Sofia: Sofia na Australia
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Australia
I am a Portuguese teacher and blogger. Also, a talented dreamer, have terrible curiosity and am definitely a passionate traveler who is not sure exactly of the meaning of "settling down".
I have always loved traveling and have lived abroad twice so far in my life. I have been living in Australia the longest — since 2009 — and hope to stay here longer. I ended up here because I met an Australian, Paul, traveling in Montenegro. We lived together in Portugal but the idea of moving to Australia was just too exciting for me and it didn't take too much to convince Paul to head back after living overseas for a few years...
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in 2009 when I moved to Australia. It started as a way of sharing my experiences with family and friends, but somehow it got bigger and bigger and now I have people from all over the world following Sofia na Australia and sending me messages. And I love it!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Sure I do but it is hard to choose, all of them have an experience behind them and strong memories, even if sometimes they weren't so well written. I recently travelled to Tasmania and we just loved being on the road travelling with no deadlines or plans. The place is so naturally beautiful and charming, so I will have to highlight these:
And, because, even in paradise we all have hard days: "Like a star fish"
Tell us about the ways your new life in Australia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I love my expat life! Starting your life from scratch is a great opportunity to follow your dreams. Every simple life achievement becomes a great victory and it feels so good to create a brand new life! If only I could have all my friends and family here with me to share it all... That is the hard part, most definitely.
I guess the culture shock was more centered on the language. I remember travelling out to the country and going to a rodeo. I sat next to this really nice man (I think) and he was talking to me and all I could do was smile, laugh at various times and nod my head! The Aussie slang and accent was something else and I had already been exposed to it!
It is pretty easy to assimilate in Australia, especially living in a town rather than a city. People are so friendly it makes it pretty easy to get by — usually people ask you if you’re okay before you need to ask for help!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Australia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
There's no formal training on how to move to the other side of the world. You do it and you get better from the mistakes you make along the way... I believe they are half the fun! I truly enjoy every moment, even if at that moment I'm cranky. I always end up having a good laugh afterwards. What you may plan may not work out. And just because it worked for your friend or you last time, doesn’t mean it will again.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Australian slang is very well known, from shortening the short words to specific sayings, they really mess up with your confidence in your English ability.
The first ‘’Barbie’’ that I went (no not the barbie doll, a barbecue) my friends asked me to bring a plate. I even asked them if I needed anything else, and no, just myself and a plate. I thought this is so weird — do we smash them like the Greeks at the end?! So anyway, I literally brought my plate — empty of course!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Australia?
- Make sure you pack your bikini or board shorts; you will be on the beach at least 9 months of the year!
- Prepare yourself to slow down and enjoy. There's no rush on the coast.
- Always have in mind, Australia is an expensive country. Save up some money to start a new life down under.
How is the expat community in Australia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I meet people from all around the world. It's great to share stories and learn from other cultures — it also helps inspire me for future travels! The other great thing about meeting expats is being able to laugh together at the things that are completely lost in translation.
How would you summarize your expat life in Australia in a single, catchy sentence?
This slice of paradise will blow your mind! Just pack your bags and come