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How is it like living and working abroad and starting a life away from your home country?

Updated: Dec 13, 2023


Many go abroad for better opportunities and greener pastures. Some make it but others don’t, many try to do it but not all achieve their dreams successfully.

Let me share with you my experience when we lived abroad in exchange to a better life.

We grew up in an Asian country where there were 3 classes of status quo, the rich, the middle class and the poor. It was not our dream to go elsewhere but the time came when we had to finally decide upon this matter. At first, I had a tough time adjusting into a new environment, language, and culture. I think out of all these factors, I had the hardest time embracing the way of life here and what's also funny that I struggled most was understanding different accents. I thought to myself, did I make the right decision or not? Would I even be able to live here longer than a year?

1. Prepare for it (the big decision).

If you really want to make it happen, then make everything well-organised before you leave, from filling out forms and preparing all the necessary paperwork to attending relevant seminars. Normally, you would have to prepare all the documents you need for visa application first. Once the visa is granted, you are set to do the other requirements for living or working abroad. This depends on the country you are currently residing on. For instance, and in most cases, you would be required to attend departure overseas seminar as the last thing to do before flying.

Once you have done and submitted all your requirements, there is confidence that everything is now ready and all set for you.

And of course the very last thing to do is to meet up with your relatives and friends to enjoy this time because you are going to miss it so much. It is also a despedida party with special people in your life. I am sure it is going to be quite an emotional moment for everyone.

2. Plan the whereabouts you are staying abroad.

As for my family, we were leaving for Australia. We preferred more to stay in Melbourne, Victoria than in Sydney, New South Wales or any other cities or States of Australia. We loved living in Melbourne ever since. In fact, it’s ranked 3rd as the most liveable city in the world. True enough! I could say that we easily adapted (but I must admit, it took me years to embrace it completely) to this city’s way of life. Although, during my first few years here, I found it difficult to adjust because I grew up overseas where culture was very different. That was just common for people starting up, I guess. Generally, the people here are so friendly, welcoming, and supportive. What's also quite noticeable is how they ask you, how are you? which I find it a great culture to have.

3. Set aside a budget to jumpstart.

When we came here, the budget we had was only around 1K Australian dollars. My sister and I thought about how we could survive with such a little amount for starting up a new life in Australia. However, God had provided for us financially. Unexpectedly, my sister got a job offer after two weeks – I could remember this moment when we were both jumping in joy and excitement. It was one of the happiest moments of our lives and we both couldn’t believe it, it felt surreal. When you pray for something, just claim that it would happen and have the purest faith. That’s what we did, and undoubtedly, it happened sooner than we thought it would be.

4. Make sure you are willing to do jobs that are not in line with your real profession (from where you are from).

My first job here was a wait staff/cashier for an Asian restaurant in the Southern region of Victoria. This was the most fulfilling part for me to be able to work for the first time even if it was not my actual profession back in our home country. I was happy to at least get to earn and help my sister with our piling expenses at that time. I treasured my first salary so much that I tried not to use it for 2 months, my 50 aud note was securely kept in my wallet. 😁 The very first rule to living or working abroad is not to be picky with the type of work you do. Just think about it as temporary until the right time comes for you to pursue your dream job or role.

5. Adjust yourself into the new environment.

It will not be easy. As they say, easier said than done. Based on my experience, it was really challenging at the start. My mind and heart were not here emotionally. I felt like I didn’t belong here for some reason. The language, the culture and just everything was so different. I didn’t like the way I was living my life at that time, my workplace, and the people around me felt so strange to me. I had no friends, I felt like a total stranger to a place where we decided to reside on permanently moving forward. These crept up on me but if I allowed all these factors to drown me mentally, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Nowadays, I have never felt more alive, now I know the very purpose of my existence and why God brought us here.

After all the hardships, here comes the sunshine… Finally! 😊

6. Learn the language.

This one made me struggle for real, to be honest. I loved our first language growing up and it was so challenging not to be able to speak it every day since we moved abroad. I just thought to myself, do I really belong here? Is this really my destiny? I just couldn’t imagine myself, only talking in English from here on. We are actually fortunate that English is the language used as medium for teaching and I can speak it fluently as it has always been a part of our curriculum in school. To learn this language, aside from our own is truly beneficial. This is the advantage of being able to get fully educated and used to learning English earlier on in our schools.

7. Learn the culture.

This one sank in gradually after the language. The culture was way too different from our country. As usual for people migrating to another country, there was only home and work routinary kind of life. I heard from others, and I also observed it myself that people in Melbourne were more laid back than in Sydney. In general, Aussies are very much family-oriented which I love about them. Aussie families are happy going to the park with their children, and make sure they have great plans for the weekend ahead.

8. Adapt the way of life.

There’s so much to love about Australia, first thing I have noticed from the very beginning was their accent and how it differed from other countries. Secondly, yes! their love for coffee. In here, they specify coffee in names and look - barista style quality. As for example, if it is a milky coffee then it is a latté, for coffee with milk froth on top of it and sprinkled with chocolate dusting is a cappuccino and …pure

espresso coffee is a long black. At work, there is always a supportive kind of environment for everyone, your workmates even offer to make coffee for you because offices have their own coffee machines. Me and my colleague make sure to have coffee during afternoon tea. All these things, I have found out when we started living here in Australia. It is so wonderful to have known all the brilliant traits of this country first-hand.

9. Be willing to keep up with the cost of living.

This is relative, in general. It can be higher for some but averagely sustainable for most. If you can adjust your budget accordingly, it will be easier to be more on track of it. I think it is quite reasonable to live here because as you earn money, there will be enough to cover the expenses for individuals or families. Based on my experience, it would take years before you could reach the point where you had more than enough to spare for other non-essential splurges but hey that’s okay! Just think that you are still blessed. If you have a home to live in, eat the food that you want, travel to places and have decent clothes to wear. That’s the world for many already so be happy and contented with what you have. That’s the secret to happiness and success! 😊

10. Have an opportunity to embrace Multi-culturalism.

My most favourite reason of living in Australia is their multi-culturalism. Sharing and knowing different cultures make you experience a whole lot more as a professional, as a person and as a citizen of this country. I have friends from different parts of the world which is amazing. I have known them through the years, and it still amazes me to discover something new about their culture. We did it one time at work when we cooked our foods and let everyone try our own dishes, all served very well, tasty and packed with so much nutrition too. I love how you can get to know people, their culture, language, and their customs and traditions.

So far, I am loving the way this country has given me so many opportunities that I reckon I wouldn’t have received anywhere else in the world. One thing is for sure, be kind to others and to the country you are residing in, as you will receive kindness from them, as well. 😊

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