We live and learn every single day. My moving from UK to Australia was not an exception to this rule – there is an extensive list of things I’ve learnt and realised.
First of all was that Australia is far. VERY FAR. So, if you’re working on that ‘big move across the pond’ plan, settle in because it will take a while. And when it happens, prepare to still not be fully ready for it.
I spent the last three weeks back in Europe for work and pleasure. Besides presenting at the amazing EURAM19 conference, I also managed to see some of my friends and family which was great. In three weeks, I visited UK, Portugal, Germany (twice) and Lithuania (twice). It was intensive, but doable.
Such an itinerary involved a lot of flying, however I still managed to do it without much headache. For example, flying from Vilnius (Lithuania) to Lisbon (Portugal) takes around 6.5 hrs, including a 1.5hr stopover in Warsaw (Poland). As a comparison, flying from Perth (where I currently live) to Sydney (East Coast of Australia) takes 4.5hrs direct or 6.5 hrs with a 1.5hrs stopover in Melbourne. The bottom line is that crossing the entire country takes nearly as long as crossing the whole of Europe.
The second thing that I realised after my moving from UK to Australia was that I have the best friends and family in the world. I have always felt exceptionally grateful for having such a wonderful family and a lot of close friends, however living so far away has made me realise how strong those relationships are. Within the first five months in Perth I have gone to New Zealand to travel with one of my best friends (video of our trip is on YouTube, Fit On Trip channel, in case you feel like watching something in Lithuanian!). I have also had three friends visiting me in the first four months (one of them stayed here for 2 months 😊).
When I went back to Europe most of my trips were planned around seeing people (or people flying from abroad to see me). This just shows that the world really is very small – even when you live a 25 hour flight away from your friends and family.
Thirdly, there are a lot of wonderful people all over the world (and, as it happens, especially in Perth 😊). For the past 7 years I lived in London, UK, and I found it very easy to integrate there – well, London is the world’s capital of people of all races, languages, and experiences. This means that it is easy to settle in London as long as you don’t mind long travel times and lots of people everywhere (8.7 million people live in London).
Before moving from UK to Australia, I was wondering how settling in Perth would be. To my surprise, it was easier than I had expected: extremely friendly people, lots of sun daily, great life work balance and lots of support from everyone I met here. Thanks to my fantastic work team, amazing Lithuanian community in Perth and my sailing family, I felt like I’ve been here for ages after the first few months. No exaggeration.
Fourth, technology in the 21st century brings people closer. I have Skype video calls with my family (we opened Christmas presents together at the same time!). I teach Lithuanian my students from London via Skype. I deliver MBA classes via Zoom. I have group video calls with my besties via Facebook. I have group chats for work, life and fun on WhatsApp with people from all over the world. I share documents with my Accountability team in London on Google Docs. I share pictures with family and friends in Europe and US via Google Photos. I blog. And sometimes Vlog. Et voila, life in 21st century for you.
Fifth, and last, for those who are planning on moving from UK to Australia, make a note that visa approvals might WILL take time. The process, from the moment I received a job offer in Australia to the day that I finally received my visa approval, took nearly 3 months. The first few weeks were spent filling in documents (contracts, new employee forms, pension arrangements, tax record, etc.) for the workplace. Then it took another month of fun dealing with the company which was preparing my visa application.
I filled questionnaires, submitted supporting documents, did health and police checks. After another month spent arranging additional documentation, waiting for the health check results, for the police certificates, for the application to be ready, the application was finally approved. The one thing that I’ve definitely learnt from my moving from UK to Australia is that things take time. And that patience is required to deal with all the bureaucratic jazz.
In summary, everything is possible when you really want it. As I said in my blog on “How to Be Happy with Achievement-Obsessed personality”: we are our own heroes. You can make it work. And you can make it work well.