How To Leave a Country

For someone who seems to have an incurable fear of forms, I move too often. There is nothing I have found so far that has more bureaucracy than moving, especially if that move requires you to obtain a visa.

Dealing with the logistics is time-consuming and stressful, but not hard. Dispose of assets: car (the last tie to my ex, so glad that is done with), cancel outgoings: apartment, phone, internet, insurance, electricity, gym membership. Because things were uncertain up until the last minute, I ended up paying extra because many things were cancelled at the last minute. I consider this an investment in an easier life, but maybe I am just disorganized and indecisive.

Weird, because I bought a one-way ticket out of Canada, luckily I had enough airmiles, so it was cheap (one-ways to and from North America are normally extortionate) and business class – thankfully, after 3 days with little sleep and the last day or so I was too stressed to eat as well I arrived looking and feeling like I had been electrocuted and spent the night in a ditch, and that was with a fully reclining seat and a full night’s sleep on the plane (can’t imagine how I would have been had I flown economy)! But I have a couple of weeks in limbo (in the UK, Copenhagen and Singapore) so the departure from Canada and my arrival in Sydney have been completely separate. I didn’t apply for the Australian Visa or book my flight until after I arrived in the UK. But now I have both (Australian immigration is efficient) and I will arrive in Sydney July 27th.

You end one life, you start another. Visa, bank account, somewhere to live. Despite having relatively little, I am determined to have less in my next location. Thankfully my friend in Sydney enjoys apartment hunting, my hope is that she will have sorted out somewhere for me to live before I arrive.

Anyway, I’m not qualified to tell anyone how to deal with bureaucracy. But leaving, that I am good at.

Truth is, I was heart-broken to leave KW. So much in Sydney that I’m excited for, and I need to live in a city, the city-planning of KW makes everywhere feel like suburbia, an environment I am completely unsuited to. But the community is so vibrant and amazing, and the people I know are so wonderful. I have doubted the decision to leave many, many times, but I was always going to go.

Glad I have my time in limbo though, I left during pitch night (a story for another blog post) and to go from that huge outpouring of love and many of my favorite people in town to a place where I know one person outside of work, that would be quite a culture shock.

I tend to say “why not” instead of “why”, so when everything in my life seemed to disappear at once, I said “why not go” instead of “why stay”. The way you frame the question, makes an outcome more likely. And the thing is, I want to have an international life and career, I just expected to go back to Europe now, but I’m not. Sydney is too beautiful, one of my favorite people in the world is there, and the opportunity is really good for me. It’s never a good time to leave, but some times are less terrible than others, and I think less terrible doesn’t come around that often – so I tell myself that I have to take advantage of it when it does.

But it is hard, and I would talk to people more settled than me and they would quiz me on the how and why, or say they wanted to move to X but hadn’t because of Y, and the truth is, I have all the same fears and concerns, I just do it anyway. I miss my family, have since I left the UK (timezones make it hard), but you only get your twenties once, either you  take advantage of that, or you don’t. I don’t want to be wishing I had lived in X or done Y 10 years from now, I want to do it.

We had some girl guides into the office the other week, and I listed “economic freedom” as a benefit of being a female engineer. Economic freedom means you can leave a bad relationship if it is not working out, and not be tied by financial considerations. It means you can up sticks and move to another continent if you want that adventure; it also means you don’t have to if you don’t want to. It is the freedom to make your own decisions, and live your own life, confident that you can financially support yourself and others if necessary.

And I write my profile for OK Cupid, and worry that I seem like a feckless fuckwit. But, whatever, this is my life and I like the adventure, people who judge I probably don’t want to hang out with. And, this is a special time when I’m economically free, and completely lacking in responsibilities. Good chance it won’t last forever (although I’ll do what I can to see that it does!), so I should enjoy it whilst it does.

How do you leave? You dispose of your assets, you cancel your outgoings, and you buy a ticket. You cry, you doubt yourself, you tell yourself that maybe you’ll come back, you hug your people, you tell them how much they mean to you, you cry some more, and then you get on the plane. It is that simple, and that hard.

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