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my career abroad

Why have you moved to Adelaide, South Australia? What spurred you on to make this change?

My name is Jennifer Robb. I moved to Adelaide, South Australia to work after completing my education in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Living in Canberra was great, but I decided that the transition to working life was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the abundance of coastal cities in Australia. I had visited Adelaide during my first year in Australia and loved it, so when it came time to look for a job, it seemed like a good fit for me.

What's your job title, and what do you do?

I am a physiotherapist and pilates instructor at one of the nine Core Physiotherapy & Pilates Studio locations across Adelaide. Working in private practice, I assess and treat clients of all ages in the clinic, mainly with musculoskeletal injuries. I also teach equipment-based Pilates in individual and group settings, and conduct hydrotherapy at a nearby aquatic facility.

Why is this the place for you to be now?

Adelaide has it all – an amazing climate, beautiful beaches, countless wineries, hiking trails, a great city centre, more festivals than you can imagine (South Australia is known as the "festival state" for a reason), and has a lower cost of living than most other major cities in Australia. I am also gaining invaluable experience in my career, as Australia is highly acknowledged globally for physiotherapy research and education.

What were you worried about before you left Canada for your location?

The idea of moving across the world on my own was a daunting one, particularly when the time finally came to board the plane! I had all of the typical concerns of figuring out where I would stay, how I would get around, how I would meet people, and of course the worry that I would not like my new location after such extensive planning. I had been away from my family and friends for extended periods of time with a previous job, and thus knew I would likely be homesick at times.

How has the transition to your location been? Any amusing stories?

Both the initial transition to Australia almost three years ago, and my second transition to a new city just under a year ago were challenging in their own ways. Initially I had to learn everything about the way Australia works; for example, the mobile phone systems, the Internet plans, which shops carried which products. I had travelled a fair amount throughout North America and Europe prior to moving here, and was relieved to see brands and stores that were familiar to me, mainly from the United Kingdom.

I was quite surprised at how difficult communication was considering we were supposedly speaking the same language. The Aussie accent itself took some time to sound familiar, but the amount of slang used here is unbelievable. At times, I would ask someone multiple times to repeat a sentence, and after numerous attempts I would start asking them to spell words out so I could understand! My classmates got a kick out of providing me with false information on all things Aussie just to watch my reactions.

My transition from Canberra to Adelaide was easier in many ways, but I once again found myself having to navigate a new city, make new friends, and form new routines.

If you moved with your family, how has this experience been for them?

I have moved here on my own, which often surprises people. My family has been really supportive and have given me confidence and reassurance when needed. They also make a big effort to be available via Skype, e-mail, or Facebook and have sent me packages during lonely periods or on Canadian holidays to remind me of home and that they are there for me.

What things have people noticed most about you? And what's been people's reception to you?

Australians generally notice my accent within a sentence or two. I get asked either where I'm from, if I'm Canadian, or surprisingly quite often if I am Irish or Scottish. Once it has been established that I am Canadian, 100 per cent of the time the person tells me they love Canada/Canadians and then go on to tell me about any experience they, their uncle, their partner, their footy coach's third cousin, have had with our country or people. This generally includes skiing, working in hospitality in Western Canada, romantic visions of beautiful snow and ice all year round, and always, a love of the people. If they refrain from asking me to say "out and about, eh" then I consider the encounter a positive one.

What thinks have struck you about your location?

Based on my travel experiences, I feel that Australia's culture resembles the midpoint of the U.K. meeting North America. I have also found that Australians travel extensively, and enjoy a laidback lifestyle and attitude, with several weeks off work per year being the standard. Houses here are much more basic and seem to be there to serve a purpose, rather than to boast, as they value a relaxed, social lifestyle over possessions.

The typical diet is quite unhealthy and the population has an extremely high rate of obesity, despite a global opinion of Australians being fit and healthy. It is customary for parents to spend thousands of dollars to send their children to private schools, despite public schools being available. There are a significant number of immigrants here, which makes for a highly diverse population (and a huge variety of food options).

Interestingly, Aussies tend to have a great deal of pride for their home state and rivalries exist, with each state confident that their major city is the best. Having such a small population size, I would have expected that they all embrace the few major cities that do exist. There are too many types of footy to mention, and the type being discussed as "the real footy" depends on which state you're in. In general, Australians are typically friendly, down to earth people with a cheeky sense of humour who love to have a good time. They are also far less conservative than Canadians!

Is business similar or different in your location compared with Canada? How?

The health care system and business of physiotherapy essentially parallels to that in Canada. There are many services which are Medicare funded, and others which you must pay for privately or get rebates from private health coverage.

Have you had to change the way you approach your business or change your actions in any way to succeed?

Since I completed my Master of Physiotherapy degree in Australia, I eased right into working as a physiotherapist in private practice. Based on discussions and information provided by Canadian colleagues and a health care course, I feel that I would be able to succeed and easily transition as a physiotherapist in Canada.

Anything you would want to share with someone who might follow in your footsteps?

Living and working abroad can be a daunting, complex, and challenging experience. A simple thing, such as finding an item of choice in a grocery store can quickly become a frustrating and overwhelming experience if it happens on a day when you're missing home. Running into a fellow Canadian (complete stranger) can make you feel overjoyed and united. Missing out on that wedding or birthday of a loved one may feel devastating.

All of the emotions aside, it is overall a thrilling, rewarding, and enlightening experience. To experience another way of life so completely is something that can't be described, and that won't be fully understood by those at home. Throughout the experience you will discover who you truly are, and who your true support system is, and you will be forever changed. Don't let fear or excuses hold you back. With all of the technology available, overseas adventures are easier and more comfortable than ever before. I feel that if you really want something in life, the only option is to go after it.

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