Epiphany On Living Abroad

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When my husband and I first started this “size it down and travel it up experiment,” we planned to try living in other countries for a month at a time. The goal was to settle in and live like a local (in a rental place, not a hotel) and experience the country by shopping for food, cooking, exercising, meeting the neighbors, and making new friends.

Australia friends at Sunset Manly Beach

We started this experiment by renting a flat in a small beach town in Australia for a month, and have returned two years in a row to do the same. We now have good friends in Australia, know the ins and outs of the local scene in Manly, and finally, know what it’s like to live abroad for a month at a time. The epiphany is, for me, it’s just not the right fit.

The bottom floor is our flat in Australia

Perhaps for someone who is extremely motivated to come up with unique and interesting plans for thirty days in a row, this is a fantastic concept. Or for the extremely relaxed guru who can vegetate on the beach for days on end, this is pure nirvana. For me, I realized this thirty day beach concept was simply too challenging. I know now that I am more comfortable with my routines (work and otherwise) that I have in place at home, and I prefer a break from these routines for a week or two. During that break, I prefer to be on the “urban go plan.” That means that I prefer vacationing in a city with a wide range of cultural, musical, and artistic elements to discover, new delicacies to try, and a historical context that is available to study.

Sunset Manly Beach, Australia
Manly Beach, Australia at Sunset


Back at home, I derive energy from my friends and my work, and without them, I tend to feel depleted and drained. After about two weeks at the beach, I found myself floundering and wondering what I was going to do with my time. I wasn’t motivated enough to dig deep and go find something meaningful to do (help someone? find a worthy cause to support?)  and I wasn’t  relaxed enough to not care. I was in the limbo land I call the doldrums. Simply reading novel after novel (in between meals and exercise) sounded lovely, but wasn’t for me. Then the rain started (for 3 weeks) and all bets were off. What do you do when you are at a beach resort and it’s raining every day? Watching “Moonlight” didn’t help.

Rain on sailboats in Australia NSW

Rainy day Manly Wharf Australia
Rainy Day on Manly Wharf

The point of an experiment is to test a hypothesis and draw a conclusion. It’s taken me three years, and my conclusion is clear. I’m a city girl at heart, (married to a surfer), and it looks like we have some compromising to do as this “travel it up experiment” continues.

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. We have been considering doing something similar but now we will rethink our plans. Nice to learn from someone else’s experience

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