Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beginning of our new journey

We migrated to Melbourne, Australia in Feb 2014.
We have been very discreet about this - Initially we only shared with family and some close friends, only until recently that we started to share openly with friends.
Thinking back now, seriously I do not know why would EG and I have the gut to make this move. Anyway, we're glad that we did it together and we both had a good experience through the whole journey.
So you might ask me why? The standard answer we have been giving is - for the children. However, to be honest, it's not entirely for the children, it's partly for ourselves also. We were looking for something different that we could do to our lives. We went for a migration seminar in Penang and EG told me, we could do this. I was about 4 months pregnant with Natalie during then. We engaged a migration agent to overlook the whole process - which is the most correct decision that we have made as it saves us a lot of headache and hassle as we have someone expert to make sure we did the right thing. Besides, I have an aunt, who is very close to me, residing in Melbourne for the past 30+ years, and a few cousins around. I emailed them before deciding to engage the agent for migration and all of them were very helpful in giving us advice if this is a good decision. So, we thought, since we have relatives to watch over us if we go Australia, why not?
The Process
We engaged Kitson Migration for our PR application and after analyzing our skills/age/etc, they suggested that we should apply for Skilled Migrant Permanent Visa. I remember it took us a few sleepless nights to really think about this to be sure this is what we want to do. And finally we decided to give it a try - whether or not we'll have the Visa approved it doesn't matter - just giving it a try and have another option in life. Besides even if our application is approved, we have 5 years to plan and decide if we really want to move over. That was the real thought that we had during that time. So, EG was the main applicant and he went for IELTS test (passed with flying colors and pulled up our scores in application). Both me and EG are local graduates, hence in order to prove that his skill is competent to Australian Engineering Association, he had to write 3 major career episodes throughout his 10 years working experience as an Electronics Enginner, and submitted to Australia EA for skill assessment. It took probably about 2 months for him to complete the whole thing, and submitted.
So, what did I do? :D.. In order to make sure he has the time to prepare for the IETLS test, and to write the skill assessment document, I made sure Eunice (around 2yo+ then) didn't disturb him and gave him lots of time to do it. Work in office was terribly busy and the only time he could prepare all these is after working or during weekends. Besides, I also helped to complete and compile some other documents like pay slips, passports, application forms, HR letters, etc and made sure all are in place for the application.
After all are ready we just send them in to Kitson's office and they handle the rest, and we waited.
Express of Interest
Australia EA came back with the skill assessment result and recognized EG as an Electronics Engineer per their standard. And now we can submit our application into the Express Of Interest (EOI) pool and wait for the system to pick us before we could officially our application. Our score was pretty high (Kudos to EG for scoring high in IELTS), and we were picked almost immediately by the system for lodging our application officially. That was in October 2012, when Natalie was only born for 2 months. Of course we submitted our application immediately, and we brought the whole family to Adventist to do a medical checkup per the request by Aus government. And then we submitted everything, and waited again.
Visa Approval
The waiting process was never fun. We were often anxious if we missed out any document or any details in the submission, but Kitson has been doing a very good followup and convinced us that everything is good. We weren't expect the approval to be done fast, however, in less than 3 months, we received an email from Kitson saying that our application is approved and we're granted with Australia Permanent Resident Visa. The best thing is, the date of approval was our ROM date! That was the best 5th year anniversary present that we've received! :)
Planning to move
In order to activate our Visa, we whole family must enter Australia once by using the Visa. We did that in April 2014. During that trip, we stayed with my aunt and tried to check out as many things that as we could - house, lifestyle, weather, schools, banks, etc. My aunt has been giving us very good advice and also trying to brainwash us to move ASAP. After the trip, we have decided that we'll move soon. Why wait? Like my aunt always tells us. Again, the whole process caused us many many sleepless nights - very often that we were worried if we made the right move. However, it's a very strong desire in me and EG's heart that this is really what we want to do. So, we often pat on each other's shoulders and decided to go through this together as a family. And, we started with all the major things - sold our home (still remember we held our hands tightly together before going into the lawyer's office to sign the S&P - as this is our HOME that we bought together after we got married), sorted out the schools in Aus for Eunice, financial planning, packing, resigned and passed down work in office, transferred all the posting address, sorted out all the insurances, cut/transferred all the utilities to the new owner and got the refund, etc etc.
Now that we think back, it's seriously a nightmare. If you asked me again, I'd say it's such a tough job to do that. Everynight after we made the girls asleep, EG and I will be busy sorting out things and packed them up. We engaged Unigroup as our shipping company and we had to think and sort out what to bring or what to give away or what to not bring or how do we fit those things into the shipment etc etc. For the last 1 month before our move, EG and I could only sleep around 1-2am to do the packing. We split the job to make it more efficient, and until Unigroup came and packed up our house, we were at the most stressful moment as we were worried that we forgot or missed out anything. Besides, packing up a HOME that we have stayed for 6 years is definitely not an easy task.

Packing at home for almost a month!

Packing team is here - most stressful moment

Our house in boxes
Our house in 4 cubic meters
Our family has been quite supportive over our decision. Surely, they felt heavy or sad that their grandchildren are moving so far away but they respect our decision and have been supportive and helpful. It is not an easy decision for anyone in the family, really.
Leaving on the jetplane
So, we left on the 14th February - don't ask me why the date. :).. My aunt wanted us to arrive on a weekend so that they can pick us up from the airport since both her and my uncle were working on weekdays then. We wanted to come in February (house already sold) after Chinese New Year and there weren't many dates for weekends available. So this will be a very easy date to remember - we left on Eunice's 4th birthday. We took MAS airline because we needed the luggage check in, and 4 of us were entitled to 100kg of luggage and we fully utilized that, not forgetting our hand luggage too. It was CRAZY. I really couldn't imagine how on earth did we manage to do it at all. However, Eunice was a perfect good girl. She was in perfect mood and that helped A LOT as she could run with us in the airport, slept in the flight, ate the food, watched the cartoon, etc. Nat was hyper but was still manageable. The overall experience was pleasant but still overwhelmed. It wasn't until EG and I boarded into the flight in KLIA to Melbourne then we looked at each other, and said, "This is it! It's now real!"
Last picture in our master bedroom

Our checkins

Our checkins + hand carry

4 of us in the airport - We stick together

Our New Journey
So, we landed on the 15th February in the new land.
Can't believe that we made it!
Got help from airport crew to help to push the luggage out from terminal. :)

Another side of the luggage.
Both girls were angels throughout the whole journey. :)

We're here for more than 5 months now. How're we doing, you must be wondering? :)
All I can say is God has been really really good to us. He has poured us blessings over blessings that we couldn't even imagine or believe. We're doing really well here. We stayed with my aunt for the first 3.5 months and she took real good care of us by feeding us good food, and giving us a good place to stay. Our cost was bare minimum for the 1st 3 months and that really helps as we're still trying to get ourselves familiarized with the new place. We bought a car in the first month that we arrived, and both EG and I got the local driving license in the first 2-3 months. I was offered a permanent job as a Business Analyst since Easter Sunday, and EG has just been offered a Test Engineer position in Melbourne Uni last week in the research department. Eunice has been going to kinder on the same day that I started work, and she is enjoying herself a lot. Since I am working, EG has been taking care of the girls at home and they surely enjoy the parent's care - however, since EG is going to work soon, we're sending them to childcare for 2-3 days a week while I work from home for the rest of the weeks. We moved to our new home in June, and we're much more settled now. We enjoy the lifestyle here - maybe we weren't preparing to come to "bed of roses" at all - we were planning for the worst case scenario for no job for 1 year, and took a gamble with all our savings.  So, whatever that we're having now is much much better that what we've planned. I have been cooking A LOT here as it's not a culture to eat out. All my colleagues pack their lunches to office and hence I did that too. I cook before I leave to work in the morning so that EG can just feed the girls with the lunch straight. It took us a while to get used to the new routine, but now we're pretty good - getting more efficient in getting things done. Of course, my relatives, esp my aunt & uncle, have been the great help here. I often say our lives will be 100 times harder if without them helping us here.
Very often, when EG and I looked back, we thought that compare to many migrants, we probably are the luckier and blessed ones who can settle down pretty well. It'll still be a long journey for us to find out more about this new land, but I surely hope that God will continue to shower us with His blessings and watch over our family.
Now, time for some random pics here. :)

Me and girls in the park

EG's heaven - Library

Easter Party @ Bunnings. Eunice loves face painting

Amazed with ducks in pond @ Carribean Market

Nat's favorite activity!

Eunice in her kinder

Sand playing - Cooking

Invitation to Mother's Day tea party - Kids singing songs to all mums :)

New Journey!

Finally, I'm BACK!

A lot of things happened in our family and to mark a new beginning, I have made some changes to my personal blog. Initially, I intended to move my blog from blogger to wordpress (actually I did it for a few weeks and even blogs a few posts in wordpress already!) but I decided to move back to blogger as the wordpress (with the free domain) has too many restrictions, unless I have my own domain. I don't really like the restrictions and I decided to move back to blogger.

Anyway, I am now determined, I mean, seriously, to revive my blog with more interesting posts (finger crossed!).