Back at home in Australia sometimes you’ll find us engaged in banter at the pub with our neighbours from New Zealand. We’ll give each other a little good-humoured grief about our accents and get into heated debates about who boasts the best cities.
We can make fun of each other at home, you know? But overseas when we run into an Antipodean on our travels we more often than not stick together.
It’s a little like how in your family you can make fun (within reason, obviously) of siblings or cousins, but if someone else tries to, we’ll automatically defend the other.
A lot of this mateship goes back to war times, and on 25 April each year our nations commemorate Anzac Day to observe when our troupes landed at Gallipoli in 1915.
Today Anzac Day still stands as one of our nations’ most important occasions and is marked by a public holiday each year, as well as moving dawn services and daytime military marches.
Incidentally, it’s also my birthday.
Indeed, many of us make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli in Turkey for special dawn ceremonies.
And, there are always services in London including a dawn service at the Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner which is – you might be surprised to know – usually overflowing with attendees.
If you have spent any time travelling or living abroad, you’ll appreciate that the sense of patriotism is often stronger when you’re away from home.
Add that to an emotional national day and you’ll usually find a hive of expats huddling together flying their flag.
On Anzac Day, Aussies and Kiwis unite, and being this far away – just as our men were 102 years ago – it’s a poignant moment to be part of.
It’s for this reason that I jumped on an opportunity that a colleague at work – a lovely lady from New Zealand – told me about.
Each year our High Commission offers passes to special ceremonies, and those with an Australian or New Zealand passport can apply.
You can try this link from the beginning of each year (or if it’s not working, Google ‘Anzac Day London High Commission’).
You must apply for passes to attend this special service, held at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, and followed by a church service at Westminster Abbey up the road.
Here’s a sample of what we experienced:
The day was moving and memorable. Highly recommended – add the task to your diary from February next year. We’ll definitely do this again.
We’re about to do something insane – again! It’s the same crazy manoeuvre which actually brought to life this space, originally named, “Sarah’s blog: Cool Britannia”, launched to share our expat experiences in London. For the past few months I’ve been bursting to announce something but needed to wait for one piece of paper – a very important document – the visa. It FINALLY came, and so here we go on another life-changing adventure. Honestly, it is overwhelming and not a decision we take lightly; but our hearts are in this big move, and the approval of my visa sparked a happy dance in the front yard. Fortunately the neighbours already know I’m a “unique character”.
We’re going back to England! Yay! And it’s no insignificant “yay” either, but a, “I’ve-been-waiting-since-the-day-we-left-London-to-go-back” kind of “yay”.
The move this time isn’t so straightforward though, with a more specialised visa requirement which had to be fulfilled (rather than the youth mobility visa which is fairly accessible if you’re under 31). My head’s already there, and my heart never left, but there’s been an anxious period this year – while this is what we want, it’s still really difficult telling loved ones and nice employers/clients/friends that you’re leaving. We’re so lucky to have people who don’t want us to go, but even though I feared the worst prior to each of these conversations, everyone’s proven to be supportive and kind. Not to mention most were not surprised – it seems my unconventional reputation precedes me.
It’s not so easy having your dream be so far away (“home” being Australia), and pursuing our various goals does come at a cost, which at times causes me quite a bit of anxiety, and even guilt. It’s a tough decision to move so far away – it’s not like a move from Cairns to Sydney, Edinburgh to London or even Vancouver to New York, for that matter (and they are big changes); there’s a reason people carefully consider trips to and from Australia – it’s a bloody long way from anything! It would be remiss however, to not follow the advice that I give others every day – life’s too short to not do what’s in your heart, particularly if you have the opportunity to do it, and with the support and companionship of your best friend. I’m lucky and extremely grateful.
I can’t wait to move back to London. The moving part this time is probably the easiest – we know where we want to live, what to do or not to do and with a second chance at it all, we’ll be sure to make the very best of it. We have to, you see, in honour of the goodbye tears that will be shed over the coming weeks.
On the exciting side of things, I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you too, as I secretly (or not so, now) harbour a desire to become a London expert. They say do and share something you’re passionate about – well, fellow fans and future fans of one of the greatest cities in the world – get ready to share the ride with me. It will be filled with colourful places, culture and vibrant people who also call London home; but aside from anything, the story and this space will be abundant with love and passion – for life, for opportunity and for adventure. Thanks as always for your support. Be true to yourselves regardless of how weird or unique you and your aspirations are. Remember, if you’re stuck on a life mantra, you’re free to adopt mine: Travel. Live. Learn.
Have you gone through this roller-coaster ride on your path to expat life? Or are you considering taking the leap but apprehensive? I’d love for you to drop a comment below -Sarah
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.