This is it. Homestretch. This time next week I’ll be leaving for Europe and my Australian adventure will be over.
I’m looking back over the three months I’ve spent in Perth thinking about all the interesting people I’ve met and all the cool things I’ve done. It’ll take some time and distance to fully appreciate all these experiences (and also feel sad about the things that I missed out on, because that’s just how I am). But first I need to deal with something else – the leaving itself.
Moving someplace new is hard. But leaving can sometimes be even more challenging. Every time I leave Lithuania I get teary-eyed, whether I stayed there for a few months or just a week. But I always know that I’ll return. Leaving a place that you’ve called home for a prolonged time without knowing if you’re ever coming back – that’s a whole different thing.
Before I went on exchange to California in my third year, we had to attend a special training session. They told us about the usual difficulties exchangees face, about honeymoon phase and then homesickness, and finally a stage where everything starts to feel normal again. No one warned us about the leaving phase, though. Or the reverse culture shock. Then a year later I graduated and had to leave again, this time Edinburgh, which was my home for three years. I guess I should be grateful that I consider these farewells to be the hardest things I had to face so far – it doesn’t make it any easier though.
There is this cutesy phrase found plastered on stylised world maps on Pinterest. “I’ve left my heart in so many places”, it says. But that’s how I really feel. California, Edinburgh, (Wageningen eventually), and now Perth. Through all these interviews I’ve carried out in the last months, through all the hundreds of kilometres I travelled on Transperth buses and trains, I couldn’t help but develop a very intimate relationship with the city. And leaving it will break my heart. I don’t care how cheesy that sounds.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! Before I departed for Australia I wrote here that no matter how overwhelmed I am by moving to a new location, I’m still doing it. I should’ve added that I’m still doing it, even though I’ll have to leave sooner or later. I knew what to expect and this time around I’m much better prepared to deal with it.
Also: leaving means coming home. And I’m always looking forward to that.
Kristina is a second year student MSc Forest and Nature Conservation. She is currently in Perth, Australia to do field work for her thesis.