I’m lost. 26 years old and I’m back at home living with my parents. My bank balance is in the negatives, my heart is a little bruised and my career is… well, let’s be honest – it’s on “hold” at the moment.

But I’m not your classic journalism graduate who couldn’t get work in the industry.

Nope, I actually got a cadetship with one of the biggest news companies in Australia months after completing my degree. By absolute fluke, I might add.

So why am I currently nestled between my oldies drinking camomile tea and watching the 7.30 report? I followed a gut feeling.

About two and a half years ago my instincts lead me to Berlin.

Yep, I quit my job as a reporter for an unpaid internship with an alternative magazine.

Was my gut feeling actually some bad beans I had eaten the night before? Or is this part of my journey in order to find myself and fulfill some kind of Hollywood romcom styled destiny? So far the jury is still out.

A few months out of university I landed a job in Alice Springs. It was a huge learning experience. I got to interview interesting people – which included some of my personal heroes – and experience the media world from the safety and the remoteness of the desert.

But I wasn’t ready. I was stressed out by a job I was extremely fortunate to get as I attempted to be an adult – which included ironing my work clothes. I’ve never had anything that required being de-crinkled, and I feel like once you ironed a seam into a pair of trousers – or wear trousers at all things are getting pretty serious – and I wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment.

Berlin

Monika at the Berlin Wall. Picture: Monika O’Hanlon

About 18 months after moving to The Red Centre I sold my car and bought a one way ticket to Germany.

Berlin was incredible. I had spent time there in my gap year and had already established a good group of friends. I lived in a small flat in Prenzlauer Berg and worked with the team of volunteers who were the heart and soul of the magazine. It was a simple existence but with good contacts I was able to experience the historical artistic melting pot of a city that is Berlin.

As Winter loomed and my funds continued to deteriorate I took a job in a wine bar in the Swiss Alps. The regulars consisted of billionaire oil merchants, Swiss royalty, pop stars and generally pretty wealthy people – so the tips were ridiculous.

Five months of snowboarding and pretty intense work paid off having accumulated a nice little amount of savings.

I traveled throughout Spring until I reached the Greek island of Ios where I worked for three months. I spent my days walking along the beach trying to convince hung over holidaymakers to buy scuba diving trips and jet boat adventures.

As Autumn began to settle in I once again hit the road making my way up through Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and eventually settling in London, where I was until October this year.
I dove into UK living head first. I worked with Brixton Radio, helped edit a documentary and sold flowers at markets.

But my main bread and butter income was as a teaching aid in a pupil referral unit – basically a school for naughty/troubled youths. I adored this job as it opened my mind and I learnt a whole new meaning of the word patience.

Although London stole my heart and opened up a whole new world to me, I must admit there were a few hardships.

The weather wasn’t great and rent was ridiculous – three times what I was paying in Australia.

Most importantly, I also experienced my first proper relationship.

After years of keeping my barriers up I let my guard down and allowed myself to fall in love with a British woman I met on Tinder.

I told my parents about my new relationship over Skype. Their reaction, although very supportive, confused me. They told me they had their suspicions but were happy for me.

The funny thing was, I thought I had been very open about my “fluid” sexuality since I was 18… So without realising it I had come out, too.

You can see videos of Monika’s adventures here, or follow her on Twitter

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