Anastasia came to Brisbane in 2011 to complete her Master’s degree in Food Studies. She was familiar with Australia because she had previously visited to see her aunt, who had migrated many years before. During her Master’s, Anastasia realised she was more interested in connecting with people through nutrition, rather than working in a lab, so she decided to continue her studies with an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy. She worked as a casual nutrition assistant on the Gold Coast while she was studying. She lived on campus and found it easy to make friends with other international students, from Taiwan but also France, Germany, Korea, Nepal and Japan. She enjoyed having barbecues with her university friends and the city lifestyle in Brisbane. It was a bit harder to form close friendships with Australian students who she only saw during class.
Anastasia really wanted to stay in Australia because she found the quality of life to be better than Taiwan, and because she saw a strong interest in natural therapies and nutrition in Australia, so it seemed a good place for her to pursue her career. As her studies were finishing she started getting very stressed. She was trying to think about her visa options to stay, and at the same time was very busy working and studying.
Towards the end of her Advanced Diploma, Anastasia interviewed for a naturopath job at a health food business in Rockhampton, a small regional city 600 kilometres north of Brisbane. At first, she didn’t tell the owners that she would probably need visa sponsorship to work in Australia, as she wanted them to get to know her first. But once she had been offered the job, she asked, and they were happy to sponsor her under the regional skilled migration scheme.
Anastasia finished her studies and moved from Brisbane to Rockhampton. Her boyfriend, who was from Japan, had relocated there earlier, also for a work opportunity in the mining industry. At first, Anastasia found life in a smaller town a little boring, but she really enjoyed her work, and soon really began to feel at home. She felt like living in ‘Rocky’ had given her a chance to really get to know Australian life in a more intimate way, as she became close friends with her work colleagues and lived with an Australian family. Anastasia now really saw her future in Australia, and the only real downside for her was thinking about the time she was missing with her family in Taiwan. She also had to remain working in Rockhampton for two years as part of her visa conditions and to be eligible for permanent residency (PR). This sometimes made her feel a bit ‘stuck’, especially as her boyfriend was feeling unhappy about staying in Rockhampton, but at the same time she felt she was getting great work experience compared to her job in Brisbane. In 2014, Anastasia got her PR through the regional skilled migration scheme.
Towards the end of the contract at the health food store in Rockhampton, Anastasia’s employer changed her job status to casual instead of full time. Around the same time, her boyfriend had to relocate to the Sunshine Coast for work. For these reasons, Anastasia decided to leave her job and moved again in 2016, to a suburb in Brisbane. She found two casual jobs – one at a health food store in Brisbane and the other at a clinic on the Sunshine Coast. Even though she became a citizen in 2016, she felt that her life had become less stable. She had wanted to buy a house after getting PR, but this wasn’t possible with only casual work. The decline in Australia’s mining sector also affected her boyfriend’s career prospects, and her parents were not supportive of her relationship, thinking she should find someone more financially stable. Anastasia was trying to stay positive and was optimistic about her clinic job turning into a full-time role. She missed Rockhampton and was trying to keep in touch with her ex-manager and other work mates from there, who she remembered as her first truly close Australian friends. She spoke about feeling quite unsettled from all the uncertainty in her life over the last few years but felt like she will soon be able to settle into life in Brisbane again.