Moving to Another Country – Episode 171 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast

I’ve moved to other countries in the past – to Japan, to Slovakia, and to Germany, before moving back to Australia. But the difference between me and the guests I speak to in Episode 171 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast is that they stayed there! Yep, we are talking about those brave souls who migrate – and in this case, all of them migrated to countries where the language was a new one and the culture quite different.

Hope you enjoy these stories and if you’ve wondered about migrating somewhere different, that you get some inspiration to perhaps look more deeply into it.


Show notes: Episode 171 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast

Moving to Another Country

It’s one thing to travel to a foreign country, but to completely migrate and move to another country is another level of experience entirely! In Episode 171 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast I’m chatting with three guests who’ve made the big move: one to Mexico, one to Japan, and one from Brazil to Australia. We’ve got half the world covered!

First up, I talk with Queen D Michele who retired from her job as a school teacher in the United States and moved to Mexico. I asked her what her family and friends thought about her big move which opened up one of the most amazing stories of all!

Next, I chat to Suzanne Kamata who is an American married to a Japanese man and living in a fairly rural part of Japan. It’s interesting for me to hear how she feels there after several decades.

Finally, Luana Marchi explains about the decision she and her husband made to leave their home country of Brazil and migrate to Australia – though at the start, they weren’t so sure of their lifelong plans.

Links:

Moving to another country - migration episode of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast - Sydney Opera House

Transcript of Episode 171

Amanda Kendle 0:00
This is The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. I’m your host Amanda Kendle of the notaballerina.com travel blog. Every episode I’ll share travel tales from several fellow travel lovers. And together, we hope to entertain and inspire you, remind you of some of your own great travel experiences and encourage you to hit the road again soon.

Amanda Kendle 0:26
Hello, and welcome to Episode 171 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. So have you ever thought about moving to another country or have you already immigrated somewhere? It’s a really big move. I mean, especially if you’re someone here in Australia where other countries are really far away. Or if you migrate to somewhere far from your home country, then it’s an, you know, a really massive decision to make and quite a challenge in many ways. So today in Episode 171 I’ve got three guests who have permanently moved to another country to quite a varying array of countries. I’ve got people who’ve moved to Australia, to Japan and to Mexico, so three very different countries. And yet, the stories that they tell are really all the same. It’s all, you know, it’s all a challenge when you leave your home country and decided to make a permanent home somewhere quite new and quite different. Now, as for me, I have, of course, you know, moved back to Australia, my home country moved back to my home city, in fact, my hometown of Perth, once I’d spent about six years living abroad, but when I was overseas I did, I left with the intention of coming back always, I left lots of stuff here in boxes. You know, I was going abroad t o teach English I didn’t – I didn’t plan to spend, you know, the rest of my life abroad. But I have to say that when I was in Germany, I did consider staying there and I could have imagined it and of course at the time I met my then German husband, and he really wanted to move back to Australia, or for him to move for me to move back. And so I did. But I, looking back I’m sure I could have agreed to stay in Germany, or you know with someone else or whatever, I really did… there’s lots of things about life in Germany that I did like, and the weather was a quite a challenge, especially towards the end of winter. But I guess you get used to that kind of stuff. So I can, you know, can kind of relate to how it must feel. But harder to make that big decision to go somewhere, I think, I was already there. And it seemed like something I could do to stay. Now, as for the future, I kind of usually assume that even when my son’s grown up and left home, that Australia will always be my base for you know, longer travels. But honestly, lately I feel more open to perhaps creating a new home base somewhere in the world in you know, 20 years or 30 years time. It kind of depends on how the world changes and how Australia changes. Right now I don’t love lots of parts of Australia, especially, you know, our attitude towards climate change in the future and some of the politics and things like that. And that that has made me feel oh, maybe maybe this is not my, you know, maybe I don’t necessarily have to stay here forever. But who knows, like I’ve, the only the big change for me is that I feel open to the idea. So yeah, I don’t know. We’ll wait and see. But for the right now I have these three awesome guests who have moved to another country, and let’s hear their stories. So my first guest is Queen D. Michele, who moved from the US to Mexico. And she told me this story early last year, I think it must have been, but I’ve been waiting for the right episode to put it in. Because I just love this middle part of the story – I know you’ll know what it is once you hear it – that I just think is one of the most fabulous things I’ve heard in ages. So here is Queen, describing how she feels now that she’s moved to Mexico.

Queen D Michele 3:59
Amanda, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face inflating my heart.

Amanda Kendle 4:06
That is wonderful. You did the right thing I did.

Queen D Michele 4:10
I did the right thing. And it was, you know, people say how could you? You know, weren’t you afraid? Weren’t you, you know, to just leave and go to another country? You know, and if I wasn’t, or didn’t have some fear, you know, in the beginning, I think that would have been a little off.

Amanda Kendle 4:30
Yeah, it’s normal to be, yeah, about such a big move.

Queen D Michele 4:34
Fear is good to a certain extent, because it did help me make sure that I had, you know, all of my, my things in order so that it ran as smoothly as it could, but not to let fear cripple you. Exactly. You know, that’s, that’s the key, you know, there has to be a balance there. You know, so that it doesn’t cripple you because I tell you, and especially for someone like me, that’s mid- that’s middle age, you know, this mid-age, just in, in a female. I hear a lot from females, they’re saying you know you’ve inspired me. You know, you’ve inspired me to, because I’ve been considering it, but you did it. You know.

Amanda Kendle 5:18
You’re a good role model in that way. That’s what makes me think when you decided to leave, what did your, like, family and friends back in the States, did they support you? Did some think you were crazy or how did that all go?

Queen D Michele 5:30
My kids were very supportive of me because they are grown. They’re in their 20s, early 20s. And they’re adulting themselves now. So they were proud that that I was doing this but I will tell you this about my my family, my immediate family, my mom. My mom, Amanda, didn’t even know I moved to Mexico for close to a year.

Amanda Kendle 5:53
How! What?

Queen D Michele 5:55
She did not know, my, at the time she was 81, she was 81, no 82 and she was having, she had some health problems and you know she has some health issues and because I was kind of scared to tell her, you know, I kind of used that as a cover you know and I told family members, I said “look if you tell her, you’ll kill her”. So that, of course no one wanted that on their conscience, so we, you know, we kept we kept the charade up because with cell phones, how does she not know that I’m you know, that I’m not in America.

Amanda Kendle 6:33
You could be anywhere. Exactly. Oh my gosh, she knows now.

Queen D Michele 6:38
She does know now. Well, you know, she did heal from the surgery but here’s the deal. She healed from surgery and you know, got her health back and everything. And she got a Facebook account.

Amanda Kendle 6:49
Oh, no.

Queen D Michele 6:52
I did not see that coming. She was 82, I did not see my 82 year old mother getting a Facebook account.

Amanda Kendle 6:59
That’s a bit tricky.

Queen D Michele 7:00
Yeah, so I was visiting in the states actually, when she did get that I was visiting my daughter who lives in Salem, Oregon. And she’s like, Mom, grandma just friend requested me. I was like, what? No, no. Sure enough, my mother was friend requesting. And I’m like, oh my goodness. So I knew then that…

Amanda Kendle 7:25
It was time to tell her.

Queen D Michele 7:26
That before I headed back to Mexico. You know, I was gonna have to tell her because, of course, I’m going to put on you know,

Amanda Kendle 7:34
She can’t keep it once. Yeah, if she’s on Facebook, then it’s much too hard to keep up. Right? Yeah.

Queen D Michele 7:39
Yeah. So I had to tell her, and I told the reason why, and she was quite salty with me for some time. Behind that, she was quite salty and get this during that first year, you know, that’s when I wrote the book ‘Considerations’, and she received the book, I sent it to her. And she received the book yesterday, she got the book and now she’s written and I’m hoping that this will help her to understand a lot better cos she thinks I’m crazy.

Amanda Kendle 8:14
Yes. Yeah. That’s brilliant.

Queen D Michele 8:23
Understand, understand her only daughter a little better. I’m the only girl and the youngest.

Amanda Kendle 8:29
Right, yeah. So it’s, yeah, it’s a big change for her to discover that you’ve actually been living in a foreign country for a year.

Queen D Michele 8:36
Yes.

Amanda Kendle 8:39
But isn’t that amazing, thanks to technology that it’s still possible to be in close contact and her not to realize this. Yeah.

Queen D Michele 8:46
Yeah you really don’t know, you know, where the person is that, you know, they can say they’re in a certain place, you know.

Amanda Kendle 8:53
Now I’m starting to think maybe some of the people I know, maybe they’re not where I think they are.

Queen D Michele 9:01
They’ll be like, you know what? Let’s video chat. Yeah, you see

Amanda Kendle 9:06
Hang on, what’s in the background?

Queen D Michele 9:08
Right exactly. I tell you technology can can really, cos I was with an ex boyfriend you know with that story, I’m at the hospital with my – really? Yeah, show me.

Amanda Kendle 9:18
Yeah, yeah, that’s so true. Exactly.

Queen D Michele 9:23
Are you really? Yeah, I’d like to see that.

Amanda Kendle 9:24
Yeah, you can’t get away with so much these days that’s so true. Oh, that’s fabulous. Oh, well, it’s anyway, despite your mom thinking you’re crazy, it sounds to me like you made exactly the right decision and that it’s going splendidly.

Queen D Michele 9:38
Well you know what my friends now you know, and there were many who thought yeah, right you, that’s crazy. Why would you, but now they’re seeing half because I’ve been here a year now. They’re like, Oh, okay. It is possible for one to travel, to move abroad, to to you know, reinvent themselves, if you will.

Amanda Kendle 10:02
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Even if you do it on your own even if you’re a woman, there’s so many

Queen D Michele 10:06
Yes. Yeah, I think yeah, I mean, even if you’re black even.

Amanda Kendle 10:11
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s such an inspiring message to get out there.

Queen D Michele 10:18
Yes, it I’m so glad that that I had this opportunity to do to, you know, to put that word out, you know, that you can do it, you know, and if you’re afraid, do it afraid.

Amanda Kendle 10:30
Yes. Just, just do it. And yes, feel the fear and do it anyway. That old saying.

Queen D Michele 10:36
Absolutely.

Amanda Kendle 10:37
So my favorite bit there, you’ve probably guessed, is the wonder of the internet in the fact that Queen was able to get away with not telling her mother for a whole year that she had moved to another country, and she was still in contact with her and her mother didn’t realize. Isn’t life amazing. I’m glad she has told her now, I must say, but you just never know what’s possible. Now, my next guest is Suzanne Kamata, who moved from the US to Japan some decades back now, when she married a Japanese man, and we chatted just briefly about how she feels living in Japan these days.

Suzanne Kamata 11:15
I guess I feel comfortable here, but I know that I don’t really fit in. Yeah. Kind of a cushy place. Yeah. I mean, you lived here. So you probably know, like, people don’t really like, you know, express their anger the way Americans did.

Amanda Kendle 11:34
Yeah, yeah. It’s a very polite place and I loved it. But I always felt that I was glad to be a foreigner. They, like I thought, I thought it was easier as a foreigner perhaps.

Suzanne Kamata 11:43
Exactly, exactly. So there, so yeah, like I’ve said before, there are so many rules, you know, it’s sometimes better just to be oblivious and not know the rules. Yeah, well, and for better or worse, people. Forgive me when I I mess up and yeah, when I were like probably my, I teach at the university, and I think my students probably think I dress like, you know, ostentatiously, and

Amanda Kendle 12:14
But they forgive you because you’re not Japanese.

Suzanne Kamata 12:16
Black all the time in a black suit.

Amanda Kendle 12:20
Yeah exactly. It’s such a funny place.

Suzanne Kamata 12:25
Yeah I don’t know of any better.

Amanda Kendle 12:29
That’s really interesting. Yeah, I often wonder if I am. Yeah, I don’t know. I’d love to. I mean, I’d love to spend an extended time there again. I mean, even just to eat the food all the time. Like I love all the Japanese food. And it’s just not the same elsewhere in the world. And there’s so much variety there and I just, it just suits me. So even that.

Suzanne Kamata 12:50
Everything that I do, I feel comfortable here. Like I said,

Amanda Kendle 12:55
It’s an interesting part of this whole moving countries thing to ponder, is, you know, how foreign you will always be in some places. So for example, for Suzanne in Japan, she will always look like a foreigner and Japan is a really homogenous society and, you know stand out a lot, especially she lives in a more remote part not in in Tokyo or Osaka. So she will always look like a foreigner. And certainly I agree with her experiences, they will they match with mine when I lived in Japan, that when you look like a foreigner, and are a foreigner, then you’re given a lot of leeway and not having to necessarily follow all the cultural conventions and stuff, which is kind of good and bad, I think. I mean, it’s nice that you’re not going to get in trouble for not doing exactly the right thing just because you don’t know, but you also probably always feel a bit of an outsider. So yeah, it’s interesting. I don’t know which of those is better, but like she said, she feels comfortable and I agree that Japan is in many ways, a comfortable place to live, and somewhere I really do want to spend some more time again in the future. Now my final guest today is Luana Marchi and she moved from Brazil to Australia, must be getting on for eight years ago. Now. I think it was a year ago that we recorded this conversation. And we talked about, you know, some of the difficulties of that move.

Luana Marchi 14:18
How many years ago? We, me and Lucas, we were engaged at a time. And we decided, like, we always had the dream to leave overseas or to travel overseas for a while, man, it wasn’t fun in Brazil for us. A lot of things have happened and like one of them is that the place where my mom was, her office was robbed and then Lucas got shot in his leg. Well, he stayed in bed because they broke his, broke his Femur and he had to stay in bed for three months. Yeah and after that, like yeah after three months and he, he like was recovered and everything, he got back to work and everything was like, he was doing well at work, I was doing well too. I was just about to finish my Uni by the time, I was doing law in Brazil, but we both had the sensation that like we were contemplating that, that like we we should open our minds and explore new opportunities, like Lucas was a little bit scared with everything that has happened, and he would love to challenge himself too. And then we started to search about some places that we could go, and stay for a while but also work at the same time. We both had no English at all at the time and we would love to learn English because we knew even if we decide to go back to Brazil, it was going to be really important for our careers. And, but as we didn’t have enough money to like just study, we decided to start Splices so that we could start and work at the same time. And we ended up deciding to come to Australia. And by the beginning, our plan was to come and stay for six months, and then decide what to do. We, now it’s been about seven years. Like for us Australia is home, we love living here, it was really challenging in the beginning because we both had no English at all. We came to Winter and when we were negotiating with people from the agency and they told us that LinkedIn Australia is almost the same as LinkedIn Brazil, which is not true at all, and I was really struggling because like when we first arrived we had no enough winter coats and it was raining. It was one of, I think one of the worst Winters that we spent was here in Australia, life was miserable and a few things that we always hear from agencies when they want to sell you like student packs, for example is easier to find your house for living cheaper. We like we got through all the challenges as I think, as a foreign person, everyone does.

Amanda Kendle 17:57
Yeah I bet and especially, did you initially move to Sydney, because that’s a pretty expensive place to live, right?

Luana Marchi 18:03
Yes, yes, yes, we we initially we came to Sydney and we were staying in the city, which is like really crazy because we both came from a countryside cities in Brazil. And like Sydney is really big and especially in the city is really busy and a lot of different people. And even like, we struggle a lot to find jobs because we couldn’t communicate at all, like our chief has experienced overseas. Before I came to Australia I went to Canada for a month. Like you have the expectation that you’re gonna understand people and when you come to Australia, the accent is different because in Brazil, we use this to American accent when we like go to the movies or listen to new things even that we are not able to understand everything. Like it’s a, it’s an easier accent for us to recognize. And when you arrive in Australia, the accent is totally different, but it was really scary for us and we got a little bit desperate for the first, I would say, the first three months.

Amanda Kendle 19:23
Wow, I bet. But you managed to get through that obviously.

Luana Marchi 19:30
Ahh, yes. I think when ,you like, when you leave for overseas, you’re always facing challenges and it’s always going to happen something different, especially because like it’s a big change not just for continents, because like we are from Brazil, we so far away from our family, but the change of cultures, the language, even food because I think in the beginning, you of course, we struggle about food with this just little things, that you don’t expect it to to be so hard, but it gets hard when, like when he, I think when you’re sensitive.

Amanda Kendle 20:24
Yes, exactly. Yes, yes. And then little things like not being able to have familiar foods and stuff can make it feel much worse. It’s interesting to hear about how Luanna and husband Lucas made the decision to leave Brazil and, you know, coming to Australia was certainly not that easy to begin with. I think they’re really happy here now. But it’s, yeah, there’s lots of challenges and it’s a huge change. So very interesting stuff. I think. Now it occurred to me that this episode is a good companion with one from a couple of months back about some of my guests who were choosing where to live abroad so they haven’t migrated exactly, but they’re contemplating it or finding other alternatives. So if you’re curious about that, hop back to Episode 162, which is called ‘Choosing Where to Live Abroad’ and have a listen to that.

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