Everything I Wished For
I'm from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and moved to Edinburgh in 2010 as I have always wanted to be British.
Where are you from, Mel, and what are you doing nowadays?
I'm an Australian national and I come from sunny Queensland. I moved to the UK in 2010 because I have always wanted to be British. When I had saved up enough money, I packed my life into one suitcase and swapped the beaches for the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.
Why did you choose to expatriate to Scotland?
My grandparents are from the UK and I grew up with stories about Edinburgh, so it always appealed to me. I first came to Edinburgh for a holiday and loved it so much that I decided to move there once I could get a visa.
As an Aussie national, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
I applied for an Ancestry visa due to my grandparents being born here. I applied for the 6 months visa before moving and had to prove I had sufficient funds to support myself. I had to provide a lot of paperwork to prove my ancestry links and get my biometric data taken, but it was pretty straightforward. I managed thanks to a company which helps expats move overseas. They basically did everything for me.
What has attracted you to Edinburgh?
I was originally attracted to Edinburgh through the links with my grandparents. When I reached here and discovered its historical background, I instantly fell in love with it. It still makes me happy to walk past Edinburgh Castle every day and admire it.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
When I finally landed in Edinburgh, the city was experiencing its coldest winter in years. I arrived to ankle deep snow and freezing cold temperatures. In fact, it was my first introduction to snow (as we don't get any in sunny Queensland) and it was a bit of a shock to the system.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available there?
I didn't find it difficult to find accommodation here. I moved over with my sister, so we rented a place together. We wanted to live in the city-center to have access to public transport. We thus decided to rent a small flat. The accommodations available tend to be quite old as Edinburgh is a historical city. Most of the new flats are turned into student accommodation as the city has a big student population. It was quite a change from the big open spaces we were used to in Australia.
In which field are you working? Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?
I am working over here as a Librarian which is what I did in Australia. After my arrival, it took me two months to find a job. I don't think it is any more difficult to get a job over here then what it is back home. You just have to present yourself differently as your qualifications or University you attended can be pretty much unknown over here.
How do you find the Scottish lifestyle?
The Scottish lifestyle is very different to back home. The thing that I find the most difficult is the fact that I don't drink. Scotland has a massive drinking culture and if you want to socialize you have to go to the pub and sit there all night. I'm more used to an active social life where you go for a barbeque or to the beach rather than sitting in a pub.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
I have been able to adapt to the country although I do miss my outdoor lifestyle.
What does your every day life look like in Edinburgh?
Every day life in Edinburgh usually involves wearing multiple layers of clothes, scarves and gloves as the cold and the wind can be pretty harsh. Never leave home without an umbrella in Edinburgh!
Any particular experience in Scotland you would like to share with us?
If you get a chance to come to Edinburgh, then I highly recommend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a performance of Military bands from all over the world. It is held every year at Edinburgh Castle. It is such a uniquely Scottish attraction.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Edinburgh? Is it easy for an expat to live there?
Edinburgh can be expensive, but not as much as London. You just have to be smart when it comes to spending your money. Wages in the UK as a whole aren't that high. During the past few years, I have noticed that the cost of living is getting higher but the wages aren't getting any better. I think it is easy for expats to live here, but you need to have funds to support yourself or a little bit of spare money to make the most of it.
How do you spend your leisure time?
In my down time, I write for my blog "Everything I Wished For" which keeps me busy. I also go to the gym quite a lot.
Your favorite local dishes?
I'm not keen on Scotland's most famous dish, haggis. It made me sick when I first tried it, so I avoid it now.
What do you like the most about Edinburgh?
I like Edinburgh's history and I love walking past Edinburgh Castle. That Castle has been there even before my home country was even being explored. What fascinates me the most is the fact that it has been built on the top of an extinct volcano!
What do you miss the most about your home country?
I miss the beautiful sunny weather and my family.
What has motivated you to write your blog "Everything I Wished For"? How does it help?
I started to write my blog as I love writing and traveling, but I also wanted to be able to share my expat experience with other people who are also thinking about making the move. When I was planning my move over here, there weren't any other expat blogs that I could follow to get an insider's view of living in the city. I used guidebooks, but being a tourist in a city is such a different experience from living there. My blog helps me to recollect all of the amazing experiences I've had over here, especially when I'm feeling a bit homesick.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in Scotland?
Jump right into it and say yes to every opportunity. Don't stress too much about only taking a job in a sector you currently do. When I first moved here, I took a job as a receptionist although it wasn't my career ambition, but I made some wonderful friends and the connections there have helped me immensely.
What are your plans for the future?
I've just applied for Indefinite Leave to remain in the UK, so I'll be here for a while.