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Sydney, Australia
Una arquitecto en construcción de un nuevo proyecto de vida...

viernes, 14 de junio de 2013

Being used to living in Australia

There are many phases that a migrant goes through when moving into another country until they can say that they have adapted themselves totally to it. To get there you have to embrace and adapt to the culture, to the regulations and policies, to the people, and to the fact that you're not in your country of origin.

All of this doesn't sound that difficult, in fact it seems quite obvious... And it is. However, it takes time to accomplish.

In this post I'm only discussing the last one: realising you're not in your country of origin.

There are a few characteristics that I've noticed in me and in others that scream out: ok, we live in Australia, and that's embedded in us.

1.- Looking  to the right: it gets a point that when crossing the street you just don't look to your left anymore. It

becomes natural looking to the right and expecting cars to come that way... And you really get a hold on this when you travel overseas and try to cross a street and notice that everyone is going the other way (and that's what you thought when you got to Oz); and you look directly to the right, even get conscious about the fact that you have to look to the other side because cars come from the left, and even after that, you look to the left and get surprised because a car is coming that way!!!

2.- Saying "here in Australia": when you arrive to Australia and you refer to things of your country, unconsciously we say "here in Vzla" or "here in Caracas" and just notice that "here" is no longer there, but "here" is Sydney; but you keep saying that because its what you're used to and what unconsciously "here" is for you. After a time (and it can be very long), your unconscious "here" shifts to become Australia. You also notice that really clearly when you're abroad and when talking about Oz, you say "here in Oz".

3.- "I come from Australia": I still haven't got to this fully, but when people ask you where are you from or where do you come from, eventually your answer is: "from Oz". Right now I'm still in an in-between, I answer to that question "I'm originally from Venezuela, but I live in Sydney".

4.- Being innocent: there comes a time when you forget all of your previous bad experiences from your origin country regarding safety, and start feeling relaxed (and innocent): you leave your bag on the chair and leave the table to get something, you go to the beach and go for a swim leaving all your stuff on the sand without even looking back, you talk to any stranger without worrying, and so on and on.

5.- Loud people and noises: us Latin-American are really loud people, and we are really used to having a lot of noise around us. Well, even if we are still loud  under Aussie standards, you get to a point where loud people and loud noises annoy you. I noticed this also overseas, in Greece, walking around and realising that I was thinking and complaining in my mind of the loudness of people.

I could continue on and on about other little details such as the beep of the pedestrian traffic lights when you want to cross, the cars stopping BEFORE the pedestrian limit line, the not-touching culture, the kindness and politeness... And on and on...

... The thing is that it's really nice when you notice that Oz is not only the place where you live, but that it's your home, and that it's embedded in you.

viernes, 10 de mayo de 2013

One year and some months later...

After a lot of months that I haven't been writing here in my blog, I'm taking a break from work (yes, I'm working now, in a paper that is due on Monday) to really synthesise my life in this year and some months of my life in Oz.

Professional life - job: As you already know, I'm one of the lucky and particular cases of a migrant who found a good job within the firsts 3 months after arriving... and yes, in this year, I've found out that that's a very uncommon thing to happen. But, I'm not going to repeat how I got the job (post 1 + post 2). The only thing I'm saying is that I just love it.

Place to live: Well, as you know I was looking for a place after I arrived. Well, to make it short, I found a fabulous flatmate through Gumtree (you can find almost anything there). She is a czech girl, around my age, and we lived together until about 2 months ago. For reasons I won't go into here, on 1 March I moved into a fantastic place in Randwick. That was the area I wanted to move in since a long time ago, really close to the beach and really close to the city. As soon as I got into my new place (during the inspection) it felt perfect, it felt like home. Getting a place here in Sydney is neither easy nor cheap, even more in Randwick, but is totally worth the effort.

Relationships - friends: Not much to say... not only have I had awesome friends since I arrived (friends I met in Venezuela during the migration process), but also I have met some terrific people... friends that have become family. 

Relationships - partner: This part has 2 sides of it. I'm sure you remember when I started the migration process I was married, and then that I got separated. Well, about that side of the story, the conclusion is that currently we're good friends, and we just got our divorce (we did all the paperwork here in Sydney - a lot easier than in Venezuela). The other side of this topic is the pretty one. In this year and so I got an incredible boyfriend. We met in that trip to Canberra that I mentioned in a previous post. He's a venezuelan, though I never imagined I'd end up with a venezuelan here, he's my age and IT. Besides that I only have to say that I'm completely happy :D

Relationships - family: Since I got here I haven't seen my family rather than on skype. Everyone asks me when I'm going back to Venezuela to see them, and my answer always is: I don't know, I don't want to go back, not even for holidays. So, that leaves the question: what about my family? All I know and care for now is that in a couple of months my mummy is going to be here for a while :D

The language: Bfffffff... what can I say???? The longer I'm here, the more I feel I have TONS to learn!!!!... Somedays are super fluent, somedays I feel I cannot even say "Hello"... so, yes, you get a lot better in your speaking, listening, writing and reading while being here, and at the same time you realise, as I already said, all the room you still have to improve.

Other activities - living: Besides hanging out with friends, going to tons of events, and doing outdoors things most of the times, the most relevant thing I'd like to share with you is that this year I became a Surf Livesaver. Yes, I can rescue people on the beach :D... after a long and hard training I became a member of Maroubra Surf Live Saving Club, which is an organisation associated to Surf Live Saving Australia. This is the largest volunteer institution in Australia, and it's a HUGE deal of aussie lifestyle. This is as aussie as it can get.

So to synthesise: this year has been filled with ups and downs (thankfully a lot more ups), and living in Australia, and specifically Sydney, has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I know (I'm really aware) that not all cases are the same, and that I've been really lucky, but living here is a wonderful thing to do. This country has provided me a lot of opportunities and happiness, hence I see myself living all my life here.

Write to you soon... hopefully I don't take that much time in writing again here.

martes, 4 de septiembre de 2012

Expectations, attitude and migration – Part II (re-posted)

Ok, my previous post, the first one about this important topic (please read it before reading this one), talked about the expectations we have about Australia (or other country we want to “live” in) and about migration.

The last issue I addressed was about how we think we’re going to adapt sooooo quick to the new culture and to our new country, and I pointed out that it actually depended on us and some factors linked to our own attitudes, and that’s the main focus of this post.

Why? Because once we arrive in Australia, we get hit by reality and there are lots of things that we didn’t know or just didn’t want to know, or that just didn’t even crossed our minds… and how we react to those is key to a really successful or painful migration process.

Variables relating to adaptation (and how they relate to your attitude):

(1) personal strength: well, not everyone can take migration and what it involves. So, keep a close look on how you really are. If something happens that affects you emotionally, how quickly do you come out of the sadness / pain? What personal resources do you have to manage stress? How long does it take you to feel good after a “down”? Do you usually rely on other people to solve your problems? Do you usually need family support to get over things? Well… if you answer yes to the last couple of questions and it takes you a while to feel better after bad things happen, and if you don’t cope well with stress, so in synthesis, if you are not built up with a lot of personal stress, the migration process is not going to be that easy.

(2) self-esteem: if you have low self-esteem, or at some point of your life you had issues with this, be careful. Being rejected in the professional area, finding yourself alone, being stressed about having to support yourself and your family and finding yourself struggling with this, are matter that is going to affect your self esteem… FOR SURE. So, you have to be really confident in yourself (not cocky) and believe in yourself so much that no matter what comes in the way, you can stay still.

(3) self economic situation: this is very simple… if you don’t have enough money to support yourself (and your family if it applies), just don’t come here… and if you come, you HAVE TO be aware and be really comfortable to actually do whatever is necessary to survive, without any regrets and without letting it affect your self-esteem.

(4) family and friends’ support: this is very important, but not vital. Talk to your family and try to make them understand (if you don’t have their support) how important this is for you and if still the don’t support you, well, take a positive attitude and just remind yourself how vital this process is for you. Besides that not only generate a social network, work hard to maintain it, you have to nurture it and really have the willing to have new friends and a new family.

(5) openness to new situations and people: if you are arriving to a new country, to a new culture, OF COURSE you have to be open to new experiences!!! If you have an attitude that you’re going to keep your own culture no matter what, well, you are not going to do well… and I don’t mean you have to leave your culture behind (e.g.: I still dance salsa and eat arepas), however, you should want to meet other people, you should want to get to know and understand how things are done here, you have to adapt (and it goes till basic things as the pronunciation of “TOMATO” [tə-ˈmā-(ˌ)tō] – and not as in US English “tomeiro” [təˈmeɪ.t ̬oʊ])

(6) a flexible plan and goals for your new life: when you migrate COME WITH A PLAN and GOALS… but it needs to be flexible, because since you’re starting your life from scratch, you can’t be sure what it going to happen. You could relocate, you could get a job later or sooner than you wanted, you can begin having couple’s problems (yes it happens… and A LOT)… so… be flexible.

(7) knowledge about the country/city you’re migrating to: ok, not all places are the same, not all cultures are similar… soooooo, getting to know about where you’re getting into, is always a good idea because you are vulnerable to have a “Cultural Shock”. You may feel disoriented not only regarding the physical aspect of the place, but regarding the locals and most important of all, within yourself. Reading and talking to people won’t guarantee this won’t happen to you, however it’ll help in your understanding on what to expect from the new place, and how to react and behave in it.

(8) visa type: although it’s not a vital issue, the visa type you have when migrating to Australia makes a huge difference. E.g., if you have a 175 (now 189) which allows you to live wherever you want to for how long you decide, it’s a lot easier because you don’t have the constraint of deciding what you want for your life. Now, if you have a regional visa (whether permanent or temporary) it starts to get a bit constraining because you have to stay at the sponsoring city (or town) for 2 years, so if you don’t like… well, you’ll still get to be stuck in it. How to fight this feeling? Simple, research about the place (relates to the prior point), start loving it before even arriving, look for and focus only on the positive aspects on the place… and if there’s an ideal city in Australia you’d like to live, that is not the one that sponsored you, well, DON’T GO THERE, not even for a couple of days before going to you final destination… it’ll do no good. And nowwwwwwww if you came as a student, be aware that you’re gonna live in constant stress and distress, because of the uncertainty about your future.

(9) detachment to your origin place + attachment to your new city: ok, I think this puts altogether the prior points… and adds a little bit more… in order to make the aforementioned process a bit easier (liking the place you’re going to move into), you have to detach from your home town / country… and I don’t mean forgetting about it, talk trash about it, deny that part of what you are is because of that place… I mean that you have to say goodbye, embrace the reasons why you’re leaving, and most of all, be open to call a new place “home”.

(10) living in the right place for you (considering your way of living): first of all, if you’re planning to migrate, within your possibilities, chose a place that suits you... first of all the country: I always tell this example about myself… I wanted to live in a place with a better quality of life, where I didn’t need a car, where I could ride a bicycle as a transportation mean, close to the ocean, with a non-extreme weather, with employment opportunities in my area, and with a culture not so far from mine in regards as extroversion and friendliness, in addition to aspects such as respect for authorities and rules, openness to different cultural backgrounds, etc…. Soooooo…. the best country for me was (IS) Australia… then, when choosing cities, it’s just the same… look thoroughly at your lifestyle and at what you really want for yourself, and then find a cityy that matches that ideal.

(11) detachment / attachment to your family/friends/activities/things: as with places, you also have to go through a process of detachment from your family and friends… it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, and that you wont miss them from time to time, but it’s realising that you have your own life, and that you have to follow what’s best for you and the ones migrating with you (if you’re not moving by yourselves as I did). At the same time you have to be open to relate to new people, things and friends, that may become your new family… and that in the end is going to be part of your new life.

To conclude, as important as having grounded expectation, is having a positive attitude regarding your future and all the things that may come along, but the ones that at first sight seem perfect, as the ones that ar first sight seem too difficult and horrible… we have to be aware, and keep in mind that every that happens is not only because you chose that, but also, because in the end it’s going to be the best thing for you.

sábado, 21 de julio de 2012

Expectations, attitude and migration – Part I

From tons of posts I want to write (that I started but left them pending for a while… I know, a very long while), this one is the one I consider most important… so I'd like to break my absence from here talking about a vital issue related to migration, which is the expectation when coming here and the attitudes we take towards the expectations and the reality of migrating to Australia.

Why am I writing about this? and why is it so important?

Well, first of all, I write about this, because even though my experience in these 5 months (yes, it has been 5 months already!!!!) has been great in every single way, it is not like that for everybody, it is not like that for most people. In fact I have seen friends of mine struggle not only to get a job, but also to adapt to the country and the culture… and it affects me because they are important to me, and I believe this happens due to several reasons, being one of those really high and unrealistic expectations + lack of good attitude towards “reality”.

oz migration
When we decide to come to Australia, whether we want it or not, we start building expectations about several things such as living a better life, giving our families a safer place to grow, having better jobs, having more spending power than in our own countries, some even changing our lifestyles… but definitely we all want to have a better quality of life.

Some of us are lucky enough to apply for a skilled independent visa, where we can choose were we want to life, and some of not so lucky, have to apply for a regional visa and live in that area for 2 years, even if there isn’t our dream city (and when we begin this migration process we think it doesn’t matter where we’d live, because we’re just going to be there for 2 years at most).

Then we get our visas, and those expectations keep growing and growing, and even more if our origin countries are not doing so well themselves… and we keep adding other things to the expectation list, such as (some of us didn’t add these expectations to our lists, but there are some people who do): (1) in no more than 6 months I’m getting my perfect job… which means in reality that we think that in no more than 3 months we’re getting our perfect jobs; (2) the week I arrive, I’ll start looking for a job, and just after that everybody is going to be calling me back; (3) Australians are really open to migration, so I wont have racism and segregation issues; (4) Australia doesn’t have social nor economic issues; (5) Everything in Australia is better and more advanced (technology, transportation, and others); (6) Adapting to Australia is going to be a piece of cake!!!…. and on and on…

Well, I can’t say ALL this expectations are incorrect, BUT most of all are, and all of them are subjected to the circumstances.

Writing a bit about one by one:

(1) Ok, lots of people get their FIRST (and I didn’t say “perfect”, I said “first”) job within 6 months, some people get their first job even within 3 months, and I can even say that some people (but REALLY a tiny few) get their perfect jobs within that timeframe (I’m one of the lucky ones who did)… HOWEVER, there are also lots of people that get their FIRST job in a longer timeframe than 6 months. So, we have to be aware that it might happen!!! If you’re IT, I believe it’s a bit easier to find that job, but for engineers and architects, and accountants, and other very specialised areas, getting that first one is NOT EASY… why??? Just because we don’t have local experience. So, be prepared, and don’t have such pretend expectations that high (6 months) and even less try to avoid the 3-months-REAL expectation that we create to ourselves.

(2) The week we arrive we are just doing some primary things, and the week after, and also the next one… and that gets even worse if you are not in severe economical conditions (I mean if you have enough savings for a few months). Time passes by very quickly, and before you know it a month has passed by… and settling is not such a fast action… I’ve been here 5 months and I feel I’m still settling (and I have a nice place to live, terrific friends, my perfect job… sooooo not so easy). Anyway, the thing is, not only finding the job, but looking for a job takes time, and ironically, it doesn’t become THE priority the firsts few weeks. So, be aware that happens also.

(3) Ok, yes, Australian policies are really open to migration from everywhere… and a GREAT DEAL of Australians are open to migration (meaning they live with it and are nice to migrants), but all Australians are human beings, soooo, there are Australians that just don’t like migrants, they just don’t!!! And in some cities you can “feel” that more than in other… the least “world city” it is, the most rejection you might see/feel… so, any other city than Sydney (and I’m not saying there aren’t any racist and xenophobic people in Sydney,but not that much) you could run into that kind of behaviour.

(4) What we know of Australia is that it is a thriving country, with lots of opportunities… and that’s true when you see the big picture and analyse the whole planet. However, Australia is not the same country it was a few  years ago regarding its economy. There are a lot of industries that are suffering from delayed consequences of the 2008’s world crisis. Of course, we don’t see here so much struggling as we can see in other countries, I repeat, however, the employment rate in some industries has decreased a lot. For example, in architecture, it’s quite hard to find a first job, because the sector is not as prosperous as it used to be, so there’s less employment offers, and the ones that are out there, are being taken by people with local experience, or with this first connection that gets you the interview (networking)… the thing is that: yes, Australia also has economic problems. Now, about the social issues, there are here a lot of low-income people… ok, they don’t live in barrios, perfect, and they live a lot better lives than poor people in Latin America, that’s also true, in fact I think it’s not comparable, but there are still social issues, with refugees, with Austrian indigenous aboriginals, and with people who can’t get jobs. What does it bring? well, it brings crime and segregation… and side consequences to newly arrived migrants.

(5) Well, this is an expectation that is not so untrue, but it depends on your way of living. For example, for the internet heavy users, here it’s not so good, the say it’s not quite good and fast as it was in Venezuela (sorry I can’t explain more, but I don’t know a thing about these topics). The same happens with mobile coverage; well, I’ll just say it’s not so good… Anyway, it’ll affect you depending on how keen on technology you are (as you see I’m not that affected by it. Another topic is the transport system, it is not as punctual as you could imagine, and the longer you live here, the more local you become, the more you complain about it… you get to complain about the bus being 5 minutes late. The thing is that this expectation will affect you or not depending on how important that is to you.

(6) Well, this is I believe the greatest expectation of all, that we will adapt to Australia not only quickly, but also easily… and well, it also depends… but this depends only on you… and that’s the next part that I want to write about in the next post: ATTITUDE… but, a bit about this expectation… I know, I am aware that not for everybody the process is the same, so, before writing the next post regarding the attitudes towards migration, I’d like to tell you that you should also be aware of this, it may be your case, hopefully not, one of those on which adaptation doesn’t come that easily. There are many variables to this: personal strength, self-esteem, self economic situation, openness to new situations and people, family and friends’ support, a flexible plan and goals for your new life, knowledge about the country/city you’re migrating to, visa type, detachment to your origin place + attachment to your new city, living in the right place for you (considering your way of living), detachment / attachment to your family/friends/activities/things… and those are the few off the top of my head.

Think a little bit of what you just have read, you could also read the post of my namesake (Gaby) that talks a bit about this issue… While you think, I’ll be writing the second part of this VITAL topic… the attitude we assume!!!

jueves, 17 de mayo de 2012

Blog’s 2nd birthday

Kids-fall-photography-second-birthday-003This is a really short post. It’s just to acknowledge that my blog has been online for two years now.

Two years that have brought a lot and have taken away a lot too. With several ups and downs; with happy moments and not so happy ones; with lots of news and changes, but the most important thing, two years of sharing with all of you all my anecdotes in this path that is migrating to Australia.

Finally, I’m writing from my new and gorgeous home: Sydney!!!

This is what I wrote last year, and I think I’ve accomplished every aim I set myself with this blog. From now on, my only goal is to keep writing about the settling process and about life here, in order to keep helping people who want to address this exciting adventure.