Living a settled life

Grange Jetty in Glenelg mattwall.

Grange Jetty in Glenelg  – by Mattwall.

So, what has happened since May?

Back in May I was a few months into my new job as an aged care worker. I was worried about the lack of consistency in my hours because I was a casual worker. When you’re a casual worker, you can get 30 hours of work a week, and a mere eight the next. I was fortunate enough to get mostly my target: 35 hours a week, the minimum required for my 475 visa. But sometimes I fell short. So, to solve the problem, I took another aged care job with an agency. That meant I was on call. The agency wasn’t very reliable in plugging in the holes, so to speak, but it was something to fall back on.

Juggling three jobs is the main reason why I fell off the blog. It’s not easy to blog when you’re tired out of your mind! (The third job is my freelance writing gig.)

In June, I was elated when my facility finally made me a full-time worker. That meant FIXED hours. So I quickly snatched up 72 hours per fortnight. I also gained a permanent client with my other job, which meant I got an extra 4.5 hours per week regularly. That meant I worked 76.5 hours per week. On top of that, I had to spend about 10-20 hours on my writing gig per week.

Yes, I didn’t have much time to do, well, ANYTHING. That included sleeping.

I’m very, very (5x) fortunate to have as many hours as I do and I’m not going to complain. Hell, it’s tiring, but the money has enabled me to do things I really wanted to do: Take writing classes, fund my writing experiments and pursue my life-long dream of writing fiction. I recently released a short story on Smashwords and Amazon under a pen name (Antonna Seton), and this is all due to my jobs enabling me to do what I love.

So, from May to December, I rolled up my sleeves and worked my ass off.

I suppose it is not surprising then that my social life suffered quite a bit. I think two to three months into my new, hectic lifestyle, I looked up and realised that most of my Malaysian friends have either  gone home to Malaysia for good or have drifted away.

Towards the end of 2013, I decided to drop the agency work. I usually go to my client after a nine-hour workday and it was physically killing me.

Now it’s just my full-time job and my writing gig. And it’s a nice balance. 🙂

Despite how hard it was the last couple of months, I couldn’t believe I’ve come so far. When I landed in Adelaide two years ago, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t survive beyond six months. I didn’t have any connections or skills that are considered vital. I had enough money to only sustain me for six months and that’s only if I ate a minimum of $40 a week. I couldn’t afford a car and I kept having to move because I kept ending up in crappy places to live.

Now I live in an amazing place, have a full-time job, and am about to start my Masters degree and am planning to study Enrolled Nursing.

Life is more than settled. It is charmed.

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21 thoughts on “Living a settled life

  1. For some, it was. They couldn’t get a job that suited their skills. Some Malaysians, like me, are pretty okay to do things that are not suited to our skill level because we have other plans. For me, it was a chance to escape the high-stress life I once had. For others, they are still eager to grow their careers so they go to where there are opportunities. They may be back in Malaysia now but most are happy. Living in Australia is just what it is – living here. It’s not exactly nirvana. There are difficulties here, but if the lifestyle is in line with your desires, then yeah.

  2. Hi Susan
    Welcome back! Great to see you back ‘alive’in the blog.

    could you share with us the options that you have tackled to hunt for jobs? My family and I will be moving to Perth next month. As I have been telling everyone I am prepared to be a coolie though I am from IT background. As I have mentioned to every one I am prepared to swallow pride to lower myself to get any job that come by. That’s part of the game when migrating to down under.

    • Options. Hmm! Well, Michael – one option that I see that is quite popular is to open a cleaning franchise. A cleaning franchise can cost about $20k though, so it really depends if you have that kind of money. If not, then try to see what’s “hot” in Perth. In Adelaide, aged care and healthcare is the biggest industries and employ the most people, so it makes sense to aim for that. However, don’t give up on searching for a job in your field either. A friend of mine got a job in her field after two months of searching. For all you know you don’t have to be a “coolie” 😉

  3. Thanks for your blog. Just got approved for visa 190 like all Malaysians we are making the move for our children sake even though we are living comfortably here with a good job but willing to make the sacrifice to the unknown land really sometimes send ripples through your system. With your blog active again hope more Malaysians migrants can come forward and share their experiences so that other new goers can get some useful information.

    • Visa 190, huh? Times are a changing …! Thanks, New Migrant. That was my hope when I started this blog because I couldn’t find any book/blog/essay about life as a Malaysian migrant. Lots of books by British expats and the like, but Malaysians face a unique set of challenges such as having a currency that is lower than Australia’s and of course the whole cultural thing. Hope my blog will give a good idea how it’s like t live down under – for Malaysians.

  4. There is a book `Migrate to Australia Good Meh’ written by two malaysians about their lives as migrant living in melbourne and cost only RM25 . Basically this book is telling people off and asking them to think twice before making the big move. You will be in for cultural shock, your children will be westernised and you will be subjected to discrimination and racism. I just wonder aren’t we subjected to this type of scenario over in Malaysia our so call motherland?

    • I believe the points mentioned in the book is the facts that migrants will encounter in Australia. However I think the book is rather overly negative. Ultimately it all depends what an individual want in life. As said by many migrants: When we are in Malaysia we could be Hero but when we migrate to Australia we will be Zero. So if a person who is having the mentality to maintain their current status in Malaysia when they move to Australia, especially those who are currently holding high position or owning business in Malaysia, then sorry the idea of moving to Australia may not be suitable for that person. He/she must be willing to swallow the pride and lower themselves. After all no one ask about one another’s profession or career background in down under as everyone is the same there whether you are a doctor or garbage collector etc.

      • Agree, M. A lot of Aussies are surprised when they find out what I used to do. They ask me – do you want to do the same job here. I say, “No!” The reason? I came here for a different life. If I wanted the same job, with the same kind of stresses, I might as well stay in Malaysia. They always seem pleasantly surprised. 😉

    • I have a copy of the book, but have not read it yet so cannot make a judgement yet. However, I agree with M below. It really depends on what you want. If you want the same life you have in Malaysia then sorry,it’s not going to happen. About discrimination & racism – yes it does happen here. But on the other side of the coin, you do meet Australians who love all races, and while there is discrimination there are anti-discrimination laws and they take it seriously.

      And you’re right -we’re subjected to the racism and discrimination in Malaysia too, so we should be used to it! just kidding. Basically what I’m saying is you will face rcism and discrimination here. I don’t think there’s a spot on Earth that is free of that.

  5. Do you think there is no racism in our own country Malaysia Bolehland? You are right the main reason we are leaving because we have a new hope in a new country and we wish to have a new life for both husband and wife and kids. We wish to have a more work life balance and also our kids to have different kind of education system. We anticipate the intial two years would be tough for us parents but we believe in the long run it is gonna be worth it. At least we know that OZ country is in good hands and we could look into the future unlike a flip flop country.

  6. Hi Susan,
    I am a skilled migrant with permanent residence visa from Malaysia. Your blog is really spot on issues facing new migrants in Australia especially sham contracting . I arrived in Sydney last June and still struggling to find work in my field. I am doing a number of casual jobs to sustain myself and reading your posting gives some sort of hope that things will be better for me in the future. Glad that you are settled and look forward to more of your postings.

    • Hello Raj, Thanks for your kind comments. I hope that you’re keeping your chin up – many migrants face hardships when they first come over. Even after things are ‘settled’ you do have days where you’re wondering whether it’s the right thing coming to Malaysia.

  7. Firstly, Happy Australia Day to all you new migrants & aspiring ones 😉

    I migrated to Sydney from KL almost 13 years ago & as hard as it was initially, today I’m living it up in a nice part of Sydney with my young family. Just remember that everything takes time ( Susan’s experience proves it too) & you just need to be flexible when u first move across & slowly work your way to the same level you were back in Malaysia (Took me 5 years ).

    For those of you who are in Malaysia, try having a chat with some of the Bangladeshi workers & ask them about their stories on working in a foreign land & that will give you an idea on what it’s like to be a migrant. ( do ask yourself how Malaysians treat them- just some food for thought )

    Bottom line here is that if you are prepared for a couple of tough years then the rewards will come. Trust me, they will. Good luck & god speed.

  8. JSD is correct, so correct. I think a lot of Malaysians are taken aback by how difficult it can get. It’s not just the job prospects but the clash of cultures and losing friends and everything. But if you keep on chugging you will reap the rewards in time!

  9. Every migrants have their story. It does not matter whether you are from England or China. I have colleagues from England who are sacked and who cannot find employment. Having said that skilled migrants from China are probably in the most comprised situation where their prior experience is not recognised and their competency in English denied them a job in their profession.

    Job situation in Australia is in a very tight situation. Local employees are make redundant. I see colleagues both in my company and my clients left as the businesses not longer afford them.

    To be employable, you have to demonstrate your reputation in your profession. This is particular difficult for new migrants who knows nobody and have no connection. Company tends to employment people that they known. New migrants have to be patient and wait for entry level position to build their career. Unfortunately they are disqualified for graduate positions. Be prepare for the worst if you are to migrate at this time. Luck is not on your site. Australian skills shortage is a myth. I don’t see any skills shortage but employers looking for cheap workers.

    Having said that, Australians are resilient. They have transformed a inhabitable land into the most liveable place in the world. Dry and arid lands have been transformed to fertile agricultural lands. We are good diggers too and blessed with the most abundant treasure at our backyard. If you are prepared to make your move here, be resilient. The result will be rewarding.

  10. My reasons of leaving Malaysia are due to unequal opportunity, corruption and the country has become incompetent.

    My last project is construction of a state government funded private hospital. We are supervising engineers and we are make to sit in the office. We read three newspapers a day, have breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and after hours happy hours. The contractor is related to minister and incompetent and never do they have intention to complete the work. The progress on site is snail pace. One of my innocent colleague wrote to the contractor who is our client on correct way of working is treated by a phone call from the project manager to my boss to remove him from site. I left at mid 2006 where the project official completion date was but the hospital was only completed in 2011. It was handed over from state to federal government for more funding. The contractor has fulfilled their mission to suck as much money as possible. I and sure I am making a right choice by leaving a corrupted country. I do not foresee any future for my children.

    I have my undergraduate degree in Australia and post graduate degree from public university in Malaysia. I finished my master degree in research within six months. I am not a genius and do you think one can finish master degree by research in a university in Australia? My examiner from prominent public university never asked me a technical question. He told me how to make my thesis look better by appearance. I doubt he has any understanding of the content.

    That is why Malaysia has become incompetent in almost every field. The damage done by lowering the standard to cater for the prince of earth has finally taken its toll and will take generations to repair.

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