Australia: What I wish I Knew Before Arriving

Brighton Beach, Melbourne

Brighton Beach, Melbourne

There are always so many fears and ‘What ifs’ that come to mind when preparing to travel abroad and as I was planning out my working holiday visa in Australia, I found this to be more true than ever. How will I find a job? Would I make friends? Where will I live? These questions and hundreds more were racing through my mind in the days leading up to my flight that would take me half way around the world. I have now been living in Sydney for six months and although I cannot claim to be an expert on living abroad, I have definitely learned more than anticipated and picked up a few tricks along the way.  Here is a list of the things I have learned (sometimes the hard way) while living and working in Australia

Resumes are Different

This might seem like common sense to some people but I had to learn the hard way that my simple and concise resume from back home was almost laughable here in Sydney. 75 applications and exactly four weeks after my search began I was finally offered a job. Once I made a few friends, I decided to ask around for some help to improve my resume and after beefing it up a bit it only took a few days to find my second job. I am still no expert on Australian resumes but here are a few basic guidelines you should follow:

  • Brag about yourself, you’re CPR certified? Tell them. You’ve worked with different computer operating systems? They actually care.
  • Give as many details as possible, they want to know ALL of your responsibilities no matter how trivial you think they might be.
  • A solid resume is 1.5 to 2 pages long
  • You don’t necessarily have to have a photo attached to your resume but some businesses ask for one (Is this legally acceptable? I have no idea)

Gumtree is your Friend

Gumtree is a safer, more reliable version of craigslist. Of course it has its creepy ads where guys are looking for a female housemate to share cheap rent but only if you date the owner, (yikes) but mostly the ads seem legit. It is a wonderful resource that you should definitely take advantage of. I found my job on Gumtree, as well as, both apartments I have lived in. It has everything a traveler could ever need and it’s cheap so you can stay within budget.

Trials are Common

Prepare to work for free. In any restaurant/café job you apply for they are going to ask you to come in for a trial. I had no idea what this meant because it is not a thing in the United States. Basically, it is part of your interview, you show up and they throw you into the position you applied to for a couple hours and see how you go. I was a total disaster the first few times because I like to have all the information necessary before I feel confident in my ability to serve people. I was panicked, constantly being asked basic questions I didn’t have the answer to, and it showed. Also, during these trials you are expected to work, on average, four hours and are almost never paid. I have even heard horror stories from friends who worked a whole day (8+ hours) with promise of being paid but never saw a penny of it. So make sure to ask for all the details before agreeing.

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You will probably meet More Travelers than Native Australians

I can’t speak for the other major cities in Australia but this statement could not be truer in Sydney. Don’t get me wrong you will meet plenty of Australians, but most jobs you apply for cater to travelers and of course while living there you will be hitting up all the tourist attractions that Sydney siders tend to avoid. This is neither a positive nor negative attribute of the city, it’s just a fact.

The Cost of Living is High, Set Your Standards Low

If you are planning a working holiday trip, chances are one of your goals is to save money. This is best achieved by living in a Roomshare, since accommodation will be your most expensive cost. Decide what your limits and standards are for a living situation then try to find something that fits both your standards and your price range. For example, I found that I can’t share a bedroom with more than 3 people or a bathroom with more than 5. Finally, you will just have to accept cockroaches into your life. They are all over the city and every Roomshare has them, some worse than others. Try to find a place that looks clean and doesn’t have a lot of crumbs in the kitchen, chances are you will get lucky and only see one every couple of weeks.

The C-word is real, and People Use it

According to some local friends, it’s not necessarily a negative thing to call someone this. Apparently it’s what you call your friends. Six months into my trip and it still shocks me when I hear someone say it, just accept it and move on, but please do not adopt it.

Coffee is a Lifestyle

Lying about barista skills would be an embarrassing mistake, trust me. People here really care about their freshly brewed coffee so if you are a coffee addict, welcome to heaven on earth.

Prepare to Talk Politics

As soon as someone discovered I was from the states they wanted to know how many guns I own, whether I am going to vote for Trump or Clinton, and if High school is really like the movies.  This can be true for any culture because people are naturally curious and its fun comparing cultural differences with all your international friends. I just found it funny I was most frequently asked these three specific questions.

Watching the sun rise with friends on the first day of 2016

Watching the sun rise with friends on the first day of 2016

No matter how much you research and prepare yourself for a big trip the worries and what ifs will always be there in the back of your mind. Don’t let them stop you from traveling, life is an adventure full of unknown factors and no matter how scary it might seem to live in another country for a year, trust me, Australia is worth it

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