My time in Canada, although sssooo long ago, changed me so much from the school girl I was, it pushed me to be independent, to say what I wanted/needed and taught me the life lesson of dealing with grief. Though let me assure you of one thing... I don't regret this experience, not one minute of it.
I'd only been away from my parents for 2-3 weeks consecutively, at the most, my whole life and so there I was moving to Canada alone, all because I didn't know what to do when I finished school. I'm so grateful to my parents for giving me that opportunity and for supporting me through the experience, even though I came back more confused.
I went from having only ever lived on our large family farm, a good 15/20 minutes from the nearest town, to moving to another, more isolated, farm in Canada at only just 17. It was so scary leaving my family behind and going to live with a family I'd never met and probably had only spoken on the phone maybe twice. But it was something I wanted and really getting away from childish things of school was exactly what I needed.
So my time there was super emotional, firstly because I had to get over the hurdle of being homesick and secondly for the enormous loss everyone there, including myself, suffered just days before I left.
The family I lived with became a part of me, almost as much as my own family, and they did everything for me during that time that my parents would have normally done. I love them so very much and although we don't talk often, I feel we have a relationship and bond so strong that you know you are there for one another, no matter what. They treated me as their 3rd daughter, and I them as my parents, and so when there was conflict between Meagan and I, we were told to sort it out ourselves, which worked perfectly and I considered her to be my 3rd sister.
For the most of my trip, I lived as a normal teenager just in a different country, going to school, making friends, hanging out, some underage drinking and exploring life, which included a bit of exploring Canada. All great fun and has lead me back to Canada on 2 occasions, one to further exploring and the other for a good friend's wedding.
I don't know how to add this in and so best to just spit it out... Just days before I left, my new sister, my closest friend, in Canada, died suddenly in a car accident. I'll admit I was in shock for days, if not weeks and it didn't feel real for many years. For my family there it was obviously far more traumatic, they had to rush home (a 5hr drive away), but not before setting up plans and things to do for me to ensure my last few days were fun, exciting and filled. I look back now and wonder where they got the strength from to do all of it.
When I returned to Australia, my mum flew to Sydney for only 4 hrs to meet me off the plane, to help get on the plane back to Perth, full well knowing I wouldn't be able to do it alone. I will probably say this a lot, but my parents are amazing and so supportive, and this was the very first time I realised how much.
I can admit now that it took me 4 years to realise how much this affected me, had made me grow up and understand that family isn't about blood, it's about love and acceptance.