From March 2020 Perth was in stage 4 lockdown. Living in Claremont up to that point, I had roommates, two sisters from Shri Lanka, sharing the second room in the apartment I was renting. As the lockdown started they decided to go back to live with their auntie, who was also in Perth. So I was alone.
Even thought the times were quite unsettling, I felt secure and at peace. I was able to receive some government support (as I had lost my job at the start of the Pandemic) and I had a decent home to stay at. I submerged into deep introspection about my life, and where do I want to be when this is all over.
WHY CHANGE MY WORK FIELD?
So far I had accumulated work experience of close to 5 years, from my job in Queensland at the Polish Community (OzPol) in Victoria at the Russian community (RusCare); which by the way closed down at the end of the year in 2019 – contributing to my decision to relocate to Western Australia. And in Perth I worked just for a few months, as lifestyle assistant before to lock down began.
One issue I always had with my work in residential aged care facilities is the work environment, more specifically with colleagues. Many people from India and other South Asian countries, who choose to study nursing only to make get the visa (Nursing is one of the most convenient and simple pathways to Australian Permanent Residency). At work, during night shifts I was several times harassed by male nurses, who are simply bored from their job and who don’t really care for the people. Most of these issues happened at the Russian community in Melbourne, and the management were not willing to do anything about it, though I went to speak to management a few times!
So it was this issue that lead me to decide to upgrade my qualifications. Having a degree in Psychology, I thought this was a good time to study.
WHY I CHOSE NOT TO STUDY IN AUSTRALIA?
Prices are very high. That’s straight forward. But also I had encountered much talk about ethics and cross cultural respect, but really the written rules don’t match to what is really happening. Students’ religious values are not respected and supervisors expect certain behaviours and answers that put a lot of unnecessary pressure. Causing a lot of stress and making students fail for silly reasons such as not supporting a certain theory or not making enough eye contact. Having experienced some of this myself and hearing more horror-study stories from my friends, I began to look for study overseas. I had a dream to live longer term in Lithuania, and I thought this was a great opportunity if I could apply for a Masters degree there.
WHY I LOVE AUSTRALIA
Australia was my home for 6 years, it still is. I love the cross-cultural experiences (as a true TCK!) and I love the nature. Working in the field of Mental Health self-care plays a huge part in providing quality service and balancing work and personal lives. The bond I feel with Australian nature can never be replaced. Also the mindset of people, especially those I met during my trip SOUTH WEST (see 5 YouTube videos in my channel) who were open and friendly to show their living spaces and share about their routines. I take example from them and hope one day to be able to give more to others even at the personal level.
I drew some mind maps and did some soul searching – discovering I really want to study and gain more knowledge and skills to work in the field of healthcare, specifically in mental health as my interest in the human mind and brain functioning has been around since I began my first year of study in Canada (when I was 18!). So 20 years later, I was here ready to go forward with it.
THE FLIGHT BACK
After being accepted to a Masters of Clinical Health Psychology (specialising in Neuropsychology) at the University of Lithuania, I felt more certain than ever, that this was the road for me. The only thing left to do was to get back!
STEPS HOW I RETURNED DURING PANDEMIC
- I bought the flights – I paid just over 1,200AUD.
- I applied for permission to leave Australia, receiving it 3 weeks before the flight; on grounds of not returning before 3 months after leaving.
- I gave away and sold most of my belongings (even the very useful things) to fit into a 40kg allowance. Though my hand luggage was never checked I was verbally told that the hand baggage is permitted up to 10kg (vs the 7kg that is written on the ticket) + 30kg checked bags.
- I prayed, because so much is outside my control. It seems in these times we can only estimate the final outcome of our steps, no matter how certain, how logical they seem. There is always an element of faith. Especially when you made decisions during a global pandemic!
Here is my video of the trip back home to Lithuania. With a stop over in Doha, Qatar and Helsinki, Finland – a place I promised myself to return to one day, to see the winter Auroras! 🙂
THE ISSUES OF TRAVEL DURING THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC
As you will see in the video: it was not all that enjoyable. Sometimes the mask in combination with the face-shield, made me really feel suffocated and as if I am about to have an anxiety attack. Most importantly we were told to wear them getting on and getting off the plane.
The airports are probably the most sterile places in the world now, honestly the air was so pure and there were very few people – everyone carefully avoiding each other!
THE FUTURE AND HOPES
Well let’s hope soon our world will heal. In the meantime, I will continue to make videos (maybe one per month) about the beautiful Lithuanian forests, hopefully seen from above though different seasons. I love already how our study timetable divided to and was discussed in terms of seasons: in spring you will learn… in the fall you will learn…
Currently it is the end of summer, and it will be my birthday next week! It will be a good opportunity to visit an old friend and a forest where I left a part of my soul.
From sunny Cape Le Grand National Park now right over to the secrets of the deep forest in this tiny Baltic State called Lithuania. The world is amazing and full of life – that mysteriously clicks from the life within our souls, leading to joy and fulfilment. How I wish everyone could feel that way.