Every year, thousands of working holiday makers, backpackers and other travellers fly to Australia and have a great time in the land Down Under. But one thing that’s rarely mentioned is the situation of visitors who are disappointed in Australia, miss their family and friends and would like to go home. We wanted to talk about this as this also concerns quite a few people.
After all, it’s never easy to leave your loved ones behind and travel to the other side of the world, especially when you don’t know anybody there and don’t have a job when you arrive.
Here are a few testimonies from fellow backpackers who were very disappointed with their experience in Oz:
When I landed in Sydney, I hated the place from day one. I thought there was zero cultural life, and that the place was incredibly shallow and superficial. Yes, the opera and bridge are nice, but the rest of the city is actually quite drab and ugly, with sprawling, dirty suburbs where there’s nothing to do. I’m not even talking about the rainy weather, overpriced cost of living and the lockout law that makes the city so dead at night… Give me the buzz of London anytime over Sydney.
James, 25, from the UK
I didn’t think I’d miss my family so much when I moved to Australia. I didn’t know anybody in Perth and felt so lonely in that small city lost in the middle of the desert. I tried to make friends, but Aussies didn’t seem to want to spend time with a German girl. The worse was Christmas. I missed a white, snowy Christmas with my family. Instead, I spent Christmas on a very hot, humid summer day in a crowded pub with drunk revellers. Overall, I thought Australian cities all looked the same, and I missed the beauty and history of Europe.
Regina, 18 years old, from Germany
I worked in Queensland as a fruit picker for 2 months, and I was yelled at constantly. Our boss told me my English was very bad, and that Australia wasn’t the place for me. At the end of the two months, he didn’t pay all the money he owed me. I thought Australian society was very greedy and that backpackers are often treated like second class citizens.
Sonia, 22, from Italy
People had told me that Melbourne would be the best city ever, but I hated it. It was full of pretentious hipsters, with lots of ugly graffiti everywhere, and it didn’t feel safe at all. I’ve witnessed quite a few fights and muggings around St Kilda and couldn’t wait to get away. To me, Melbourne is like Manchester Down Under. Depressing, gritty, with very bad weather. Why would I want to spend so much money to move there?
Kerry, 21, from the UK
Again, a working holiday visa in Australia can be a great adventure for many people. But I believe it’s important to talk about negative experiences too, as the media tend to depict Australia as the land of milk and honey, where everything is always great and perfect for everybody. Potential travellers to Australia must know that not everything always goes to plan, and that they have to be ready for any eventuality.
Now, what should you do when your experience in Australia isn’t going like you expected, and you really want to leave everything behind and go back home?
1. Put things in perspective:
Feeling down and wanting to go home? You should put things in perspective. Remember the reasons why you wanted to go on a working holiday in Australia: You wanted to travel, discover a new culture, make friends, and see if you can be independent and take care of yourself. Don’t forget that you’re only going to spend one year in Australia, and that it’s going to go very fast. After that, you can go back home if you want to. Australia isn’t a prison where you have to stay forever!
2. Keep in touch with your family and friends:
The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself because you feel depressed, and stop calling your family and friends back home. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone when you feel down, or have a chat on Skype or Facetime to see these faces you miss so much! You should keep the communication with your loved ones alive, it will help elevate your mood when you’re fed up with your working holiday.
3. Try to make new friends:
Staying in a backpackers’ hostel? Don’t wait for other people to talk to you or organize fun activities. You should be the one instigating these things. Smile to people, be friendly, and you’ll make new friends easily. You should also visit websites such as Meetup, Craigslist or Facebook to meet people who have the same interests as you. If at all possible, try to not always make friends with people from your own country. Making friends with Aussies is the best way to understand the local culture and improve your English if it isn’t your first language.
4. Move to another city:
You don’t like Sydney? Why not move to Brisbane to see if it’s any better? Dislike Melbourne? Why not give Perth a try? Don’t forget the word holiday in Working holiday visa. This word means that you’re in Australia to discover this beautiful, huge country and travel all over it. If you don’t like where you are, move on! 🙂
5. Report indecent behaviours and scammers:
If you feel like you’re being exploited or abused, you should report this situation straight away. Don’t keep it for yourself. Do speak up!
- Check websites like Fair Work Australia to see what’s the minimum wage in your sector
- Contact fair work Australia if you have questions or if you realise you’re being exploited
- If your employer does anything illegal (assault you, ask you for sexual favors etc.), don’t hesitate to tell people around you and to contact the local police
You should never accept this type of behaviour, and you should be paid the right amount of money for your hard work. Report these things and get the local authorities to help you so that you can enjoy the rest of your working holiday in Australia.
6. Make a list of all the positive things you gained:
Instead of ruminating on why you don’t like Australia and want to go home, you should try to make a list of all the positive things your adventure Down Under helped you gain. Maybe you’ve already become more independent? Maybe you made new friends, or even met a boyfriend/girlfriend? Or what about this wallaby you petted the other day, or this cute, colorful parakeet that sings on your balcony every morning? Do you think these amazing things would have happened back home?
7. Don’t be too nostalgic about your own country:
Sometimes, when you miss home and your family and friends, you tend to criticize Australia and look at your hometown with rose-tinted glasses. But you shouldn’t forget that you’re lucky to be in Oz, as many people would like to be in your position. Chances are, Australia is a much more stable country than your own, with more personal security and job opportunities. Think about it!
8. Try to stay calm:
Take a deep breath, and start meditating. Or pick up your favorite book or video game to relax. You should learn to be zen, even in the most stressful or frustrating situations. Maybe you could start taking yoga classes, or learn a martial art? This can really help you enjoy your adventure Down Under. My personal tip: try to live for the moment by practicing mindfulness. this book is great to fight anxiety
9. Be outdoorsy, and try new things:
If you feel lonely and you miss your family and friends, you should do like the locals: get out for a big walk and enjoy the Australian sun! Staying indoors and binge-eating or drinking too much is a really bad idea. Try to be sporty, and go for a walk, a run, or a swim. This will release endorphines in your body, hormones that will make you feel better. Australia is the perfect country to be outdoorsy, and it’s so beautiful that you’ll be taking lots of pictures along the way! Your working holiday is also a great opportunity to try new things. Why not get your driving license? Or go skydiving, or learn to snorkel in the ocean? By keeping busy and living an adventurous life in Australia, you won’t have time to feel depressed.
10. If you’re really unhappy and can’t stand it anymore, fly back home:
As a last resort, if you’re severely depressed or in a bad situation financially, you can fly back home. Of course, I believe it would be great if you stuck it out to see if things get better, but if your working holiday Australia is a disaster, you should leave without feeling ashamed about it. Leaving everything to fly to Australia can be stressful, and it’s not for everybody. You should never feel bad because you didn’t stay longer. This is your life, and you have the right to do whatever you want. My advice to working holiday makers and backpackers is to always have enough money on the side to buy a plane ticket in case of an emergency.
Are you a working holiday maker? Check our Ultimate Backpacker Packing List For Australia.