I went travelling for a year, now Australia is my home

By Grainne McCool (@GrainneMcCool)

Shauna McColgan hails from Ardmore, Muff in Co. Donegal. Third in a family of four girls, she comes from a very close knit home. One that everyone in the community knows and loves.

The four siblings can often be seen out in the local pub ‘Pig wee bar’ or more often on the local footie pitch. You don’t often see one of the sisters without seeing at least two, and regularly, all four.

In October 2013, the family dynamics changed. Shauna decided she wanted to see a bit of the world and took the decision to visit Australia for a year.

“I left home in October 2013 to travel and see a bit of the world” she said.

I can’t really remember why I chose Australia, it was partly a challenge from a friend wanting to see if I could do it.

The challenge it posed for Shauna was not that it entailed going to the other end of the world, it was more so that she was leaving her three sisters, Mum and Dad behind. That’s no mean feat for anyone, and certainly not for this young lady.

“I remember believing that I would only last three weeks and so I got an open return ticket, just in case”, she laughs.

“The original plan was to just go for a year, see the sites: Home and Away, Finding Nemo etc.” She had her priorities in order!

Now into her third year in Australia, what changed for Shauna?

“I fell in love with a cute Dublin guy! My plans changed from just being the tourist to making a life here now”, she says.

gerry and shauna
Shauna with her boyfriend Gerry

Shauna did come home over Christmas 2014 and spent a few months with her family and friends. She says it was very hard to leave the first time but

There was the excitement of doing something new. Coming form a very close family though meant it was hard to think you were going to be away, missing the normal day to day things and most especially the babies growing up.

Shauna’s sister Michelle has four children whom Shauna says she misses with all her heart.

When she left that first time her sister Michelle, and her best friend Leonie were both pregnant.

“On my first week in Australia Leonie also got engaged. Life goes on when you’re not there but it’s strange when these are the kind of things you never thought you’d miss when at home. Skype and What’s App make things a lot easier. We even have a family group on messenger so I don’t miss any of the goings on at home!”

Was leaving the second time around any easier for Shauna?

I didn’t find it any easier to say goodbye second time around. This time I wasn’t leaving to travel and see the world. This time I was going to set up home in Australia. I keep telling myself I’m just two flights from home so technically I’m not that far away.

So just what does this lady from the small village of Muff in North West Donegal miss about home. “I miss everybody from home: family, friends, I miss them all. I miss going to the local with everyone. I miss heading to the football on a Sunday. I miss going to Spar in the village and having the craic with the girls. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I miss the Irish chocolate, crisps, sweets and the good old fashioned ‘chippie’. Home is home.”

Shauna is currently working as a Supervisor in a bar in the heart of Melbourne City. She says she loves her job and the laid back lifestyle she lives in Melbourne.

“The weather of course is very attractive. We live just one hour from the Gold Coast with its miles of beaches. There are theme parks, water parks and so much more.” This is certainly a far cry from the village of Muff.

So will she return any day soon? “Gerry, my boyfriend is my reason for still being here. We definitely see ourselves coming home one day but at present the opportunities are better here. We haven’t set a time-line as plans always change.”

Shauna certainly seems settled in Melbourne for the time being?

Yes. There’s always something do do here – day markets, night markets. There’s so much going on. Gerry has been here 10 years now and is involved in the local Gaelic team. There’s a very big Irish community here who are very helpful and look out for each other.

The community and family at home never forget this lady. Her sisters and parents bring her along on family outings in the giant cardboard cut-out they have made of her.

Shauna cardboard
Cardboard Shauna on her trip to Dublin

Just last summer cardboard Shauna was spotted behind a tree in Dublin with her sisters! Shauna may be on the other side of the world, but she’s never far from everyone’s hearts. Muff has only loaned this lady to Melbourne. Home will welcome her back when that time is right.


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