Welcome to I’m Not From Here — a monthly column by five people who have lived the expat experience and want to share their advice and anecdotes with anyone thinking of doing the same. We know all too well that packing up and starting over elsewhere is one of the most exhilarating, yet stressful, things you can do. So, each month, we’ll aim to make your move that little bit easier while reminiscing about our own crazy adventures abroad. Enjoy and bon voyage!
When I moved to London in 2018, I was fully prepared for my life to change — I was moving 17,000km away from everything and everyone I knew and loved, after all. But what I didn’t account for is the way moving entirely outside my comfort zone (physically and metaphorically) would completely break me down and then build me back up again, in the best way possible.
Before moving to London, I would have considered myself a true introvert. I found most new social interactions awkward as hell and to say I didn’t cope well with change would be a huge understatement. Honestly, I still don’t like the icky feeling that comes with big (or small) life changes, but the confidence I now have in myself that I’ll make it through the other side with a new collection of hard-earned lessons has increased ten-fold.
Moving overseas is challenging, I’d argue, for everyone who’s brave enough to do it. But the rewards outweigh every challenge, any day of the week. When someone mentions they think they might, possibly, maybe want to move overseas one day, I’m the person who tells them they must and immediately tries to help them plan the move.
Ahead, The Latch’s band of enthusiastic expats are making the case for moving overseas, because even if it’s the biggest challenge you ever put yourself through (and it might just be), it’s also a decision you’ll never regret. Promise.
To Find Your People
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“As I mentioned above, moving overseas wasn’t easy for me. Between it taking months to land a job, and then being so miserable in that job that I resigned after a few short months, it was a rough road.
The wonderful thing about this all happening when I moved overseas, though, was that I still always knew I was in exactly the right place. I never once wavered on knowing that the challenges were worth it — I’d moved halfway across the world and that in itself was a huge life accomplishment. But the biggest reward I was given for going through this rough time while being completely separated from 90 per cent of my support system was that I built a new one.
Before moving overseas, I always felt like I hadn’t really met my “people” yet. I had a few close friends who I loved dearly (and still do!), but I never had a core group of friends that I’d been going out with every weekend since high school. I’ve since realised that I don’t really need that, but what moving overseas really helped me find, were some of the most wonderful friends I’ve ever had.
Friendships forged in the fire of a challenging time in your life can be intense and short-lived, but the friendships I made while living in London are life-long bonds that I don’t believe could be broken. They became my family when I was far away from my own family, became my biggest cheerleaders, celebrated with me when I got engaged, supported me through a pandemic, and taught me what true friendship is all about.” — Ange Law, Commercial Content & Shopping Editor
For a Fresh Start
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“Sometimes, we just need a do-over. Perhaps it’s after a big break up (been there), getting out of a toxic workplace (been there too) or maybe it’s that suddenly life just feels a bit monotonous and uninspired (have absolutely been there!).
While it may seem an extreme response, taking on the challenge of moving overseas can be just the trick to help you get your momentum back.
I moved overseas for my career the first time around (well, that and to live out my dream since I was 11 to live in NYC), but the second time around, it was definitely more driven by a desire to start over. Yes, I moved to New York twice because that’s how much I love it.
The sense of landing in the US and basically having to start my personal and professional life from scratch again was terrifying but so damn exhilarating. I celebrated every win, big or small, because they were so much harder to come by. I learned how strong and capable I am. I learned rejection and triumph and all the parts in between. Weirdly, I think living in NYC for so long made me a nicer person instead of a harder one. I learned patience and humility and how to get a little more comfortable with failure (but only a little more haha). None of this would have happened if I had stayed in Australia.
Moving overseas was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am now if I had never done it.” — Lyndsey Rodrigues, Entertainment Editor
To Invest in Yourself
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“Moving to another country is a difficult decision, especially when you’re young. I moved to America when I was 18. At first, it was for my career, but then I realised I needed a change of scenery for my personal growth.
I was a curious kid; that person always waiting for the next thing. I wouldn’t say I like standing still; I wanted to explore, meet new people, live with different cultures and expand my universe. That’s exactly what I did.
I lived in other cities and visited several countries over the years, all because when I was 18, I got out of my comfort zone and moved to a foreign country. Whenever someone asks me if they should move overseas, I will always say yes and even help them decide because, as a young person, the best thing you can do for yourself is to explore what the world has to offer.
You might pick up a new palate, a new language, or an appreciation for other cultures. This knowledge can be applied to your career, relationships, and daily life. Make a move; it’s the best investment you will ever make for yourself.” — Natasha Bazika, Thrillist Producer
To Bolster Your Career
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“When I decided to move to New York in 2017, I was at a career crossroads. I’d just finished my degree and had worked as a makeup artist and in luxury retail for four years. I loved beauty, but after multiple injuries and four years working on my feet and working weekends, (ten years including time served in hospo before studying makeup), I knew I wanted to do what I’d always wanted to do — write for a living. Problem was? The Australian media industry is tiny. Even entry-level jobs for marketing copywriters required internships, and every beauty journalist I knew had interned for years and had tonnes of connections.
At 25, I felt old to be starting a new career, and the idea of working unpaid wasn’t something I could consider. While I didn’t move to New York to become a writer, the spontaneous decision to take the J1 visa did come from a lunch-break career crisis.
Moving to New York without a job was terrifying. I only had a handful of acquaintances in the city, and I had no idea what the corporate world was like. I had assumed I’d get a bar or retail job if I couldn’t find work, but even that proved tricky arriving in the middle of a bomb cyclone when most hospitality venues and retail operations were on a skeleton crew. Plus, most of my previous bar managers, and therefore references, were ex-boyfriends, so I was reluctant to desperately hit them up for endorsements while pretending to be #killingit in NYC.
As I was getting down to the last of my savings, I got an interview with a celebrity kids’ clothing wear company through an acquaintance from uni (moving cities is no time to be an introvert — reach out to people you’ve had even the most PASSING conversations with, if they’re expats too, chances are they’ll be keen to hang).
I got a data entry job with them for a breathtakingly low salary — it was boring, and I was terrible at it. Still, the company liked me (“cultural fit” is everything in startups). Soon after I joined, there was a change to the newly created marketing and comms team, and they quickly moved me across to the marketing and comms department. Their CMO, Piper, was newly-appointed and had worked at Oroton. While I was initially manning customer service calls, she saw I understood prestige, had a knack for talking to celebrities and influencers from my experience as an MUA, and could work on shoots. I took over the company blog, all external comms, and all copywriting for the website while working with everyone from the (parents of) the kids from Stranger Things to Chrissy Teagan and SJP. I worked with the marketing team on concepts for seasonal campaigns and brought them to life on set.
I got to the office at 7am, and after work would head to Gotham Writers, which was taught by real award-winning published authors. Many of the other students were journalists looking to write their first novel, and we formed a writer’s group of our own and met once a fortnight. Having my creative writing work edited by American Vogue journos over beers in Chelsea was not something I imagined for myself, or that they’d appreciate my feedback on their creative writing efforts (writing creatively is so much more vulnerable than writing about fashion, beauty or current events and really levels the playing field).
Eventually, I realised I missed home, family, and healthcare too much. When I returned, I was able to parlay my New York experiences, combined with my background as a makeup artist, into my first beauty writing job. While these roles exist in Australia, the sad reality is they are competitive and exclusive. They often go to people with good connections who can afford to put in the long, hard hours of free labour (read this piece by my amazing ex-editor Adam Thorn if you’re interested in what breaking into journalism is like in Australia)
New York was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I felt out of my depth, too broke to eat fresh food and desperately homesick 60% of the time. But the decision made during a lunch crisis gave me the life, career and self-confidence I have now, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.” — Ruby Feneley, POPSUGAR Beauty Producer