My husband and I always dreamed of going to live in another country. But then I fell pregnant, and then our three children came along one after the other.Then my sister-in-law started talking to migration agents about getting a skilled visa to Australia, and one agent suggested I also apply for a student visa. At that time I was already 38, so I hesitated. But my husband and I still had our dream, and we thought we would leave the children with his parents, just for a year, and have a life experience.

So we did it! My husband left his job as an engineer on international cargo ships, and we came on a student visa to Australia. I was to study Business Administration.The agent had arranged a house for us in Mt Druitt in Sydney. When we arrived, we didn’t know anybody. The weather was cold. And everything felt very quiet! I soon became sad and homesick. “Oh, I miss my children,” I would cry. Soon, I told my husband I wanted to go back home. But he said that the flights would be too expensive. And we would still have to pay the rent, even if we were not living there.

Luckily, the Filipino doctor we were renting our house from offered me a job as a receptionist at his clinic. Although my husband applied for many jobs, it took time for him to find anything. He eventually worked at a cheese factory, a chocolate factory, and as a cleaner.Finally, because I was missing them too much, we arranged for our children to come here. But because we had to cover the high costs of enrolling them as international students, my husband left and went back to work as a seafarer.After a while, we decided that we wanted to stay in Australia if we could because the school system for the children was so much better. But we soon realised there was no way to apply for a visa based on what I had studied. The only way was for me to undertake a Masters in Accounting. And I didn’t even like numbers!

Then, completely unexpectedly, I fell pregnant again. It was really a challenge for me at that point because I was already taking care of the three kids alone, as well as working and studying. There were times when I was pregnant when I wouldn’t get to sleep until 3 am. Then I would have to wake up early in the morning to prepare the kids for school!Before giving birth, my mom and sister visited but they could only stay for three months. And one month after giving birth, I went back to work two days a week.I kept telling myself that one day it would all end, and to just stay focused on my studies so that I wouldn’t have to repeat any subjects. I was always thinking about what was best for my kids.

As I was already in my early 40s, my agent advised us to move to Tasmania, as we could apply for a temporary work visa in a regional location. We had never even heard of Tasmania, but our friend told us it was like a ghost town!Still, when my husband and I travelled to Hobart to look for a house to rent, there would be 30 people at each inspection and we couldn’t find anything! Eventually, when we got back, we found a house on Gumtree. We didn’t know the person, and we hadn’t even seen the house. But time was running out for us so we just had to trust his word, and transfer $2000 for the deposit. Luckily, it all worked out and we are still living in his house today.

In Tasmania, we had to start everything from scratch again. My children missed their new friends. And even though I was granted a work visa, I still had to keep studying for one year. This time, I did a Diploma of Leadership and Management.I’ve just finished studying, and now have a Skilled Regional visa which lasts for 5 years.

Currently, I’m working on a public health hotline. As long as I can keep my job and we can keep meeting the income threshold of $54,000 a year for three years, we will finally be able to apply for a visa that will allow us to stay permanently.

It was very hard for me living apart from my husband and managing everything on my own. And when the pandemic was declared, I asked him to stop working on ships, because it might have been difficult for him to get back to Australia from overseas. So he decided to retrain, and is now working as a disability support worker here.

My children understand our situation. I always advise them to just do their best. I remind them that we’re still temporary, and that sometimes we cannot buy everything they want. But they’re coping, and doing well at school.I want to let them know that life is not always easy.

But if they work hard and have patience, they can do it.


The Philippines

Arrived 2015

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