I clearly remember the day when I moved to Australia for the first time. I had a lot of anxiety and excitement at the same time. Excited about the new life, new opportunities, but most importantly that I finally made it here. I was excited that the planning stage was over, now it was time for execution.
On the other hand, the anxiety was creeping into my mind slowly. I was worried as hell how I am gonna survive without my family for the initial few months. I had a very stable life in India. I owned two houses, a well-paying job which was closer to my home, wide circle of relatives and friends and a relatively good work-life balance. My cute little daughter was just a year old. In other words, everything was fine and dandy.
But suddenly I had a mid-life crisis of the sort and I moved to Australia. There is always a fear when you unplug your stable life in your home country and move to a totally new country without anything. All you have is a bag full of uncertainty, anxiety and stress. That was the case with me. More than anything, I was worried about my decision and its impact on my family. Did I do the right thing? What if I didn’t get a job? What if my finances run out before I get the job? I didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot. I, certainly, didn’t want my family to suffer due to me.
Do you remember Bruce Wayne from The Dark Knight Rises? When I came to Australia, I felt a bit like him. Lost in the pit and no way out of it unless you let go of the safety rope. Isn’t that the case with us, expats coming to Australia without any job or even hope of a job? Unless you let go of the safety of the job back home, you can’t make a successful landing in Australia.
Unfortunately, all these different factors add to the worries of an expat, sometimes even to the point of inducing a panic attack. I have seen people who couldn’t take the stress, had serious health issues and had to fly back home.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to go down that path if you follow these simple and easy to implement tips to overcome anxiety when you arrive in Australia. I know they work because I tried them first hand. 🙂
1. Choose The Right Place Of Stay
The place where you are going to spend your maximum time will be of prime importance in the initial days. It doesn’t matter if you choose a studio apartment or a big four bedroom house. It should feel cosy and pleasant. In my first week in Australia, I was living in a tiny AirBnb apartment. The room was small and the sad part was that there was no window. It was very cramped and depressing. No wonder, I moved out quickly and was more careful when choosing accommodation next time.
The next apartment was exceptionally good, with a wide view of CBD and Yarra river and I was able to see a lot of activity. Being from a busy city like Mumbai, I am not used to seeing empty streets. Hence, I preferred living in the city rather than suburb even though it cost me a fortune. On the plus side, I never felt sad or alone in that house precisely because of its design and location. Bottom line: is choose a place which is spacious, has a lot of air and light and which gives good vibes.
2. Choose The Right Company Of People
Do you remember the story of frogs trying to get out of the well? Every time any frog tried to come out, other frogs would just mock him, belittle him and scare him that he won’t be able to do it. Only one frog was able to make it outside successfully. The only reason was that he was deaf.
It’s an amazing story and the one that so closely mimics the real life. However, in real life, you just can’t go deaf. Instead, you have to choose people around you carefully. You need to avoid people who discourage you or spread negativity. This is not just about real people but also your online friends or people on public forums. Choosing right people is as important or even more than choosing the right accommodation.
First of all, when you move to Australia, you are going to be alone. For many of us, being alone is unimaginable because you are constantly surrounded by friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and even strangers in India. As such, if there is even a hint of negativity or anxiety, it quickly fades away. That is not the case when you come to Australia. That is why it’s so important to make every effort to keep your spirits high and that is only possible if you have good people to support you.
3. Plan Your Finances
One of the major reasons for stress is the financial burden. When I came to Australia, I had two home loans, a car loan and needed to cover for household expenses back home. Plus, I had spent nearly 500,000 INR for visa and I had to amass another 700,000 INR to cover expenses in Australia till I found the job. Naturally, my main concern was not that I didn’t have a job but that I might run out of money if I didn’t get a job soon. I believe that is the case with almost every one of us.
That is why it is extremely important that you plan your finances well in advance. It took me nearly 8 months to make all the arrangements. It’s important not to rush things because that can cost you heavily later. Be sure to keep sufficient financial backup back home as well as in Australia before moving. That includes the financial plan for the unforeseen events such as medical emergency as well. As they say, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
4. Explore The New Country
There is nothing more exciting and energizing as moving to a new country. In the initial months, you have got plenty of time on your hands even after rigorous job hunt. Simple things such as taking a walk through the city or visiting a museum or strolling alongside beach can have really soothing and calming effect. In my job hunting days, anytime I felt lonely or depressing, I used to visit the Melbourne public library alongside the Docklands. The sea breeze, the view of beautiful yachts and steamers and the serenity of the waterfront never failed to refresh me. I would then get ready to tackle next day of battle.
Secondly, there is no better way to understand the culture and the people than just to meet them. Australia is said to be the melting pot of different cultures. By just meeting different people, you will know Australia a lot better than any other way. Plus, if you are in an Arts capital like Melbourne, there are plenty of events and celebrations pretty much every week. It’s much better to go out and relax a bit than getting anxious about why a recruiter is not calling me, don’t you think?
5. Make New Friends
As I said earlier, it’s terribly depressing to be alone especially in a new country. The quicker you start to meet people, the better chance you have of making new friends. It can be a big help if you already have some friends or relatives living in Australia but if not, you can still make friends. The easiest option is to start with your roommates. As you will be sharing next few months with them, they are your first order of friends in Australia. Plus, they can get you quickly onboarded onto the Australian ways of life.
Another way is to join WhatsApp or Facebook group of people moving to Australia, preferably to the same city as you. This is a great way to get the community like feeling where you can help each other and feel bonded. Another good option is to attend local events such as free workshops, seminars or even hobbyist groups such as amateur photographers group or Harry Potter fan club. You can check sites such as Eventbrite or meetup to find about such events. They can also provide a good way to grow your professional network. Most importantly they will keep you engaged, active and reduce the anxiety.
Every morning when I used to look at the city while sipping coffee from the 15th floor of the city apartment, I noticed one thing. Plenty of people ran alongside Yarra river wearing tees and boxer shorts all the time. Not just the morning, but any time of the day. Many people did the brisk walk or jog during the lunch break. Naturally, I – who never hit the gym in India – used to go for a walk or jog in the city. It had dual benefits: I stayed active and most importantly, I get to see the city at my own pace.
There are plenty of free public parks, some even have basic exercise equipment. If you are a fitness freak, there are plenty of gyms which you can join at a cheap rate. Some apartments in the city have a gym as well as swimming pool for its resident to use for free. No matter how you do it, exercise can completely rejuvenate your mind and body and take all the stress away quicker than anything else. A simple exercise such as swimming or cycling can help you fight the anxiety and relieve the stress.
7. Learn Something New
You can better utilise the ample time you have if you invest it to learn new skills. Did you want to learn French? go for it. You had bought a photoshop course from Udemy but never got time to start it? Play it now. Learning doesn’t have to be work-related either. You can try to learn cooking for example or swimming. In fact, I regret the fact that I didn’t go for driving lessons during my job hunting days. That could have saved a lot of time for me later.
Staying away from family is heart-breaking for sure, but look at the positive side. You are free from distractions and can use that time to focus on building a new skill set. Possibly this can also help you during your job hunt. For example, if you showcase that you have great photography skills or creative writing skills apart from your primary skills, it can make your portfolio look impressive.
8. Have Fun
No matter how much you plan and prepare in advance, things can and will go haywire. But that doesn’t mean you have to be on the edge all the time. Celebrate and be proud of the fact that you made it here after facing several challenges. It’s not easy and not everybody can do it. Getting a job is just one more step in the process and you are going to get it eventually. What you won’t get back is the time.
So please remember to have some fun even though you are a little scared. It’s okay to get a rejection email 150th time. It’s okay not to get an interview call for weeks. Don’t let these things kill your spirit. Read your favourite book. Watch any fun movie. Listen to your favourite music. Go out with friends on Friday night. Do something fun. Just remind yourself, it’s merely a job hunt, not a war.
I hope these tips will help you calm your mind and fight that nasty feeling of anxiety and fear when you arrive in Australia. What else did you do to overcome the anxiety? Let me know in the comments.