Every week I interview a Belgian who moved abroad and built a new life there. This week I introduce you to Tim who went after the Australian waves.
1. Could you please introduce yourself? Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are from, where you moved to and when you moved there.
My name is Tim. I work for Printforce, a company specialized in printing for the real estate industry, as head of the Signs Department in Queensland. I’m originally from Kappele-op-den-Bos, close to Mechelen. I’ve just moved from Coolangatta on the Gold Goast to Brisbane, as I moved in with my girlfriend. She works here in Brisbane and it’s much easier for me to drive to Molendinar (where I work) each day, than for her to drive from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.
I’ve moved to the Gold Coast in March 2005 on a Working Holiday Visa.
2. Why did you move to Australia?
Before I moved to the Gold Coast I’d already been on holiday to the east coast of Australia twice. During those two trips I explored almost the entire east coast, from Caims in Queensland to Port Arthur in Tasmania. I thought the Gold Coast would be the best place to live, so I applied for a Working Holiday Visa when I was 21 and reduced my life to a 20 kg backpack. I got on the plane not knowing whether I’d ever return to Belgium.
3. What were your expectations before you moved to Australia and did the reality align with those expectations?
When I arrived at the Gold Coast it was exactly how I thought it would be. I wanted to live by the sea in a sub-tropical climate and I wanted to get away from the Belgian way of life. After nine years of living by the coast, I was ready to move back into the city where you can find something new around each corner. After all that time I also started surfing, and Brisbane is located between Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, two very good surf locations. The city itself is very pleasant as well. Just big enough to discover something new every day, yet small enough to say “G’day” to people you cross in the street.
4. What’s the biggest difference between living in Australia and living in Belgium?
It’s difficult to pinpoint the biggest difference between Belgium and Australia as Australia is even bigger than Europe and life can be very different depending on which city, town or region you live in. Living in Lighting Ridge, across from Surfers Paradise, for example, is very different. On top of that the last time I’ve been in Belgium was in 2009 and so I guess a lot has changed since then.
But in general, and only from personal experience, I think Australians are much more relaxed than Belgians. Also more helpful. Mateship is engrained in society. For example, when I was camping on Stradbroke Island and was mounting my tent, I’d forgotten my gazebo. A complete stranger came up to me and offered me a sail with sticks, rope and pegs while saying:
“Here’s me spare one mate. I’m stain’ for another three weeks. I’ll need her back by then. You got a cold beer? No? Here, have this one, no need to return the empty one. Have a good one mate”.
One the other side I find the Australian authorities just a little too fanatical. For example, over here it’s impossible to walk the streets with a beer in your hand. It’s against the law. Australia is kind of a Nanny State.
5. And what’s the biggest difference in mentality of the people or their lifestyle?
I think the biggest cultural difference or difference in mentality between Belgium and Australia is the way people look at a problem or situation. Australians have more of a “can do” mentality. They think in a problem-solving way, independently. They realize that complaining won’t solve the problem and don’t wait until someone else comes to fix it for them. They also always make the best out of a bad situation.
6. What do you love most about Australia?
The location, the climate, the variety of cultures and the friendliness of the people in general.
7. What do you like least about Australia?
Public services. Buses and trains aren’t spectacular over here.
8. What do you miss most about Belgium?
Food and drinks. A sandwich Martino, a currywurst special, chicory, jenever and, of course, our hundreds of different beers.
9. Is there something about Belgium you don’t miss at all?
The complaining and whining about the work, the weather and everything else.
10. Do you think you’ll stay where you are now, or do you think you’ll migrate again some day?
I’ll stay here. I’m fine here.
11. A word of advice for Belgians who are thinking of moving to Australia?
Forget about Belgium if you come here. Show that you’re willing to adapt to Australian culture and many doors will open automatically.
Are you a Belgian who moved abroad, or do you know someone who is? I’m always looking for new Belgian Expats to talk to. Check out the X-pat Files for more information on who exactly I’m looking for and drop me a line!