In the final few days leading up to my departure to the UK that marks the start of my student exchange, I’ve been getting sentimental about leaving Australia. My student visa has finally arrived, and in just over a week I will be trading in my beautiful homeland for the bustling streets of London. As a fond farewell to The Lucky Country, here are the top ten things I will miss about Australia.
1. The wide blue skies. Seriously. Next time you look up, take a moment to notice how boundless Australian skies feel. They seem to reach higher and wider than anywhere else in the world, and even on a winter’s day they can be impossibly blue.
2. Coffee culture. When I moved to Melbourne, I was convinced that I was going to turn into a takeaway latte. Having high-quality, reliable cafes scattered all over Melbourne means that you almost never have to worry if your first sip will be a disappointment. London is relatively new to the boutique specialty coffee way of life, so fingers crossed they might go through a flourishing growth spurt while I’m there.
3. Music festivals. It’s not quite the same trudging the fields of the cold, muddy English countryside when you’re used to the Australian summer sun while dancing to your favourite bands. With so many great iconic festivals taking place during the Australian summer while I’m overseas, I think I will just have to live vicariously through everyone’s Facebook and Instagram feeds.
4. Monday night television on ABC. Don’t judge. It’s one of my most indulgent rituals to curl up on the couch with a pot of tea, ready for a tour-de-force with Leigh Sales, Kerry O’Brien, Paul Barry, Tony Jones and Emma Alberici. Thanks to the time difference, now I’m not going to understand any of the #qanda jokes and references on Twitter.
5. Seeing the stars. It always makes me smile to look up into the night sky and see dozens of twinkling stars even when I’m in the middle of the Melbourne CBD. We’re so lucky to have such little light pollution in Australia, but seeing as I will soon be living in central London I might as well take my last look for six months.
6. Roadtrips to the coast. I’ll miss packing up a car with my friends and family to chase an endless summer. Or walking barefoot along sandy beaches, and drinking cold beers while breathing in the thick, salty sea air.
7. Christmas. This year will mark my first Christmas away from my family. I’ll be celebrating 17,000 kilometers away in the depths of English winter. I’m going to be longing for the warm summer mornings, the fresh seafood served for lunch, and the smell of pine needles falling off our Christmas tree. I’m even going to miss Karl Stefanovic’s uncomfortable hosting of Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve, along with the inevitable appearance of countless bygone Australian Idol contestants.
8. The Boxing Day Test. It wouldn’t be summer for me without watching the first ball of the Test be bowled on the pitch of the MCG. Although this year while I’m in London, I’ll most likely be permanently attached to my doona, counting my four layers of winter woolies, while you’ve all got the air conditioning on full blast back home.
9. The Hottest 100 on Australia Day. I have so many memories of BBQs and parties with Triple J’s countdown as the guest of honour. I really don’t think it will be the same streaming it alone in my bedroom this year.
10. Having a backyard. I’ll be moving into a student accommodation complex in central London with 400 other students. Gone will be the days I can hang my washing on a sunny clothesline outside, have an impromptu backyard picnic laying on the grass with my mates, or eat dinner outside on those warm summer evenings. Luckily, London has many public parks and gardens which I’ll have to explore when I’m feeling a little homesick.
There’s a reason why Australia’s called the Lucky Country. And it’s not just because we have Tim Tams and Vegemite.
Next week I’ll be taking you all through the dos and don’ts of packing for a student exchange program. Remember to check out the Education Abroad Office’s website here for more information if you’re interested in your own exchange experience.