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”.
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!!!