In today’s post, we had the pleasure of interviewing Coach & Psychologist, Ana Salido (www.anasalido.com). Her work is devoted to helping women succeed in their expatriation and using their move abroad as an opportunity to create the life of their dreams. As a Parisian desperate for a radical life change, she took a chance and moved to Brisbane. This is her inspiring story...
WCIL: What is your country of origin?
Ana: I am from France. I grew up in a small country town north of Paris.
WCIL: What country do you currently live in?
Ana: I live in Brisbane the capital of the sunshine state of Queensland in Australia.
WCIL: What made you want to move there?
Ana: I needed a break. I was lost with what I wanted to be the next chapter in my life and I needed time for myself. Australia is a beautiful country far from France where I knew I would have the freedom to live my life on my own terms being away from family and peer pressure.
WCIL: What was life like when you were considering to move?
Ana: I was not really happy in both my personal and professional lives. I was only 26 years old back then. I did not have any debt, no kids, no real boyfriend, so I decided to go to Australia for a year. I wanted to improve my English, travel around Australia and have time for myself. Three years later I am still here because I fell in love with Brisbane.
WCIL: How did you prepare for the move? Did you sell everything and just go or did you leave a homebase in your home country?
Ana: It was relatively quick. I applied for a visa, booked my flight tickets and packed my suitcase. I took with me the clothes I really liked, some pictures and that was it. I own an apartment back in France and found a tenant who now who lives there and rents out my furniture. I therefore didn’t really prepare much but was lucky enough to have time to travel back to get more of the things I wanted to bring here.
WCIL: What did it feel like when you finally decided to move, buy the tickets, etc?
Ana: I was so excited when I booked the tickets- it felt real. But I have to say that my emotions were so up and down. I was swinging between fear and excitement. To be honest, once I sat on the plane I even wondered what I was doing and if I had made the right decision but this got all settled once I landed in Brisbane. Then I knew I had made the right decision.
WCIL: What were you most afraid of about this new life decision?
Ana: I was afraid to be alone, by myself and without my family. Even though I needed a break, it was really scary to leave everyone and everything behind and to start a new life in a country I knew nothing about. Back then I did not speak English very well either, so that didn’t help.
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WCIL: What did it feel like when you finally arrived to your new country?
Ana: I remember this feeling I experienced when I got here like if it was yesterday. I arrived in Brisbane at 1am. I was so excited and I had this feeling of relief. I thought “I have done it!”. I was in Australia. I felt safe really quickly, it was amazing.
WCIL: Did you have any contacts or friends in your new country?
Ana: No I did not. I was by myself ready to start a new adventure.
WCIL: How did you support yourself in your new country?
Ana: I left France with some savings so it was reassuring to know that if anything happened I had a financial cushion to rely upon.
WCIL: If you had to look for a job there, what was the experience like?
Ana: When I arrived in Australia, I started as an au-pair working for a family and my job was to look after the kids. It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the local culture and way of life.
WCIL: How was your day to day?
Ana: When I first started working I would work Monday to Friday for the family and during my spare time I was happy to discover the city and surroundings. During the weekend I would go everywhere and also travelled as often as I could to foreign countries around Australia like Fiji and Thailand amongst others.
WCIL: What was your experience like with the locals?
Ana: The Australians I met in Queensland have been really friendly and welcoming so it’s not that hard to talk and hang out with them. It is however much harder to make long term friends. There are so many foreigners in Australia so locals are used to see people come and go and are not really interested by becoming friends with foreigners because they assume we will only be here temporarily.
WCIL: Did you or have you been homesick and if so, how did you manage it?
Ana: To be honest no I did not. My sister came to Australia on my first year here and then I went to Singapore to see my mum on holidays. I miss my family and my friends yes, but I am really happy in Australia and not missing France.
WCIL: What have you learned about yourself in this new life?
Ana: That’s a good question… I have learnt so much about myself. Getting out of my comfort zone has allowed me to push myself in so many aspects of my life. Being an expat often means that you have to start from zero again. Even something as basic as driving was a challenge when I first arrived in Australia. I had to learn how to drive a bigger car and on the opposite side of the road. Whatever the challenges I encounter, I know that when we really want something we can make it happen. So I pushed myself and nailed driving here and now even more at ease driving in Australia than I was in France before leaving.
WCIL: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experience?
Ana: If I had only one piece of advice for people who want to go overseas for an adventure is to make sure you speak the language and meet the locals. Staying with your own community is not a good idea if you want to make the most of your adventure. I see too many French people who come all the way to Australia to only spend time with fellow French and have no idea what locals are like and what the culture and Australians are really about.
WCIL: What would you say to anyone considering an international move?
Ana: I would say just do it! It’s an amazing experience and one that everybody should live once in their lives. It opens your mind to what the world is like. It will be an opportunity to learn another language, to meet people who come from all corners of the world and you will learn more about yourself than you ever will in your own current environment and comfort zone.
Ana can be found on Instagram and Facebook.