Just when I think I’m getting good at goodbyes a new one rips my heart open. Last June I left Melbourne cheery and eager start my next adventure. This time, tears came three days before my departure from Nhulunbuy.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Vitis
I wasn't crying because of all the ridiculously hot days, the boring days, or the drunkards that plagued my life there. I cried because somehow I felt like I belonged. Like people cared about me. I cried because I was leaving behind my community.

My sense of belonging was different in Melbourne. I had traveler friends, work friends, gym friends...connections that seemed so disjointed it felt like I scheduled my time on a Rolodex. It didn't feel like a community

In Nhulunbuy friends were a default part of The Territory (pun intended). Personal chats happened at work, running errands, or at any community event. Even when I wasn't a willing participant, social time happened. No schedules necessary.

Life is much better together.
All the chats and friendship meant my social circles intertwined too. Everyone was a friend of a friend and it wasn't odd for people to do things like lend their car to strangers for a day trip.

Even before I knew what was happening, I wrote in my first journal: “Nhulunbuy is wrapping its arms around me so tight I don't want to let go. Each day shows me its beauty or leaves me amazed with how wonderful people can be. It feels like they care so much and yet it feels effortless.”

Three months later my sentiment hadn't changed. I walked away from Nhulunbuy teary eyed because it felt like I was leaving a part of my family. I feel confident it was the right time for me to go but I also feel confident that one day I will return.
With winter creeping in and my work contract nearing an end, I decided to leave my home in Melbourne last month. This meant organizing the geographical shift, handing over my tasks at work, saying goodbyes to friends and the inevitable dip in funds (roughly $2500 from home to home and everything in between)…

But leaving is the easy part. Taking a step forward always means leaving things behind. What’s next is drowned in uncertainty.

Where would I live? How would I get there? Would I find a new job?

Photo Credit: Shulu Chen
Two and a half weeks of (impatiently) waiting revealed the answers. This post is a two minute debrief. For further reading check out my tips for settling in fast.

My new home is in Australia’s Northern Territory along the Gove Peninsula—not part of my original plan. I first tried to settle in Cairns, a gateway town to the Great Barrier Reef; but its overrun backpacker scene did not feel right for me.

Since the Peace Corps I crave adventures off the beaten track; often even a few kilometers farther and to the left.

My heart felt at ease by the proposal to work in a town with less than 4,000 residents (70% indigenous), inhabiting land where the Didgeridoo was invented. This could be an adventure different than “living in the US with an accent”, as my sister would say.

From the two weeks since my arrival, I can confirm: it is something different. No more nine to five. No more at-home wifi. No more tram tracking.

I stepped into 5am starts, sitting in parks to connect and a very valid fear of buffalo, crocodiles and jellyfish.

The greatest difference? Time feels like the strongest currency.