Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Move Abroad in 4 Months: A (Somewhat) Simple Guide

So it's official, I've lived in Australia for just over 10 months now, and it's safe to say that I've adjusted pretty easily and quickly to living here. Jobs pay well here, housing is cheaper (at least cheaper than LA/Orange County), and it's definitely safer here in the most "ghetto" suburb than anywhere else I lived in America.

I actually didn't intentionally mean to write this after the US election! It was a post I'd wanted to write for a while and it's been a little over a year since I made the decision to move here, so this time last year I was finishing up my last semester of school while also slowly transitioning myself out of America and into Australia.

Lots of people talk back home talk to me and tell me how jealous they are that I'm living in a place that is on so many peoples' bucket lists (although my hometown of LA is also on tons of peoples' bucket lists... haha) and how much they wish they could move out and do the same.

If you're one of those people, I say DO IT! As Nike says, JUST DO IT.

I know that it's never as easy as talking about it, but I was able to make the decision to move and take the steps toward doing so pretty much from the end of October/November-the first week of February. That's roughly 3 1/2 months. & it's not like I was working a full time job either! I was still a full time student for almost half that time, and I worked 2-3 part time jobs in the meantime. On top of that, I still had financial things to deal with (which I will go into later in this post).


Here are the things that I considered in the process of moving abroad:

LONG-TERM COMMITMENTS: Do you have anything that will potentially hold you down or cause you to hesitate in moving abroad? Is it a really good paying job that you may have to leave without guarantees of getting it back when you return? Do you have car or house payments to make? Or maybe there are children or older family members in the picture that need your care? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, see if there is any way to get around these things. See if there is someone that can take care of that family member or if there's children, see how you can take them with you. If it's long-term payments, see your options for those, whether it's selling, deferring payments, or if you can rent out either of those things to someone who will pay for it while you're gone (I don't know much about these things so I am not an expert on this stuff). With work, see if you can be transferred to an international branch or if your job can be set aside for you until you come back (this may only work if you'll only be gone one year/have seniority at your job). I know I've also heard stories of people moving to doing remote work for their companies as well! Even if you have these things holding you back, I definitely believe that it is still possible to move and travel!

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you're one step ahead! 

Thankfully, I made this decision when I finished my biggest time commitment: my college degree!

+ HOW I DID IT: This was me for the most part when I decided to move. The biggest obstacle for me was finding a roommate to take my place in my apartment (that was a nightmare). When my family questioned me wanting to move so soon, I said to them all of these things: I'm not physically or financially tied down to anything or anyone at that moment. Many suggested that I get a full time job first to save up a lot before moving but I said then I would be tied down and I wouldn't be able to pick up and move as freely as I wanted to. 

LEGALITIES: What are the laws for people who want to move into the country you're looking at? What kinds of visas are available for foreigners who want to move and work there, whether temporarily or permanently? Do you even have a valid passport? Please make sure that you are indeed, moving to your desired country legally and that you are eligible to do so. 

+ HOW I DID IT: For me, the easiest option was the Work and Holiday or Working Holiday Visa (WHV). It's a visa that allows foreigners from certain countries to live and work in Australia for at least one year. The WHV specifically for Americans (Work and Holiday) does not allow us to renew it for a second year, while for those who have the Working Holiday can if they work on a farm for at least 3 months of their first year.

While the WHV is relatively easy to get, especially for Americans (I got approved right after submitting my application), the downfall is that you cannot work at one company for more than 6 months while on your visa. This is because the visa is meant to allow you to travel around so they don't want you tied down to one job if you desire to move around the country. For someone like me who wanted to settle in one place, this was pretty sucky, but it's been pretty good still nonetheless. If you are interested in learning more about the WHV, I can definitely do a whole separate post on this in the future!

COST OF LIVING: Have you looked into what it would cost to realistically live where you want to move to? How is rent for a house or apartment in the city or suburbs? How well do certain jobs pay? What is the average cost of groceries? 

+ HOW I DID IT: My visit to Australia last October really put it in my mind that I was meant to live here for my next season of life. Because I had visited before making my decision (on top of my then-boyfriend/now-husband already living here), I already had an idea of what living here would be like. 

The US dollar is stronger than the Aussie dollar, making it easier to save up money for initial moving costs. With that considered on top of me wanting to live in the suburbs vs. the city, renting a room in an apartment or even renting out a room in the house I currently live at is at the same price/cheaper than what it costed for me to live in a less safer suburb back in America with less space. *Please also take note that I am from the LA area and lived in Orange County for the last 4 years so I am also in a more expensive part of the US.* 

Honestly, the most expensive part about living in Sydney is mostly American makeup brands, but that's for obvious reasons.

Next Steps to Moving Abroad:

SAVING UP/CLEANING UP: What is the plan? How much do you make per week? Can you do more to make money? What can you sell that you don't need anymore? What can you cut out of your daily

/weekly expenses? 

After considering all of the above, the biggest thing to do next is to save up. A lot of this means working more hours and potentially getting a second job (especially if you don't have full time work) but it also means starting to clear out your life so you can have less stuff (and also have some extra cash). This also means cutting out other things so that you can save up even more. Most of this is eating out and cooking your food/bringing your own food. If you also tend to do things like getting your nails done, you may have to cut down on that as well. 

+ HOW I DID IT: As I've stated before, I didn't have a full time job during this time. From October until early December I was in school full time so I pretty much just had one main retail job and for the month of November I interned at a marketing agency (paid). At some point I got a second retail job as well (I can't remember if it was during or after my internship) and worked those two jobs for pretty much the rest of my time in America. In between both jobs, however, I picked up random gigs, like babysitting, cleaning, and taking a friend's kid to school once a week. I also began selling my things. I worked my butt off to save up as much as I could. 

On top of that, I still had my bills and got into a solo car accident (thank God) plus a parking ticket (because I was scared to drive my car after said accident) that set me back a little bit as well. I got a credit card during this time to slowly build my credit and pay for some expenses until I could reimburse them (don't worry, despite all my financial setbacks I have never made a late payment & my credit score has risen 100 points in the last year!). 

PLANNING LIFE ABROAD AHEAD OF TIME: Do you have an idea of the city/suburb you want to live in? Have you started looking for jobs/a place to stay? Do you know anyone over there that can help you?

+ HOW I DID IT: This one was actually easy for me because my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) was already living here and I also have a cousin and aunt who live here as well. I was able to find a place to live through a Facebook group for people who attend or are involved somehow with my husband's school, but it was also nice to know that I could stay with my family or even some friends I made through my husband (he lived in a house of all guys, no girls could live there) if I absolutely couldn't find anything. 

Finding a job was much harder, as I did not secure a job before moving. On a WHV, it's much harder to secure a job ahead of time since most job postings online expect someone on a more permanent visa. HOWEVER, I did end up finding a job a week after arriving. For Sydney specifically (as I cannot speak for other places) it's much easier to get a job by going somewhere in person with your resume rather than applying online. However, do still try just in case!

*Travel pro tip: If you don't know anyone in the area you are moving to and are struggling to find a place to live, I recommend joining travel groups on Facebook. That way you are able to connect with and find people in your desired area before you head out there! Of course, as with all online friendships, use your discretion in meeting people. 


So once you work out all of these details, you're good to go! You can book your plane ticket and head on out. I had a goal of moving to Australia within the first or second week of February, and I bought my one way plane ticket 3 weeks before I planned on leaving. I was cutting it close, but I knew that I would somehow be able to make it happen. 

+LAST THOUGHTS: This period of time in my life was quite honestly one of the most difficult and most trying times of my life. There were times where I would just drive and cry heading from work to class or class to church or whatever because I was so stressed. I wasn't sure how I was going to pay for my bills or if I'd have enough to last me in Australia in case I didn't find a job right away (thankfully I had family generously help me out with some extra cash before I left). I had lots of obstacles in my way but everything somehow worked out great. I would think to myself, "When will I ever get out of this" and feel like I wanted to just crawl into a ball and cry but once I got to my terminal at the airport, all the pain and stress was worth it. 

So have you considered moving abroad but didn't know where to start, wasn't sure if it was possible? If you answered yes, I say go for it! If you have any questions about anything please shoot me an email or call me out on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!
love always, Kriselle

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Why Christians Should Care About Race-Related Issues

Happy Monday to everyone in America, and happy election week! This is the week that will change the course of history of our country forever, regardless of the outcome.

Indirectly in honour of election week, I wanted to talk about an issue that has been on my heart for a very long time now, maybe even a year or so now: race in a Christian context.

If you've read my blog for any amount of time or even if you snoop around a little bit, you'll quickly find out about my faith. If you share that faith with me, welcome, fellow brother or sister in Christ! Make yourself at home. If you don't share that faith with me, welcome, fellow brother or sister! I will not treat or care for you any differently.

I'm just going to cut to the chase. Christians are some of the most racist and most exclusive people that I've ever met. And you know, that's pretty sad, considering that we are supposed to love as Jesus did.

It wasn't until going to a predominantly white, Christian university that I ever heard the term, "colorblind." Growing up in a lower class, immigrant/minority community, you knew very well what the race of the person next to you was, and you acknowledged it. There was no denying that. Especially when you grow up in a place where there were, in fact, gangs, based on racial/ethnic background.

When people use the term "colorblind," it's not usually out of malice. People who say this are probably not trying to hurt the person of color they're talking to. However,

it hurts.

& it's not just that. It's saying "but I'm not racist" when a person of color talks about their negative experience with white people. It's saying to "get over it" when venting about a race-related issue. It's talking about how people of color get scholarships for their race when white people don't. It's saying that race isn't important because "God created us all the same."

Obviously, you don't have to be a Christian to think this way, but I address Christians in this post because this is the group of people I notice this the most from. I grew up in the church, but I grew up in a secular community. College was the first time that I was fully immersed in Christian culture, white Christian culture, to be exact. So with my very contrasting experiences, I'm fairly familiar with how these two different groups of people tend to think about certain issues. 

It tends to be Christians who dismiss issues about race because it's racist to talk about it, or we are in a "post racial" society, or it's our fault that things are the way they are. 

I'm telling you right now if you've said any of the above things, STOP IT. 

You are not helping the problem by shutting down people and their experiences. The book of Genesis talks about how we are all created in His image, and that includes our racial/ethnic backgrounds as well. God wasn't colorblind when he created us otherwise we would all look the same, skintone wise. 

And I know that many Christians are against things like #BlackLivesMatter, but instead of going against it, why don't you mourn with your Christian brothers and sisters? If you hate Black Lives Matter but can say Blue Lives Matter, then the word "black" was the problem. 

I've said this before on my personal Facebook and I'll say it again, 

Jesus spent time with and cared for the people that society hated, the people that society oppressed. 

When Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman (a group of people that Jews never associated with), he did not ignore her or insult her. He spent time with her and cared for her, which eventually led to her salvation and belief in the Messiah. When a prostitute came to Jesus and washed his feet with an expensive oil and her hair, he looked past her past instead of shaming her for the kind of life she lived. In fact, many times, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, the people who were considered to be "good" because they did everything about religion "right" for that time period. 

I can talk more in detail about anti-blackness and prejudices we have as a result of how our society was built and so much more, but that would just be babbling. If you've made it this far in the post, please just take this away from this post: 

As Christians, we need to be on the forefront of the hard issues such as race. Our brothers and sisters in Christ may be part of the very groups of people who are oppressed, and when your brothers/sisters are hurt, you don't get angry with them while they're down, you love them. You stand up for them. You care for them. We lay our lives down as Jesus did. And as Christians, we need to do the same.