In follow up to my recent post Work, Life and Love Down Under I wanted to touch base with another dear friend who has also taken a similar journey so I could give you as readers a further perspective.
Brooke made the decision to go to Australia in 2011 following a previous three-month trip where she had fallen in love with the country. She had a burning passion to turn this into a much deeper experience, something more substantial and initially departed for a year but is still to return. The country has enticed her to stay a little longer.
As a close friend I know that there have been some ups and downs where the pull of her old life back in the UK has collided with the new path she is carving out in Oz. Therefore I hope that she might be willing to give us a unique insight into some of these challenges and some of the things to expect when making such a life altering decision.
Q: Starting at the beginning what was your initial education and training?
I left college and went to University to study for a BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies.
Q: What inspired you to work with children and pursue the career that you have done to date?
I originally wanted to train and be a dancer but after realising it was not the career path for me and discovering I had a back condition I looked at other options. I was always interested in pursuing a career path that involved working with people and in particular children.
Q: What were you doing prior to relocating to Australia and what did that job entail?
I worked as a Set-Up Leader for an educational charity based in London which involved:
- Setting up educational centres for under privileged children and young people.
- Managing multiple educational centres to ensure a high quality programme was delivered and maintained.
- Developing educational programs for children and young people.
Q: What do you do currently and what is it you love about what you do?
I am an Early Years Educator with the responsibility of leading a room of children aged 15 months to two years old at Just Kids Education House in Cairns, Australia.
I love that I get to work with such amazing children and families who make me laugh everyday... especially watching the children grow and develop and see their little personalities forming. I work at a unique type of day care here in Australia. We are all about making the child and parents' experience more like a home from home. The children don't wear any shoes when they are at the centre and we spend a lot of the day outdoors which I love. It's special what the outdoors does to a childs learning.
Q: Why the move overseas? What inspired you to take that leap?
I had previously travelled to parts of Australia in 2004 and always said I would come back to the country to live and work, in particular in Melbourne.
I was 30 about to turn 31 when I left the UK for Melbourne, Australia. Most of my friends were settling down getting married and having children. I had no commitments, other than my dear family and friends and I knew they would support me with whatever decision I made. I had one last opportunity to get a working holiday visa before I turned 31 and I decided to go for it. After all I had nothing to loose.
SCALING THE PEAKS:
Q: What have been the high points of relocating your life and work abroad?
Most definitely the lifestyle change and being able to explore more of Australia and the many delights it has on offer.
I have also really enjoyed reconnecting with Aussie friends that I made in London who came back to live in their home country and reconnecting with family that I have here.
It has also been great using my degree and expertise to have a fresh outlook on working with children. Gaining experience here in Australia that I could possibly never gain in the UK.
Q: What is it that you love about life overseas?
It's such a cliché thing to say in Australia having come from the UK but the weather is something I love about Australia and even more so now I'm living in the tropics of far North Queensland. Winter days here are just beautiful. In fact as I write this I am sat on my balcony, with a cool breeze and the sun shining at 28 degrees, 2pm in the afternoon on a Sunday.
I also really enjoy the work ethic and not taking life too seriously. It really is a ‘no worries’ way of life. I knew I was stuck in a bit of a rut living and working in London and I’ve come to realise that I wasn’t making enough time for myself. Since coming here I’ve grown to appreciate the more important things in life and what surrounds us.
Finally the people. They are so much more friendly, welcoming and laid back. Even in the supermarket they pack your bags at the check out and ask you how you are.
HITTING THE ROCKS:
Q: What have been the toughest challenges in the journey you have taken so far?
Applying for a second visa to remain longer in Australia but having it rejected and not knowing which direction to take at that time, that was very tricky and unsettling.
Of course being away from family and friends can be tough and some days you just want to arrange that next weekend or in a few weeks to see them for a real catch up but you can't. I’ve got used to it now and know how to best deal with it which helps.
Q: What have some of the harder times taught you for the future?
- To believe in yourself more and trust the decisions you make
- Take risks otherwise you will never know what lies ahead - if you don’t try how will you ever experience it
- To follow that long-term goal
- Be patient and persevere
- Listen to your gut
Q: What has this journey taught you about yourself so far?
Funny, because I kept coming back to this question.
I would say ultimately the journey has taught me that I am a risk taker and looking back reflecting how I was as a child/teenager, I would be the last person you would expect to leave my family and friends to live on the other side of the world. I won't lie and say its easy being away from my family and friends but what I’ve learnt is I have to live my life and this is how I chose to make a change for me and its definitely been for the better.
Q: What have been the biggest surprises?
Moving to a new state of Australia (Queensland) that has thankfully given me the opportunity to stay in the country and gain my permanent residency. I live in the tropics of far North Queensland and it literally is paradise. I never imagined this would happen to me for one second.
Gaining my permanent residency to remain in Australia.
Q: Do you have any tips, secrets or anecdotes you are happy to share with us about your adventure?
Enjoy every moment. Live, love and laugh!
Keep in regular contact with family and friends. Skype is amazing!
For that special instant touch of sending a message or picture you can't beat WhatsApp or Viber. I use group messenger on WhatsApp with my family and we all share what we are doing at weekends - me in Australia and them in the UK. It makes me feel a part of what is happening at home in the UK.
Take a second each day to remember what a huge decision this was - moving to the other side of the world - be proud of what you have achieved.
Finally, just be yourself!
Q: As part of each interview in this series I would like to delve a little further into the individual. Could you give us the lowdown on one relevant item/thing that has helped to inspire you on your journey? This could be a book, film, TV show, advert, song or anything that you feel has inspired you along the way and relates to what you do.
I read the ‘Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho before making the final decision to come to Australia. Whilst some of the book went over my head it was an inspirational read and it taught me that I could make this move to Australia and that if it didn’t work out then nothing was ever lost but experience only gained.
Friends and family who encouraged me to follow my dream and who have supported me every step of the way, despite being miles and miles apart from one another. Having people believe in you is so important.
DIRECTION AND ADVICE:
Q: What has been the most important thing you have learnt since leaving the UK?
The resilience and determination I have within myself. I feel this journey has boosted my self-confidence and given me a new direction in life.
Q: Are there any major no, no’s – pitfalls you would tell people to avoid?
I honestly can't think of any major no no’s other than make sure you choose carefully who you live with. I made the mistake of rushing into a house share and ended up having to leave after three months because the person I moved in with didn't turn out to be a very nice person! Time wasted I suppose but I learned from the experience.
Q: Are there any particularly useful resources out there for those interested in doing what you have done?
Go onto the Australian Immigration website to get up to date with the regulations of working and living here in Australia www.immi.gov.au
If you do decide to apply for a longer term visa then ensure your employer is clear on your expectations and get a good Immigration agent. Don’t try and apply by yourself (unless for the working holiday visa, which is easier to apply for and gains you that initial entry to Australia)
The first few months of moving overseas feels like an extended holiday and everything is fresh, new and very exciting! This novelty does wear off and of course you will have the highs and lows no matter what part of the world you live in. That’s life and it wouldn’t be an interesting one without those challenges. Meeting new people is important, either through work or people you live with. Make an effort to go to events, get togethers etc. when you get invited, put yourself out there. You never know who you might meet or what you will get out of that experience.
Have a Sunday session. In Australia they love a Sunday session down the pub! It might mean a sore head on Monday morning but it relaxes you for the start of the new working week and pushes those Sunday blues to one side. After all life is about taking time to enjoy yourself as well and taking a break from work when it is needed.
THE FINAL SWEEP:
Thank you to Brooke for her thoughtful insight into the journey that she has taken.
It is a brave risk to take to leave behind family and friends in search of a new life and new adventures. As a close friend it can be hard being so far away when someone close to you needs you. It redefines your relationship because you are no longer able to share things in quite the same way. Skype may make things slightly easier than in the past but it will never be quite the same as living just down the road.
Reading about Brooke's journey has helped me personally to understand why she has stayed overseas and what she has gained from such a life changing experience. I hope that if you are, or ever find yourself, in a similar situation that reading this might help you too.
I also hope that if you are considering making such a move yourself that maybe some of the great advice and tips shared by Brooke (and John in Interview #4) will inspire and help you with any questions that you are currently grappling with.
Whatever you choose and whatever path is right for you be brave and enjoy the thrill of the adventure!