Expat update: Month 7

We just passed the 7 month mark of moving to Sydney and any thoughts we might have had of things quietening down definitely didn’t happen. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

The Good

Moar visitors ¦¦ This one again! Happily, my aunt has been in town for the past 2 weeks and I’ve managed to squeeze into her schedule once or twice. She has been pretty busy catching up with old friends so we’ve had to be creative but it’s been so good to see her.

I also managed to catch up with Nano and her husband a couple of weekends back as they were in town for a flying visit. Nano is just so nice, and we passed a fun morning chatting about all things travel and expat. Of course we did so in an Instagram dream of a place – none other than The Grounds of Alexandria. So we decided to get in on the action –

[Nano + Rachel + Instagram fountain]

Don’t mind my face. I have no idea what’s going on there. Anyway, after this picture was taken I got press ganged into being photographer for a whole stream of ladies who wanted their photos taken on the fountain. I was perfectly happy to do this but it did make me chuckle given that Nano is the actual photographer of the two of us.

[Delicious brunch at The Grounds]

My visa submission is in!!! ¦¦ This has been the longest struggle ever (you’ll be well aware of this if you read The Ugly) but we have finally jumped all the hurdles necessary to get to submission stage. Including a few frightening invoices. Nothing is guaranteed, and we still need to do our medicals, but at least the thing is in. We have done everything we can, so whatever the outcome, we did our best. Now comes a long 9-15 months of waiting for the submission to get to the front of the queue, and we’ll see what happens!

We went to Canberra ¦¦ I think weekend breaks are going to be how we try and see as much of this country as we can in the most efficient way possible – so we started off with a short jaunt to Canberra.

[City planning goalz]

Unfortunately it rained basically the whole weekend but we went to see the most amazing exhibition in the National Museum Australia called Songlines. It tells the story of the Seven Sisters songline, which is a very important dreaming. If you aren’t familiar with songlines or dreaming I am definitely not the one to explain them to you, but they are the creation stories that belong to the Aboriginal people of Australia. To say they’re an integral part of Aboriginal culture is an understatement and honestly I’m still getting my head around the whole thing, but this exhibition really helped me. I loved that it was created by the traditional owners of the songline themselves, in conjunction with the NMA. If you’re interested in the exhibition but can’t get to Canberra, you can download the museum app called The Loop and listen to the audioguide there. It’s got pictures of the exhibit(s) in question so you can get an pretty good idea of the whole experience just from the app.

[The Seven Sisters represented as seven trees]

The weather is dreamy ¦¦ Well, apart from Canberra. But here in Sydney we’ve had some balmy days of absolutely perfect weather – not too hot, not too cold. I’m enjoying it while it lasts because we’ll be into the serious hot of summer soon and I’ve got no idea how I’ll cope with that!

The Bad

6 month homesickness ¦¦ Yeah so I have definitely been hit with the 6 month homesickness milestone. We were warned about this, though, so that was something. I’m dealing with it, but bracing myself because I have a feeling that the Christmas period isn’t going to help with it at all.

We’re not new… but we are new ¦¦ In a place like Sydney where people come and go all the time, we are no longer classed as new. That’s nice, in a way, but I find it difficult sometimes because I definitely still feel new. For example, when you are new, people invite you to things because you’re new and you can meet people and stuff. Great! But now that we are not so new, people just assume we’re all set and don’t invite us to so much stuff anymore. I know you can’t expect people to babysit you but sometimes it’s just a bit hard. I’m not explaining this very well so I’ll just move swiftly on…

[Nice flowers at The Grounds of Alexandria to cheer things up a little]

Taxes are confusing ¦¦ So, we won’t have to file taxes until the end of the next tax year (end of June next year) but we need to have a clue what’s going on so we can make sure we’re prepared. In the UK you don’t have to file taxes unless you’re self employed, so this is something we are totally clueless about. We booked an appointment with a tax advisor to talk about what we need to do in terms of keeping receipts etc but also what deductibles we might be eligible for. Frankly it made my head swim and it seemed like she was just pulling stuff out of mid air at times. Why isn’t there just a manual I can read?! And then I had lunch with a colleague today who mentioned that there are some special things you can claim as a 457 visa holder which I’d never heard about before. I think I need to go spend some more time on Google.

The Ugly

In case you’re new around here, I’m sharing The Ugly side of things via email so I can be more honest on things that I’d rather not splash up here for all to see.

So if you want to know The Ugly, just put your email address in the box and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll get mail from me a few days after you see this post, just to give everyone a chance to sign up who wants to.

That’s a wrap on Month 7. Month 8 approaches rapidly…


See previous months’ updates here

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  1. 11th December 2017 / 19:06

    Wow that’s gone fast Rachel!! We have been here 4 months yesterday and time has flown! We have now relocated to Brisbane but I would not have swooped our time in Mackay – it felt like the ‘real’ Australia if that makes sense!!! Crocs, snakes and stingers lol and omg the hottest I have ever been (and I lived in Botswana for a year!) – sooooo humid it was pretty unbearable at times but glad I experienced it! Brisbane is great there is so much to do – though on a bad note my husband is working the entire Christmas week so that makes me sad ☹️ Have booked a very expensive weekend away before to make up for it and 5 days in Melbourne afterwards to have something to look forward to! 😊☀️

  2. 11th December 2017 / 21:51

    Oh the joy of Aussie taxes (we have to file for the US too 🙄). Such a hassle. The Grounds of Alexandria looks so dreamy, I’ve been dying to go for ages. Maybe one day! Will you get to spend Christmas with your sister and her family at least?

  3. 11th December 2017 / 22:22

    It doesn’t seem like it’s been 7 months, wow! I had a giggle at the tax bit! I don’t understand it, never will, so I just got to the place round the corner and have them sort it all out for me. I know you can lodge it online and stuff but I am not good with numbers so knowing me I’ll do something massively wrong somewhere…safer to let the expert handle it (plus you can claim the cost of that back at next year’s tax time, if your head isn’t already swimming with things you can claim or not!).

    Hope the homesickness doesn’t hit you too bad at Christmas – having it in summer might help, as it’s different enough to keep you amused instead of constantly comparing and missing the faces back in the UK! 🙂

  4. 11th December 2017 / 23:44

    I can’t believe in the UK you don’t have to file taxes!! That would be such a dream. There’s a saying here that there are only two things in life you have to do- file taxes and die. So- that pretty much summarizes everyone’s opinions of them 😉

  5. 12th December 2017 / 02:19

    Aww, I love that you met Nano! It’s always the best to meet blogger friends, especially in such an Instagramable spot 😉
    I know what you mean about the whole new/ not new thing – I have to say, that after two years, I’ve only just started to not feel new!

  6. 12th December 2017 / 05:49

    9-15 months?!! UM that’s crazy! I thought the UK visa process was frustrating, but honestly having to wait that long for a decision is just bureaucratic torture. At least you know you’ve done all you can! Also, lovely that you and Nano got to meet!!

  7. 12th December 2017 / 08:06

    Thought I recognised that view! That’s so weird about the taxes, we never do any in Aus but I’m guessing that’s based on the visa?!

  8. 12th December 2017 / 10:13

    I’m glad that y’all are enjoying getting out for weekend trips! It’s amazing what you can actually experience in a couple of days! And hooray for getting your visas submitted! I know it’s been a terrible process for y’all!

  9. 12th December 2017 / 12:04

    I can’t believe it’s been 7 months!

  10. 12th December 2017 / 17:11

    OMG 7 months already?! It seems like you guys moved there just yesterday! It was so lovely to meet you in person and chat. Hope to do it again <3 xoxo

  11. 13th December 2017 / 03:23

    9-15 month queue?! That’s incredible! I’m so fascinated by the processes elsewhere. The only visa I ever had to get was when I went to China last year, and that was pretty painless… except for the fee.

  12. 13th December 2017 / 14:11

    Wait, whaa? You have to wait 9-15 months to find out if you were successful? Lawdy! I didn’t realize just how hot Sydney would get during the summer. The man is telling me that it can get up to 49 degrees? Um, whaaa? That’s insane! I’m quite happy here in Sing when it’s super hot when it hits 35. HA Argh, in Sing our taxes don’t get withheld so we do have to file, but my previous company would withhold my taxes and file it for me so I’ve never had to do it. This year I will have to do it myself and see a good chunk of my bank account go down. Sigh. I didn’t sign up to be an adult!! 😉

  13. 14th December 2017 / 13:07

    The not new but new feeling is rough. And, taxes… ugh.

  14. 14th December 2017 / 14:08

    Wow times goes by so fast, and it’s already 7 months! Congrats on the visa submission! I’ll cross my fingers for you that it goes smoothly :). Aww I’m sure it’s really hard to be away from home over the holidays, but I hope you find something homey and fun to do for Christmas!

  15. 18th December 2017 / 20:07

    The last seven months have flown by – and with a flurry of visitors for you! How lovely that so many people have come to stay with you guys!

    Hopefully the visa business gets processed faster than expected! We were told up to two years waiting but ours was approved in ONE WEEK! Totally insane and unexpected!

  16. 22nd December 2017 / 04:45

    Nice blog! Beautiful pictures. I’m the opposite though. For I’m trying to gain the money for a visa to the UK!

  17. 22nd December 2017 / 05:26

    Wow that went fast! How cool is The Grounds? Did you get to see the pig, Kevin Bacon? I always like to swing by and say hello! I love Canberra and think it is massively underrated. I’m with you on the weekends away, we have one a month planned for the first four months of next year! Sorry to hear you’re feeling homesick, but you know what they say “this too shall pass.” I hope you have good air con because the weather has been seriously sticky, but when my mum fills me in on the UK weather, I do feel really rather grateful for sunny Christmas! Happy First Aussie Christmas – see you in the new year!

  18. 31st December 2017 / 09:30

    Aw so sorry to hear about your homesickness! Hoping that all the visiting and the holiday spirit is helping at the moment!

  19. 3rd January 2018 / 05:58

    I can’t completely relate with the “new, but not new” in terms of being an expat, but I feel like we’ve gotten that way with the church we’ve been attending. We’ve been there long enough to know a few folks, but haven’t been there long enough to really know anyone very well. The invites to “get to know you” dinners have ceased, which is disappointing. It’s so hard to make headway in adult friendships and relationships! It was so much easier in college when all it took was a night of social drinking to become BFFs for life. 😉 Hang in there! I hope you are able to find and be part of a community and circle of friendships soon!

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