Australia stories- Getting organised

We are here, so now what. It certainly doesn’t end when you get there. The fact that my husband already had a job promised (as soon as we get the visa) dictated quite a lot on where we would be living so we decided we would look for houses around that area which was Caboolture, QLD. Small little suburb about 60 km North from Brisbane.

Had to take a photo 😀

Once you find a place to live it’s time to look for the school for the kids. At this point only one of them was going to school, my eldest who was five. He did not know a single word in English. That didn’t matter though. We had been told that people over there are quite welcoming and kids will eventually learn the language and they were very true in saying that.

So many things depended though on the Visa. Since we didn’t have the Visa yet we could not rent a house so we didn’t have a permanent address and we couldn’t enrol our son to school or apply for a job so the Visa dictates everything. All we could really do is wait for it so in the meantime we bought a car which we were allowed to do and drove to Sydney for a few days.


Our two little ones in the front…

It was a big city. We stayed there for two nights and one night on the way there and back for one night also. With small kids it was kind of necessary. They simply did not have enough patience to travel 1000 k’s in one day understandably. We got lost on the underground motorways, visited Bondi beach and took photos by the Opera House, but it was in the end a really quick visit and more like getting to know the country in general.

Everything was so new, roads, food, driving on the left side, people. People were so nice and the general vibe was so welcoming. So first two weeks were more and less just meeting Finnish people we had talked to online in advance getting some great advice and looking around places where we could stay once the visa arrives and travelling around. It was indeed a little bit like a holiday.

The magical email

You application is nearing completetion! Yay!

When the magic email arrived, that our visa is close to being granted we needed to leave the country since we were there with a tourist visa. We had already earlier planned to go to New Zealand for two weeks when the time comes.

It was around three weeks since we arrived when the email came. Just like they predicted and we had planned. Our plywood box was almost half way too most likely getting close to Singapore at that time when we hopped on the place to New Zealand for a week.

New Zealand was an amazing place. One of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to so my next post will concentrate on NZ.

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Australia stories – The journey and arrival

After about 6 months we got the email from the immigration office that they are getting closer in granting the PR Visa. At that time if you fulfilled all the requirements (of which the most important one was the qualification for a skilled occupation category) it was very unlikely that you would not get the visa. So as long as all your paper work is in order you could plan the move and get ready for the day when the final approval arrives. So we had sold our house, moved to my ex husbands fathers place for the summer and knew we could book the flights and ship the plywood box soon. Basically we were all ready to leave living on ”stand by” in a way.

Spending time

Our first car we got to borrow from our Finnish friends until we buy our own. At roof car park in Brisbane Chermside shopping centre. Little did we know we’d end up living almost next to it.

Because it takes two months for our things to arrive on the other side of the globe it made sense to take as long time as possible on the way there. So we booked flights through London to Beijing and Hong Kong to Brisbane. Why Beijing? Well because a colleague of mine agreed to let us use his apartment while he was in Finland . Huge thanks to you (you know who you are <3). Hong Kong because there are only a couple of different airports in Asia that fly to Brisbane and Hong Kong was one of them.

We left in August 2008 from Helsinki-Vantaa airport and by the time we had flown for 10 hours the flight captain kindly announced that we are above Estonia so basically 60 km away from where we left and after 10 hours of traveling. What did we learn from this? Don’t book the cheapest flights if you want to get there quickly especially with small children.

Beijing was really interesting, we walked a lot. Went to see the Great Wall of China and other attractions. I don’t think I would have ever visited China otherwise so this was really a great great opportunity that we had. Hong Kong was also really interesting and beautiful place. Quite international but still not too much and such good food! Worth a visit definitely also.

New home

Checking CBD for the first time

I remember when we started to approach Brisbane I was looking outside from the window and thinking is there anything else except sand here as I had been watching the moonlike surface for quit a while already from the airplane window. Are there actually people living here somewhere? Then the mountain range came into view and a bit more green as we started to get closer to the shore of the Pacific Ocean and our destination Brisbane International airport.

This would be our new home for as long as… Well we don’t know. We didn’t have a definite plan. Plan was to get there, stay for at least the year ex-husband had a contract for. If possible stay for the four year needed to get citizenship. BUT those were all plans. Truth was it was scary, it was exciting, it felt like a dream or a different reality that we were entering. Could we indeed call it home? Would it feel like home?

First encounter

CBD looked so big and the high risers were like wow!

After landing we went through the infamous border control and of course it was a bit scary having seen all those series on TV. First you show your passport and then the dogs came as we were getting our luggage. One sniffed really long my son’s bag and they asked whether there’s been any food in there and I said yes I think we had a banana in there. The officer said most likely the dog just smelled the banana and then they let us pass. It was much quicker than I thought and pretty much the same entering any country.

Leaving from the airport with the taxi I remember being so scared because I felt all the time like we are on the wrong side of the road and I’m going to die. It was a strange feeling because I hadn’t been in a country with left side traffic for a while. You did get used to it pretty quickly though, but first feeling was definitely weird.

It was super warm, it was sunny, it felt like any other place in the world, it wasn’t that different actually. We arrived at the apartment hotel that we had booked for 2 weeks so that it gives us time to find our own place and figure our our next move while waiting for the visa to be processed. After unpacking and changing clothes we left outside and went to get something to eat. It was a strange feeling being finally there after such a long time and so much work.

Finally here

It’s hard to describe how emotional it is. How long process selling almost every single thing that you have ever owned, packing your life into a couple of suitcases and a small plywood box and just leave. Just go not knowing what will happen on the other side. Will we find jobs? How will the kids be reacting? What if we have to return tail between our legs in a couple of weeks? Will we be able to support ourselves over there? What about the language, will we be able communicate? Thousands and thousands of thoughts going through your head.

But we were finally there. Such a relief yet extremely scary. What next you ask? Well getting organised!

Best regards,
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Australia Stories – The visa

I have been avoiding starting this series of stories because by writing about Australia I will be poking into some memories, lots of them actually, some good, some bad. It was the time when the family was still one and I didn’t know what was coming. It was a dream come true to be able to live in a foreign country where it’s sunny always and people are so happy and smiling. It was though not all smiles being overseas, so far away with three (later four) children. Getting there wasn’t ”a piece of cake” either. It was hard paperwork, very hard for 3 years from the time we first printed the ”manual” on how to apply.

Where to start

But let’s start from the beginning. It was around year 2005. At that time applications were still done by paper so the application instructions were also on paper. If I remember correctly it was 52 pages long. First few times we just looked at the pile of paper and put it away, but after about half a year we actually started reading the papers through figuring out what do we need to do and in what order. For example if you were on a certain occupation list you were able to apply directly for a permanent residency Visa. Luckily both me and my ex husband were on that list so either one of us could be the main applicant.

The letter we got informing now we need to leave the country for two weeks

It wasn’t though enough that you have your occupation on the list, you also had to pass the language exam and for different occupations the exam demands are different. We first tried it so that my ex-husband would be the primary applicant because his occupation was on this ”fast track list”. Then after a few months we changed it so that I would be the primary applicant because other demands for him were different like language skills for example.

Because I do not have a university degree I was required to write 30 pages of my whole entire career what I have been doing for work and a couple of project examples of how I have been applying my skills in my job. This took about 2 to 3 months to create (while pregnant with the third…). After creating the 30 page long document I could send in the application for my occupation to be qualified for the occupations on the demand list so to speak. Then it was waiting game until they assess your application. I would estimate few months if I remember correctly.

I am qualified!

Oh the happy day when the letter arrived verifying me as the system administrator that I already knew I was! So now we were able to put in the final application for the PR (permanent resident) visas 21st of December 2007. For the actual application you needed to have photographs and doctor certificates of each members of our family.

All we had soon on the way to Australia

Those alone cost around 400-500 per person. Approximate cost for the PR visa was somewhere between 2500-3000 something euros per applicant. So it was not cheap, but then again we sold our house, furniture and all our belongings pretty much so we could fund going there. You also needed to be able to show that you can support yourself for the first two years so…

When the hard part was done and the application submitted we needed to wait for almost a year before we got the actual PR Visa so in this time we sold most of our stuff (and I had sold my cloth diaper and baby sling business)t and started looking for jobs and places to stay in Australia. We ended us choosing Brisbane because we had met some lovely people from there earlier and talked a lot with them online and the climate seemed nice, city not too big, but still big enough to have job opportunities and less competition maybe than in Sydney or Melbourne.

Leave as tourist arrive as permanent resident

The ”few” suitcases we had

My ex-husband managed to get a job before we even arrived so we informed of this to the immigration agency and they promised to accelerate our application. They said that we could enter the country as tourists and then once they are really, really close to finalising our Visa we should just leave the country for a few weeks while they process it to the end and voila we would return as permanent residents. We had always thought of visiting New Zealand so took the opportunity to go there for those two weeks.

So we left to Australia as tourists on the 7th of August 2008 with all of our belongings in just a couple (very many) of suitcases and that was all we had. The small few square meter container that we sent only had books important photographs couple of important toys and things like that memories from Finland no furniture. Thinking back to it now. Wow, did we really do that and with three small kids? Yes we did twice! But more about that later…

Next episodeArrival: The first days in a foreign country on another side of the globe Coming up once I got time to write and dig into photos !

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