Qualifications, PR, and Studying

As I was finishing my final year doing my Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a focus on Marketing, I was asked by many of my professors if I would do the Honours Program, and then head into my PhD. They were so supportive, three different professors, all wanting me to be a part of what they were teaching and doing. Such an honour in itself. One of my professors even offered to have my teach Digital Marketing while I did my Honours Program, even allowing me to have full credit on my research projects, which isn’t the norm in academia. How incredible, a job that pays $100 an hour, the stepping stone program to PhD, and lots of support.

My husband had recently gotten a job in Sydney with a major global brand and was enjoying his work. I was soon to turn 34 and we had decided that having a child was on the horizon and it was in our sights to do that by 35 to reduce any risks. I personally could have waited, but having children wasn’t in my life vision so I hadn’t even heard about the 35 fertility myth or even thought much about it. Also I didn’t have Permanent Residency which was a nice bonus if doing the Honours Program because it would be subsidised greatly, and after paying International Fees to complete my Bachelor’s this seemed like a great idea. We were told by immigration that if we waited until after our 3 year anniversary, and then apply, it would only take six months and I’d have PR. Super. I could defer doing the Honours Program for one year, have a child, and then go back to it with PR and get the subsidised rate.

Within 4 months of graduation, I fell pregnant, literally on our wedding day, and things went full speed ahead. 10¬†months after graduating we applied for PR as we had met the 3 year requirement for de facto from the beginning of our relationship. I had to apply in between hospital stays, as the pregnancy was very difficult. I had too many things going on, I know it. We were trying to start up a couple of businesses, trying to settle between houses in Sydney and at the farm, and me trying to understand the flow of hormones in my body and to be at peace with the exhaustion and full time nausea. It was too much. I had no idea what I was doing, and truly hadn’t had conversations around the gestation process and thought my body would just do what it needed. Things went sideways, and eventually baby came very early due to complications via an emergency caesarian. We then went through the horrendous process of the NICU and the uncertainty and all of the emotional pain, along with the physical pain I was still dealing with. It was a crazy upheaval of a time. One year after graduation, we were able to take baby home for the first time, after he had been in care for five weeks and was strong enough to come home. Things were not going to return to normal, there wasn’t going to be an Honours Program and teaching at the University, it wasn’t going to be any time soon, that was absolutely for certain.

I nursed my own Post Partum Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress, I nursed the baby, and he became my focus, completely. I was still trying to figure out how to be a mum, and my husband was away four long days at a time for work, which then followed by four days at home, but those four days away were long, and isolating. I lost myself in it. I had the darkest days I’ve known. Permanent Residency didn’t come, and then it kept not coming, and everything seemed to be in this state of grey.

It took me a while to get through it, I formed a Mother’s Group based on a community education program for new mums that I went to, and they became the guiding light that I so desperately needed. A group of women who had children all the same age as my son, all of them new, and all of us going through the same thing at the same time, and everyone living nearby. We don’t have any family here, so I had to create one myself.

So time continued to pass, my son got stronger, I got stronger, and life started to normalise. I continued to think we were going to be moving back to the farm area, but alas it didn’t happen. I didn’t choose to become a single parent, and it has been on purpose that we’ve stayed together and I know it’s been the right choice versus having my husband fly back and forth to the farm. In this time, I’ve also looked briefly at taking courses, but without having PR or citizenship, the costs are quite high, like astronomically high. I even for a moment thought that when PR was coming, which again it hadn’t, that I could do the medical program that was highly subsidised and become a doctor. What was I thinking. It would have been a great route when i was younger and didn’t have children, but now it’s not a practical choice, although i did get caught up in the fantasy and forecasting of it all.

Honestly I do want a source of income that doesn’t tie me down to one spot, and that doesn’t require me to do a 9-5, Monday through Friday job. I don’t see how that fits in with being the kind of hands on mother that I am, and I don’t see how that allows me the flexibility for us to go to the farm, or make a trip, or the like when my husband has time off. I want the flexibility and the freedom of location and time, plus money. A career in academia sounded great before having children, maybe it would be great when he is older, but we may very well have another child and I don’t want to put my children right into daycare, I want to be that guiding influence for them when they are young, and then when they get old enough and want some diversity, then offer the option for them to go to daycare or other play programs.

Australia is very much a country that requires qualifications and certifications for everything. My husband says its because they are risk averse, and I get it, it’s easier to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing if they all are on the same page as to what exactly that is. So when looking back at reskilling, looking for courses that offer a qualification at the end makes the most sense. Also when looking for practical courses, it would make sense to learn about something in the direction that we are heading. So I looked into Financial Planning, and then into Real Estate. I had looked into Real Estate before I had PR, but again due to costs, and lack of time with having a very young child, it was shelved. Now, I’ve found a course to get a Real Estate license that I’ll have by completed within four months or less, which sounds very appealing. We now live in a high growth sector of Sydney and my thought is that if I wanted to pick up something casual in a Real Estate office or do something else in that field over here, then this would be a high demand area. Also, more specifically, i want to learn the ins and outs of Real Estate as I do want to start investing in that sector. Soon we’ll be buying our own home, and I want to understand the process, and better yet, if I can help us maximise our money, and save money, that would be amazing. So this is the direction I am heading.

I wonder how many other women who have children completely change their career paths because they have children and need the flexibility of time.  Thankfully I do like to study and learn, so this will be an enriching experience for me. Ideally one where I can help others and myself along the way.

Immigration and Permanent Residency

10 days ago I got the email casually in my inbox that I had finally been approved to stay in Australia. The glorious electronic communication that will forever change the course of my life. Now I know that I am able to stay here with my family, in the home, in the reality that I’ve purposely crafted. There isn’t the fear that was looming before that I would be asked to leave. I guess it’s still there until I get citizenship, which I will apply for when I have met the new requirements, which are 4 additional years of waiting after gaining PR to apply to take the citizenship test. This citizenship test is apparently so difficult that when Media people have taken it, they have even failed despite living and growing up in Australia and working here their whole lives. I’ll worry about that later.

It had almost been a full three years since we applied. The application was submitted after my husband and I had reached our three year anniversary as being an exclusive couple. The immigration representatives that we spoke to on the phone before applying all said it would be faster if we just waited until the 3 year mark, then it would only take six months and I’d have PR. We qualified after one year of being in an exclusive relationship, 5 years ago I could have applied, but listened to the authority and went along with what they suggested, after all, they know best, right? The political winds changed, immigration became a very sore subject for Australia with tons of refugees trying to come to the country, and immigration around the world due to wars, had created a big division amongst the people in western countries. England closed it’s borders and left the European Union over it, Trump was elected president in the United States with his claim that he’d build a wall to keep the Mexicans out, and Australia elected one of the most right wing, anti-immigration ministers Pauline Hanson, lengthened and delayed their processing times. Australia also has kept refugees essentially prisoners on some islands outside of the country in order to send message. I’m not sure where and how common decency and the humanity left these western countries, but it’s a sad sight, and horrible to be caught in the system, even when I’m doing it willingly.

After the six month mark came and went from after applying, then a year later, they requested more information, then more time passed, and a year later more information was requested, and finally one last time, again a year later, more information being asked, and I was approved. The information was always the same information. It was always about references from people we know, it was how our relationship began, what we do together and how we are building our lives. It was always about character and police reports, and official documents. I get it, I understand all of it. When we didn’t get the approval straight away, we were scratching our heads, it didn’t make sense. Tony Abbott had recently become the Prime Minister in Australia and the Labour Party no longer had the majority. Liberals, strangely that they are called liberals, are pretty much anti-immigration, and seemingly anti-women, as we watched Tony Abbott become the Minister for Women, and for Aboriginals’s Indigenous Affairs while he was in office. The liberals have nearly completely undercut the government funded science branch CSIRO, nearly put out the Australian Broadcasting System which is truly the only for-Australia station on radio and television, and reduced funding in schools and universities. It was a crazy time, it still is. There’s a new PM, Malcolm Turnbull, but he’s just the same, he just presents better at face value.

Being an immigrant during this tumultuous time, has come with a lot of hardships. Honestly it’s nothing compared to the people who are kept at Manus Island. It is nothing compared to Syrian refugees searching for a new home. My hardship has been an emotional one. Not knowing that you have a base, being told one thing and then years going by before you actually know what’s going on, has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and in my husband’s as well. The first time when the application didn’t go through they basically said that we needed to have started a bank account or had some kind of authority confirmation like buying real estate together, from the day we started our exclusive relationship, in order to count as that being our “start” date. It would be so suspicious if when entering into a relationship, on the day you have the all important exclusive talk about being committed to one another, that you then say, “okay, now lets share a bank account”, who would do that? It’s so far from what is normal that we were appalled that this was the requirement. We had tons of support from multiple articles posted in the paper about us, to starting our own business, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Since we lived in a share house, there weren’t any actual receipts saying that we both lived there, and although we honestly could have forged them, we didn’t because it’s not the right thing to do, even though it was true, we both did live at the same address even in those early days.

I’m glad that I’ve been granted PR, and if anything it makes me want to, in the future, run for council or get involved in politics, specifically because of immigration, and to humanise the process again. The emotional toll is so big, and the rule makers obviously don’t understand this, or rather they don’t care. I am also certain that my health was impacted because of this. Having to carry that stress for so many years, with a newborn, impacted me, how could it not. Now I need to somehow brighten this thought, move forward in a new way, and start life again knowing I can be here. This includes taking some classes so I can reskill to create new opportunities for this new life. Six years after starting a life with my now husband, we get to start again.

If I were to do it again, and I know that this isn’t possible, but I would have applied straight away, as soon as we qualified for the visa, because looking at that old timeline, I would have already had citizenship. I can’t do anything about it now, but that is exactly what I would tell someone else now, don’t wait, just do it, do it now, you never know what the future holds, you never know how the political climate can change, and you have to think about you and your family first and foremost, and take the least risky way.

Showers

Time seems to slip with the water rolling down my body

Memories come up and wash away

If I close my eyes, I could be at any age, right now

If I close my eyes, I feel fear.

I stand with my body facing the door, always

Nothing has ever happened in the shower to me

Yet, I feel terribly vulnerable

Naked, Wet, Not being able to hear well over the water

I can only ever relax if I know someone I trust is at home

Short showers generally

Quick, and sometimes ice cold

I’m not in there for pleasure

it’s about purpose

 

Isolation

Enclosed in Glass

Emotions everywhere

Dare I dive in?