Andrea Agrotis in Melbourne
I am a Girl Gone International because...
wanderlust is embedded in my genetic code. I am excited by cultural discovery and love learning about (and from) people of different backgrounds, ages, and walks of life.
Where do you live or where are you right now and why?
Melbourne; because home is where the heart (and Husband) is.
How has GGI affected or impacted your life or the lives of others?
GGI has had a positive impact on my life and, I believe, the lives of all its membership base. It has given us a global place to call 'home' where we can interact with other like-minded women, and grow as people through exposure to different cultures, ideals, experiences. GGI is definitely not for the narrow-minded!
How did you get involved with Girl Gone International?
I came across GGI completely by accident when I was browsing Meetup, looking to join a local book club. I joined the Melbourne group and a week later received notification that the current CM was stepping down and was looking for her replacement. I applied, and the rest is history. Everything happens for a reason, as they say!
What it is like living in your city as a GGI (ups and downs)?
Melbourne is perhaps one of the warmest cities in the world in terms of how it welcomes "foreigners". This is greatly attributed to the fact that it is a truly multicultural city - hundreds of different nationalities happily and peacefully coexist in Melbourne. It has been voted the world's most liveable city three years running! Melbournians are a friendly bunch. They'll greet you with a smile while walking down the street, strike up conversations with complete strangers on public transport, and are always happy to give guidance to a lost tourist. This goes a long way towards making a newbie feel at home in this city. Moving to a new city is always exhilarating. Getting to know the natives, however, can be daunting especially for the shyer personality types. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are normal when you don't know anyone and the landscape is unknown, begging the question 'where do people even go'? Melbourne is also a very expensive place to live. Finding affordable accommodation, part-time or full-time employment, learning where to shop good food at reasonable prices - these are all challenges.
And that's where GGI comes in! It's always nice to know there is a friendly face in the crowd.
Knowing what you know now, about this lifestyle, about the world and yourself. What would you go back and tell your younger self?
Travel as far and as wide as you possibly can. Immerse yourself in as many experiences as you can. Life is not meant to be lived in one place.
What are your thoughts on 'settling down'?
'Settling down' means different things to different people. For me, settling down meant committing to marriage and a stable 'base', but it doesn't stop me from doing what I want/need - it just makes it a little more challenging as I have to consider the needs of someone other than myself, and make decisions based on what is best for both of us rather than just myself. Compromises are made but as long as the benefits outweigh the rest, these are compromises I'm happy to make.
What does 'home' mean to you?
'Home' is the space where you feel the most comfortable being yourself. You do not have to put on a persona to please anybody. You are free, joyous, grounded, and at peace. Home could be a city, a house, a person. You'll know it when you've found it.
Any thoughts on friendship and making friends as a Girl Gone International?
Keep an open mind when meeting new people. Don't stereotype or pigeonhole people based on your perceptions. Be open to their conversations and actions. Some may surprise you. Everyone you meet has something to teach you. Eventually, your tribe will find you.