5 things I hated about living in Australia

I’ve found these ‘hate’ blogs are always a popular choice, so here’s one on my experiences while teaching English as foreign language in Australia. I’m not normally a whinger, but there were a few things that got on my goat while living in Sydney.

If only the ones in Oz had been so lazy
Stropy Security guards
Sydney is a real party city, so it was normal that I got on the grog now and then. There are loads of bars to have a booze up and clubs to have a boogie; as long as you can get in, and stay in, of course.

On several occasions I’d reached my normal intoxication level (as least a suitable level for London) when giant muscle bound security guards asked me to leave the premises. The thing is on most occasions I hadn’t been doing anything daft, simply leaning on the bar funnily or prancing about on the dance floor. I got so fed up in my first couple of weeks that I actually stopped going out. I gave up the grog for almost a month.

You can imagine what happened the next time I had a drink; my tolerance levels had dropped completely and after a few beers I fell asleep in a bar. Needless to say I was chucked out again. On that occasion I’d over stepped the mark, but be warned of the strict security guards when you’re out partying. (Photo by Emilio Labrador)

Hyde Park, but which one?
Too similar to London
After living and travelling in South America for nine months, arriving in Sydney was like being transported back to London. At first it was exciting walking round streets with familiar names; Liverpool Street, Oxford Street, and Kings Cross. The parks were clean and well kept, and the areas around the Sydney Opera house and Darlington Harbour were pleasant.

It was great walking round an English book shop, feeding the ducks in the ponds, and having a pint in an Irish bar after so long, but soon the novelty wore off. I could carry my wallet in my pocket and wore a watch again and felt safe, but I missed the adventure. After about a month I’d seen most of Sydney and concentrated on saving up money so I could find a more exciting destination to live in. That’s when I got a job in Thailand. (Photo by edwin11)

Not learning a language
A lot of my time in South America was spent learning Spanish and Portuguese. I was still crap at both, but I was getting there. In part it was a relief that everything was in English again when I got to Australia. I could understand everyone, well, almost everyone; on a few occasions I got confused by the thick Aussie twang.

The problem was that I missed learning a language. I used to read over my study notes and I even went to the library to find some Spanish books, but the only one I found was an autobiography on Diego Maradona, which I gave a go until he started going on about how much he’d enjoyed knocking England out of World Cup 1986.

No matter what I tried, there was no comparison to being completely exposed to the language. This is why I always suggest to my students to going to live in an English speaking country; that’s the only way to really understand a language.

Having to get a sales job
When I got to Australia I only had about £500 so I was desperate to find a job. I managed to get a couple of days teaching, but as I said in a previous blog I didn’t have enough experience to stay on. My money began to run out so I was forced to go back to sales.

My first job was horrible; door to door sales for a renewable energy company. I had to traipse around the urban areas of Sydney, where every third house had a vicious dog waiting to pounce on me. I lasted about a week. Then I got an office sales job working for the Sheraton Hotel group. I had to call up people and get them to sign up to a discount package to stay at 5 star hotels. I didn’t make one sale and constantly dreamed of being back in the classroom. My advice is to get qualified and get some experience before you go, unless telephone sales or fruit picking is your idea of fun. (Photo by Bellafia).

The Working Visa Situation
If you’ve looked into working in Australia then you know there are restrictions. When I went in 2004 you could only work for one employer for three months and only stay in Australia for one year. I accepted these rules, but for a TEFL teacher it makes it even more difficult to land a long term contract. This has changed now and you can work for the same employer for up to six months, have a look here for details.

If you’re keen to work and live in Australia long term there is a complex visa system which requires you to obtain a certain number of points depending on your profession. It’s a lengthy process but might be worth it. I met a few British teachers who had permanent residency and were very happy in Australia.

That’s my list of things I hated about Australia; as you can see, nothing major to stop you going to teach English there. If Australia was closer to home, and I could learn a language there, then maybe I would have stayed longer. Do you agree with any of the points above? Or disagree? Drop a comment and let me know.

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