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In our April Expat Update we started to talk about the transition of moving back to Canada and preparing for our 8 week travels this summer.
But we spent the month of May in the regular routines of school, work and lots of kid activities. We get asked a lot how we are feeling about the move and what we all say is…mixed feelings. We are excited to move back into our house and have lots of quality time with family and friends. But of course we are sad that this chapter in our life is closing and we will really miss our life here in Melbourne.
Having done the expat thing twice now, I think two years living somewhere is great, but not long enough. In takes the first year to adjust to your new city, get over homesickness and start building your new life. In the second year, you really start to make new friends, feel settled and start to really enjoy your new life. That is why it was such a difficult decision for us to move home because we had just started to feel really settled and content with our life here.
I think when we first made the decision to move home, we really questioned if we were making the right decision. It was summer in Melbourne and we were out camping on weekends and spending lots of time in the city. We had lots of time to reflect on the quality of life we had here and wondered why we were giving that up. However, with time (and chilly winter temperatures arriving) I think we have come to a level of acceptance about the transition.
We have had an amazing two years in Australia and there is no question we are going to miss it here. But we have so many awesome adventures coming up in the next year and we are so excited for Canada too.
The kids are involved in lots of winter sport activities – footie (Australian Rules Football), karate, swimming, Girl Guides, Cub Scouts, soccer, chess club, and dance. As anyone with school aged kids know, it is quite the juggle to get everyone to where they need to go each night.
Gavin is loving playing on his footie team. If you aren’t familiar with AFL, it is a mix of soccer and rugby and it is Australia’s most popular sport, especially in Victoria. It is a great opportunity for him to play a sport that he can’t play in Canada. He has training during the week and then a game on the weekend. The team is a lovely community team and it is great for him to get some experience playing on a team. As expats, we love to notice the little differences in how things are done. In between each quarter, the players and coaches come together in the middle of the oval and the parents all walk from the sidelines to the middle as well to listen in on the coach’s speech. At the end of the game, they passionately sing their team song. It is an awesome sport and we are all going to miss Gav’s league and weekends spent watching the pro league.
In addition to our regular line up of activities, Ella went off to a Guide camp overnight with a friend and we had the school X-country meet.
Lots of photos to share. I am using a new style of photo galleries – click the photo to enlarge.
Paul always shares his birthday weekend with Mother’s Day, but luckily this year they were on two separate days. We celebrated with laksa at one of our favourite places in Melbourne, complete with “Happy Birthday” playing over the restaurant’s loudspeaker.
I am always spoiled with love on Mother’s Day and this year was no different. Gavin pampered me with spa treatments at Cubs, I got lots of lovely messages and little gifts and Gavin even promised to eat his dinner for a whole week without complaint (he did have trouble following through on that).
With footie and other activities on the weekends, we haven’t been exploring quite as much as usual. We did manage to get out of the city for a great hike at Marysville. The Steavenson Falls were quite impressive and it felt good to get back out into nature.
We also spent a great Saturday in the city at some of our favourite places: Queen Victoria market, the laneways, eating delicious Melbourne food and going to our last AFL game on a beautiful sunny autumn day.
Autumn in May
May definitely brought autumn in all its glory. While the trees here don’t make quite the splash they do in Canada, you still get some beautiful colours. In Aussie speak, autumn is the time to “rug up” in puffer jackets and settle in for the mild winter. While temps dipped to as low as 5 degrees overnight, we still had lots of nice sunny days approaching 20 degrees.
Paul made another travel video – our cruise to Papua New Guinea last year. Check it out!
We hardly posted any photos to Instagram this month. The most popular ones were all from our Melbourne photo shoot with Wanderloud, but I have thrown in a few more.
Posts Published in May
I was a busy little writer in May and managed to pump out quite a few posts. June is all about packing and moving so I expect things to be much quieter on the blog.
- Best Family Travel Games – updated this post to add 5 new recommendations
- Photos to Capture our Expat Experience – the awesome photos from our photo shoot
- Planning a Family Caravan Holiday in Australia – why we think this is the best way to see Australia and how to plan your trip
- Family Travel with Home Exchanges – the 6th installment in our Travel More case study series
- Our Tips for Exploring Uluru with Kids – all the awesome things to do at Uluru
- The Best Things to do in Alice Springs – how to explore this Outback town
- Into the Outback: Our Red Centre Australia Road Trip – our super thorough guide to our road trip
- Our Globetrotters: Expat Life in the Middle East – the 7th Travel More case study
- Coober Pedy in One Day – one of the quirkiest places we have visited
Lots of packing, sorting and cleaning while trying to savor our last few weeks in Melbourne. I know there will be lots of tears, but I can already imagine a return visit, just like we are doing in Malaysia this summer.
We fly out the end of June for our 9 weeks of travels (so how sad can we really be!). I am breaking all my family travel rules with this trip – we are travelling in high season and travelling fairly quickly. Since it is peak season and since we are budget travelers going to Europe in August, we have had to book most of our trip in advance. While I love travel research normally, this has meant an insane amount of planning. This is what our trip looks like:
- Malaysia (10 days) – hopping between Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh (where we lived in 2011-2012) and Penang
- Indonesia (25 days) beyond Bali – overland and boat tripping on the island of Flores (best known for Komodo Island and its dragons), relaxing on the Gili Islands, a cultural exchange/volunteer experience for a week in central Java (with some exploring time too)
- Singapore – quick stop for a couple of days to EAT, see some sites and enjoy the best airport in the world
- Greece – Ella’s trip to explore her love of Greek mythology and Percy Jackson – 3 days in Athens and a 5 day road trip around the Peloponnese
- Rome – 3 days to add some Roman history and eat lots of gelato and pizza
- UK (12 days) – see London, meet up with the other Nicholsons, visit with friends in Stratford-on-Avon, Leigh (Paul’s birth place) and Birmingham and celebrate a family wedding
- We hit Canada the end of August where we have one week to move back into our house and get ready for the beginning of school and work (both of us! crazy transitions for every one!). But we are also going to squeeze in a cottage long weekend with my family because boxes can be unpacked anytime right!?!