404 Days in Australia: On my way to Permanent Residency

As I am diligently working on my PhD research and starting to write up my preliminary results, I haven’t had much time to devote to the website or blog. My one year anniversary of arriving in Australia came and went in the middle of finally buying a car, learning to drive on the left, moving into a house, spending way too much money on furniture and appliances, and adopting a cute black cat.

His name is Charlie. Or Chah-lee.

I am feeling much more settled in my life in Australia. I really like my house, I can go to the places that I need to go without having to depend on someone else, and I have a routine and purpose to my days that was missing in France. I have two years left of my PhD, and then I hope to do a post-doc and perhaps even stay in academia to become a full-time French and/or linguistics lecturer. Or maybe I will leave academia and do something completely different. I’m not entirely sure. The certainty in all of this is that I will stay in Australia. Once I finish my PhD, I can apply for permanent residency, and then hopefully one more year after that I can apply for citizenship.

I am much happier in Australia than I was in France, mostly because I feel that I can have a real career with a decent income here. In France, I was always searching for a better and permanent job but always ended up with temporary contracts and very low incomes (compared to the US and Australia, that is.) Teaching English was never my passion even though I have a TESL certificate and many years of experience. Teaching French to Anglophones instead of teaching English to Francophones was always my intended goal, but I could never accomplish that while in France.

There are things that I miss about France because they were such a large and important part of my life. But life goes on regardless of where I am in the world. True friends know how to stay in touch, and I can always go back and visit. I still love being a tourist and traveling around France but living there as an expat is a totally different experience that I don’t want to try again. And it certainly isn’t that I don’t care much for France; it’s more that I am completely in love with Australia.

I love wide open spaces and sunshine. Plus cute animals!

For now I’d like to focus on the French influence in the South Pacific, and to help Australians learn about all of the wonderful places  that are much closer to home than France. (New Caledonia and French Polynesia are at the top of my travel list once I’ve seen more of Australia.) I am, of course, very interested in creating resources for Australian students learning French since all of the textbooks used here are either written for American students or designed for foreigners living in France. Implementing online French classes for students in rural areas is also important to me. Australia is a big country with not a lot of people, but the few people who do live far away from the major cities deserve the opportunity to have a good education as well.

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  • http://twitter.com/destinationeu Andrea

    So glad you’ve settled in and are loving life in Australia. I completely understand how difficult life in France can be and as much as I love certain aspects of France, I could never stay here permanently. I don’t know why anyone would come here if they had to work in a regular job!

    Australia is incredibly expensive though and each time I return I see prices have jumped again. I know it’s not quite so bad in Adelaide but in Perth and other cities it’s out of control. I’ll be back in Australia in December for a visit but I don’t think I could ever afford to live there again. :(

    Good luck with the rest of your PhD and getting residency. Do you know if residency is available to all students or is it easier with you being a US citizen?

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    The cost of living is definitely a drawback. I hope Adelaide doesn’t get more expensive. I can’t even imagine trying to live in Sydney. The rents are atrocious!

    I’ll be eligible for permanent residency once I finish my PhD because I’m young (the most points are for 29-32 yr olds), speak English as a native language, and because I’ll have a PhD earned in Australia. Just those three things give me enough points to apply. There are other ways to earn points, and it does seem like doing a postgrad degree here is a good way to get residency. Australia definitely doesn’t kick out the people it educated unlike some countries (::coughFrancecough::).

    Where do you plan on going when you leave France?

  • Mandy

    So glad that you are loving Australia and now that you’ve adopted a black cat, what could be better?! Poor Canaille must be jealous however! If I may be permitted to ask, what happened to your Pacs in France? I ask not to delve into your personal life, but because I am in the same situation as you were before your move to Aussie territory. I’ve been pacséed for over 2 years, beginning my 5th year of visa renewal and soon will complete my Masters degree from a French uni, but after that I’m not sure if I can stay here any longer, for similar situations that you’ve mentioned. I’m curious to know how other pacsées managed this often times delicate situation. Happy to hear that you now feel purpose to your days, very much an American need that I can certainly attest to!

  • jpack

    Good luck in Australia Jennie… I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying it over this past year. Thanks again for everything you do with the website. I’m still using it constantly for help with my French.

  • Erik_Andersen

    Jennie – - I have been going over your website and all the language help therein! Great stuff and very helpful in my German learning! I couldn’t see anywhere else to comment, so followed to you BLOG to comment!
    By the way, I too live in Australia and am a naturalised citizen now. Been here since 1994 and naturalised in 2000! Congrats and welcome to our beautiful country! Cheers… Erik

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Wow, now that was a good blog post! It doesn’t have to be long to be good.

    I completely understand what you’re doing, what you want, and why after reading that. Nice work.

    I’d really love it if you could do a really comprehensive write-up on the pros and cons of living in France as an expat (apologies if you’ve already done this, I don’t recall it), I’m quite curious. You could also do a comparison of living in France with living in Australia and explain what you like and don’t like about both, too.

    Is the Aussie bureaucracy more efficient and easier to deal with as an immigrant than the French one? I would think so.

    How do Australians treat you? What’s their reaction to an American expat who’s moved to Australia like you have and who wants to live there?

    Looking forward to more updates, but I understand you don’t have a lot of time as a PhD candidate.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    I think I started typing up a France vs. Australia post a long time ago but obviously never finished it. I’m sure I have plenty of complaints about France scattered throughout several posts but the only one that is completely pro-France is probably ielanguages.com/blog/why-do-i-live-in-france/

    Thanks for the ideas for future posts. I do enjoy writing about Australia and telling everyone how great it is here!

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    Thanks Erik! :)

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    Thanks Justin! I’m glad you’re still using my site to help you out. One of these days I hope to add even more videos and transcripts. Maybe if I can get a post-doc creating open-source materials, then I can get paid to do it. :)

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    That was interesting and I agree that living somewhere else isn’t a fairy tale, I think people get that notion from having traveled abroad on vacation and it having felt like a fairy tale–well, that’s because you didn’t have to work and could just spend all day having fun! If you had to work and live there it would be another story.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • Samantha

    @Andrew_the_Odd:disqus Oh yes, the one thing I don’t miss about France is the administration! Australia has it’s red tape but it’s so much more reasonable and easier than in France. When I got home and needed to get a new license – I did it online in a few minutes, everything from changing addresses, to new bank accounts seemed incredibly easy after living in France. I could imagine living in France again, maybe even permanately, but I would be dreading going back to their administration.

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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