Moving countries and switching careers can be a little overwhelming if you haven’t been out on your own before. But only when you’ve made the move will you realise how vital this step can be for your future self.
I can assure you that there comes a gratifying feeling towards the end. Not that my migration process was a walk in the park, but I am still very grateful for deciding to lead this journey abroad.
I had been working full-time with an entertainment portal in India before I decided to marry my longtime sweetheart, who had moved to Sydney a few years ago. I always knew it would be a big move for me. But I decided to gear myself up for the next big challenge because that’s exactly how life is — continually changing and surprising you.
I was a web editor for a leading daily and had been working in the media industry for the last six years. After arriving in Sydney in April 2019, I convinced myself I would find something similar in this new country too.
But my mirage was soon broken. It all started with my lack of local experience, and local references which I realised are the ‘must-haves’ when you apply for a job in a new country.
Because it was my first move abroad, I was frantically applying to all the openings without doing the right research, which did not go well. With back-to-back rejection emails, I started losing the confidence I had acquired over time and which I thought would always remain my most reliable asset.
I never knew how a simple two-letter word — ‘NO’ — could break you so much. Because I had never stayed in a different country by myself, I knew my challenges would be strenuous. Moving to a new country exposes you to challenges you’ve never experienced before. You’re forced to face problems head-on and to come up with solutions. You’re constantly evolving. And I could see all that happening to me.
Nobody was willing to give me a chance because apparently I didn’t have any ‘local experience’. I was like, ‘Hello, how do you get any when you don’t get given a chance?’ But all these thoughts were suppressed within me and were breaking me down, thereby making a significant impact on my mental health.
From not sleeping at all to sleeping like a koala bear (that is 18 hours or so), and lying on the couch and crying endlessly, to not being able to step out of bed — I did it all.
If it weren’t for my husband, who was my rock solid support during all these months, I would have lost my ship long back. My folks said that a job couldn’t decide what you’re capable of achieving. And while I agree to a degree, I still couldn’t adjust to being the ‘insignificant one’ to almost every job application I had applied.
My LinkedIn was up-to-date, my resume was all set, my cover letters were customised according to the job descriptions, but still, nothing worked. They say the best things take time. But nobody tells you how it takes a toll on your patience and well-being.
What was worse was not having a single person outside your family to talk to about your hurdles because you’ve left all of them back home. I never underestimated the value of friendships in my life but sitting alone on a bench and looking at a bunch of girlfriends giggling and chilling together made me miss my people even more.
What is more challenging when you move abroad? Making new friends or building a new career from scratch? I may never be able to understand because I struggled equally for both.
Let me tell you a funny story from my childhood — whenever someone asked my cousins and I what we wished to be when we grow up, they all had high hopes and dreams. But when my turn came? I always told them that I want to be a ‘homemaker’.
Because growing up, I hardly saw my parents’ at home and I wanted to see more of them. Time flew by, and it became one silly story. After graduating from college, I had bagged a lucrative internship and from there began my tryst with entertainment journalism — the one where I started working day and night.
If you’re a media person, you’d understand that there’s hardly a Sunday for you. But despite the odds, you love your work, and that keeps you pumped. Precisely what happened to me. So, not being able to grab a single job for a good six months drove me nuts in Sydney. Though if I look at the silver lining, I got to live my childhood dream of becoming a homemaker. But when I became one, I didn’t want it.
Some months later, I applied for a marketing internship in a reputable IT firm, and to my great surprise, I was selected. It was a fantastic learning experience and felt like a great start to my Australian career.
Working for five months in a pool of diverse culture, I met some incredible people who helped me understand the basics and grow in the Australian market. After my internship was over, I was back to my confident self and was determined to land myself a decent role.
Now that I had the relevant local experience and industry references, my job hunt got a little better, and I started getting callbacks too. I got shortlisted in some and rejected in others until COVID-19 decided to mark its unwanted presence all over the world.
My job interviews were put on hold, applications were withdrawn, and I was back to square one. How did I deal with it this time around? Better than the first time. Because when I looked back at my journey, I realised how far I had come from when where I started.
I wanted to continue that progress, so I decided to spend my time wisely. I picked up some online courses to hone my skills. I learned the A-B-C’s of cooking and started eating more homemade food. I went for long walks and listened to some inspiring podcasts. I didn’t put undue pressure on my mind this time and let it breathe freely. I am certain that when this pandemic is over, life will become its beautiful self again.
The fact is, living in another country reminds you how amazing life is. You adopt a new routine and push yourself out of your comfort zone, and that gives you an appreciation for everything — things that you wouldn’t usually notice or pay attention to.
You’re reminded that time is fleeting and that your experiences are what you make of them. Your new normal teaches you so much, and you deserve to pat yourself on the back for embracing all of it. I wish I had moved abroad a little earlier in life to embrace all the wonderful teachings more.
Then, of course, with the good comes the bad. The job search can be mentally draining — especially during the pandemic, and you will understandably be at your wit’s end. There were days when I wished I could take my anxiety off like a necklace, but instead, it acted like choker that grew tighter and tighter when I stepped out in public or laid in bed at night.
However, this time around, I was successful at pulling myself back and even explained to my inner self that no matter what happens tomorrow, this can’t be the persistent state of mind. And I need not be so harsh on myself. I should invest my energy on the positives and new learnings, and that is what keeps me sane and sorted. Remember, even the darkest night is bound to end and the sun will rise again.