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Four Years in Sydney

Four Years in Sydney

In July 2007 someone at work mentioned that their friend was living it up in Oz and that she dreamed of doing it but was too old for a working holiday visa. She said that I was young enough and so I should do it. It was always on my mind to move away from Ireland at some point as I wasn't enjoying life there. So, I decided to look into the Australian visa options….

In July 2007 someone at work mentioned that their friend was living it up in Oz and that she dreamed of doing it but was too old for a working holiday visa. She said that I was young enough and so I should do it. It was always on my mind to move away from Ireland at some point as I wasn't enjoying life there. I grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland which I hated. I still say the only good thing about the place is my family. Lived in Dublin for ten years and found that to be much better, but still had too many negatives for me. It wasn't particularly friendly, transport was a nightmare, work in my profession (even though I hate it) wasn't particularly high paying. So, I decided to look into the Australian visa options….

Joining Britishexpats.com was definitely the smartest of all the choices I made along the way. A wealth of information. I decided to employ an agent based in Ireland to help me with the visa application. That was a massive mistake. They gave incorrect information, delayed lodging my skills assessment and even lost the results letter a couple of times. I eventually got it. While waiting for that to come through, I sat the IELTS test in Manchester (they don't have them very often in Dublin). Failed the reading section! Embarrassing but is a funny story to tell people. Anyway I sat it again in Birmingham. The waiting was unbearable as I actually began to think that I wouldn't make it to Australia because I couldn't read properly, but the results came in, and I passed by the skin of my teeth. Joy all around. So, I lodged my visa application and got it probably as quick as anyone. Five and a half months. People I spoke to on the BE forum were waiting much longer and I felt bad for them as they wanted it as much as I did.

August 26th 2008, I phoned my mother to tell her I just got my visa. She sounded happy, then burst into tears and hung up. She had been very supportive along the way but I guess she couldn't control her emotions anymore. I think she had always been worried for me in everything. I have one brother and four sisters but I think she was more concerned about me and if I would take care of myself properly. I hadn't been the best son at calling home, and I'm still not very good at that. Even when she hung up though, I knew that she'd accept it, and knew that I was doing the right thing by going to Australia. That night, I booked flights and accommodation. No family to bring with me, or to convince to come with me so no point waiting. 

3rd October 2008, I arrive in Sydney. 36 degrees, lost the hire car in the city somewhere as I walked around, eventually found it. I was exhausted by the jet lag and insane heat. So, I went to the serviced apartment I was staying in and went to bed. I woke up after about and hour and the panic set in. No job, no long term accommodation, money won't last forever, don't know anyone, etc. Pretty much as soon as I said I 'don't know anyone' I got a call from my aunt (Dad's sister) who lives here. I had no intention of getting in touch with her so soon as I hadn't really spoken to her before. But she turned out to be an absolute riot. Very lovely woman and her family are also lovely. So I arranged to call at to her house the next Monday (labour day).

I started looking for work the next business day, which wasn't my original intention as I wanted to travel. But, I didn't know how long it would take to get work and so it seemed wise to start looking immediately. I got offered a job that day but the money was ridiculous. That was the case with a couple of other jobs that I was offered. One even offered a fairly low salary which I decided I might take to get me started, but at interview two, they pretty much halved the salary again. I walked.

9 October 2008, I went out to meet the expats at the Thursday meet up.  I've met many more people since then, expats, and have made very good friends through it.

It turned out that I was four months without work before I started in a role offering 'ok' money. Those 4 months were spent quite well though I think, as I stuck to Sydney and was on the beach and chasing after women.

Two months after I started work, I got a call from my brother telling me that my Dad had a heart attack and things looked bad. I booked a flight home and, typical of my brother and his lack of tact, he phones me ahead of getting on the plane to tell me that the chances have got worse and only a third of his heart is working. He didn't mean to, but that's not the best news to hear ahead of a stupid long flight. I phoned home again at Abu Dhabi and he told me things have picked up and the doctors were speaking very positively. So, I got home, saw him in ICU, and he was able to respond, so we got him to pick a horse for the grand national. The horse he picked, I believe died on the track. Dad never backed a winning horse. This was a new low. He's now got a fully healthy heart but suffers from memory loss. That becomes a fun game when talking to him on the phone.

So, I flew back to Sydney when he was taken out of ICU. When I got back, I felt homesickness more than ever. I think I spent a few months feeling miserable. But I didn't want to return home as there was nothing there for me job wise. My impressions of Sydney at that point were mostly positive. Australians themselves didn't seem to get Irish banter which concerned me as I wasn't sure if their silence was down to them not understanding or if they felt insulted. Very strange. Another observation I made was just how crap media is over here. TV, radio, newspapers – all mostly rubbish. SBS and ABC are the only channels that have any credibility in my book. Apart from the few negatives, the positives were obvious. Climate, beautiful city, friendly positive people, stunning women and fantastic outdoorsy lifestyle (which is actually why the TV being crap is a good thing). There are some negatives which don't deserve a mention as, for every carbon tax, here's a TV licence etc.

I got a car lease when I started my job. A joke amongst my friends I think. The rule was to drive 25000 km's a year in order to pay less tax on it. On normal use, I might have used the car once every 2 weeks. So that wasn't going to work. Stubborn as I was, I decided to do the k's anyway. Newcastle and back, Newcastle and back. Trip down to Canberra, and again. Went skiing, Newcastle and back, Newcastle and back. You get the picture. That lease was for 3 years. By year three I had given up and paid the tax. My advice is to not be an idiot like I was. Get a car lease if you actually do the maths first and it makes sense for you. I still have the car though and has given me no problems.

I've flown back home 3 times, once being for when my dad was ill, once for when my brother got married (for which I was best man) and last christmas. As much as I love seeing family, I hate going home now. The jet lag makes me cranky and I'm not fun to be around. Plus, it's kind of depressing that I haven't kept in touch with friends from home. It's sort of like, if I was to move back to Dublin, I'd nearly be starting again like I did in Sydney.

I think I've achieved some things since being here. Last year I did the city2surf and half marathon as well as doing a bungie jump in Queenstown. This year I ran the MiniMos, the Sydney Harbour run, and the City2Surf but had to back out of the half marathon as I hurt my knee. So, now I'm just putting weight on falling out of shape fast.

In October I lodged my citizenship application. It's something I've had my eye on since July 2007 to be honest.

BritishExpats Member "knockoff nige"