I am slowly starting to realise that the fantasy that we were living whilst on our Working Holiday Visa, or our “grown-up gap year”, is almost at an end for us. Having gained Tier 2 visas, we are now on our second “tour” of London and our life is no longer on hold.
It was just a holiday
The Working Holiday Visa is just that – a visa that allows you to work whilst on holiday. And, like many Aussies, Kiwis, Canadians and South Africans before us, we took this literally.
In the beginning we clung onto any job that was thrown our way, from catering to data entry to receptionist work, pulling together enough of our low income to pay the rent and fund our next holiday. We didn’t know many people in London, so we had a chance to recreate ourselves and start a-fresh. It was like a new beginning. I felt free to be myself and I like that feeling.
We told ourselves that it didn’t matter that we weren’t using our university degrees, we weren’t saving money, we didn’t have a house and we weren’t settling down. It seemed like our real lives were on hold and, all of a sudden, anything was possible. We were on a two year holiday, a grown-up gap year, and a never ending honeymoon.
Now it’s time to get serious
I realised that returning to Australia would mean returning to reality. We could no longer hope that catching 3 night busses across the city to get home at 4am every Sunday morning was normal at 28 years old. Or think that we could get away with eating unhealthy food and not going to the gym. We would have to be responsible adults and do things we had been putting off for years, such as organise life insurance, get a mortgage and purchase anti-virus software on our laptops.
The decision we made to continue to live and work in London was not made lightly. We knew that if we wanted this to work that we would have to be serious about our careers, think about where we wanted to be in the future and start saving some money. But I am determined that we will not sacrifice the fun.
Perhaps it was more about rediscovering ourselves?
Looking back, I don’t think our grown-up-gap-years in London were just about putting real life on hold while we partied across Europe. Perhaps it was more about rediscovering ourselves, growing up a little bit and building a life without the boundaries that we imagined existed back home?
I learned some of my biggest life lessons in the past three years. It happened while we travelling the world and opening up to new cultures, whilst living in a city so far away from what we grew up with where anything can happen anytime, and meeting new life-long friends. I also learned how important it is to stay in contact and cherish the family and friends we left back home.
Still, our future is in London
We are back in London with more of a purpose than just to “travel and grow up”. We are building up our careers and building a life together. And, while I miss all of our friends and family dearly, I don’t think I could be anywhere else right now.
Originally posted in Australian Times on 5 February 2015.