Wednesday, February 18th. I’m applying for a job on a farm on King Island, an island somewhere between Melbourne and Tasmania. A job similar to every other one I have applied for, but on an island, offering me the possibility to go surfing, swimming, fishing, diving, cycling or practise other sports on weekends. The perfect location. A really good gut feeling about the entire job by the way.
Thursday, February 19th. A phone call from a farm in Cobram, on the border of Victoria and New South Wales. A weird one, not a good gut feeling, but they do offer me a job, on one condition: I have to buy a car. I don’t really get why, as there are other backpackers working there so we could perfectly share a car or split the costs, but I’m not given the chance to ask questions. They do offer me some time to decide though, “until the end of the weekend”.
Friday, February 20th. The people from Travellers At Work, the jobsite I’ve been using the most for my job hunt and whose offices are the same ones as the ones of travel agency UltimateOz, give me the phone number of the job on King Island. I call them a total of four times, but they don’t answer. I leave a voicemail message..
Saturday, February 21st. Don’t want to appear too desperate, so I decide not to call King Island today but to send an e-mail. Still no answer.
Sunday, February 22nd. I call King Island once again, just before noon, still with no answer. I am starting to panic, to get nervous. Buy a car and drive to Cobram or continue hoping for King Island? In the afternoon I get a short mail from Cobram saying that I’ve waited too long and they hired someone else. So far for promises like “we’ll give you until Sunday evening to decide”. Though it does confirm my bad gut feeling with this job. In the evening I then finally got a phone call from King Island. A very friendly and nice conversation, confirming why I had a good feeling about this one. They said they were impressed by my CV and letter, even if I don’t have any experience in farming yet. Apparently I was on their shortlist of four people they’d give a call but unfortunately I was the second name on the list and the first one had gotten the job..
It’s Wednesday now and ever since Monday I don’t really know what anymore. I’m thinking. About everything and nothing. I’m worried. As it’s already February 25th..
My current working holiday visa expires on October 19th. So that gives me about eight months.
But, I left my job in Belgium on a one year leave of absence on September 8th 2014, so they expect me back on September 8th 2015. So I actually have only a little over seven months left.
So I’m going back to Belgium in the beginning of August. To see my family again. To sleep in a decent bed again. To meet up with those few friends I have and to have lunch with my colleagues. To renew my ID and passport as their expiry dates are at the end of this year as well. And to arrange everything with my job in Belgium: either get back to work or quit… Also, if I want to apply for my second year of working holiday visa for Australia, I have to be in the same country for both the application and the granting of the visa. So if I apply when I’m in Belgium, I also have to be in Belgium when my second visa is granted. Same goes for Australia or any other country I’d be in. Between applying for the visa and being granted it, there can be a few hours or a month, it depends on every application. And should I want to go back to my job in Belgium, I would want to have two or three weeks in Belgium before that so that I can adapt to the Belgian lifestyle and daily rhythm again.. Anyway: back to Belgium early August to have time for everything.
So that leaves me with March, April, May, June and July. Just five more months.
During those five months I have to have worked for either three months straight or a sum of 88 days. Doing that, I also want to have the possibility of taking one week off around the 25th of April (e.g. from the 23rd to the 30th) to go to Canberra for ANZAC Day. I have good hope for that as every employer I’ve spoken too up to now didn’t have a problem with that. Especially when I say I’d be willing to work one or two weeks extra to compensate that week off. Yet, if they don’t accept, I’d have to go for 88 days of work instead of three months straight and 88 days basically means around four months of work..
So the worst case scenario (which Murphy and his law seem to want to give me) would be four months of work and only one month remaining to have fun and travel before I go back to my home country. And that makes me feel bad. Yes, the reward can be great: an extra year down under, starting either immediately after my current visa or anywhere on a later date before my 31st birthday (which is July 2nd 2016). So I can do it immediately, I can postpone or.. I can not do it. But that would be a shame I guess.
In the other case, the best case scenario, I get a job offered today, start working on Monday, do my three months of work and have about two months left to travel and discover. I’m definitely cheering for that!
At the same time, I’m also already working on a list of companies and institutions here in Straya that I’d definitely like to work at if I get that second visa. Like ‘Melbourne & Olympic Parks’ (Melbourne), ‘Australian Grand Prix Corporation’ (Melbourne), the ‘Australian Institute of Sports’ (Canberra) or the ‘Australian Olympic Committee’ (Sydney). Signing a contract with them while having my current visa would mean not being able to work for longer than six months (although there are exceptions) and having to work on a special project or event but giving up the job certainty that I have in Belgium for the insecurity that would come with this great experience. Yet, also an option could be to apply for a sponsorship where a company would hire me and support me while working for them for up to four years… Difficult to get that, but worth the try. Especially if it would be possible at one of those companies I would have worked for and where I would have had the chance to prove my worth.
But still, those are alle fictitious scenarios. Nothing is certain. Just as true as the chances of me running into Jerry Bruckheimer today and him offering me a job to act on the fifth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie he is shooting here in Australia right now, after which I would win the Oscar for best support actor next year. Right now: not a chance. (And for this acting scenario just not a chance whatsoever, let’s be honest 😉 )
Up until last weekend I hadn’t even thought about the “What after Australia?” question. Travelling and backpacking means living life by the day, without any long term considerations. The panic of the job hunt and the disappointment of last weekend have made me think about it now though..
The facts are what they are: I have only five months left, not more than that, in which I have to work for three months. Let’s hope I can get that over with asap so that I can get back to the adventure I wanted to have here. The Aussie East Coast, the West Coast, Tasmania, the Great Barrier Reef, maybe even crossing over to New Zealand, Thailand or Fiji. Any of that is still possible (but not all of it obviously). If finally I can strike some luck with the jobhunt.
I think I will go to the Foo Fighters concert here in Sydney tomorrow. If there are any tickets left. Clear my head, scream some lyrics. Getting away from everything. Gain back some energy and motivation hopefully, because I refuse to give up. I can get knocked down, but I will get back up again. Murphy and his law won’t beat me. I won’t let them.
(The picture used as a header shows a part of last Sunday’s ‘Chinese New Year Twilight Parade’ here in Sydney by the way! Have a happy year of the sheep, you Asians!)