Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Top 10 tips for moving to Australia


Some pics from my travels, Brisbane at Sunset, View at Steve Irwin's Zoo and a Dingo on Fraser Island.

 So last year at the grand old age of 27, I decided that the time had come to move to Australia… alone. It was something that I had always wanted to do but I had never really been in the position to do it. But now felt like the time, I was single, I had some savings and I wanted a change. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!
However, before I left I felt very nervous and I wanted to prepare myself as much as possible. Especially as the majority of people around me were telling me that I was insane in the membrane and that they themselves would never be brave enough to do it. I didn’t feel particularly brave, I just knew that I’m only going to live once and if I didn’t take the opportunity, then sure as hell I'd regret it!
So here is a list of things to think about before you go and whilst you are on the trip of your dreams!
1.       Don’t worry that you won’t meet people or make friends. This is something that is guaranteed to happen if you stay in hostels! Everyone is in the same boat as you and as long as you hang out in the communal areas and are friendly, then you ain’t got a problem baby! When I moved to Oz, I picked Brisbane and decided to stay in a hostel that had a night club in it and was situated in an area that had lots going on (I picked Fortitude Valley) My thinking was that my first week, I would just have as much fun as possible and could always move somewhere else after a week if I didn’t like it. Turned out to be the best decision as the friends I made there in my first week, ended up becoming friends for life and I travelled all over Australia with them.

2.       Give yourself a couple of days to let it all sink in. I remember my first couple of days thinking ‘WHAT the hell have I DONE’? and feeling a bit lost. But just put yourself out there, meet new people, explore and enjoy yourself!

3.       Whatever you do DO NOT pay a company to set up a bank account for you before you go. It’s the easiest thing in the world to set one up when you are over there, I did it on my first day. All you do is go into a bank (I used Commonwealth) with your passport and the address of your hostel or wherever you are staying, It’s also worth noting that a lot of the banks over there charge you for having the account, I told the lady when I was opening my account that I didn’t want to pay any charges at all so she opened a student account for me. Result!

4.       Similarly, any company who wants to charge you before you go to help you find jobs, help sort out your visa etc. can do one. They just want to take advantage of your need for some security, the cheeky sods. The visa application is easy to do (trust me, if I could do it then you can do it!) and for me, I had confirmation that it had been accepted within half an hour! (please note it can take longer, think I was just lucky) Finding a job over there isn’t too challenging either. Just hand out CV’s (they refer to them as Resumes over there) and apply for jobs like you would do at home.

5.       If you do struggle to find work, or a job that gives you enough hours to pay rent then I have one recommendation for you. Get a bar job in an outback pub. It’s the best thing that I could have done as I was given loads of hours, the pay was good and it’s an absolute experience that you will never have again! You get to mix with Australians, something that doesn’t really happen in backpacker hostels and live like a local. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it was tough and as I was working in a mining town with not many girls, I got my fair share of unwanted attention! But I also met amazing people there and some of my best memories are from that place. I will never forget my fear and confusion during those first couple of shifts though! Getting asked for a ‘stubby of gold’ (bottle of 4x gold beer) and having to work out the keno and TAB machines was... interesting! But getting thrown in the deep end is often the best way to learn! (or so I told myself over and over again through gritted teeth!)

6.       Try to see as much of Australia as you can. I met people who had literally just spent 7 months in Brisbane getting pissed every night, and then were going home. That’s not the way to do it! You are in one of the biggest most beautiful countries in the world, you may not get this chance again so explore! I wanted to go everywhere but didn’t quite get the chance due to time and money issues. I managed to see a huge amount of places I wanted to though and I will treasure the memories and photographs forever. Plus I WILL go back one day to visit the places I missed.

7.    Sort out your ABN (Australian Business Number) number and Medicare card as soon as you can. You will get taxed stupid amounts without an ABN number and employers always ask for it. It can take a little time to come through so this is something that I would recommend doing ASAP! Same with the Medicare card, I neglected to do this then regretted this when I had to visit a doctors when living in the outback. Get this sorted in your first few weeks and then you are covered.

8.    Do a road trip! Me and my friends did a trip from Perth to Melbourne over a couple of weeks, camping and getting lost many times over! We just hired a car (which turned out not to be big enough for 5 girls, they lied!!) and planned the route ourselves. It was amazing, stressful, uncomfortable, incredible and fun in equal measures! Not sure if I would rush to do it again but so, so proud that we did it and managed to not kill ourselves doing it, as some of the guys I met in the outback predicted! (no faith in us girls!) The sense of accomplishment when we reached our destination (and would no longer have to squish up in the car, sleeping 3 in the tent and 2 in the car every night!) was huge. We used Wicked to rent our car through but there are so many over there to choose from. Also the east coast is incredible, Fraser Island and Whitsundays are definitely 2 must do trips in my opinion!

9.    Document everything. Take photos, write a journal, send emails and postcards to friends back home. The things you experience over there, you aren't going to want to forget. Try to appreciate everything you are going through. There might be times that feel a bit tough or stressful, but trust me, once you are back home those tough times won't seem so bad at all! You will give anything to go back to them when you are stuck back in the 9-5 grind in rainy England!

10.    Keep all of your payslips. UK citizens (not sure about other nationalities) are able to claim back all of the tax they paid whilst working in Australia (wooohoooo!) I was unable to keep my payslips as my Hotmail account decided to stop working halfway through my trip (I hate Hotmail!) and I was never again able to access my account. This made things tricky once I was back in the UK and wanting to make my claim. I did eventually get it all back using taxback.com but it took forever and it would have been so much easier if I had all the information on my payslips.

So those are some of my tips! But the main thing is to just enjoy yourself. I know before I went I worried so much about it all and on the plane over I couldn't have been more terrified. I wasn't sure if I could do it. But I did! and it was easy! Not to say there weren't tough times and the first few days were pretty hard for me. I know not everyone is like me and some people just breeze through it all without a care in the world (I envy those people!). But if you are like me, then don't waste time worrying about silly little things before you go.
Just go for it as it is so, so worth it! and you could end up with a smile on your face like this goober below!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

London: The beginning

So I seem to enjoy putting myself in lonely, difficult circumstances I have come to realise. Last year, I decided to up and move to Australia on a working holiday visa alone. Everybody around me at the time thought I was crazy, as I didn't know anyone there and didn't really have a clue what I'd be doing for the year. But off I went and although it was hard at first, its one of the best decisions I ever made.

 Now I have moved to London alone. And right now I'm in the 'hard at first' stage. When you look back on this stage later on, with rose tinted, heart shaped glasses you say to yourself 'it wasn't that bad at all!' or 'yeah, it was a little bit hard, but it didn't last long at all and the next thing I knew, I made a friend for life and we went bungee jumping with dolphins!' or whatever. Hindsight is a beautiful thing I guess. Your mind glosses over the bad parts and because you know what good parts come next, they don't feel so desperate or difficult anymore.

So now I'm in the 'hard part' and I'm not sure what's going to come next, all I have is a blank page ahead of me with no clue what twists and turns will come my way. And yes it is exciting but its also scary and lonely and I wonder what's going to happen. I felt like I wanted to document this stage for myself to look back on when I've got my pink, sparkly, heart shaped glasses back on. And also for anyone else who has taken a risk and is feeling lonely or scared and wondering if they have been a complete nincompoop and they should just run home with their tail in between their legs. Just keep at it. It WILL get better and one day, you won't really remember these hard parts. Or when you do, you will remember them fondly and realise that they have helped you to grow as a person. They will help you to appreciate the good times all the more when they do come. And if you are feeling that way then I am right there with you! Just keep on truckin'.

Here's a few pics of all the fun things I have been doing since I got to London. Always remember how amazing life is :)

Monday, 27 October 2014

Moving to a new city alone...

Recently I have been thinking, when you up roots and decide to start a new life, you have to be prepared to have no life for a little while. Okay... so that might be a slight exaggeration but it takes time to build things up and feel at home in your new surroundings. This isn't a bad thing and I think sometimes people panic that they haven't got everything sorted and an incredible new life within a couple of weeks. They might start to think that they have made a big mistake and feel a failure, I know that I have in the past. I have learnt that this is not true, you have to stick with it and not give up.

Below is a list of 6 thoughts and tips for when you have decided to take that leap:

1. Stay positive! This one is first on the list as I firmly believe that this is the most important thing you can do. So what if things aren't working out exactly as planned straight away? You should be proud of yourself for taking that huge step that not everyone would be brave enough to take. Be positive that things will work out for the best and keep trying your hardest, apply for those jobs, get out there and don't let little set backs get you down.

2. Have faith in yourself. Remember all the things that you have accomplished in the past, remember that at some point during those moments, you wondered if it would work out or if you had made a mistake. But you hadn't made a mistake and you did it! So you will do it again!

3. Be your own best friend. If you get a setback the last thing you should be doing is beating yourself up about it. Imagine how you would comfort a best friend, someone that you love dearly. You would do your best to make them feel better, tell them how amazing they are and that you know things will work out. Do this in the mirror next time. I promise you, although you may feel a little bit gaga crazy at first, soon the negative voice will start to fade away and the best friend in you will shine out.

4. Keep putting yourself out there. Be friendly, keep applying for jobs/ viewing house shares/ join classes anything that you feel you need to do. Don't put it off for another day. Just keep at it even when things feel hopeless. You will feel worse if you don't and those small little steps you take everyday will lead to something great.

5. Take good care of yourself. When you are alone and don't have your usual support network around to guide you, sometimes it can be easy to fall into a trap of not looking after yourself properly. Make sure that you eat well, don't let yourself get into dangerous situations and look out for yourself and others.

6. Get out and explore. Say yes to things that may be slightly out of your comfort zone. This is such an exciting time, a time to try new things, meet new people and have some incredible new experiences. Don't get bogged down in worrying about every little thing. Enjoy this new life and always remember that life is an adventure and things can change in an instant! And if things do go a bit pear shaped then at least you will have a funny story to tell!

Monday, 20 October 2014

A love affair...

So, I'm going to start this blog with telling you all about my greatest love. A consuming, tempestuous affair that began when I was just a child. It sunk its claws into me, caught me in its web and spun me to places I had only dreamt of. Made me become the type of person I did not believe I could be. But had always longed to be.

I am talking about my adoration of travel. I firmly believe that I was born to explore the world, have adventures and challenge myself. Although it can be very hard at times, no more so than when I return to my home country poor, with extreme post travel blues and the realisation that I no longer fit in anywhere. A lot of my friends are now settled down and I'm not going to lie, but sometimes I wonder if I should too. But deep down I know that wouldn't make me happy. I think of all the things I have learnt, the experiences I have had and the person that I have become and know that it was all worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Even though at times I thought to myself I was making a huge mistake, and sometimes it felt so hard and all I wanted was to go home. The good far, far outweighs the bad.

The reason I want to start this blog is to connect with like minded people. To show that, if travel is one of your dreams, then you can do it too. If I, someone who when growing up was very shy, awkward and sadly didn't believe in myself can do it, then anyone can.
I want this to be somewhere that anybody who is thinking of going out there alone, or with friends and seeing the world, can get advice and share travel stories.

You can live your dreams and become the person you wish to be. You just have to go for it and be prepared to work for it.

Life is an adventure.