October 18, 2013

The way travel changes you - Leana from Australiana

Today on the blog I have the beautiful Leana from Australeana talking about how travel has changed her. Leana is a Canadian Expat currently living in Australia. We met when Jason and I were looking for a room to rent while we were in Brisbane. Not only was she a wonderful housemate but she became a great friend. I am so excited for her to be a guest today.

After living in the same part of the world (Ottawa, Ontario area) for my entire 25 years on the planet, I was more than ready for adventure to come my way. I missed having a gap year, didn’t go away to another city for university, and my recent experiences of travel were road trips to Montreal and Toronto. So...when the chance for a massive change came along, well – go big or go home!

At the beginning of January 2009, I boarded a flight in Ottawa that would take me to my new home for the next four years – Brisbane, Australia. I was newly married, and my husband was starting medical school at the University of Queensland. The plan was to complete the four years and head back home after an exciting and memorable experience. Now, almost five years later (living in Adelaide, South Australia) I suppose we should have guessed that we’d fall under Australia’s spell. We both had the amazing opportunity to study in Brisbane and I now have my dream job as a speech pathologist working in the field of rehabilitation and aged care because of this. Careers aren’t the only thing we’ve gained, however. Living in a new country made me really want to get out and explore everything it had to offer. 

I’ve been to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns, and a zillion places in between. I’ve been to remote desert areas and the Queensland outback. I’ve explored some of the world’s best wine regions – the Hunter Valley, the Barossa Valley, and the Clare Valley, just to name a few. I have driven the Great Ocean Road. I spent two months in New Zealand driving around the South Island and undergoing a student placement at a rehabilitation hospital in Auckland. We packed up our Subaru and drove 2000+ kilometres from Brisbane to Adelaide to start a new life, with grown up jobs! Earlier this year we took the same trusty Subaru along the Oodnadatta track, an unsealed outback road. We camped beside natural hot springs, drove to Uluru, and spent a night in an underground hotel in Coober Pedy. There are still countless areas of Australia I’d like to see. 

I’ve been talking about places, but I also need to mention the wonderful people I’ve met along the way: my beloved Australian friends, who have made me feel so welcome and have made this feel like a second home to me. The friends in Brisbane who invited us to spend Christmas and other holidays with their families. The fabulous girlfriends I’ve made, who I know I’ll stay in touch with wherever life takes us. Other Canadians who have made this country their home for a time, one of them being Kayleigh from this blog, who I was lucky enough to live with for a couple of months last year. The new friends here in Adelaide, who have made adjusting to the move much easier than expected. People who have inspired me, who I’ve laughed with, travelled with, and learned from. 

Whatever happens, however long we end up staying in Australia and whatever it is we end up doing next, this experience has changed me indefinitely. I will always want to explore, travel, meet people, learn, grow and enjoy life. Whether it’s camping an hour away from home, or flying across the world, I want to see new places! If we do return to Canada, I want to give my home country the same thorough exploration that I’ve given Australia. There is so much do see and do in every part of the world, and I’ve only just begun.

If you would like to learn more about my travels and life here in Australia, visit my blog Australeana here.

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