For years, James Scott wanted to become a pharmacist. When the opportunity arose to complete the Bachelor of Pharmacy program in an Australian University, he knew he could fulfill his long-time career dream.
"My intention was to pursue my education in Canada, until I found out about the possibility of studying in Australia," he said. "I realized that the journey to getting into a Canadian pharmacy school could be a long and uncertain one. I applied to James Cook University in Townsville and was accepted." While exciting, this meant another thing: Moving his entire family from Canada to Australia for four years.
James said it took him and his wife, Jennifer, a month to make the decision to accept his offer of admission.
"In the end we realized that the journey would be more difficult, but the road was more certain, as I had a position to study in my chosen field," he says. "It was difficult to leave family and friends behind but we hoped it would be worth it in the end."
Preparing for their trip meant applying for his student visa and setting up a bank account, all of which James said was a smooth transition.
Arriving in Townsville six weeks prior to his program start date, it took two weeks to find a place to live. James said they were glad they gave themselves so much time to get set up in Australia. "It takes time to adjust to living in a foreign country and everything takes longer because you need time to understand how everything works," he says. "We are glad we did that."
James admits the first year was difficult, with homesickness often cropping up.
"The first year is very difficult to transition, meet people, get settled in and feel like you have a little understanding of the culture here," he said. "If you can press through the homesickness and adjustment period, the second year is much easier."
Now that he's into his second year of study, James explains his daily routine, trying to balance out life as a student, father and husband. "This has been a difficult thing to learn to balance," he says. "I feel like there is always more to learn and more to study. I'm not sure if I have mastered this one yet."
James says he tries to be home from school by 5 pm every night. Once he and Jennifer bathe and feed their children, they put them to bed and follow it up with some quality time together as a couple. But his day doesn't stop there. He then spends a few hours behind the books before he hits the hay.
To better balance school and life, they take one day a week for family time. "We have also decided to take Sundays off as a day of rest and to spend time together as a family," James explains. "Lately, we try to go to a park and have a BBQ or something along those lines."
When moving a family to Australia for school, James offers some advice: "It is a good idea to take advantage of the Australian 'way," he says. "They are very friendly and will send invitations or try to connect with you. Follow through and make friends with these great people!"
Tips for Moving your Family to Australia
1. Learn your visa options
Do the necessary research to discover what a student visa entails, and how it works with your spouse and children coming overseas, especially if your spouse plans to work in Australia.
2. Organize accommodation
You will most likely need short term accommodation before you settle into your own place. The homes of friends or family are ideal for this or you can rent hotel accommodation by the day, week or month. Try to stay somewhere close to where you plan on living permanently. This way, you will get a feel for the place before you commit to a long term rental or property purchase.
3. See to the paperwork
Ensure your will is in order, obtain references, get your medical and vaccination records, and collect professional and personal contact details.
4. Packing to Australia
Packing and shipping is time-consuming and costly. Get quotes and use a reputable supplier. Don't pack anything that will be confiscated or hold up your goods in quarantine unnecessarily – visit the Australian Government's Quarantine and Inspection Service so you can familiarize yourself with the rules and restrictions.
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