This is the first of a three-part series by Annemarie de Villiers giving practical advice on steps to take before emigrating to Australia. She speaks from experience and here’s how she introduces herself: “I was born and raised in Johannesburg, am an expat mom of two active boys and enjoy the outdoors, helping people and all things social, fun and funny. We left South Africa nine years ago for the Netherlands , but after six years decided to go on a fabulous adventure and moved to Seoul , South Korea. A year ago we relocated to Sydney, where we live in the Hills District. I am the editor of a blog called Austrangelia: http://austrangelia.blogspot.com/
I have been working on a list of concrete things you can do to help you succeed when emigrating. There is very little in the process of successful immigration that is not up to you. It is an action, one for which you will need to take full responsibility if you want to reap the rewards in the end. Much like parenting you may not see the benefits initially, but I can guarantee you that proper preparation, planning and continued hard work will pay off.
1. Be realistic in your expectations
I have put this one at the top of the list as I do find it one of the most important things you can do for yourself. No country is perfect and every single place you can ever move to will have its down sides. It is crucial to be realistic in your expectations of what your new life will be like. Even in Australia there are bullies in schools, maniacs on the roads, traffic fines, rude people, drugs, etc.
All of the negative aspects of Australia are probably still way better than the negative aspects you are currently experiencing in South Africa - making the move well worth while. But keep in mind that your standard of living may drop, your life in Australia is not going to be a permanent sunny, seaside holiday, there will be clothes to iron, beds to make, food to cook, grocery shopping to do,
traffic, administration, school runs, etc.
Some things we will never get away from, no matter where we move! Keep the negatives and positives in mind and compare them to the negatives and positives of your current situation. Is what you are gaining worth what you will be giving up?
2. Be clear on why you are leaving
Keep a journal or do a scrapbook of all of the reasons for leaving. Write down all the negative things about your current situation. Cut out newspaper reports and magazine articles and keep them. Take this book/journal with you on the plane when you leave - it will be your reminder/wake-up call on those lonely, teary nights when you start regretting and questioning your decision to leave.
3. Be specific on why you have chosen your adoptive country
Keep a journal or scrapbook with all the positives of your adoptive country. Write down all your thoughts on why you have chosen this specific country. What do you like so much, what are the advantages and what do you look forward to seeing and doing once you are there? It is important not to think like a tourist when creating this book! Think of things like politics, economics, schooling, business opportunities, climate, multi-cultural living, sports, etc. Also, take this book with you on the plane when leaving. Initially culture shock might get the better of you and a concrete, positive reminder of all the great things about your new country will help you keep perspective.
4. Identify what you want your life to be like
If you are moving to Australia for your children to have an outdoor lifestyle, to be safer or to have a better education, be very clear on how you will achieve this. Do your research and be sure that you will actually be able to achieve the life you are dreaming of. It is no use dreaming of having a beach/surfer lifestyle if you can’t swim! And there’s no point planning a country life on a horse farm in Kenthurst, while your sponsor wants you working as an air traffic controller at Sydney International Airport -- you will spend more than three hours a day in traffic, leaving no time to enjoy your horses. Do all of the research you possibly can and then draw up an action plan covering:
- what you want your life to be like
- whether you will realistically be able to achieve this
- what you will do to realise it.