Frency from Phillippines shared her story living on the Gold Coast, Australia!
1. What’s your name?
2. Where were you born? Phillippines
3. Which country and city are you living at the moment and how long have you been living there?
Gold Coast, Australia
4. What do you do for work at the moment?
Hotel Restaurant Food and Beverage Attendant at The Ruby Collection
5. What made you want to go and live in another country? Tell me a little bit more about you at that time and what you used to do when you were living your life in your home town.
I am Frency and I was born and raised on the southern island of the Philippines. Since I was a kid, my family have been travelling outside the country, mainly a couple of handful of Asian countries. Also, my dad works abroad – mainly Indonesia and many parts of the UAE such as Abu Dhabi. Given that dad works away from home, I noticed that he have so many friends of different cultural background – just a mix of people with different ethnicities, which I find very interesting.
At 5yrs old, I was fascinated and starstruck when these foreign people start to have a conversation with me. My very first school was in Indonesia. Growing up, I was exposed to different people with different cultures and languages. These people who have different habits, religions, beliefs and lifestyles from mine. It intrigued my inner child to learn more and to try to blend and understand their life from mine.
When I was in High School and College in the Philippines, I met a lot of foreign classmates and get to hang out with different foreign student groups. I love it whenever they share about their life abroad and things they have done outside of the country. They mentioned places I’ve never been before, food which I haven’t eaten before and even lifestyles which I never knew existed. The words that came out of their mouth made life to my dreams of travelling and living overseas.
There is more to life than just living my life in one country and get stuck in a nine to five job in the same country I was born and raised, and be miserable. I felt very young and independent at that time. I wanted to explore and meet new people and have new experiences. I wanted to travel to a place where no one knows my name. I wanted to start fresh somewhere else. I had this blazing fire in my body and mind that if only I had wings, I could have already flown then and there.
My decision to go abroad was greatly influenced by how my father lived his life – travelling and working overseas. After I graduated Bachelor in Science in Accounting in 2015, I was already preparing and working on to process my student visa for Australia. While waiting for the whole process to come into fruition, I worked graveyard shifts as a customer service representative, in a (BPO) Business Process Outsourcing company catering Canadian customers, for 9 months. April 18, 2016, I’ve touchdown Gold Coast, Australia.
6. What’re your first impressions when you moved to a new country? Did you find it similar or very different than in your home town?
The very first thing that I noticed after I’ve stepped foot on Australian grounds, was the weather. It was April 2016, just around Spring in the Goldy, I was welcomed with a very chilly breeze. Not even other asian countries that I’ve been to have this kind of weather.
Secondly, the people. Australians are very friendly and happy people. They talk and smile even to strangers. At first, I find it weird because in the Philippines, if you talk and smile to strangers, you’ll be classed a pervert or a crazy person. If people tell you that Australians speak “English” and you believe them, you’ll very much be disappointed, darling! At least in the first few weeks of your stay.
I reckon, “Australian” should be considered as a different class of language in the English dictionary! Everyone knows that Australians have a very strong yet unique accent but not only that, they have their own “words” of choice as well! I remember the very first time someone asked me for a “tomato sauce”, I thought they are referring to a Napoleon sauce for a spaghetti where in fact “tomato sauce” only means ketchup! If you are planning to have a trip to Australia and you cannot understand “sanga”, “serviettes”, “esky”, “arvo”, “avo” and “stubby”, then hold on to your phone because Google will be your best friend!
Australia is expensive! Especially for me, coming from a third world country and moving to a first world country, there is a big price difference. For instance, in the Philippines, a cup of rice in a restaurant is $0.14 AUD while here in Australia, a cup of rice is $5.00 AUD.
That time when I arrived in Australia, there was a lot of massive clearance sale going on from April to June, because their financial year starts in July, not January like most countries. Just like how Australia have their winter season in July, not January.
It was inevitable to notice that the Australia restaurant food tastes bland. It is very different from my country where we use a mix of spices, herbs, and different condiments to make our food very flavourful. Given that I am a Catholic and I go to church, it was shocking how most of the time, the churches here are filled with elderly people. No wonder some of the young generations find it eerie to go to church. There are still nice Christian churches like Hillsong that has a lot of young believers, but they don’t do the Catholic church ceremonies.
In the Philippines, we start putting out Christmas decorations and hear Christmas songs on the radio on the first day of September. Yes, you heard that right! Filipinos love to celebrate Christmas. It is a season of joy and giving and as well as spending a lot of time with the loved ones. Here in Australia, if you play Christmas songs on the first week of December, you’ll get the stares from strangers. It is very different but hey, it’s two different cultures and lifestyles.
7. How was your English language skills when you first arrived?
8. Why, when and how did you start studying English?
I can’t really fathom when did I learn English. I would say maybe around 5 years old. I remember, our bedroom looked like a classroom because of all the posters about different numbers, colours, fruits, objects and many more, which my mom and dad want me to learn at a young age.
Also, I remember reading a handful of English storybooks trying to read out the words correctly. Also tried to understand what each word meant. English was taught at school and university. If we have projects or assignments, it is normally written in English. I believe that my education in the Philippines greatly helped with my ability to communicate in English either in written form or face to face conversations.
9. Let’s talk about work experiences now. How did you find a job in the new country?
When I moved to the Gold Coast, Australia, my very first concern was finding a way to finance myself independently without my parent’s help. Within my first month of living in the country, I was fortunate enough that our landlord at that time referred my friend and me to do an internship as a housekeeper in a 5-star hotel temporarily.
I mainly did make the beds, clean the bathroom and vacuum hotel bedrooms. It was not easy for me – I end up going to the physiotherapist regularly due to back pains. During that time, I took a couple of barista courses and applied for my RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and RSG (Responsible Gambling Services). Almost all businesses require RSA and/or RSG certificates from applicants. You can apply for these certificates from approved training providers – either a physical centre or online. These certificates are state-specific. I live in Queensland so I got the RSA/RSG QLD.
I went to a lot of small cafés and submitted my CV but nobody called me back. I then decided to look for employers online. A few weeks after that, I found a job as a Food and Beverage Attendant at Paradise Resort and two years later, moved over to their new tower, The Ruby Collection at Surfers Paradise. The work schedule here is flexible because you can schedule time off, a fortnight before that day.
In the Philippines, you need to talk your way out to your boss just to get that requested one day off within the next month. The pay rate is definitely more than what I earned in my home country. I was still able to save money even after I paid my liabilities – rent, transport, Vodafone. I believe this is different in every company but my employer pays us weekly, some employers pay fortnightly.
My superiors at work in Australia are shockingly very helpful and kind-hearted. My friends said that I was lucky because he said that not all of them are the same. I was personally used to superiors who just tell you what to do and doesn’t really assist with matters that need attention. Overall, it has been a nice experience working here on the Gold Coast.
10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living overseas for you?
Brazilian, Spanish, French or Korean. Gold Coast on its own has a very diverse population. Considering that the city is a tourist spot, seeing people of different cultures is normal. I get to learn so many different cultural backgrounds and beliefs from these wonderful individuals.
Secondly, they don’t judge you based on how you look. In the Philippines, I cannot wear cropped tops inside shopping malls or swimsuits in most beaches because it is not “conservative” enough. Since moving here in Australia, I get to dress myself the way I want.
Next, given that the Australian dollar has a bigger value than our Philippine Peso, I was able to save money and get to spend it to my family in the Philippines. Other savings, I keep for myself for future investments. Living overseas opened my eyes to a vast number of opportunities! May it be opportunities to grow as a person or opportunities to earn more money.
I live right next to the beach and shops so I feel very blessed and grateful to where I am now. I also live just near the New South Wales border – it’s fun when Daylight Savings (NSW +1hr) starts but then gets confusing at times. Gold Coast is such a beautiful place filled with amazing people! It is a city next to the beach, standing firm in the beautiful coastline of South Queensland. You will never run out of things to do in here, it’s always pumping and going – yet pretty cruisy, mate.
Living overseas is not always about rainbows and butterflies, it has its disadvantages as well. Living away from my family is difficult and I get really sad at times. There are times that I try not to think too much of them being so far away from me. I trick my brain into thinking that they are just an aeroplane away from me, not that far. Every day, I do text them and every now and then, do a video conference call with my whole fam.
Considering that some of my friends are in Australia temporarily – either holding a working holiday visa or student visa, they do go back to their home country after their visa expires and only God knows when will I get to see them again in person. People come and go – sad but it is the truth.
Talking about friends, I do miss my friends back in the Philippines and there I times I worry that we are growing apart now – given that I am in Australia, some are in Canada and some are still in my home country, doing the same thing. I get to see them every year at-least when I go visit the country.
Back when I was looking for a job, it was a little upsetting when I see statements such as “should have Australian experience” or “Only Australian Permanent Residents / Citizens can apply”, so it is important to have a thick skin and not lose hope too quickly when looking for employment. You’ll find the right job at the right place and at the right time – don’t give up!
11. What’s your plan: stay, keep travelling or go back to your home town and why?
In the past few years of living here, I have grown to love and adopt the culture thus making me want to stay here in the land down under and be with the roos and koalas. At this time of my life, I am more drawn into planning my future than ever.
I have come to the realisation that I want to stay longer in Australia and start my own family here with my partner. I am still keen on travelling to Europe, America and other parts of Asia but I personally think that it is very important to consider my future plans and life settlement.
12. What is your best advice for those who would love to do the same as you: start a new life, a new adventure in another country?
Go for it! Do something that makes you feel alive, every day! Don’t be scared of the unknown, that’s part of the life’s fun mysteries to discover! Go to places you’ve never been before, eat foods you’ve never tasted before, hear accents you’ve never heard before, have conversations with people who are different from you — that is how we learn and grow as a person, and it does help you see that we are all humans, who are all connected in this world.
Are you living your life overseas? Share your story here!