This interview is part of a four-part series exploring the ups and downs and practicalities of living and working overseas. You can read the other interviews with three wonderful, world-faring and adventurous women here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Bianca. Melbourne girl, physiotherapist, passion for travel, the outdoors, books and red wine. Decided to make the move abroad for two years with my partner.
Where did you work overseas and what did you whilst you were there?
I was based in London predominantly working in a private hospital in a sports and rehabilitation focussed role. I also had the amazing opportunity to be trained in postoperative management of oncology patients (a highly specialist branch of physiotherapy) in one of the top surgical hospitals in the world.
What first sparked your interest in working overseas? What did you hope to get out of it and has that changed over time?
It’s really something I’ve always wanted to do. The most tempting feature (besides professional development) was the opportunity to travel regularly and for longer periods than would otherwise be possible all the way from Oz. The whole adventure part of things was truly the most alluring, I just wanted to experience as many locations, cultures, hikes, foods and wines as possible. I knew London would be the perfect base for this. A few close friends of mine had swiftly decided to make the move and before I knew it I was saying “I’m coming”.
Once over there, I really enjoyed the London lifestyle. I found being in and exploring the city, working/developing my career just as incredible as the travel.
Practically speaking, how did you get this whole adventure off the ground?
Once we made the snap decision to move, we applied for a UK “Youth Mobility” (Tier 5) VISA and registration to practice as a physiotherapist. Despite there being huge amounts of boring paperwork (including proof of identity/degree, references, bank statements, medicals, biometric evaluation), it all came together relatively quickly. We then registered with job agencies (so they could start looking for positions for us whilst we organised our first big holiday).
What is the BEST part of living and working overseas?
The obvious – travel. London was a fab base for exploring Europe (and even a couple of weeks in the States). We tried to squeeze in as much as possible, from longer multi-month breaks to just a weekend escape. We were employed on a casual basis so there was a great deal of flexibility in taking time off.
Second to that however was definitely London itself. Knowing that the move was temporary, much of our free time in London was spent exploring, living as tourists and getting involved in the busy lifestyle. Adapting from the typical “live to work” attitude in Australia to the “work to live” attitude of the Europeans was actually enlightening (and super fun!).
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
I have always been over-analytical and hyper-organised with most aspects of my life, so one of the hardest things for me to do was just to rock up in London with so much left up in the air. No job, no place to live. Crashing on friends couches (and floors!), navigating the crazy London property rental market (refusing to live with 10 people in a filthy sharehouse), trying to secure a job (with no experience in their healthcare system). Of course ultimately everything fell into place, however, there were a few sleepless nights at first!
What have you gained that you couldn’t have gotten if you stayed in Oz?
For me, it was an understanding of a different way of life. A super busy yet lower stress and fun focussed lifestyle. I’ve also really gained an appreciation of living with far fewer material items and a greater willingness to allocate money towards experiences.
And of course, I have gained valuable experience in my profession which has opened up a number of future career prospects.
Three tips or pieces of advice for others wanting to skip the country in search of a worldly adventure?
- Pack light. You never need as much as you think you’ll need. You will learn to adapt to living in smaller spaces and adopt a minimalistic lifestyle (in fact you may find you prefer it!)
- Avoid forming judgements based on what other people say. For example, London food IS amazing and the weather is NOT that bad!
- Don’t think too much, just do it!