PR application lodged

Wow. Has it finally come to this? From my nervous first post about lodging my Temporary Residence in 2009 to finally getting that e-mail saying that yes, my PR application has been lodged and I’ll be on a bridging visa when my TR expires.

And throughout this time I’ve faced numerous ups and downs, and at times I thought I couldn’t meet the requirements of being able to transition to a PR visa. That damn 70-hour rule, for one.

It’s over now. Over!

And now the wait begins.

So you wanna go back to Egypt…

 

Some of you must think that I’m always happy as a clam here, never once having thoughts of returning home to Malaysia, FOR GOOD.

But I do. In fact, recently, I had a vivid dream where I cried out (to who, I’m not sure, but maybe to myself): “I want to go back to Malaysia! I want to go back to the job I had before! I want my life again!”

I woke up, both shaken and amazed by the power of the dream. Dream Me was almost desperate to reach me.

I am having what you can call career blues recently. Although I’m ever so grateful that my job gave me the financial security to pursue many of my dreams, there was a part of me that longed to be a white collar worker once more. I missed being Somebody. I missed feeling important. I miss having a title.

Back in Malaysia, people’s eyes would light up when I tell them what I did for a living. People took me seriously when I handed them my name card. They knew I meant business, and they knew my work would impact theirs.

It’s difficult to lose that, eventhough it was a deliberate act on my part. I didn’t want the baggage, so to speak. I wanted to focus on my dream – to be an authorpreneur (author and entrepreneur), I wanted to reforge my career (a nurse? though that seems more and more doubtful as the days pass) and build an entirely new way of living for myself. Yet, after a year or two of having people behave in ways that I’m not used to (mainly walk all over me, disrespect me etc), a part of me longed for that shield of prestige you get if you’re a white collar worker.

It shows that old habits die hard, and it also demonstrates how Malaysians (or perhaps people in general) are so hung up about status, titles and having careers to define their self worth. Because, really, that’s an illusion.

In Australia, I discovered that I’m definitely more than my career or status, the trouble is I needed to convince myself of that fact first. People in Australia don’t really care what you do. As long as you’re a good bloke they give you a thumbs up. So what if you’re a road sweeper (which, to be honest, I’ve not seen. I think they use machines for that)? That’s your business.

It’s not just the career insecurity that is bugging me, but it’s the fact that I have to make choices based on how much I earn (which isn’t fantastically much, but I’m frugal and I have decent savings). And one of the choices that bug the hell out of me right now is I want a place of my own but don’t think I want to do that just yet because of money concerns.

The gist of my long winded post is that I long for what I had before, the comfortable paycheck, the 1000sq-feet apartment, the yuppie-esque lifestyle, the witty colleagues and my name in print.

“You want to return to Egypt,” my friend said to me this morning. She told me to google the Keith Green song “So you wanna go back to Egypt“.

She and her husband faced tough times after moving from Canberra, and they used to sing the song to remind them why they had to perservere:

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it’s warm and secure.
Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it’s getting so hard.
Are you sorry you’re out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard?

You know the tale of how the Israelites were taken out of Egypt only to long for it once they were in the middle of the dessert? That’s what the song is about, and that’s me right there. I’m like the moaning and griping Israelites, longing for the ‘comforts’ of Egypt. And the only thing comfortable about Egypt was that it was familiar – you knew how things worked and you knew how to get what you wanted.

Life is uncomfortable in Australia now because I have to change. And change means discomfort. Discomfort means you are forced to learn new things, and learning new things are generally good for you. I have to learn these lessons first before I could reach the promised land.

Because of Australia, I learned how to order my time so that I could grow my writing.

Because of Australia, I was forced to be an entrepreneur, have an ABN number and work as my own boss.

Because of Australia, I am forced to live with other people and learn not to be so selfish and self-absorbed and to think about other people’s needs.

Because of Australia, I’m forced to deconstruct how I got my sense of worth. And I discovered that I got them from things outside myself, and therefore, out of my control, when I should learn how to validate and affirm myself. I have to get my sense of worth from inside myself, and from God.

And because of all these lessons I’m choosing to remain in Australia, because I’m not going to turn tail because it’s hard. It’s because it’s difficult that I should stay – how else am I to grow and learn? The years in the desert may not be fun, but one day I will reach the Promised Land.

So, fellow migrants and wannabe-migrants, there will be times when you wanna return to Egypt. You have to ask yourself: Why do you want to be in the Promised Land? Is staying on the desert road worth it?

More food porn

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One of my favourite things to do a Thursday morning before work at 3 is to have coffee and lunch at a cafe after a leisurely browse at the nearby library. I live for moments like these: coffee, good food and a bit of writing on the laptop. Mmmm…

Cafe culture

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Ignorant as I am with the ways of the coffee world, its only in Adelaide that I discovered what a latte, long black, cappuccino was. Despite years of Kuala Lumpur yuppiedom, I took great pains to avoid coffee and would rather indulge in chocolates and other sweet concoctions.

But I succumbed to the bitter brew in Adelaide because how can you not with the pretty, elegant and homey cafes that dot this picturesque city?

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So here I am with my favourite incarnation of coffee – long black – typing my novel and soaking in the smell of cooking coffee and the sounds of the morning crowd as they indulge in this most benign of addictions. Discovered Whisk, on Goodwood road after a stroll from the library one day and had fallen in love with its charms since.

I am doing all this while trying to resist that siren call of the desserts facing me. They with the luxurious names that promised pleasure. I dont think I can resist for long, dear readers. After all Baked raspberry cheesecake sounds most intriguing…

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Largs Pier in early winter

Largs Pier

Am ambivalent seagull poses for my camera.

Blue. The sea is so blue here. The jetty, with its white beams and weather-beaten grey-brown wooden boards stretched out to the sea. I can’t believe I have not explored this bit of beach space in Adelaide in my near-two years here.

And it is honest-to-goodness winter. Oz is weird that way.

Susan Wanderlust in Largs Pier

Yes, that’s really me.

Ever the fan of watching the sea, I bought a cup of coffee (passable) and a pasty (bland) from a bored teenager at the kiosk next to the jetty. The kiosk had mustard yellow plastic seats and blue tables was an odd fit at the area, especially with the genteel and grand Largs Pier Hotel opposite. but the views were stellar, even through glass windows full of scratches and covered by a thin film of dust.

Took a walk down the beach later and was pounced on by a bouncy black poodle. My eyes may be near blind by the intense sun but we ended the day walking to Semaphore town with the setting sun on our backs. A perfect day.

475 Visa: How to prove your stay in South Australia

So, I met a migration agent a few days ago. Okay, okay, hear me out those of you who insist that I can do this on my own. I know I can, but I feel more at peace having someone hold my hand. I also feel that since I am juggling studies, work, etc, I’d rather not let anything slip in the cracks during the application process. What’s more, you, my wonderful blog readers, get to benefit from the information I’d glean from my agent. 😉 Wouldn’t you like that? 😉

One of the trickier things about my PR application is how I can prove my stay in SA. For many with families, it isn’t really a problem. Most families would rent a home the moment they arrive in Australia, so the lease and the utility bills are proof enough of their stay in South Australia.

For singles who can’t afford to lease of an entire unit, it’s a little complicated. Fortunately, my agent told me what documents I’d need. I wish I knew some of these tips from the beginning!!

First, make sure you keep your documents in an organised manner. Be a hoarder of important documents! I keep mine in a file box.

  • EFTPOS away! In Australia, you can buy stuff by using your ATM card. It’s called an EFTPos transaction. Now that’s valuable for folks like me that need to prove that I was in SA and not gallivanting in Sydney or Melbourne. It’s simple: Each time you do an EFTPos transaction, there would be a record of when and where you made said transaction. Fortunately for me, I was a lover of plastic from the very beginning, so I had records of that since I landed. Apparently, if you only have Internet transactions, that’s not satisfactory enough (Meaning if you transfer money or buy stuff online) as there will be no record of your location.
  • Bank statements. Again, make sure they contain your SA home address. For some reason my electronic statement doesn’t have my SA address. (GRR) So I need to rectify that as well. Sigh.
  • Keep those leases. If you’re renting a room, insist on an agreement or lease etc. Fortunately, I was told this from the beginning so I made sure I got them. They do take these leases seriously. Keep the receipts just in case.
  • Of course, taxes are king. Filed for taxes? Keep all relevant documents.
  • Apparently, but I can’t confirm this, I was told that getting the accountant that did your taxes to write a statement is helpful too.
  • If you’ve applied for an ABN number, that’s useful too as it shows the location of your business.
  • Even if you can’t lease an entire unit or house yourself, get yourself a utility bill. A mobile phone utility bill could be useful. I kicked myself for not doing this because it is probably the easiest way to prove your stay!
  • Studied in SA? Make sure you keep offer letters from educational institutes (and make sure they have your SA address).
  • Rego payments? Keep ’em.
  • Employment contracts – keeping them not only proves your period of employment but also that you lived and worked in SA.
  • Apply for a SA Proof of Age card as soon as possible. For one, it’s really useful to apply for library memberships and acts as an ID in SA! Kinda save you the effort of producing all kinds of documents to prove that you reside in SA.
  • You can also get your landlord/housemate to write a statement declaration that you’d lived there.
  • The 475 visa is such that we have to live in SA for two years. So don’t do anything to jeapordise that. So, for example, if I came to Australia with only 2 years left on my visa and decide to return to Malaysia for a one-month holiday, I will be short of one month to fulfill my 2-year-stay obligation. Believe me, Big Brother Australia will know when you leave Oz and how much time you’ve lived in Oz.  Now, I had conflicting information about this. Some folks say that it doesn’t matter, some say it does. It’s simple: it really depends on your case officer. Some case officers will ‘close one eye’ if you’re short of two days or a few weeks. Some are super strict and insist you don’t have enough time to fullfil your 2-year obligation in Australia. So why chance it – make sure you have fulfilled your two-year obligation to the hour.

So there you have it. Yes, be a hoarder of documents. Scan them in colour as soon as possible so that in case you ever lose them you still have back up.

 

A Malaysian minimalist in Adelaide

simplicity

When I applied for my visa nearly five years ago, I did it mainly because I felt desperate to change my life. I had no idea what I wanted to change then, but I thought getting out of home base (ie, Malaysia) was the way to do it. A funny thing happened on the way to the immigration centre – after signing the papers, I began changing my life anyway.

So much so that by the time I got my visa in 2011, I thought I would ruin all the changes that I’ve made by moving. By then, I realised that I didn’t have to move countries to change my life. All I had to do was change my mind.

Nevertheless, I did decide to come to Australia. That journey that I thought would be scuttled because of my move to Australia? Well, that never happened. If anything, moving to Australia has changed my life even more. Sure, I’ve been through agonising times, but I’ve also discovered new things about myself, I’ve done things I never thought I’d be able to do, I discovered a new strength in myself, and am finally pursuing my dreams with a gusto.

Why is living in Australia so awesome?

Not just because of the weather, the exchange rates or the fact that I’m free from the negative buzz I’m constantly subjected to in Malaysia.

It’s mainly because of the lessons that I’ve learned since I’ve got here. It’s because of what I’ve discovered about myself. For one, I never thought I’d:

  • Cycle 60km a week by commuting everywhere with a $50 bike I bought from Gumtree.
  • Ride that bike at midnight in winter, and in freezing, pouring rain.
  • have my own vegetable garden and eat from it.
  • Live on very little and still be happy about it.
  • Take care of very ill and frail people.
  • Be confronted with blood, other kinds of bodily matter and remain unaffected. Looks like I’m not the type to faint at the sight of blood – and I did see someone covered in blood once.
  • Comfort relatives and cry with them when a loved one passes away.
  • Write a novel. Sell stuff on Amazon.
  • Get published in an anthology back home.
  • Give hugs to people daily and tell them it’s mandatory to get one every day.
  • Be getting myself ready to study nursing in 2015.

If I’d stayed in Malaysia, I would not have experienced any of these things.

I’m so glad that I turned down four high-paying jobs to come here. The money I would’ve earned would not be enough to pay for the lessons I’ve gotten here.

From now on, on Sundays, I’ll be blogging about an area of life that I’m really passionate about: Simple living. Or Minimalism, or Minimalist living. I was on that journey even before it became a trendy word. And being in Australia helped me further along the way. Being a minimalist in Australia is a lot easier than in Malaysia for many reasons.

Why blog about Simplicity in a blog about being a Malaysian immigrant in Australia? Well, most of us left Malaysia to change our lives, and I was no different. These simple living principles have made my life in Oz such a joy. And I hope to share them with you and with that perhaps you can see how it can change yours too 🙂

PR application, here I come!

I never thought I’d get here, to be honest. As we get halfway through April, I realise that I am now only four months away from my two-year stay in Adelaide. And that means one thing: It’s time to lodge my PR application. I still remember my first post on this blog, Putting in the papers nearly five (!!) years ago. Lord, what a long journey that was! The application process was long and arduous (for me, anyway) and I was frankly amazed that I emerged with a visa. 😉

For the first year of my life in Adelaide, I was mainly interested in surviving. As in getting a job. As in putting food in my belly. Then once everything settled down, I realised this date is looming ever so closely.

Frankly, that leaves my hands cold. I’m never been good at bureaucratic stuff; I’m always afraid I’d stuff it up and end up botching the entire process. I’ve always been more than happy to throw money at people to do it for me. A friend of mine said that a migration agent, who is based in Malaysia, is charging about RM4.5k for the service, but I’m no sure if I want to deal with a migration agent in Malaysia. While migration agents here charge about $4k too for that service.

Lots of people are telling me that it’s really easy to do it yourself, but I freeze up when I see the massive amounts of text I have got to go through 😉

I’ll be bogging about the journey here, by the way, and you can sweat it out with me. 😉