My name is Joe Varghese George and I have been living in Sydney for close to 6 years now. I have to take a deep breath when people here ask me where I’m from as I prepare to elaborate. I know my skin colour gives away my Indian decent but I also know that peoples lack of knowledge of the part of the world I’m from can throw them off with what I’m about to say next. So I don’t wait around to risk misjudgment and begin my longer-than-needed explanation that starts with the fact that I was born and raised in a place called Qatar. For the ones that have a confused look at this point or the Oh-yeah-I’ve-heard-Calcutta look, I have to clarify that it’s not Calcutta but rather a separate country, an Arab one, close to Dubai. And usually after the utterance of the name Dubai, everyone starts feeling at ease and that we’re making progress. From there I move on to clarify that I’m not Arab but I am originally from India. In fact, I come from a state called Kerala in the south of India. It is sooo beautiful that you have to look it up soon after reading this.
I chose to come study at the University of New South Wales after my high school. To me it was an exciting prospect. Living life on my own terms, growing into a real man, going to this fascinating new place and meeting new people, were all the fun things I was looking forward to as an 18 year old. The first year went by so quickly. I enjoyed the thrill of being challenged with many things that I never had to do before like finding my own place to live, managing my own expenses and COOKING! Not everything was rosy all the time. In fact, I got ganged up on and beat up by a bunch of teens one day while trying to mug me in my first visit to the city. It was all so new to me, you know this attacking-you-in-public thing. I came from Qatar, I’d believed the number of educated people in Australia was more than that in Qatar, yet I had never experienced such behaviour over there. I was left traumatized for a while after that incident. But soon after I got a job in the city, a night shift at that. It helped me slowly overcome my fears and to be bolder and better prepared to act if it ever happened again. And I guess it brings me to the best part of living in a new country all by yourself….it is the realization that life moves on and you can chose to curl up in fear or overcome it and keep up and move on to better days. Since I knew I couldn’t afford to do the former, I had to start moving again. Yeah trust me that took many moments of being stuck, being scared and being alone, feeling far from home, to be this bold. I’m grateful for all of it.
Anyway, after my first year in Sydney I went back to visit my family and other important people and I must admit it was difficult to go back to living on my own, at least on the flight back it felt terrible. But I knew that I had things to get done so I kept at it. So, through many dangers, toils and snares, I finally got over with Uni… the reason I’d come to Sydney, and I had a choice to make of what was next for me. But I soon realized that I had found a home, away from home. In fact, I’m still confused of where “home” is. I realized that over these 6 years I’ve made some great friends that I can see myself doing life with. I’ve realized that when you let yourself to be vulnerable, you find friends. You find family. Over the course of events I had to really define my beliefs and something that was important to me…I had to ask myself who God was to me and how I really saw him. I had to taste God for myself and I can say honestly, how good he has been! I’ve become my own person in Sydney, albeit my foundations were shaken and re-cast. As cliché as it sounds, I found myself. I know more about me today, than I would have ever known in the comfort of my home.
Soooooooooooo…. The big finish! Get out there while you are still young! If anything, we grow! Why not grow with some great experiences, good and bad. Experiences that make you think about the way you see others; Experiences that make you think who about you want to be; Experiences that make you appreciate life and the people in it. So I say to anyone contemplating moving out beyond your borders, whatever that may be to you, be excited about new things, excited about discovering new places, discovering new people and more interestingly discovering yourself in the process. These experiences open up your mind to see things differently. So I say to you, in the words of princess Elsa, let it go….let it go…don’t hold back any more.