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Sami: Sami's Colourfulworld

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Australia makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Australia, etc.

Hi, I´m Sami, Portuguese born in Mozambique, later lived in South Africa, then Portugal, and have been living in Perth for the past 5 years.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started my blog almost 1 year ago, at first it was to showcase my arts and crafts, but then I got involved in the A-Z series and started blogging about our life in Australia. I have found out from a lot of emails I received that people have found my posts informative and some have even asked for my help in other areas in their immigration process. Not that I can help much with certain things, but I´m willing to give a hand if I can.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

These three about the islands I have visited in Australia, would be my favorite posts: A to Z of Australia: I is for Islands series.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Australia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

The last country I lived in – Portugal – is quite tiny compared to Australia, so the big difference between the two is space and more space. Also we lived in a small apartment, houses are not too common in the cities, and also extremely expensive, while in Perth we managed to buy a house that we have renovated, so we have a garden, which we love and where we do a lot of entertainment. Of course the nice weather helps, as Perth´s winter is short and not too cold either.

I didn´t really feel culture shock, apart from sometimes not understanding exactly what people were saying…I found that eventually I had to tune my ears to a new accent.

The fact that I had lived in South Africa which has a similar outdoor lifestyle and where people are down to earth also helped with the adaptation

Although when we first visited, we felt the lifestyle and quality of life was a lot better than what we had in Portugal, people in management positions also work hard and long hours, it´s not all fun and games! But of course if you happen to be lucky to get a more relaxed job, and you can just go for a dip in the water before going home.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Australia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I think I didn´t get any big surprises on our move, except maybe for the fact that young … and not so young are heavy drinkers, and also there doesn´t seem to be much respect for elders from the younger generation.

The only thing I would have changed would be to have come to Australia with a Permanent visa instead of Sponsorship visa (457), as there were problems down the track when the Global financial crisis hit and my husband lost his sponsorship. We battled to get a new sponsor, and we faced losing the right to live here, and of course that was stressful. Without a permanent visa of some kinds, you are always in a limbo! But that is coming soon hopefully!

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

I got a job within 1 month of arrival and started working in a medical clinic. One day a patient called saying he was calling from Hollywood to cancel the appointment he had that day. I cancelled the appointment and turned to my colleague and mentioned that the patient had called all the way from Hollywood!

No, she laughed, he must have been calling from Hollywood Hospital (a private hospital in Perth)! I felt pretty silly!!

Another time one of my husband´s colleagues was telling a joke and kept on mentioning the word “chook”. We had never heard it before and just smiled politely not knowing what he was talking about. A few days later I asked one of my friends what chook meant and she said it was a chicken!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Australia?

  • Research well – cost of living is going up all the time, accommodation is expensive and hard to come by, do your maths to make sure what you will earn will cover your costs and some contingency.
  • If possible come for a visit before you move over, and visit a couple of cities to make sure you settle in the place you feel comfortable in.  We for example visited Sydney, and although a beautiful city, it was far too big for our taste, and we would have to live way out of town to be able to afford a house.
  • Have an open mind – some things will for sure be different from where you live at present, mentalities differ widely too, so you have to integrate, make friends, and go with the flow. And if you want to settle here, don´t make comparisons and put the Australian way down, it´s not polite and it just means you don´t accept their way of doing things.

How is the expat community in Australia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

I was lucky that when we moved to Perth, we already knew 2 South African couples that lived here; one of them was a long time friend of the family. That made life easier, as they also introduced us to their friends, etc. We also joined the Portuguese club where once again we made another group of friends.

How would you summarize your expat life in Australia in a single, catchy sentence?

Relax and enjoy life!

Serhat Ahmed

"Without experience of having lived abroad, I thought it would be hard to get to know other expats. But not with InterNations."

Lotta Koskinen

"When I first attended the Sydney Bar night I was really nervous. But everyone welcomed me and I quickly felt as part of the community."

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