A few years ago, I transplanted myself from the hustle and bustle of Sydney to the even hustlier and bustlier (I know they aren’t words) world of Nanjing, China. At the time I had no idea that China would be my home for the next 30 months.
This time around, I know I’ve committed to calling Coffs Harbour home for the next three years. After three weeks of beach days, orientation week drinking, and entirely too much Cards Against Humanity – I’ve come up with a few reasons why I’m happy to be calling Coffs Harbour home for the foreseeable future.
#5 – Close to Home
While it’s true that in the past I’ve given reasons why I hate living in Australia, one of the biggest drawbacks to being abroad semi-permanently has been missing out on so many important moments with my family and my friends.
While in China I missed the birth of my niece and the deaths of my last two grandparents. I missed engagement parties, important birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmases as well. When a 12-20 hour flight separates you from those you love, those moments become an unfortunate sacrifice you have to make.
I do miss my cosmopolitan life abroad, but I’m glad to be within a relatively short three hour bus ride of my family home in the mountains. It means I’ll be home for the birth of my niece or nephew this September, it means I get to catch up with my siblings more often than once a year, and it means being home for those important moments that I’ve missed so sorely while being on the road.
I’m also quite close to friends in Sydney, Brisbane, and Newcastle – as well as located close enough to an airport that visits to places like Melbourne aren’t beyond the realms of possibility. I’m hoping this year sees me being a much better brother, son, uncle, and friend.
#4 – Studying (Again)
I sometimes think that going straight from high school to university is hopelessly wasted on 18 year olds entirely too unprepared for the experiences they’re about to have. I don’t mean that as a slight against 18 year olds or their intelligence. I just mean that you’re thrust from the relative ease of high school and parents looking after your every whim to suddenly having near complete control over things.
In between the parties and the spending all of your grocery money on ice cream and video games, you sometimes get a little lost when it comes to the actual academia.
I look back at my first Bachelor’s degree and I remember precious little about it. I did a whole lot of growing socially and emotionally (although the lion’s share of that was done in South Korea, if I’m being honest) – but so many of the academic opportunity I was presented with were wasted. I did the majority of my essays on the night before they were due, I didn’t bother attending a lecture in my second two years, and my priorities seemed to start at ‘girls’, ‘parties’, and ‘sleeping in’, with studying a very distant seventh or eighth.
I loved my time studying theatre, but if I’m being brutally honest – I was never that interested in the subject. I enjoyed acting and I got good marks in the course, but it wasn’t a passion.
Travel is my passion, and studying Tourism Management will hopefully lend me a better understanding of the industry and open some doors for me farther down the line.
Classes don’t start for me until this Wednesday, but I’m already balls deep in readings and notes for two of my classes. Experience, a genuine interest in the subject, and a somewhat deeper well of self discipline ought to make this a much more pleasant study experience with (I hope) less 5am rushes to get essays written.
#3 – Keeping Busy
When I decided to come back to university, I really wanted to live on campus. Not only is it dreadfully convenient being a five minute walk from my classes (something I’m sure I’ll avail myself of when it comes to my 8am business law lectures), but it means having access to a social calendar that I don’t need to populate myself.
While my photos and my background running pub crawls might paint me as an extrovert, I’m actually very introverted. Without a little external motivation, there’s every chance I’ll waste away my free time on video games, books, and marathoning TV shows.
In the three weeks I’ve lived on campus here at Carina College I’ve played laser tag & mini golf, indulged in cruisy beach days, road tripped to the grandly named Promised Lands, gone shopping at markets, eaten out, enrolled in casual sports clubs, and done a bunch of other fun stuff. It’s a variety of social opportunities I didn’t really have in China, and I’m hoping to take full advantage of it this year.
#2 – Friends
It’s certainly been an experience adapting to being the ‘old head’ in a group of 17-21 year olds, but I’ve found myself a pretty rad group of friends here. Blue (my adopted son), Buh, Wild Twerkey, Skit, Scout, Norm, Ains, Socrates, Emulee, and the various other comers and goers have made things anything but dull.
Our near daily games of pool or Cards Against Humanity are liberally interspersed with video nights, trips to Maccas, or just lazing about talking shit.
I won’t lie: there’s been a whole lot of drinking and bad dancing as well.
It’s a pretty cool gang of people, and it’s been a trip down memory lane to witness all of the drama, heart-break, and teeth-gnashing that comes with being young and feeling everything so keenly. It’s reminded me what a melodramatic kid I was when I went through my first year of university, and it’s an experience that is entirely surreal.
Most recently, the always dreadful Valentine’s Day was salvaged by said group of loveable misfits. Between getting a Valentine from one of the gang (henceforth known as The most amazing chick in this galaxy) and spending the afternoon having a delicious brunch in Sawtell with the whole mob, it made the sting of my desperate loneliness a tad more bearable.
Getting so drunk I couldn’t feel feelings any more certainly helped as well.
#1 – The Beach(es)
I live for the beach, and I am so glad to finally have a home that is achingly close to it.
Coffs Harbour may not boast the beaches that the Sunshine Coast or Newcastle have, but the beaches here are nothing to be sneezed at. Jetty Beach is a perfect place to lie out, swim, or throw yourself off of the jetty, and options like Boambee Creek give a nice change of pace from white sand and breakers.
I can definitely foresee this year being one of finally achieving a tan and, if the last three weeks is anything to go by, burning away hangovers on a baking hot beach every Sunday morning.
Life is pretty good at the moment. I’m enjoying my studies, I finally have a social life after a few months of relatively isolation in Ben Lomond, and I’ve got some exciting potential trips on the horizon that ought to keep the travel bug satisfied.
Keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for a long overdue and shiny new design as well. I can’t wait to share it with you!