As soon as I was old enough to leave home and travel the world, that was exactly what I did.
I applied for an Australian passport and booked a flight overseas.
From the age of 18 through to 24, I spent more time abroad than I did in my own country, tramping around Europe and the United Kingdom, volunteering in Africa and back packing across South East Asia. I couldn’t get enough – the people that you meet and the bonds you form over a shared pint or lost bag, the new sites, tastes and smells every corner you turn.
It wasn’t until I hit 23 that I started to miss my own country.
Although I was living the dream, as most of my friends described it, I had truly forgotten how much I love my own country, until coming back to Australia prior to my last trip abroad.
As we loom into Australia Day, it got me thinking about what being Australian means to me. In particular, what it means to me, as someone who has spent more of her adult years out of the country, rather than in the country.
For me, it’s not just about the great weather and amazing beaches (which I certainly missed especially while living in London). Being Australian, I feel incredibly lucky with the amount of opportunities we have in life. We can travel freely; speak openly; and we have a nation that bands together when things go pear shaped. It’s a country where I feel very fortunate that one day I will be able to raise a family and know that they will get a good education and space to grow.
I hope you all had a lovely Australia Day, and take some time to think about just how lucky we are.
By Rebekka CUNNINGHAM