A few years back Jessica Chalmers — ie. Elenore, made the move from country Victoria to the bright lights of Melbourne.
Chasing down dreams in The Big Smoke. A trek as old as time and something that unites countless country kids. In this essay, Elenore details what it’s like to make the move.
Apparently that’s what country people say after they’ve finished rounding up the sheep according to the city kids. Being the country girl is pretty funny, and to be honest I did have to round up sheep a lot as a child.
I grew up on about 50 acres of land with sheep, alpacas (getting spit on, not ideal), chickens, dogs and natural wildlife being right next to a national park. We could walk for two minutes and feel like there was no one around for miles. So moving to a bedroom in a house of strangers with no backyard, friends or family was tough to say the least.
I decided to move straight after school at 17 to pursue my dream (and also just to get out of the country town life) and I jumped straight into a Bachelor of Music. I was still uncertain of what field in music to take (music theatre, singer/songwriter…) but I just wanted to crack on and get started on something. I also didn’t want to miss my chance of making friends with people of a similar age to myself. But I ended up bungling that anyway as I was missing home so much, so I would visit almost every weekend. This kind of screwed my chances of solidifying friendships with any one at uni and I really dug myself into the ‘random country girl’ hole even further. I was so torn because none of my friends had moved to Melbourne so I knew that I had to make new ones but I also didn’t want to tarnish those original friendships. It sucked.
Even though I was studying music, I struggled musically in the beginning. I was so used to playing a real piano at home and singing as loudly as I wanted and I knew that I wasn’t disturbing anyone. However, moving into a share house with strangers meant that I was tip toeing around the others and I didn’t want to disturb them with my playing, especially when I would repeat the same thing over and over (probably with some frustration profanity). Eventually after moving a couple of times across the next years I got more and more comfortable with the people that I was living with, to now where I just sing as loud as I want and hope they enjoy it.
I now absolutely love where I live, who I live with, my friends and Melbourne in general but it took a long time. I’m so thankful that I did push through the hard years because I have been privileged to so many more opportunities here than I would have back home. If I did it over again or tried to handle it differently, I would definitely push to make solid friendships early on. It was remedial to go home so often, and I was lucky to be able to do so, but I think I should have tried to build a Melbourne family earlier, so I didn’t feel so alone for so many years. I think finding a Melbourne based remedy would have been so helpful as well, such as going for a beach walk (20 minutes away compared to 2 hours) rather than going all the way home when I missed the open air. While I do still miss the space of the country and I don’t think an apartment could ever compare, I love Melbourne and am so thankful to live here.