One of my earliest experiences in Australia was having my first Tim Tam in the hotel room in Adelaide after a very long flight. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I have to keep the other one for my husband!’, but then after an hour, saying, ‘Nah’, and eating it myself!
At that time, I was 35 weeks pregnant, and I had a 4-year-old son. We were making our way to Loxton, a town in the Riverland, where my husband had found work as a doctor.
When we finally arrived, everyone in the community was so welcoming. There was even a welcome pack for us in our home with all the food we needed. When I gave birth three weeks later, many people offered help. One person was Betty, who took me to the shops to buy baby things. From there, our friendship grew, and we now we call her and her husband our kids’ Australian grandparents. They even come over for Christmas dinners!
After a while, I started to think about working again. I had been a lawyer before, but when I first contacted the law society here, they gave me this long list of subjects to do, as I hadn't practiced for 10 years. So I put that list in a drawer and forgot about it. Instead, I got a job in the homelessness sector as a case officer. And I went on to have another child. But then, when the children were all at school, I brought out that letter again.
I ended up deciding to do my law degree again from scratch. My husband was really supportive and that went a long way, but it wasn’t easy. I was still working part time, and of course I had three kids. There were times when I'd drive to the riverfront and just study in the car. Or before I went into the bedroom to study, I'd lay out a big tray with all kinds of food, and say, ‘Mummy has to study for two hours. So if you are not on fire, don't come in!’
After I finished, the tricky bit was getting work in the Riverland. When I finally did, I had to go to the firm’s head office in Adelaide every week to do supervised training. In 2018, my position in that firm was made redundant because they closed the Riverland office. So I decided to start my own business, a migration agency. I also began work as a solicitor part-time with another local firm, but finally, last year, I was able to go out on my own both as a lawyer and as a migration agent, which I am very proud of.
When we first arrived, I told my husband that I didn't want to pack our lives into another suitcase in a long, long time. I said, ‘This has to work’. And having that intention has been helpful to both of us. Overall, it’s been more than a 10 year journey for me. But I eventually got here, with a few grey hairs along the way!
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