In the first part of the interview we already got heaps of amazing information about life in Australia by Jan from England, who lives in Michigan, USA currently. She gives a realistic insight and I highly appreciate that Jan speaks about so much more than just the common "the-sun-is-shining every-day-and-I-love-it-so-much" stuff.
In the second part she gives advice for people who are dreaming of a life in Australia. She also tells us what song will always remind her of Australia and why she did leave the island in the end...
Eyewitness Jan from England!
You spent such a long time in Australia, you definitely are an expert. What is your best advice for people who are dreaming of a life in Australia? Do you mind sharing it with us?
Talk to other people who have done it. There are lots of blogs and forums with ex-pats happy to talk. If you can, visit the country, look at where you will be living, not just the touristy bits. Really understand the cost of living, most of the ex-pats I met felt that the cost of living was higher than they expected it to be. Don’t be put off by negative comments, but take them on board. Before my friend moved here I told her the difficulties we were having, and I think she just thought I was being moany and negative, whereas now she agrees with me! Listen to it all, good and bad so you get a well-rounded view of what to expect.
Lower your expectations!
I don’t mean expect it to be crap. But don’t assume that it will be a dream life, it will be life, normal life and you will be starting from scratch. All of your support network, all of your coping crutches are gone and you have to rely on yourself. I have learnt so much about myself, but it was hard going, the last four years have been some of my best and worst. Also you will go for lots of “one cup of coffee” and then never see that person again, don’t expect everyone to be your best friend immediately, take your time.
Don’t expect migration to make you happy!
If you are an unhappy person, you will still be unhappy. If you are having relationship problems, migrating is not going to solve them; it will only make them worse. I think my husband and I have become closer for the experience, but that’s not to say we didn’t have some tough times. I know it sounds obvious but you are still you when you migrate, all that has changed is the geography (and that you can’t pop round your mum’s/sister’s/best friend’s for a cup of tea.)
Remember life goes on!
I found it hard returning home. I felt out of things. I also forgot that it was hard for the people I had left behind.
Leave the honeymoon period as soon as possible!
When I look at people who I think made the most successful transitions, I think it was those that got into their routine quickly. Get a job, volunteer, join a gym, and don’t get caught in the “coffee and cake” trap, one it’s a fairly empty experience after a while and your bottom will never thank you!
Don’t compare yourself to other people!
I would always be wondering why I wasn’t happy, when everyone else seemed to be. I felt a failure, I told myself this should be the best time of my life, that I was lucky. Everyone is different, and it takes time. Be kind to yourself and don’t put pressure on yourself.
Explore where you are!
I always felt better after going out, be it to the city or into one of the country parks.
Social Media is amazing!
My Aunt migrated to Australia in 1956 and lost touch with my mother. It is so easy to stay in touch these days. I know people say bad things about Twitter and Facebook (my brother calls it FaceAche) but it has been my saving grace, I have been able to stay in touch with friends and family and share our experiences with a few clicks. Get a Skype account, once you start using it, you will wonder how you ever managed without it. Just take into account the time difference!
Go for it!
You never know it really could become the life you have dreamed of.
What song will always remind you of Australia and why?
Chumbawumba Tubthumping. I took part in a triathlon in January 2010, and that was my training song. It’s how I feel about my time in Australia, I would get down, but I kept getting back up!
Why did you leave Australia in the end?
My husband was offered international service in the USA, so here I am again, starting from scratch, a couple of weeks in. Second time round is better, I will always be grateful for my Australian experiences, good and bad. They have made me who I am today.
Thanks Jan! That was just great. All the very best to you and your family!
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Cheers from Melbourne!