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 Joy, a 27 year old identical twin originally from Melbourne. After completing a commerce degree at the University of Melbourne I worked in professional services both in an accounting and consulting capacity. I’m a chartered accountant who likes numbers and am nerdy at heart! Besides Melbourne, I’ve lived and worked in Sydney and am now based in New York. I love the outdoors, socialising, keeping myself active, and anything turtle-related.
Where did you work overseas and what did you do whilst you were there?
I currently work in Manhattan, New York (Financial District) for a global insurance company as a Project Manager focusing on business transformation initiatives.
What first sparked your interest in working overseas? What did you hope to get out of it and has that changed over time?
I was initially content with my move to Sydney and had no desire to live abroad, however, gradually this changed as many of my colleagues and friends started moving overseas. The catalyst was when my close girlfriends began making plans to move – I didn’t want to be left behind! I was also finally in a position both financially and professionally to live and work in a new city.
I chose New York because of the challenge (you really have to want it to move here) and also because it is one city I wanted to live in whilst I was still young.
It has been just under a year since I moved and am loving every moment. There is still so much to see, do and experience that I have no plans on moving back anytime soon.
Practically speaking, how did you get this whole adventure off the ground?
Letting those around you know of your intentions is the first step. I had good work mentors and close friends who helped connect me with others in the US and provided the support and encouragement I needed to do this.
Also, my partner had recently moved to the US for work and I was in temporary accommodation so I knew I had to take action. After a couple of months procrastinating, I bit the bullet and booked my flight to the US to find a job. Knowing I had a short 6-week period to lock something in (and the fear of coming home empty-handed) was the burning motivation for me to ‘hustle’ in my job-hunting pursuits.
I was fortunate enough to lock in a job within that timeframe and the company sponsored my visa. Within 6 weeks I had moved permanently to the US.
What is one thing you wish you knew before you left?
Timing – I should have done more research beforehand such as when it would be a good time to job hunt (i.e. not in the middle of summer which is peak vacation season!)
I was so adamant to move within such a short timeframe at the detriment to other opportunities that I could have considered, however, there is definitely a fine line between waiting for something better to come along and missing out completely.
What is the BEST part of living and working overseas?
Immersing yourself in a whole new culture and city – there is nothing that can compare to New York City! Its vibe, intensity – there’s always something to do! It is everything like the movies and TV plus more. At times it still feels so surreal that I’m here.
I’ve met a lot amazing people (admittedly my nucleus of friends here are Aussies) – experiencing all New York has to offer together is a lot of fun!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
There are a few….
- Initially establishing yourself in a new city and this isn’t even socially! – finding a place to live that is ‘reasonable’ (rent is extortionate here), having no credit history and starting from scratch, being denied a secured credit card – the struggles are real!
- Financially – between rent, going out trying to explore as much of New York as possible and travelling around the US you are always left feeling ‘poor’.
- Being separated from my partner is probably the hardest – from living together in Sydney and seeing each other every day we are now located on the East and West Coast. Luckily the timezones aren’t too bad but the 7 hour long flight mean we can’t see each other as often as we’d like, however, we make it work which is a testament to our relationship.
What have you gained that you couldn’t have gotten if you stayed in Oz?
I’ve grown as a person and become much more resilient. New York is such a big city, and starting afresh you really have to put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone.
Culturally, people are much more selfish and direct both in the workplace and socially – I’ve learnt to adapt to this different way of working which I’d never get to experience otherwise.
Back home I was surrounded by like-minded people, however, here there are so many people from diverse backgrounds, upbringings and with differing views. Being exposed to this I’ve become more aware and gained a worldlier perspective on various issues.
Three tips or pieces of advice for others wanting to skip the country in search of a worldly adventure?
- Research – connect with friends or people you may know that have moved to where you want to go. First hand experiences are so valuable and people are always willing to provide insights, views and assistance.
- Be ready to spend and not save as much as you’d like – it’s a hard truth but remember you are doing this for the experience which is priceless. The first couple of months are always the hardest but things do get better!
- Just do it – it’s the best decision I’ve made. There will never be the perfect time and things come up, but you only live once so be selfish. Change is good; no one looks back and regrets the years they spent abroad.