When we become “adults," so much of our life turns into a constant “Go, go, go.” Adult responsibilities begin to take over: work deadlines, mortgages, car payments, KIDS… the list is endless. And at the moments when we want to or need to press pause, it seems like the world just can't wait for us.
That’s what life felt like after college in a way. I entered the workforce, had “adult” responsibilities, and went through the motions. Don’t get me wrong, though. I still lived life to the fullest and made sure I had fun. I have no regrets and would do it the same way all over again.
But when I left for Melbourne, I essentially pressed pause on my life. I left the 8 to 5 (or 7 to 4 at Pangea). I left my weekly barre workouts. I left my beautiful apartment. I left my selfless boyfriend… My life in Melbourne was basically a 180 to my life in Boston.
When I first got to Melbourne, I thought I could do what I usually do for a move: find a job, find friends, volunteer… basically build routine. I moved to Melbourne to pursue specialty coffee, so I thought to myself, “Cool, I’ll just get a job at a specialty cafe.” I was wide-eyed, bushy-tailed and felt confident and ready to enter the workforce again.
Even though Australia is an English-speaking country, it is culturally very different from America. And when it comes to coffee culture, Melbourne is in a league of its own.
Things didn’t go as I expected the first month I touched down. It was the peak of backpacker season, so jobs were scarce. I learned having a working holiday visa with no coffee experience wouldn’t get me anywhere in specialty. The place I was hoping to stay for my entire time in Melbourne could also no longer accommodate me. Finding routine was not going to be as easy as I thought it would be.
I believe that life always works out, but someone I met said it more tangibly: life always works out if we’re willing to take on the challenges and overcome those obstacles. Despite the stress, I was meeting new people, open to new experiences, and soaking in as much of Melbourne as possible. By the end of my time in Melbourne, I had a job doing what I love, lived in a two-bedroom house with a fireplace and a yard (!) with my best Australian mate, had a very Australian Holden ute at my disposal, and learned a ton about coffee, perhaps more than I ever would have working at a cafe. If someone would’ve told me those things were going to happen six months prior, I would have shook my head in disbelief, especially driving the ute part.
It sounds so cliche, but life truly is a journey, and on that journey, you meet a lot of people along the way. When I reflect on my time in Melbourne, it was amazing because of the people that made it all possible. The Australian Holden ute, for example, was my friend’s car, who I met at the bar of Aunty Peg’s. I got my marketing job through my Workaway host, who introduced me to her sister who eventually became my boss. I found a volunteer opportunity because I decided to join a coworker for a casual lunch where we ate at a non-profit restaurant. These were all people who helped me establish roots in Melbourne and constantly looked out for me. Although Melbourne was the farthest I’ve ever moved, it was surprisingly the easiest because of these people.
I learned so much from them and in turn, learned so much about myself. It’s the people that make a place, and I’m sure I would have loved any other city if these same people were also there to enrich my life. But since it was Melbourne, Melbourne will always have a special place in my heart.
This coffee and food sabbatical will be coming to an end soon as I make my way home, but I feel so blessed I had the luxury to press pause and re-evaluate my life priorities. I’m excited to get back to the States. I know I’ll have to tackle “adult” responsibilities again, but this time, I feel more ready than ever.