June 2018 Expat Update

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I write this post from a plane halfway between Australia and Malaysia.  A plane ride that ends our expat experience in Australia.

Change is never easy, but this quote really resonated with me this past month: “How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” It shifted my thinking from being sad to one of being thankful.  The reason these goodbyes are so hard is because we have had so many great experiences, connected to the community and developed many new friendships.

But to be honest, right now I feel pretty burned out, physically and emotionally.  The last week has been busy with packing, organizing, cleaning, not to mention the emotional toll of saying goodbye and closing a pretty awesome chapter in our lives.  I know we will be back to Melbourne, just like we are returning to Malaysia, but it is still hard to leave.  And yet we are also really excited about travelling for the next two months and returning to Canada.

Paul and I on a rare date night, in the city with friends.

I walked the kids home from school for the last time yesterday and we all felt a little out of sorts.  After an exhausting last day emptying and cleaning the house, we locked the door of our house here for the last time.  The tears began to fall.

Even after the rocky start, it has been a blissful two-years.  By not working, I was given an incredible gift of time.  For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had enough time to do everything I wanted.  I didn’t feel like I wasn’t seeing the kids or Paul enough, I had time to go the gym and grocery shopping during the day and I had time to really dive into this blog.  Our routines and patterns have felt really good.  So to be honest, I am apprehensive of how busy our lives will be in the fall in Canada, with both of us working.

The school we fell into is really progressive and I love seeing the way they are applying new strategies to learning.  The kids have made some wonderful friendships and have joined in some really enriching activities.  Being at the school at least twice every day, I felt extremely connected to the school community.  Most days after school, the kids would play with their friends while I chit chatted with other parents.

We all thrived on all of our new adventures, whether it was exploring a different region of Australia or simply exploring Melbourne on the weekend.  I loved that feeling of everything being new and exciting.

Surprisingly I also found out how much I love city living.  Our location ended up being perfect, where we could walk to almost everything we needed.  I walked to school, the gym, the supermarket, library, cafes and we had three tram lines within a couple minutes walk.  It was so wonderful having our own little High Street where we could get everything we needed and we saw so many familiar faces.  I also loved my weekly trips into the city for lunch with Paul and to absorb the infectious buzz of the city.  I got connected to the local travel blogging community and enjoyed monthly socials and learning opportunities.

It’s hard to leave when you are content.  Even if we are excited for what is coming up next.  It has been an incredible chapter in our lives – it has challenged us, it has taught us things about ourselves, it has shaped us.  Most of all we are so incredibly thankful for those that welcomed us so wholeheartedly and made this such a hard place to leave.

June Highlights

Still Discovering

Even with our departure date approaching, we still made use of our weekends to discover some places we hadn’t been and to revisit some favourites.

The Yarra Valley is a wine-region just outside Melbourne and we spent a beautiful long weekend day visiting Chandon and sampling some bubbles.  We also visited the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, which produces amazing chocolate.

We revisited the Peninsula Hot Springs on a curriculum day off for the kids.  Since it is winter here, it was a lovely place to relax in the warm waters.  We also re-visited our favourite winery near Melbourne, Montalto for yummy food and wine.

Activities

Activities kept us busy in June.

Gavin had his last Scouts camp in Australia where they hiked to see kangaroos and went on an Antarctic expedition in the mild Melbourne winter.

Gavin participated in two more chess tournaments and really enjoyed being a part of the school chess team.

He also continued with his footy team.  Our second last weekend there they played in the pouring, freezing rain in their skimpy uniforms; definitely something we will always remember.

Ella continued with her Girl Guides, swimming and dance.  She attended another Victorian Dance Festival event, where the famous Travis Wall was a guest choreographer.

The boys have really gotten into karate in the last 6 months and were able to attend their first grading right before we left.  They both did really well and earned their gold belts.

Goodbyes

The school was our roots to the community and since I wasn’t working, all four of us spent a lot of time at the school.  You may remember that at the beginning of our Aussie expat journey, I thought we had chosen the wrong neighborhood.  Who knows what would have been, but I am so thankful that we did end up where we did.  The school was absolutely fantastic both from a student learning perspective, but also from a community perspective.  Between coffee mornings, class play dates, volunteering at the canteen and in the classroom, our whole family felt extremely connected.  We got to know so many wonderful families and teachers and staff at the school.  Saying goodbye was hard.

Miles with his lovely school mates

One of the things I love about Aussie culture is the park get togethers with food, drinks and friends.  Therefore, it was fitting that we had a lovely goodbye party at the park with bubbles, snacks and fun.  It didn’t matter that it was a chilly day; the kids played, the adults chatted and it was a great way to say goodbye.

Over the last year, we have become really close with our neighbours and this goodbye was one of the hardest.  We clicked instantly and ever since our front doors have been revolving doors for each other’s children.  They are the type of neighbours that you drop in to ask a question and you end up staying for tea.  We carpooled to activities, we went camping together, we borrow eggs and sugar.  In fact, we spent our last few days in Melbourne staying with them and they graciously helped out with so many last-minute tasks and didn’t complain when I left them with bags and bags of stuff I didn’t want to throw out.  As hard as it was to say goodbye to these wonderful friends that have become completely entwined in our lives, we know it is just “goodbye for now”.  In fact, we will be reuniting in Nepal next April?

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Up Next

We are in full travel mode now as we spend July in Southeast Asia, before switching continents to Europe in August.  Seeing all the Canada Day photos and cottage summer pictures on social media, has made us really excited to land back in Canada in a couple of months.  Make sure you are following us on Instagram and Facebook where we post daily photos and videos of our travels.

Beginning of our travels – in Kuala Lumpur.

If you missed our last update, you can read our May Expat Update here.

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