Saturday, 16 July 2016

368 Days Later

On a rainy winter's Thursday almost exactly a year ago, my curious eyes first caught a little glimpse of what I had been excited about for so long: Australia. It was not exactly love at first sight, seeing as how the whipping rain and icy winds gave Sydney Airport a very unfriendly appearance – especially when the rain and cold had been among my biggest reasons to escape Glasgow.

Looking back, I don’t even remember what I expected. Sydney was simply another adventure, and up until departure from European sunshine and summer I had been too busy to contemplate what “it” would be like. Since one is always changing along with the place one is discovering, it is hard to know if those changes come as a result of the place itself – or would have occurred regardless under the cloak of familiarity or in the safety of one’s home.

So, here we are. 368 days later, on the eve of my departure and in front of me: three weeks of USA and a little tour to Toronto, which is basically U.S. anyway.

368 days of joy and laughter, friends and loved ones, of sleep, books, yoga, running and lack-of-sleep. I have seen the most stunning sunsets, on more than one occasion. I have made friends with the most beautiful people, enjoyed yummy food, endlessly marvelled over this beautiful city, gone to beach after beach after beach just to realize that Australia always has more of them. I've seen mountains and sand dunes and vast, endless oceans and forest-clad hills. Seen dolphins and orcas and sting-rays and kangaroos of all sizes; koalas and wombats and emus; a few poisonous snakes and fortunately no scary spiders. And - perhaps most distinctively Australian - emptiness, deserts, endless roads and brilliantly shining nightskies.

I have learned many things, about academic economics and real-world economics, about friendship and trust, about loneliness and desire, about myself, my fears and my flaws. I have, at the same time, spent too much time at a desk or in front of a computer and – judging by my grades – too little. I've learned many words and strange sayings, and acquired a new favourite expression: adjective-defyingly beautiful. I have lived very wastefully, and seen my time preference rise. I leave much more exhausted than I arrived, and much less eager to engage any- and everyone in pointless discussions. Wiser perhaps, or simply less myopic.

I have realized that many of my flaws are quite unpleasant, that arrogance and spitefulness and secret narcissism and virtue signalling aren't always very useful traits. I've come to terms with many of my fears and expectations, starting the big journey towards greater self-acceptance, as being rather than doing.

Finally, as for the most frequently-asked question: yes, I will return to Australia. To visit, most certainly; to live, work and study – quite possibly. 

See you soon, 'Straya.

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