lauren fritskyFor the past year I've been a Lemondrop blogger, and one of my regular columns has been "How I Did It," where I interviewed women doing unusual or extraordinary things.

Well, this past January, I decided to embark on my own "How I Did It." I picked up my life and moved to Sydney, Australia, on a work/holiday visa. Now that I'm settled in, I'll be reporting on my life and escapades down under.

How it came about
A little more than a year ago, my life was headed down a very different path. I lived in Philadelphia, had a long-term boyfriend, a good job as a magazine editor, and a house. Things seemed good, but I really wasn't happy. I wound up breaking up with my boyfriend, and six months later I was laid off from my job. Both events, though extremely hard, turned out to be blessings in disguise.

It was around August that I started contemplating a move. I'd been in Philly for the past nine years and was ready for someplace new. I've traveled around Europe, Mexico and Canada and seen much of the U.S., but I really wanted a chance to immerse myself in another culture for longer than a week or two.

I'd heard about the Australian work and holiday visa through a blogger who'd applied for it. You needed to be between 18 and 30, have (or be working toward) a college degree, and promise to obtain your own insurance. You also need to bring at least $4,500 ($5,000 AUD) overseas.

Other than that, the visa allows you to travel the country and work for up to six months with one employer. Despite having never been to Australia and knowing no one there, the visa's flexibility was appealing.

Going for it
Figuring I had nothing to lose, I applied for the visa. Without telling anyone, I filled out the online application (which asked for my passport, education information and vital statistics) and paid the $230 processing fee. At least if I was denied, I could cross someplace off my list. Within 12 hours, I was accepted.

I spent the next four months telling family and friends (most were very supportive), saving money, selling my belongings and deciding where exactly I wanted to settle; it was between Melbourne and Sydney. I picked Sydney.

Prepping for a trip of a lifetime
When my lease ended in early December, I moved home with my family in New Jersey to save money and prepare for my trip. I had to get my own health insurance and a phone that works in Australia (my trusty flip phone, alas, would not), plus book accommodations.

I decided to stay in a hotel the first two nights, followed by a hostel at Bondi Beach (which is just outside of Sydney) while looking for an apartment. For income, I planned on living off my freelance writing and the money I'd saved up, though I considered getting a part-time gig to supplement and meet people.

This was a huge move, and I knew I'd miss my family and friends. But it's the type of adventure I'd been envisioning for a while, and I just knew I'd have a blast.

I'll be writing about my time down under both here at Lemondrop and at my personal blog, The Life That Broke. My next post will be about how I found the apartment I now call home. I hope you'll enjoy learning about things like Vegemite, dingoes and footy along with me. If you have any questions about How I Did It or if there are specific things you want to ask, leave it in the comments below. Thanks!