A Co Down woman living in Australia has shared her story on moving across the world.
Caroline McKenna from Newcastle took a leap of faith and moved to Australia almost five years ago.
She has recently began a podcast about her experience and knowledge of the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of living in Sydney as an expat.
The teacher’s podcast is becoming more and more popular, with people looking advice and an insight on what the big move is really like.
Caroline created her ‘A County Down Under‘ Instagram page to share her podcasts less than a month ago, but has already gained nearly 2,500 followers and 6,000 downloads this week alone.
She told Belfast Live she wanted people to know Instagram isn’t always what it seems and people only share one side to what moving to Australia is truly like. Caroline also shares tips she wishes someone told her before she took the leap.
She said: “My own Instagram shows one side of living abroad and the reality was that at points, I have been absolutely miserable, it is hard.
“There’s a lot of bloggers that have come from Ireland to Australia and portray an amazing life, they seem to have big groups of friends and have glamorous event to go to. Young girls who want to come out here see that side of it.
“It’s important for people to be mentally prepared, yes it’s amazing, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t but you are going to have some down days and that’s okay.
“I wish I had a guide like this when I came over. I spent hours researching the smallest things like where to live, what are rent prices and how do you go about getting a job? Throughout the podcasts I interview people who will help and give top tips.
“It’s a one stop shop that will help with all of those things. I will tell people where the cheapest place is to get your groceries, where’s good to make friends and all the things inbetween.”
The Newcastle woman urges people considering the move to be prepared.
“I show the realities to everything, it isn’t just beaches and barbeques. I try to tell people that there are going to be tough days but the Irish community that’s out here is amazing.
“Once you get your foot in the door to different committees, it’s like a family. It’s a totally different side to Australia.
“The podcast will be for everyone, people who want to come over and be nurses, teachers, air traffic controllers, it will say how to sort your medical bills, how not to get ripped off overseas and what to bring over with you.
“On your first day you need to get your Sim card, as you need a mobile number to open your bank account. I’ll talk about the things people forget to tell you in the midst of all the excitement.”
Caroline, who is now a permanent resident in Australia, described the best and worst parts of her new life.
She told Belfast Live: “The hardest parts are Sundays. You can spend the whole week being busy, having your best life but I miss spending time with families on Sundays, they are lonely.
“Knowing your family are in your house is comforting but I don’t have that reassurance. You really are fending for yourself out here. You may have the best friends out here but people have their own lives and can’t be with you 24/7.
“Missing something important at home is a big downfall too. My brother fell sick really quickly back at home last year and had a head injury. He needed surgery but my family didn’t want to worry me. It happened so suddenly I wouldn’t have got home for the operation, but those phone calls are hard.
“I can live here forever now but so many people are only here on a visa for a year or two. People come and go and then you have to start over again with new friends.”
The first episode of ‘A County Down Under’ delves into friendship. It explains that people think you simply ‘fall into a bunch of friends’, but it isn’t that easy.
Caroline found herself dreading leaving the school doors on Fridays as she was going home to an empty apartment.
The teacher says Australia has given her so many opportunities that she never would have got at home, and her job at a school overlooking the Sydney Opera House really is a ‘dream’.
She added: “I have a job I only ever have dreamed of. It really is like something you see in the movies and I absolutely strive on it. The kids are absolutely amazing and so are the facilities. It’s surreal.
“There’s so many opportunities and I earn more than I ever would at home. You can grab a quick flight to Bali or Fiji and people are really keen to do things.
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“At home people used to say, I’ve booked a hen party for six months time but need a £50 deposit and people wouldn’t have it. It’s a real yes type of attitude here.”
In the first few days after she began her podcast, Caroline received hundreds of messages from listeners telling her she is doing exactly what people wanting to move have needed.
She has reached people from Ireland living in Doha, Japan, New York, Canada and Hong Kong.
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