

Liesl :)


Kiele Gregoire January 29, 2012 at 8:29 AM

this is amazing!! i love hearing your stories and learning new things about you. seriously, wow. that is just the opportunity of a lifetime and you totally just went for it, i love that! where was your to-be-hubby during all of this? i’m seriously living vicariously through you while reading this. so neat!


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