One month in a foreign land

By Hand On The Hip - 4/26/2018

Hola amigos!

How are you doing today? I've had a lot of my readers/Instagram friends and followers ask me what I've been up to. In between building furniture and experimenting in the kitchen, I somehow found some time to write about my experience in a new city. And since I believe in sharing my knowledge, I would also share a few pointers with you guys if you are planning to move abroad. Well, for starters, I moved to Sydney sometime in March this year and it has been a little over a month since I started living in the land of kangaroos. Well, honestly I haven't spotted a single kangaroo so far. It's quite disappointing. Anyway, back to the story - so, my husband's company asked him to move to Sydney and I decided to tag along.

A glimpse of Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia.
At first, it was really, really hard. There's obviously this whole "NRI" and "better life for you and your family" tags that attract you, but there are so many sacrifices that have happened in the background. I quit my job, packed off my whole house in Bangalore and Mangalore, hopped on a plane to Mumbai and then to Singapore and finally, Sydney. For someone who has never lived outside Karnataka, this definitely was a big, no wait, MASSIVE deal. I left all of my stuff behind because there was a luggage limit and I had to carry only those things that seemed really important. My job and my life in India has come to a halt. I am officially unemployed right now and super broke. And the most important bit which I guess goes without saying - I terribly miss my family and friends back home :(

That mandatory "see off at the airport" picture with the parents in Mumbai. 
It may seem all glamorous from a distance, but there's a lot of compromise that needs to be done. Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world and labor charges are unimaginably high when only one person is the bread winner. So from cooking to cleaning to furniture assembly to laundry to dishes, we have been doing pretty much everything on our own. While that's something I am not used to, it has also been a good learning experience. For a person who has disliked cooking, the fact that I have to cook to survive has actually piqued my interest in this department. I have developed some kind of an OCD and have been keeping the house spic and span. I have been involved in so much carpentry in the past few days that it definitely feels like a major accomplishment for someone who's too lazy to even pick up a chair.

Pumpkin soup with bread and butter that I made. Follow my food Insta page at @dowaqtkirotii :)
Let's talk about my job prospects. Did I give up my career? Absolutely not! In fact, I've moved to a city where I have better opportunities and my skills are quite in demand. I wanted to ensure that I had a job before I moved here. So I basically started hunting for one about 2-3 months before I moved here and somehow landed a decent job suitable for my skills with a decent pay as well. I was meant to join them about a month ago, but my stars were probably not aligned the right way, I have been waiting for my work visa for quite a while now. The rules happened to be changed around the time I applied for my visa and hence, it seems to be taking a lot of time. So yeah, fingers crossed!

A lot of you were also concerned if I will continue to blog once I move. Of course, I will. That's probably the one thing that has been keeping me sane. I have already managed four collaborations in a month, getting paid promotions as well, have mastered the art of self portraits and the best part of all - Sydney is so beautiful that even shooting in my cousin's backyard is a boon. I have so much more to write about, but on the events and collabs front, I am back to square one. I have to establish myself here and write about stuff that caters to Indian audience as well as the Aussies. I am yet to figure out what the blogging scene is like over here. Once I am done setting up my house, I promise, I am going to be giving HOTH my undivided attention! :D

A picture from one of my recent collabs with G & M Cosmetics.
Now that I have brought up "setting up my house", I have SO MUCH to tell you guys! As soon as I got here, I spent the first three weeks at my cousin's place. It definitely helps to have relatives or friends who have already been living here for years together. They can help you with pretty much everything. From where to buy what and when and what one should be doing in this city to letting us know how people actually are over here, my cousin and his wife have basically been our go-to people in the city. Also, the fact that I was living with my two cutie pie nephews was such a blessing that I did not feel homesick and was constantly entertained by the two bunnies.

Our adorable Sydney family. Truly blessed to have them!
We started house hunting on this app called and over here, unlike India, things are ore organized. House inspections usually happen over the weekend and once you have made up your mind, you need to send an application with all your details and documents. If the landlord thinks you are a suitable tenant, you could get selected in no time. Luckily, in our case, we liked two houses and got picked for both. In the meanwhile, we also booked an Airbnb that was sponsored by my husband's company close to our new home so that we could set up the new house before we could move in.

Starting our married life together in a foreign land! Couldn't have imagined a better beginning!
So here are some useful tips that you could use if you are planning to move abroad and don't have any clue about the new city/country you're moving to -

  • Get your work visa issues and jobs sorted well in advance, probably even before you move. This has been the longest break I've taken since I started working and while it's pretty relaxing, it's also very frustrating for someone who likes to work and meet people to be impatiently waiting for her work visa to arrive. On the other hand, I know that some of my friends who moved abroad have Green Cards or PRs, but it has been taking them forever to land a job. If you are career conscious and want to start working ASAP, then start dropping your resumes all over the internet from wherever you are.
  • Pack as much as you can and pack wisely! Why I am saying this is because I did not know how useful it would have been had I listened to my mom and carried a pressure cooker with me. Indians usually have a tough time surviving without simple things like dosa batter or idli stand. And even if you end up finding them here, they cost a bomb. I spent nearly $3 (150 INR) on a 10 rupee Lays packet the other day! Some things that you should definitely make space in your luggage are essential kitchen items, spices, savories, photographs, basic decorative items for the house, steel vessels, plates and tumblers, basic medicines etc.
  • Get your hands on a mobile phone connection with high speed internet literally the day you land or even before. Feeling homesick is nothing but natural. If you had the option of dialing your loved ones every 2 hours, wouldn't that be perfect? My husband had already gotten me a SIM card and although I am not much of a phone person, I pretty much exhausted my minutes in 15 days! Trust me, it's not hard to keep in touch with your loved ones. 
  • Finding the perfect house goes a long way! By perfect I don't mean ten bedrooms and walk-in closets. Find out everything you can about real estate and how much rent you should be paying, suitable locations to live in etc. For me, having a supermarket and a train station at walking distance was of utmost importance and everything else was secondary.
Our new home from the outside! :)
  • Do a thorough research on the internet for everything you need to buy for the house. Since I had a couple of weeks to explore, I found stores like Target and Kmart that had pretty much everything we needed. If nothing else works, there's always Amazon or Ebay!
The hubster and I spent a week buying stuff for the house and literally carrying it ourselves.
  • Try to do a comparison between shipping your furniture from India vs buying new stuff. Sometimes it turns out to be cheaper to just book a freight and ship those sofa sets and dining table sets from India than literally buy new ones here. My cousin spent around 90,000 INR shipping around 100kgs to Canada from India. That made so much more sense in his case considering he already had purchased furniture. 
  • Learn to spend time with yourself. Usually any new city or country has a lot to see. I have never really gone to a beach by myself in India considering the closest one in Mangalore was 2 kms from my house. But in Sydney, I have explored so many beaches, streets, malls on my own. There are beautiful parks in every street that one could go to. Every suburb has a public library that's free of cost. If nothing helps, then Netflix your time away!
On one of my solo trips to Bondi Beach.
  • Now is the time to up your socializing game! It can get pretty lonely without people to hang out with. Start talking to your neighbors or join clubs or dance class or any place that would help you meet people. If you have friends and family in the place you're moving to, nothing beats that! If not, start making friends every time you get the chance! Find events in your vicinity that you could be a part of or simply attend. 
Witnessing live art at an art, food, music festival called "Our Hood" in Commune, Waterloo.

List of stores/providers that we approached in Sydney -
  • Furniture - Ikea, Kmart, Target, Amazon, Catch, Lounge In Comfort
  • Kitchenware - Target, Kmart, Ikea
  • Appliances - The Good Guys, Kogan, Target, Kmart
  • Groceries and other supplies - Coles, Aldi, Woolworths, Indian stores
  • Electricity and Gas - Origin Energy
  • Internet Connection - Belong
  • Phone Connection - Vodafone
  • Fitness - Fitness First

I really hope this was an informative post. One simply does not just pack his bags and move abroad without any planning. I think you need to be well prepared to handle a continent-wide move if you are someone who's not used to it. Good luck to all of you who are planning to relocate to a foreign country.

Hand On The Hip

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