Cosette: Stumble Down Under
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Melbourne, etc.
My name is Cosette. I was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated with my family to the United States on the Mariel boatlift in 1980. We settled in Miami, FL and that’s where I grew up. I ended up in Melbourne, Australia earlier this year when I met a terrific Aussie man.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging casually many years ago in the AOL Journals community. I began blogging because I enjoy exploring new technologies and communities. I blog to share, discover, and process. Blogging about my experiences in Australia seemed like the natural thing to do and it’s a good way to keep my family and friends informed.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
One of my favorite entries is a photo post about the Great Ocean Road. It’s one of my favorite travel moments ever.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Melbourne differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Life in Australia is different in many small ways. My carbon footprint is lighter – we recycle more, we compost, grow some vegetables, and people seem more concerned about water and energy conservation. I shop at markets and buy fresher foods now. But I’d say the biggest culture shock is how much more expensive life is here. And driving on the left side of the road.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Melbourne? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was as prepared as I could have been. I did a lot of research, planned ahead, and received a lot of good advice from my Aussie partner and the expat community. The only decision I often question is having left my pet cat behind. Given the expenses and stress she would have suffered, I think I made the right decision, but I miss her.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My Aussie partner finds it hysterical that I try to get into the car from the right side. I don’t do it so much anymore, but I have to actually think about it when I’m approaching the car. The passenger side is on the left, the left, the left….
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Melbourne?
- Do your research especially on areas such as visas and work. And consider how you’ll stay in contact with friends and family back home.
- Join some social groups online such as Facebook groups, Meetups, and other online communities so you can receive good advice and make new friends.
- Let go of expectations. Australia is similar to the U.S. in some ways, but also a whole new world. If you spend too much time comparing and converting, you’re not going to have a very good time.
How is the expat community in Melbourne? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community has its pros and cons. On the bright side, you can learn a lot from other expats, bond over shared experiences, and make great friends. On the other hand, you may have very little in common with other expats aside from being expats, and some expats want to replicate American life in Australia, which I don’t think is healthy.
How would you summarize your expat life in Melbourne in a single, catchy sentence?
I’m stumbling down under and having a great time.