Lisbon, Sintra, Faro and Porto… Oh, the Places You’ll Portu-go…

I am fast approaching my two year anniversary with London, which, for most Australians marks the end of their time here, due to visa restrictions. Luckily citizenship by descent has meant I am able to plod along these London streets for as long as I please. I am also fast approaching my first twenty countries visited.

Now, most travellers I’ve come across have the goal of “30 by 30”, but considering my first steps not on Australian soil occurred when I was 21, I’m feeling pretty happy with my travels so far.

My most recent solo adventuring occurred in Portugal – a place I’ve wanted to visit for so long, but had began to believe it just might not happen.

But it did.

I had the time off work and just booked it. This was another solo trip, I’m getting quite used to those, and honestly one of my favourites. The rich culture, friendly people and pastels de nata made for a fast and hard fall into love for me.

Travelling solo undoubtedly has its positives and negatives. Being able to live by your own schedule and do what you want is starkly contrasted by not being able to share what you experience with anyone in that moment… that and consistently having to bypass the awkwardness you feel and ask strangers to take your picture…

I found myself constantly looking down, the beautiful cobbled footpaths were a thing of beauty, and taking in the sheer beauty of this incredible place. From busy metropolises to fairytale palaces to deserted beaches… Portugal had me in a unending state of awe, pinching myself as it never ceased amazing me.

Advertisements

Most of the time being a woman fills me with pride…

Most of the time being a woman fills me with pride.

Most mornings I awake filled with a sense of strength and determination that makes me feel as though there isn’t anything I cannot achieve.

I’m confident… I’m sure some would say sometimes too much.

But then there are moments that make me pause.

That make me feel as though being a woman is more a burden than a privilege.

Moments like today. 

Moments when I am harassed… and yes I say harassed without any pause in the use of the word.

Days when on one strip of road in London I was harassed by three separate, independent men.

Men that said ‘hey beautiful’ and continued calling and harassing me long after I’d continued walking past them.

Men that turned a pleasant conversation about where I got my ice cream from into something sexual.

Men that upon shaking their hand asked me where else I’d use that finger.

Men that after I walked away from them do not think, for even one more second, about what their words have done to me.

They don’t know that when I continue walking I call my friend because I’m too terrified to walk past them again.

They don’t know that I’ll reconsider wearing my white sundress next time – a dress I felt so good in – in case it was my fault for drawing attention to myself.

There’s a reason I don’t take it as a compliment when a man calls out ‘hey beautiful’ on the street.

There’s a reason my entire body fills with dread and begins preparing itself for war.

There’s a reason that I feel anxious and on-alert whenever I’m in a space alone with a strange male.

And it’s not because I’m paranoid or overly cautious.

It’s because women are taught to be wary where men are taught to be tough.

I was raised amongst men who took all they could from women.

Men who abused.

And controlled.

And believed that they were superior purely because they possessed body parts that women did not.

That they could not. 

A belief that society has reinforced.

A belief that is reiterated every time women are blamed for the actions of men.

A belief that will continue to damage the victims and excuse the perpetrators.

It’s a battle of the sexes.

One that none of us will win.

If you really want to – you’ll find a way. If you don’t – you’ll find an excuse.

If you really want to – you’ll find a way. If you don’t – you’ll find an excuse. 

I was born in a small town an hour outside of Sydney, Australia. Honestly, as a child it was a great place to grow up: I had a great backyard, I could play games and ride my bike in the street, I knew all my neighbours… in some ways it was idyllic. But it is also a small place. This obviously isn’t a negative for some people. But for me it always was. 

It’s the kind of place people don’t leave. They finish school – or they don’t. Get married – or they don’t. They have children. Again, that’s great if that’s what you want. But I didn’t. I knew from the age of seven that’s not what I wanted. I knew I wanted more. I had my eyes on bigger things. 

I was fifteen when I started looking into scholarships for university. I had my list, none of which included anything within two hours of home. I studied and had success: early entrance to a great university that was far enough away to be ‘away’ from home, but close enough that I could come home at weekends. I was eighteen and left home, was studying full time and finally felt like I had a life of my own. It was exhilarating. 

That was the beginning. 

I was 21 when I moved to New York. Now that, that was absolutely frightening. The same small-town girl who had never left the country, who had been on a plane a total of six times in her life, was moving to the other side of the world on her own. It was exciting. But holy hell if it wasn’t completely terrifying. I spent a year working as an au pair. It is an experience that I am forever thankful for, but it was hard. You’re earning very little money and working very long hours for it. The family I lived with were very welcoming and I’m eternally grateful for that, but it was very difficult at times. 

But I made it work.

I made a vow to go on a trip every two months. Vegas, LA, Boston, Chicago… all leading up to my month long trip of the west coast: San Diego, Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Sedona, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and remaining east coast: Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington DC. It took effort, I spent a lot of Friday nights babysitting and quite a few weekends I was in rather than out, but I regret nothing.

I had been home (yes, in that same small, Western Sydney town) for three months when an opportunity was offered to me. A chance to move to London, travel for work and discover Europe… working, yet again, as a nanny. I was now 22, and delving back into the world of private chid care was not in my plan. But, after much contemplation (and guilt from my loved ones about leaving them… again) I was back at Sydney International Terminal departing on a 2.55pm flight bound for London. 

My life in London has been so much more than I could have ever dreamed. I’ve travelled to 17 countries in 19 months. I have formed incredible friendships, eaten phenomenal food, witnessed so many sunrises and sunsets, and seen more of the world than my seven year old self could have ever dreamed. But it has had its trials. 

I’ve worked as a live in nanny far longer than I’m sometimes comfortable with. This obviously has, for me, proved to be advantageous, but sacrifices are made. I said goodbye to leaving my work at work… hard to do when you live there. I am immersed in a family, a big one, something I had zero experience with before this. It is not always ideal, but it is what I chose. To me, at this moment in time, it’s worth it.

My point is that you can find a way if you work hard enough and have the vision. It may not look how you imagined, but that’s half the fun. I never imagined that this would be my life, in fact 16 year old Bec would’ve laughed you off for spouting insanity (after an exaggerated eye roll and hair flip of course.) But this is my life. And if you want it bad enough, if you really want it – you will find a way.

There are so, so many roadblocks trying to trip you up in life, don’t make yourself one. 

Back by no real demand at all…

I haven’t written on here since before I left for New York… four years and fourteen countries later – I’ve not written about any of them. ‘Travels by Bec’ minus the travels… I’m not saying I regret that, it’s just slightly funny. I hope now that I remember my login that changes now.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing…

I surely hope that this adventure was the right choice.

Tonight will be my last night in Australia for at least the next twelve months and I am unsure as to how I feel about this. I am excited. I am anxious. I am downright terrified.

They say that if you’re scared then it means you’re making the right decision. If that’s the truth then this is the most correct decision I have made in my life.

In exactly thirty-eight sleeps I will be on a plane off to experience the Big Apple, and with that an entirely new life. Excitement is one word to describe what I’m feeling, terror is another.

I am so thoroughly keen to just let go, of this town, of my mistakes and of the person I’ve been that I’m not too proud of.

I know that new places don’t make all that much difference, because you still take yourself with you. However, it will be a very liberated version of myself that I carry with me. I refuse to bring all of my regrets and ‘what ifs’ along for the ride – they do not get to take up space on what will, undoubtedly, be the best time of my life.

I gave myself somewhat of a fresh start three years ago, and my oh my did I ever grow from that experience. This time it is a completely clean slate, a foray into the complete unknown.

I can’t wait to experience everything, to see it all, to just feel everything that this new opportunity has to offer.

Life is going to be good. I mean, it’s a New York winter so it’s going to be freaking freezing, but amazing nonetheless.

And So it Begins…

There’s a quote that often floats around the internet world, most notably on blog sites and Instagram:

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met”

It’s something that has stuck with me for years: when I was sitting in my bedroom as a stir-crazy teenager who’s only desire was to escape her small town existence, when I first started university and realised that this was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to my life of moving around and experiencing new things, and still now – as a twenty-one year old young adult who is just about to graduate from university and move to a whole other country in exactly forty-eight days – I still find myself constantly thinking on it.

I have always been a girl that is planning her next move – never entirely content with where I reside at that current moment – purely out of fear of becoming stuck in one place: In high school I was thinking of where I would study university, at university I was contemplating where I’d go when I finished my undergrad and now that I have that sorted I’m thinking of where I want to be in two years time.

Call it small-town syndrome, or diagnose me with a serious case of wanderlust, but I just want to see everything and be everywhere.

So New York is where I will begin, and I for one can’t wait.