I have always loved home, which made leaving all the more difficult. While the home I grew up in was never big or particularly impressive, it was my safe space. I never liked sleepovers as a child because I hated waking up anywhere apart from my own bed. I cried when we went on holiday because all I wanted was to stay within the warm familiarity of home. It was where I felt understood and seen by family, protected from the outside world. In a world where women, and particularly young women, are often made to feel unsafe in public spaces, this sense of security was paramount.
When the time came to leave my home in Geneva, Switzerland for my university studies in Melbourne; to pack up my things and move to the other side of the world, I was unsurprisingly devastated. I cried the whole way there.
Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite on Unsplash.
Leaving home can be incredibly daunting, no matter how far you’re moving. The emotional fallout of leaving the nest is always going to be difficult. It’s normal to have feelings of anguish, grief or terror, before and after the big move—especially as a young woman navigating the injustices still inherent in institutions, workplaces, and all the other things that come with entering adulthood. Moving can destabilise the strategies a young woman might have to cope with the everyday risks they face. When you no longer know which streets are safest, which route gets you home the quickest and have no friends nearby to call, moving can feel a lot more intimidating. Being alone in a new place as a young woman certainly comes with its own set of risks and difficulties, but it is important to learn how to overcome these and make the most out of a new experience.
When you no longer know which streets are safest, which route gets you home the quickest and have no friends nearby to call, moving can feel a lot more intimidating.
There are many ways to handle these overwhelming feelings and embrace the new life you are starting. When I moved from Geneva to Melbourne for my undergraduate degree, I initially found it very difficult. I knew no one in Melbourne and felt incredibly alone without the support of my family and friends. This was only heightened by COVID, as the distance between us felt insurmountable. When 5 kilometres away feels like a whole other country, the other side of the world feels even further away. This is where Facetime definitely came in handy! While my screen-time may have skyrocketed, that time I spent on video calls to my parents kept me connected to my life at home. Being able to see familiar faces, even if only through my phone, was a massive help in overcoming the difficulties of moving out. Keeping in touch with family and friends is crucial to ease the distance and maintain those valued relationships.
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However, I have also learnt that it is important to focus on your new life. This article highlights multiple strategies, including getting involved in activities in your new area, making an effort to meet new people and creating a new schedule. All of these strategies can help you feel more connected to the place you’ve moved to and elevate your mood. They can also enable you to feel safer and more confident in your environment, as you begin to create a new support system and familiarise yourself with your new home. Directing your attention to the new opportunities available in your area can also be beneficial. You never know the directions your new life may take you.
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For me, moving out of home and creating a new life enabled me to grow as a person. Meeting new people and learning new things allowed me to explore different aspects of my personality and develop new areas of interest. For example, while I had always been interested in feminism, my newfound independence helped evolve this into a passion. Through the conversations I was having and my experiences moving out as a young woman, I discovered that I cared deeply about the feminist issues at play in our society, and the everyday dangers women face. I started going to women’s marches and protests, picked up gender studies at university and actively sought out opportunities to participate in gender activism.
Through the conversations I was having and my experiences moving out as a young woman, I discovered that I cared deeply about the feminist issues at play in our society, and the everyday dangers women face.
As a young woman, moving out of home to a new city helped me realise the importance of feminism in our society, and the ways in which I can participate in furthering the causes I care about. By learning to be independent, I realised the power I have and my individual ability to engage with societal issues. As this article explains, moving is ultimately an identity-changing process. If I had stayed at home, I don’t know if feminism would have played such a large role in my life.
Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash.
At the end of the day, you just need to give it time. As you settle into new routines with new people, time will turn that grief into excitement and joy. As my life in Melbourne began to take shape, I made friends, learnt new things and discovered the area I was living in. I soon realised that I had turned this place into a home as well. Just like that, what had seemed an insurmountable challenge suddenly became a wonderful opportunity, and I was glad I had left, despite how much I missed my family. When it came time to go back to my family home for the winter holidays, I actually cried leaving Melbourne… Who would have thought!
Lucie has just started her first year of the Juris Doctor at the University of Melbourne, after finishing her Bachelor of Arts Degree. During her undergraduate degree she majored in Gender Studies, an area of great interest to her. She hopes to continue working to encourage gender equality and activism in the future. Lucie is also a volunteer at the Victorian Women’s Trust.