Hey, I’m Steph! I’m a Virginia Beach, Virginia native who moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2015. A great day for me would consist of soaking up Vitamin D while on the hunt for an underrated dive bar and loving on a stranger’s golden retriever along the way. All while traveling, because duh- I love to travel. I live by the motto “Go! And if it sucks, you can always come home.” With my blog, I hope my stories inspire you to pursue your overseas dreams or maybe even take the plunge to move abroad one day.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
— Mark Twain
Am I the only one bored by the whole “I sold all my possessions and quit my job to travel the world” cliché? It’s not an original story. I suppose mine is not much different, but it’s still mine to tell. Everyone’s travel experiences differ. We all meet people who inspire us in ways that shape who we become as individuals and influence how we choose to live our lives. This is my story.
My best friend Ginny sparked my travel inspiration at age 18. After our high school graduation, she invited me to go backpacking in Europe with her for 2 weeks. Even though I previously visited Europe on an exchange trip to Madrid one year prior, this was my first true taste of wanderlust and more importantly, independence. I loved the freedom of eating gelato for dinner when we were low on cash and the thrill of booking our next hostel at the local internet café. (Yes, we traveled before the age of smartphones, yet another example of how I do not associate with millennials.) I envied those we met who were backpacking for months and I knew one day I would want to do the same.
After my sophomore year of college, I traveled abroad with Study Australia. Those 6 weeks in 2008 were the most stimulating of my life. Australia held this intriguing mystery about it and I couldn’t get enough. I immediately added living in Sydney to my bucket list and ached to go back to Australia for years. I joined two additional short-term study abroad programs in Chile and The Netherlands and graduated the University of Maryland in 2010 with a BA in Communication. That’s about where my domestic life ended as I did not go on to get a “big girl job,” buy a house, get married or have children. It’s refreshing to think that today we can tell society that it’s ok to not live our lives by such a formula.
By 2013, I wanted to experience more. I applied for my working holiday visa to New Zealand and spent seven months backpacking the country. The natural beauty of both islands impressed me to no end. As a solo female traveler, I quickly made friends from all over the world and reveled in our spontaneous adventures. Traveling alone eventually wore on me and as the loneliness set in, I knew this was not a lifestyle I wanted to sustain. Remember my motto? When New Zealand no longer became fun for me, I knew that was my cue to go home.
How could I combine the exotic experiences of a foreign country on a consistent basis without the solitude of long-term travel? The answer is clear to me now, but moving abroad was not my initial intention when I finally returned to Australia on November 25, 2015. The quirkiness and vibrancy of Melbourne called to me unlike anywhere I visited before. I joined a meetup group called “Raiders of the Lost Bars” and fell into an amazingly extraverted group of friends who introduced me to my partner (aka boyfriend in American speak) after a few short months. A long road of visa applications later, I am so fortunate that Anthony and I now live in Fitzroy, a graffiti-clad hipster neighborhood with the highest concentration of bars in Melbourne. We regularly explore the city and surrounding area together. (Check out our latest Melbourne adventures here!) Living abroad combines the novelty of travel, but with the stability of a home.
If you’re an American curious about living in Australia or looking for encouragement to live life outside of societal norms, this is the place for you. Welcome, and I look forward to sharing this journey with you!