Sydney, you are home

The road to settling into a new city is bumpy, with many mistakes made along the way.

Art by Nafeesa Rahman

Moving out is hard.

Whether it’s your first or tenth time moving homes, cities or countries, it never gets easier. 

As a third culture kid, it’s difficult to really call anywhere your home. Others find it easy to latch onto the feeling of belonging to where they grew up, or the country their parents might call home; but when you feel no attachment to either, it feels alienating to not have somewhere to feel you can recluse to.

However, when you leave the shelter of your childhood house, that’s when you can really explore and test out your different versions of ‘home’. From university owned accommodation to establishing your own sharehouse, it’s the small things that curate the essence of homeliness.

It’s liberating leaving a household that dictates your every move, establishes your curfews and limits your independence. On the other hand, you lose the false sense of safety from the familiarity of having those restrictions laid upon you.

For me, Sydney was my way out. I packed my belongings in one suitcase, took a sixteen hour flight, and found myself alone in a city I had never been in. That ended up being the best decision I had made, in order to be able to finally find somewhere to call home.

The road to settling into a new city is bumpy, with many mistakes made along the way. But small ventures into building comfort is what makes the difference, which follow:

Get lost.

Leave the house, don’t open Google Maps. Keep walking straight, turn left, turn right,  keep going. Soak in the views of the unfixed potholes,magpies swooping, and the dog taking a shit across the road. Familiarise yourself with the quirks embedded within the surrounding neighbourhoods —  they’re what will lead you home on the drunkest of nights.

Find the suburb that tastes like your childhood.

Harris Park tastes like mum’s cooking. Lakemba tastes like hanging out after school. Eastwood tastes like special occasions. There will be days when you get tired of having the same depression meal for a week straight, and the only source of comfort is your Ubereats delivery.

Bring your drugs.

Sydney is expensive. Chances are — regardless of where you’ve moved from — it’s a lot cheaper to bring your own medicine over, or rummage through your parents’ medicine cabinet. Just try not to get stopped at immigration.

Give up halfway on your DIY crafts.

Sure, you can fill up your room with cheap Facebook Marketplace or Kmart finds, but it’s the half-finished craft in the corner of your room that brings personality to your space. Owning things you’ve made, rather than bought, feels more personable and makes your space feel more homely. 

Home might be a person.

Feeling like you’re home is often dependent on the company you have. Housemates, siblings, or even pets might be the reason the space is lively and gives you a reason to come home to. If that person who was truly home isn’t around anymore, keep physical memories and reminders of them near.

Accept defeat.

Things are going to fall apart sometimes. You’ll find yourself crying in the corner of your room after all your posters fail to stick to the wall. Or panicking over learning how to tackle bills and bugs. Living on your own is a learning curve — accept each failure and push through. Befriend the huntsman in the corner of your room, rather than trying to exterminate it.

Sydney might not become your home. It might just be a place for you to finish university and then move onto the next chapter of your life. You might have to move multiple times before you feel settled. But until then, even the narrowest alleyway nestled in the busiest streets may end up being your safe haven.

I hope the home you occupy, whether it be the one you live in now or one you may come to find in the future, fills you from deep within with comfort, joy and love.

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