Olessya, 40, Education expert, Sydney, Australia

“The decision on our visa took five years! It was perhaps the most unusual wedding anniversary gift”

Koshpendiler: Hi Olessya, please tell us about yourself.

Olessya: My name is Olessya Voblikova, I am 40. I graduated from the Faculty of Foreign Languages as a foreign language teacher and translator with an English major. First 15 years I worked as a teacher in schools and universities and freelanced as a translator. The last six years I have been working more oneducation programs and coordinating projects. I am currently working in MEGT Institute as coordinator for educational practice.

To date, I prefer spending time with my family above all: travelling together, going out for dinner at a nearby restaurant or simply watching TV. For many years I was very keen on building a career and focusing on my work, so now I’m trying to catch up! I also like cooking and chatting with friends on social networks

Koshpendiler: Where in Kazakhstan do you come from?

Olessya: This seemingly simple question is not always easy to answer for those who were born in the Soviet Union. Originally I come from Moldova, where I lived for the first ten years of my life, and I believe this country is my homeland. However, for most of my life I have lived in Shymkent and I want to take a moment to advise all citizens of Kazakhstan, who have never been there, to  dispel the stereotypes and myths about this city, which are so prevalent. Before moving abroad, I lived in Almaty for the last five years and it is simply impossible to not fall for this city. So it’s up to you to pick and choose where I really come from ?

Koshpendiler: Where do you live now and how long have you been gone?

Olessya: My husband and I currently live in Sydney, Australia. We have beenhere for just over a year. We could have come five years ago, but three months after we applied for our visas that time, the whole process was suspended and we were told that this was due to the crisis and the fact that the government was trying to reduce the number of immigrants. After that,we did not expect a positive response, but apparently it’s our fate to come here.

Koshpendiler: Why did you choose this country and this city?

Olessya: I honestly never considered immigration as an option, it was entirely the initiative of my husband. His friend had applied for a visa to Australia, got it approved within a year, and my husband just got excited about the idea. I did not immediately agree, but in the end we applied a year later. So in principle, we did not choose anything, there was an idea and we just acted onit.

The preparation of the visa application took about six months. Australia has a point-based system, and in 2009 we had to score 120 points. For that we needed: a diploma and transcript showing the number of hours in all subjects studied, verified work experience, and IELTS test results. They also gave points for the knowledge of a language other than English, but I didn’t have to confirm that, though now it’s required.

Since I was the major applicant, my direct family members were considered dependants and hence didn’t have much to do. We filed the documents through an agent, we of course could have done it ourselves but we went for the easy way.

The decision, as I said, came only five years later! It just so happened that a couple of months after we filed the documents, the program was suspended, and our documents were not even considered. The first three years we were in touch with the agent, waited and hoped, but … two more years later, when we had almost forgotten about the existence of such continent as Australia, we received a letter from the agent! It was probably the most unexpected wedding anniversary gift. The decision making involved the whole family, though it did not take us a long time, as we are all lovers of adventure and new experiences! Otherwise we would not have been willing  give up a good jobs, a prestigious math school, a home, convenient and comfortable life, family and friends and move to the other end of the world …

Then everything went very quickly. Within a month, we provided additional documents (passed the required medical examination and paid semiannual language courses for my husband, since he did not speak English at the minimum required level), and a month later we received a visa, which assent electronically. There is not such thing as to go somewhere and ‘get a stamp in the passport’. Everything you need will be sent to you via  email. We were given nine months to enter the country, and we did just two weeks before the deadline. It was a bit scary at the Australian border, we feared that suddenly this piece of home-printed paper would be invalid, but everything went smoothly.

I think that even if I were choosing a country to migrate, it would still be Australia: here one gets good social support from the state, good wages and high living standards. The fact that immigration here is in most cases legal also makes it  very attractive. And of course the ocean, palm trees and kangaroos! And if we talk about the choice of the city, Sydney has its advantages in the sense that there is the optimal climate and well-developed service sector, which greatly facilitates the job search process.

Koshpendiler: What surprised you most upon arrival?

Olessya: We’ve always joked that Australia is an upside down country, and at first it seemed to be true! Well, for example, January is the height of summer and this Christmas we celebrated at the beach in shorts and shales. South here means cold, whereas north – warm, which was even more difficult to remember than to imagine that in June the snow may fall.

I still can not decide in what direction we must look first at when crossing the road! We were also struck by the lack of heating systems! Of course the temperature here does not drop below zero (at least in Sydney), but nevertheless even at +5 I would like to have a more reliable source of heating than air conditioners or heaters.

The renting process is also very interesting. The biggest difference from Kazakhstan is that not only do you choose an apartment, but the landlord chooses you. There is a special site, like our “Krisha.kz”, where one finds the majority of adverts. So if this is your first property, it will be very difficult to get anything, as the landlord looks at your income and recommendations from the previous landlords. The whole process is as follows: you find a suitable apartment, come to the viewing on the “open house” day, which is usually held once a week – on Saturdays, then fill out the application form, provide a large number of documents and wait for a call, or rather call yourself. According to Australian standards we found our place very quickly – it took us ten days in total. For comparison, when we moved to Almaty, we rented an apartment in just half a day. We offered to pay immediately for the next six months and it helped to accelerate the process.

Koshpendiler: What do you like most?

Olessya: I will say that most of all like is that even a not so highly-paid job gives you the opportunity to have an interesting and fun life! Almost anyone here can find a job, even if one does not speak English.

Of course, without a language, it will be the low-paid job, but even that is $18 per hour. But even with good language proficiency, work experience and education it is difficult to find a well-paid job, if you do not possess a degree from a local uni or college and don’t have local experience. As they say here, a successful immigrant is someone who is learning, working and looking for a new job, which basically what I am doing at the moment ?.

This of course is only my opinion, but in general life in Australia balanced, calm and to some extent even relaxed. Perhaps the proximity of the ocean and favorable weather conditions affect people’s attitude to life.

Koshpendiler: Where do you usually spend your free time?

Olessya: There are many places where you can chill according to the size of your purse. Since we have only recently moved to the country, we are in the process of exploringinteresting places, so our choice is very diverse. I enjoy going to the zoos where you can pet koalas and kangaroos, exploring caves with stalactites and stalagmites of great beauty, or just chatting with our friends from Kazakhstan.

Koshpendiler: For what purpose can you be contacted?

Olessya: I’ll always be glad to answer any questions on the topic of living in Australia as I best as I can. The best way to communicate with me – is via Facebook or VK (Olessya Voblikova).

As for giving recommendations for moving to Australia, I wouldn’t dare make any recommendations, as everyone has their own situation. I can only say that the best help was reading two blogs: Vadim Gerasimov and his channel ‘Australia-worldly’ and Edward on the channel ‘driver in Australia’.


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