British Expat Living in Australia - Interview with Nicola

Published: 21 Jan at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Australia
Nicola is an expat living in Melbourne and the proud mum of a cheeky three year old daughter India. She is the author of blog Upside Down which provides interesting articles on the emotional ups and down of being an expat. Nicola works in marketing and in her spare time, aside from general slave duties to her daughter, loves to write, run, do yoga, spend weekends at the beach and eat lots of food while drinking wine. Nicola's expat blog is called Upside Down (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Nicola...

Where are you originally from?
Manchester in the North of England.

In which country and city are you living now?
Melbourne, Australia.

How long have you lived in Australia and how long are you planning to stay?
I have now lived in Australia for five years and three months! Saying that makes me feel a little nauseous! It was only ever supposed to be a twelve month adventure following a maternity cover job opportunity in Perth Western Australia. I knew however that I would jump at another opportunity to stay longer but didn't want to stay in Perth. Fortunately I received another offer with the same company in Melbourne which I of course accepted. But within months of the second move I fell pregnant (a little awkward after being relocated twice by my company!) and time just seems to keep passing by...I'm constantly here is so wonderful and I think for my now three year old she would have a better life here but I miss family dreadfully and I struggle to decide whats best for us!!! so, the long answer to that is I have no idea!

Why did you move to Australia and what do you do?

I was working for an environmental organisation in the UK, who got bought out by an Australian company. I applied for an internal position and moved with them. I still work for the same company although we were not so long ago bought out by a US based organisation! I work in marketing communications.

Did you bring family with you?
I moved over with my partner although when I got the second offer to Melbourne he stayed in Perth for a while rather than move again so soon and have to find another job. We flew back and forth to see one another and shortly after I fell pregnant so he joined me a few months afterward.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Australia itself has been very easy to adapt to because all the things I love to do are here in abundance. I love running outside, yoga, eating out (esp breakfasts/lunch) and the beach. It couldn't be more perfect for me in that respect - I used to get frustrated at the weather at home (as everyone does) and the lack of places to eat out for breakfast which in Melbourne is amazing - best meal of the day here! and there are an incredible number of yoga studios on my doorstep here. But while i settled into the lifestyle easily, i have found being far from family very difficult. I also find the 40 degree temperatures very hard, it really affects my mood! and coming across dodgy looking spiders regularly has also taken a bit of getting used to - I still scream and run! Christmastime has also become emotionally challenging unless I'm seeing family, although this year spent with close friends was bit easier.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I found it very easy to meet other expats through networking groups and also work (there was a big expat community in Perth) but I really did make a huge effort to meet people in both Perth and Melbourne. My closest friends are still expats but over time I've developed some relationships with Australians too (other mums, neighbours and work) In hindsight I would have made more of an effort to cultivate both - the expat community is really important as you have an immediate group of people who understand what you are going through, and they are also up for exploring with you! But to stay long term its important to integrate with some locals too which makes you feel less like a visitor. having said that locals likely already have established social circles so these friendships develop over a longer period of time.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
In Australia its all about being outside, parks, beaches, bbq's, cafes. I think just enjoying what your new country has to offer and fully immersing yourself is important rather than expecting to be exactly like home.

What do you enjoy most about living in Australia?
The outdoor lifestyle and spending weekends at the beach. I feel so lucky to be able to spend the summer at the beach every weekend! And the sunsets. Mindblowing!Its also great how relaxed life is here.

How does the cost of living in Australia compare to home?
Its expensive, but the salaries are higher so its relative. There is also a hell of a lot more to do on a small, or no, budget!

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Australia?
I find being so far from family incredibly difficult.
The shopping can be limited in some areas too in terms of clothes, especially childrens clothes and shoes it drives me insane that I have to pay 80 dollars plus for a pair of shoes for my daughter everytime!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Australia, what would it be?
To let go of the home comforts and create new ones!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Definitely being so far from family and having my daughter here. I always imagined having my first baby surrounded by family so i found my pregnancy and the birth particularly hard. My partner was of course very supportive but its one of those times when the support of the close women in your life is needed!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think I would struggle adjusting to the lifestyle after all this time since it also use to irritate me when I lived there! Then again I miss family so much I would love having them around. I actually think it would be harder to repatriate that expatriate!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Embrace the lifestyle - immerse yourself!
  2. Stop comparing things to home.
  3. Put yourself out there with the expat community and try to foster at least a couple of relationships with locals - although that will come in time.
  4. Re-evaluate your identity (you will anyway). Moving away is an opportunity to look at the roles and activities you carried out at home because you 'just did'. Now is the opportunity to change your life!
  5. Live in the moment, its no good constantly pondering what will happen in the future.(easier said than done!)
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Upside Down is mainly about the challenges, particularly emotional, I've faced on my journey. They draw on my personal experiences but the topics are focused around the ups and downs that come with being an expat and path of personal growth it sets many of us onto.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be messaged through my Upside Down page:

About the author

Expat Blog ListingNicola is a British expat living in Australia. Blog description: Hello, I am Nicola, a British expat and mum of one from Manchester, currently living in Melbourne. Since moving to Australia in 2010, I have experienced immense highs, and extreme lows; a natural part of life, but which can be particularly intense as an expat.
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