This past week was wonderful. Because of Australia Day, on Jan. 26, I had an extra long weekend – five days to be exact – and spent it seeing live music, swimming in the ocean and sailing.
On Australia Day, James and I went to a one-day music festival in Brisbane called Laneway. It was loads of fun and we got to see a bunch of acts we love, including Tame Impala as the headliner. It was awesome to see one of our favorite bands play in their home country as we both noticed how much more comfortable Kevin Parker and the gang seemed, and how much more he conversed with the crowd.
The day was also controversial though because it is celebrated on the day the Europeans came to Australia and murdered many aboriginals, much like America’s Columbus Day. This means it wasn’t the big, crazy Independence Day-like celebration you may picture. I didn’t see many Australia flags or hear anyone shouting. There were more people with “Change the Date” written on their arm, as there is a big push from citizens to change Australia Day’s date to one that doesn’t relate to the genocide that happened on Jan. 26.
After a crazy day of music, that didn’t end until sunrise, and a day of recovery hanging around at the house in Red Hill, James, Leslie, and I rode up to Noosa with Olivia and Hannah. I wasn’t sure how I felt about making the trip up there again since we’ve been going quite a bit but it turned out to be an awesome weekend and I’m so glad we did. I guess there’s no such thing as too much Noosa…
We pretty much picked up where we left off from last time we were there by having Leslie contact the sailor she had met two weeks earlier, who offered to take us out if we helped crew his boat in return. He told us he was taking it out so with a bit of suspicion, we went for it anyway and ended up having an amazing day sailing off the coast of Noosa. The sailor who owned the boat is named Sean and is a middle-aged, laid-back Aussie who just loves to sail. He told us all kinds of stories, gave us tips and even gave me the chance to sail the boat for a bit! The views of the deep blue, open water, with the contrast of the teal- colored water closer in to the headlands made for some gorgeous scenery. We celebrated the great day with some beers with Sean and his friend Kate when we made it back to shore and then took off to head back to the city. We fortunately left with an invitation to join him on the boat “anytime” so hopefully there will be some more adventures where that came from.
Those five exciting days led me to my last week as Kirin and Charlie’s Au Pair in Ferny Hills. I’m having a lot of mixed emotions as I finish this chapter of the journey. Part of me feels a sort of freedom and excitement as I’m moving on to something new but I also have a lot of nostalgia and a bit of anxiety thinking about how much my routine is going to change. Although I only plan on getting a job for a couple months before leaving Australia, the realities of the job search and moving into the Red Hill house with James make me feel as it I’m staying here forever… I guess because the initial job that got me here is now ending and from here on out, it’s up to me to figure out a way to support myself and everything I want to do. In other words, there’s no return ticket home. Only more tickets to be booked. I’m excited though because it’s all part of the adventure – the kind of adventure I wanted more than anything during my college years. Not every day is easy and anxieties aren’t absent but I am learning so much about myself and life, and am thrilled to be doing that while living out my dream of traveling.
My experience as an Au Pair is everything I hoped it’d be. While I didn’t spend as much time with my host family as I initially thought I might, meet as many other Au Pairs as I thought, and didn’t experience quite as much daily freedom as expected, I developed a close relationship with two young boys and two adults who live on the other side of the world from me and were once complete strangers. In learning their ways, I’ve learned a lot about mine and it’s been so fun to really immerse myself in another family’s lifestyle. I’ve seen little and large differences between Americans and Aussies, and finally am comfortable with all the different words they use, and side of the road they drive on. This place without a doubt has become a home, and I am so fortunate to have had the chance to make it one. Even if just for five months. There is so much you can learn from living with a family so far and so different than you’re own, and I’m really glad I did. It wasn’t always as “thrilling” as living and working with people my age would be but it was unique and special- an opportunity that gives you a closer connection with people who were once strangers than many people will ever experience in their lifetime. So this may be the “official” farewell to Mark, Camille, Kirin and Charlie as their “American Au Pair” but their “Anni” isn’t going anywhere. 🙂