The hardest part about moving countries.

At about 11 years old, I became a massive Dr Who fan. This was circa Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman era. I owned a little plastic sonic screwdriver, printed Union Jack’s to pin on my walls, and began forcing an awkward cockney accent.

I went around telling everyone that I was going to move to London. Teachers, friends, and family all knew – and it was a goal that I never veered from as I moved through high school, university, and entered the workforce.

My grandmother was actually born and raised in London, and most of my family had actually immigrated to Australia from Europe in the 1900’s. My parents even organised Italian citizenship for me and my sisters from a young age. So really, moving to the other side of the world felt like a fairly natural choice. I loved lots of things about Australia, but I always thought if it as more “optional” than “default” or “compulsory”.

After graduation, a death in the family, then two years of border closures, I was finally ready to go.

I project managed this move like no other; spreadsheets, to-do lists, Kanban boards, journalling, and even had a huge vision board above my desk to keep it top of mind.

Clearly, this was something extremely important to me. Everyone knew it was one of my biggest goals, I had been thinking about it for the past 14 years, and it certainly didn’t happen by accident.

Which is why I guess I hadn’t thought about the downsides as much.

I knew that the weather could be pretty dreary so I moved in the Summer to get as much sunlight as possible.

I knew it would be tricky to establish roots so I picked friendly and outgoing roommates who hosted friends often and invited me to things.

And I knew I would feel a bit homesick so I phoned my family every week and made plans with friends who were on holidays in Europe.

But what I found the most difficult to wrap my head around, was the dilution of the concept of home.

Once I got on that plane, I knew Australia would always be a little bit less home.

It could still be a home or mostly home, but it would never be 100% home.

Because for the past few years I had been putting things in place to move to London, I’d held back from making decisions that made Australia feel permanent.

I moved into pre-furnished sharehouses to avoid buying furntiture that I felt tied my down, while most of my housemates were buying fridges and TV’s and couches.

I didn’t get any decor like wall prints or cute lamps or new bedsheets because what was the point? I couldn’t take them with me when I left.

In the 12 months prior I even stopped buying new clothes. I could only bring one suitcase and one carry-on, and the rest I could buy there. Why bother filling my wardrobe with stuff I’d only wear for a season then need to leave behind?

And now I’m here and I’m settled in and it’s great – but what happens if I have to move back to Australia at some point? When my Visa expires? How “home” do I make it here? And if I did move back to Australia, what do I do with the part of me that feels at home in London?

It’s given me a lot of food for thought, and an intense curiosity about how my grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents who all moved countries and never looked back.

Maybe it’s the increasing availability of international travel, remote work, technology, and cheaper airfares – we have so many options that we feel paralysed.

I often wonder how people know where they want to live with there are 195 countries and over 10, 000 cities in the world.

How do you pick one? And how do you know when it’s time to leave? Do you have to pick one forever and ever? Or is it okay to be more fluid and just go wherever feels right? Are you ever supposed to feel 100% certain?

Ultimately, I think travel is fantastic and that exposure to other people, places, and cultures is so important. But I do feel a bit of envy for the people in my hometown who love it, never want to leave, and whose families have been there for generations.

Their definition of home is concrete, they have that certainty, and they know where their 100% is.

I know I’m not the first person to feel this, and I know the experience is worth the uncertainty.

But it was a little loss that took me by surprise amidst such excitement.

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