First impressions of my life in Down Under

Three weeks after my beginning in Australia I finally ended a summary about my first days. Sorry for taking so long, I actually did not know where to start my story, maybe I was in a kind of artistic hole. 😉

My first thoughts arriving in Sydney were: “what do I do here?” Compared to my start in Rio de Janeiro more than two years ago I felt somehow disappointed – not really about the place, but more about my impressions. I had waited for this moment for so long, had worked hard for six months to be able to pay my journey to the other side of the world. However, finally arriving, I didn’t have that special feeling I had in Brazil. I remember putting my feet on South American ground to me was just an amazing feeling. Not this time – I just thought, “okay, another country, another journey, what’s the difference?” and was sad about myself at the same time.

However, instead of booking a plane back home, I took the train to Cronulla, a small city one hour from Sydney. I was going to meet Bernadette there, whose sister Charlotte is one of my best friends. She is travelling in the north at the moment, so I could not meet her. Since Bernadette was still at work I had the chance to discover my new home by myself. It is a working holiday hostel, so the reception can help you to find a job. And that’s what happened quite quickly: I was actually prepared to wait a couple of days to find a job, relaxing, discovering the city before starting working life. But Mike at the reception asked me, “You are looking for a job? They need people to clean apartments. You can start tomorrow.” His words and the moment I saw Bernadette made me feel a lot better. I told myself that the strange feeling I had must have been a bit like some people hesitate before they marry.


Mentally arriving in my new hostel and physically at working life

With each day I was more confident about my decision and soon I got a new feeling of home. Although quite tired in the beginning (my working day started at 7 am and it also took me time to get used to the 8 hour time difference), I was just happy being here. Hostel life is something I love and which perfectly fits to this period of time in my life. You wake up, hear loud music and people laughing, some still drunken from partying, others getting ready for work. No space in the fridge, for breakfast bottles of beer wait for you on the table. Things some people might consider as a nightmare, but I don‘t. I love being surrounded by people from all around the world and learning new things, such as international recipes or improve my Spanish. I have no problem with sharing my room, actually I think it’s quite funny to share stories or take styling advices from one of the other five girls in my room. Hostel life is anything but boring, and that was exactly what I was expecting and hoping for: A new exciting time of my life. Especially in the weekend you always have options to go out at night or just stay at home, have a beer or play billiard in the kitchen. And by the way: I’m constantly improving my billiard skills!

However during the first days I preferred not to party since I had to work. Together with three other guys from the hostel I cleaned apartments that were not yet opened, eight hours a day, 150 Australian Dollar per day. Not such an interesting job, but the money was worth it and besides, I was always listening to documentaries and reports from the radio I downloaded on my mobile, which made me learn and discover new things while cleaning windows or floors.


In revenge of a disappointing nightlife experience

After some days I was finally ready to go out with Bernadette and some new friends. We went on bar hopping in Sydney and afterwards to a club. Unfortunately, my first nightlife experience in the city was disappointing: I generally don’t like clubs that much, and this time my disapproval was confirmed again. In places where it’s all about showing off, not possible to have real conversations, but even more important to dance the most sexy way possible, I don’t feel at ease at all. I like to dance, but not in order to be judged by men: Because in that moment human beings become objects. And I had to feel it in the most unpleasant way: Someone touched my bottom while I was dancing. Turning around immediately, I could tell who it was, grabbed the guy and furiously shouted in his ear how he could possibly think my body could in any way belong to him. He was too surprised to react and that made me feel a little better. I hope he learned a lesson. Later on I was told that Australia, despite being a very modern and progressive country, has a high rate of domestic violence.

The next time we went partying I decided from the beginning on that I didn’t want anyone even thinking about touching me. And I found the perfect solution: I just danced in a way nobody would dare, by imitating the most silly moves from the 1970s. Guests looked at me, probably thinking: Is she drunk or just stupid? To me it was the most funny night since I had arrived in Australia! Not so for my poor hostel friends, who stared at me incredulously, pretending not to know me.


Discovering Sydney and Australia’s true working life

Another day I took off to discover Sydney, just in order to walk around and see what it’s like. First I did not like the city too much. The very centre with its high skyscrapers just did not seem to be anything special to me. But after a while I discovered the more beautiful sides, like places with a great view all over the city, or the Harbour Close to the Opera. Unfortunately I didn’t yet have the time to go to Sydney very often, especially in my first week here. I was too busy with work during the day, and afterwards I was too tired.

After a week and a half of work as a cleaning lady I got a message from the person I worked for: “won’t require having you, as I’ve been scheduled to start another’s job in Newcastle early next week”. I wasn’t even too sad or worried, because I knew I was going to find something else. That’s just how it works in Australia: You get a job very easily, and you loose it just as easily.

So I soon found a Japanese restaurant that needed help for dish washing during one weekend and I also started to clean the rooms in the hostel I live in in order to get free accommodation. And I finally distributed my CVs in several places; I had one trial in a coffee shop today, but still have to wait for an answer.

I realized that the Australian government must be really happy with all the young people from Europe and North and South America coming to its country and contributing to an economic growth: We do jobs locals don’t want to do. Especially in the gastronomy and building business I realized how many people are foreigners and how few actually come from here. According to other backpackers, farm work can however be the biggest challenge: Very often travellers work eight hours a day, five or even six days a week and only receive free accommodation and food, no salary at all. Why, you’d probably ask, would they do it? The answer is easy: It’s the only way to get a second year visa. Only if you can prove that you have worked on a farm for three months, you might apply for another twelve months of working life here. Clever solution to the apparent problem of not having enough voluntary Australians to do this kind of work.


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