Hands up those who did their OE in the 60s and 70s? Our tastes may have changed but our love of the new is just as strong.
Reflecting on the Big OE
The draw of London’s fashion scene, the music and the shopping were what drove many of us. Having grown up through the visit of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953, the numerous stories of the royals and the history of the Empire gave a sense of needing to know ‘where we came from’.
Looking back now, taking off alone on an ‘overseas experience’ was a major undertaking that wasn’t without a little fear and trepidation. The mode was primarily by plane, with endless stopovers, or by ship which took up to eight weeks.
What a learning curve that was! Many will have stories to tell of experiences, both good and bad, relationships, both good and bad, and the homesickness. Remember, it was letter, telegram or expensive toll calls from a red phone booth - often reversed charges - and it wasn’t cheap living in London. No mobile phones, no Skype.
Our OE experiences shaped us and were, in some cases, life changing. Then came the marriage and families. Buying houses and filling them with furniture, buying a car and if you were lucky a trip away for a few weeks over Christmas and the school holidays. Then the oil crisis of the 70’s put paid to any thoughts of another trip overseas for many years.
Enjoying the here and now
The kids have left home, and many of us are grandparents. A huge number of us are still working and we are itching to get out there and embrace those parts of the world currently safe enough to visit. The travel wish list generated back in the 1980s and 1990s has been whittled back by wars, revolutions and dam building.
How priorities have changed - maybe paying off the mortgage isn’t as important as it used to be, keeping up with the Jones certainly isn’t. What has become important is to experience life and visit as many countries and cultures of the world as we can possibly squeeze in while we are fit, healthy, and continue to hold jobs that help pay for it.