Two months to go
Well, looks like my time is nearly up. After months of living the life in Sydney, Blighty beckons. Me old Mum hasn’t seen me in over a year, my so-called friends have given up sending me email updates and I’ve been thinking in dollars and calling aubergines ‘eggplants’ for quite some time now. Still, I’m gutted. In two months my visa’s up. And life as I know and love it, will be over. I reckon coming home will be like leaving a Big Brother house, with loads of hugs and screams and partying followed by massive stress and a crash back down into real life. There’ll be no more midnight bodysurfing, no more daily sightings of the Harbour Bridge and no more waterfront drinking. Boo. But then again, there’ll be no more living on a crappy temping pittance, no more sharing a room with other people’s stinky feet and no more ad-infested junk TV. Hooray! I guess I should start getting my shit together then. Must make a list. Book return flight, send package home, update CV, sell car, get tax rebate. Warn parents. Organise huge piss-up for last night in Sydney. Actually, I’m off to practice that last part right now. See? Totally organised.
Five weeks to go
Have just sent off two cardboard boxes stuffed with random paraphernalia. I put all my stuff in the middle of the floor and sorted it into three piles: stuff to send home, stuff I can live without and stuff I’ll need between now and being reunited with the first pile in three months time. I’ve sent my photos back but will take the negatives in hand luggage, in case the boat sinks. So having arrived in Oz a year ago with nothing but a backpack, I’m now whittling down my existence to finish up the same way.
Three weeks to go
Eek! It’s all starting to get a bit hectic. I’ve emailed practically everyone I’ve ever met to see if they want to take over our room in Coogee or buy our car Trudy, with no luck so far. Everything on the car is nearly due for renewal, so my other half, David, and I are weighing up whether to fix her up to sell, or just push the damn thing off a cliff. We both finish work in two weeks, then we need to start looking for a job at the other end. Registering with an agency before you even get back is a smart idea when you’re as financially-challenged as us…
One week to go
We managed to sell Trudy, amazingly enough, at a Kings Cross used car dealership. We weren’t expecting to get much, but it was enough for two bus tickets to Melbourne so that’s where we’re taking our hangovers. It’s all been exhausting and a bit emotional. I didn’t realise how many friends I’d made in Australia until they all turned up for our ‘last night’. England itself is a bit of a hazy memory, I can’t quite picture the colour of my Mum’s carpet, or the sound of the pelican crossings. I wonder if I’ll get a culture shock going back?
Last night in Australia
I’ve changed my mind. I want to stay here. Everyone is so wicked and lovely and it’s so sunny and nice and I don’t want to get a proper job or have to wear a coat. And I’ve got a massively long flight ahead and have no idea what will happen when I get to the other end. I asked at least five Aussie blokes to marry me in the pub, but they all seemed to think I was joking. As did David.
The M23, England, day one
Blaargh. This is like being in a rather cack parallel universe. All the trees look really odd, like twiggy pom-poms. And the colour scheme of the world has changed. The predominant hues are grey, brown and green instead of blue, gold and red. The sun is small and fuzzy, the air seems thinner and smells different, and there seems to be a lot of mud about.
Brighton, England, day two
It’s so wicked to be back! It was really surreal walking back into my Mum’s house to a rapturous reception, then crashing out in my old room and waking up very confused. While I was dead to the world, two of my old mates phoned, wanting me to meet them down the pub immediately. So even though I felt a bit spaced out, I blagged 20 funny-looking, distantly familiar English pounds off my Mum, and went. Within three Kronenborgs it was like I’d never been away at all. I bumped into loads of random people, and even those I never got on with seemed very friendly. It was a brilliant night. The odd thing was, I hardly ended up talking about my travels at all. When each person asked how Australia was, I was like, ‘wicked’ – and then we’d just start talking about something else. At first I wanted to scream, ‘Didn’t you miss me? Don’t you want to know where I’ve been?’ but it soon dawned on me that nothing has changed around here, I’m just a face that fell off the social wheel for a while then tuned back in again. Give or take the odd change in jobs or boyfriends, everything is exactly as I left it. Which is how I like it.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN CHECKLIST
Two-months: * Organise everything you own and decide what you’re going to send home, what you’ll keep with you and what you need to get rid of. * Ship excess stuff home. See ads in this magazine for a shipping company. Check with them that the quoted price is all-inclusive and you won’t have to pay any more on collection. * Contact your airline to confirm your departure date and sort out any stop-overs. Five-weeks: * Tell your employment agency or boss when you’re leaving. * If you need to give notice on your accommodation, do it and arrange for any inspections. * Start sorting through your unwanted stuff. Plan a garage sale, offer it to friends or give it to charity. * If you have a car, pin up ads for it in local intercafes, newsagents, laundrettes and hostels. Keep checking the boards regularly to make sure your ad is still there. * Update your CV and get online to check out jobs back home. Three-weeks: * Sort out your tax return (see next page for information), which you are legally obliged to fill out upon leaving Oz, and find out about claiming back your superannuation (pension). You can either do this yourself – you’ll get all the relevant info at www.ato.gov.au – or use a certified tax lawyer to do all the work for you. Again, check out the ads in TNT. * When you finish work, make sure you have a group certificate from every employer you’ve had. This could help you get your tax back. * Hold your garage sale and take everything that’s left over to a charity shop. NB: You don’t need a garage. One week: * Move out of your place and chase up any refunds owed to you like bond, etc. * Reconfirm your flights and dig out your passport and tickets. * Wash your clothes and start packing. * Have a large night out.