Expat update: Month 9

Our ninth month of Australia has been a lot more chilled than the previous 8, and I have to say that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Good

Happy New Year! ¦¦ In case you hadn’t noticed, Sydney does NYE biiiig. Even though we had a low key night in with friends and boardgames, it was still so fun to be out and about in the city whilst preparations were being made. Everyone is in the party spirit, and seeing the elaborate preparations people put on to secure a prized harbourfront position for the fireworks was something else. There’s nothing like the whole city being in a good mood for a nice, non-controversial holiday.

Nightlife and open air cinemas ¦¦ This month we went to three whole special events in the Botanic Gardens, which is my favourite place in the world. First we went to an evening tour of the park where we spotted fruit bats, a micro fishing bat, some huge golden orb spiders, two types of frog (and learned to distinguish their call), and both brush- and ring-tailed possums. We also got absolutely eaten alive by the rest of the nightlife, aka mosquitoes. Lesson well and truly learned.

Then we went to not one but two screenings at the Open Air Cinema which has the most astounding outlook over the harbour. You’ll struggle to watch the film with this view in the background:


Obviously the fireworks don’t happen every night – I took this on Australia Day where we had a firework interval! It was the ideal spot to see them from and kind of the perfect time to go to the Open Air Cinema if you ask me. Speaking of Australia Day…

Australia Day ¦¦ This year marked our first being able to experience Australia Day as (temporary) residents. As mentioned, we attended the second of our films at the Open Air Cinema – thank you to my sister for an amazing Christmas present!

Australia Day is a somewhat controversial holiday, so we tried to be as sensitive as possible on the day – especially as we’re invading British people. We went down to the harbour to watch the events, and it was quite awe-inspiring to see the huge helicopter carrier HMAS Canberra dominate the harbour.

There was a gun salute, flyovers by black hawk helicopters and Hornet fighter jets, dancing yachts and all sorts. It was quite the spectacle. If you caught my Instastories you’d have seen a lot of all that – and I apologise for the hearing loss any of you may have suffered as a result of the flyovers…

Management consultants are in need! ¦¦ This is going to be boring for most people so feel free to skip. If you’re familiar with the Australian visa application process, you’ll know there are two occupation lists. There’s the short term skilled occupations list (STSOL) and the Medium and Long term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). Basically, you want your occupation to be on the MLTSSL – you have many more visa types open to you, and there is the possibility of applying for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. If your occupation is on the STSOL only, as of April 2017 (just after my 457 visa was granted!) you can only get a sponsored visa for a maximum of two years, and then you have to go home with no possibility of extending your stay, getting residency or citizenship. Up until last week, my occupation of management consultant was only on the STSOL which is why we had to rush to apply for permanent residency, as those on old 457s were given a year to apply for PR as per the old rules if they wished. But now management consultant has been moved to the MLTSSL! Seeing as my PR application is already in, this isn’t likely to affect much but it may make them look upon my application more favourably. Perhaps. Fingers crossed.

Art ¦¦ I haven’t really been seeing much art recently which is bad, and I don’t realise how much I miss it until I go and see some again. So we called in at an installation at Carriageworks in Redfern called The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Meters, Then it Stopped. All the bright colours were so cheery, and it was fun to watch people interacting with the space. Which mostly involved everyone tripping over the folded canvas on the floor, but at least it wasn’t just me.

Typically, I do not at all get the meaning behind the piece. I like art, but generally I don’t get it. I’m just not that highbrow. However, I did feel much happier and more positive having been in the space, so there’s that. Nothing like a good smack of colour on your retinas, isn’t that what they say…?

The Bad

No visitors ¦¦ For the first full month since arriving here we’ve had no visitors to brighten our doorstep. That has been sad, but having 8 months of people we know being here on a regular basis has been such a treat. I can’t be too upset that we’re just normal now!

January is quiet here ¦¦ I hadn’t really anticipated quite the extent that Sydney shuts down in January. A huge proportion of people are on holiday, and whilst that can give a fun vibe to the city, mostly things are just super quiet. Aside from the school holiday type activities, most things like classes or events won’t start up until February, and people are away a lot so social things are a bit thin on the ground. Add to that the fact that I’ve been working from home for almost the entire of January (not to speak of December, November, and October…) and it’s easy for isolation to set in. Thankfully, things are looking up because I’ve just been assigned to a new project at work – hooray! It’s full time and based at an office nearby so that’s going to be a great way to generally interact with more people on a daily basis. I do have my concerns about the project as a whole but I’m trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth here and go in with a positive attitude. Wish me luck.

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.

Before too long it’ll be time for me to start planning our First Expativersary… Any suggestions?


See previous months’ updates here

It's been 9 months since I moved to Sydney from the UK, and here's everything that has transpired this month and the lessons I've learned from them.