Birthday/Bon Voyage Bash: Preparing to Leave Home for a Year Down Under

Me with my very own koala!

It’s hard to believe the time has finally come to say goodbye to family & friends in the States & say “g’day” to life in Oz.  On my 31st birthday (January 30th), loved ones gathered for my birthday/bon voyage party to wish me well on my upcoming journey.  “How do you feel?” was the question of the day:

“Are you excited?”



“Um – a little.”


“Well, yeah . . . I guess I’d be crazy not to be!”

When I first broke the news of my wish to spend a year in the land down under, some reactions were more favorable than others.  My mom nearly had a panic attack (sorry mom, but you know it’s true!)  How could I leave my family & friends, my house (yes, I own a house!), my job?  How would I ever afford to do this?  What would I do when I came home in a year’s time, with no job, no health insurance, a mortgage to pay & a largely depleted bank account?  Why did I even think I *wanted* to do this in the first place?  Wouldn’t I be lonely?  What if I wanted to come home? (as she keeps reminding me, I don’t *have* to stay the entire year in Oz . . . I know, mom, I might need to leave Australia a little early so I have enough money to visit a few other places!)

My mom has always been the practical one in the family, with her endless to-do lists & incessant reminders of the importance of the basic necessities in life. Whenever I whine about how I can’t possibly bear to work for another 30-40+ years before I’m finally able to retire & spend my remaining days lounging around on some remote, tropical island, she always quips: “Well, you might not like to work, but you like food, clothing & shelter, don’t you????”

Touché. 😦

Don’t worry mom, I’ve got those things covered for my year abroad: I’ve got a suitcase packed with a few items of clothing, a few bucks in my bank account – so what if I have to spend countless sleepless nights in youth hostels & derive my daily sustenance from peanut butter & jelly sandwiches?  I’LL BE LIVING IN OZ!! 🙂

Of course to this she can only reply, “Just be careful not to get sick living like that!!”  *Sigh* I don’t think I’m gonna win this argument.  No matter how old I am (31, ma, did you forget I just turned 31?!), I’ll always be her baby & I have to respect that.  The good news is she has since come around in support of “whatever makes you happy, honey,” but only after securing a passport “just in case of an emergency.”  After all, someone has to be available to bring me homemade chicken soup if I catch the sniffles! 😉  Are you sure you don’t want to use that passport for anything else, mom?  Like maybe, I dunno, a vacation?!

Florida is about as far as mom likes to travel!

Dad, Me, Mom & sister Kele with puppy Monique, Thanksgiving 2006 (Florida)

My sister’s advice was more to my liking.  When I called to tell her about my visit to Sydney to see Heather in September/October 2010, I was bubbling over with excitement about how I had fallen in love with the country & the idea of living abroad long-term.  “You should go!” immediately came her reply.  So far so good.  “But, well, . . . Heather’s visa is only good until late May . . .”  “So you should go now!  Don’t you want to try to spend as much time with her as possible?”  YES!  My thoughts exactly.  Forget about the fact that Heather had planned her trip for years & I had only been seriously contemplating mine for weeks.  Forget that I hadn’t exactly saved up for this purpose.  None of that seemed to matter when the idea of setting sail on this adventure made me feel so alive.  I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.  I had to do it & do it soon.  It would be crazy NOT to.

Now that’s not to say that I don’t have any money saved up or that I haven’t thought about long-term travel abroad before, it’s just that I haven’t been setting money aside for this particular purpose – heck, I didn’t think I’d ever actually have the guts to do something like this!  After all, I’m not the hardiest of travelers – just read My Travel Philosophy & you’ll see why I’m such an unlikely candidate for this type of endeavor.  But that’s what makes it so wonderful & terrifying & exciting & nerve-wracking . . . and I can’t wait!!

So, as I prepare to depart, I leave you all with a popular Australian tune that was sung to me at my farewell party: “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.” I had actually never heard it before as apparently it was a big hit in the 1960s – a little before my time.  It’s a good thing I liked it because it’s quite catchy & now I can’t seem to get it out of my head!  I encourage you to check it out, but do beware as you might find yourself lying awake at night trying to recount all the verses – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My Birthday/Bon Voyage Cake made by my friend Cheryl


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 10:31:23

    I really love reading your writing 🙂 Even if we weren’t besties, if I stumbled upon your blog, I know I would be one of your regulars.

    Can’t wait to see you in a few days and enjoy a month or so together ♥


  2. Mom
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 21:58:43

    I knew I should have never let you out of the house when you were little! Hmm….just think – I’m YOUR ride to the airport out of the States – ha!
    I wish you a SAFE and EXCITING experience “down under.” I will miss you terribly but am looking forward to following your many adventures as you live the life of an Aussie. Love you – Mom xoxoxoxo


  3. sebastian
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 00:15:18

    Nikki im sooooo proud of you!!!!!!!! I want to come for a visit… seriously


  4. jillian
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 04:40:35

    Reading this entry brough tears to my eyes…its just so amazing that you are there and doing this. Inspirational!


  5. Aunt Penny
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 06:01:19

    Hi Niki,
    I’m so glad you made it there safely. Love your blog and will follow your adventures closely. You’re in my thoughts often. Much love…


  6. camille
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 03:16:27

    Love all the photos of Melbourne but especially the Hotel Transport Bar with the Oscar Wilde quote. I know how you love those quotes! Hope to see more photos from Melbourne once you are done road tripping! Stay safe – love you – MOM


  7. Aunt Penny
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 23:37:49

    Hi Niki,
    Love your photos and following your adventures via your emails. I’m so happy that you are able to enjoy these experiences and I’m looking forward to reading your posts when you are able to do them. Love you lots!!!


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