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About the AuthorI learn languages, teach Australian English, and love all things science and nature!
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By pete — 4 months ago
AE 492 – Interview: How to Get Permanent Residency in Australia with Mai Medina – Part 2
G’day, guys. How’s it going? Welcome to this interview episode of Aussie English. This is part two of, obviously, a two-part series with Mai Medina from Mai’s Journey.
So, hopefully, you guys checked out the last episode that I did with Mai, that was 490 – How to get permanent residency in Australia with Mai Medina. And remember, this interview ended up going for quite a while. So, I think the interview totaled like an hour and a half of time. We were having a lot of fun when we were chatting on Skype and I thought that might be a bit too much for you guys if you have to sit there and listen to, potentially, an hour and a half of me talking. One, I can imagine my voice gets pretty annoying, and two, it’s just a lot to absorb.
So, I’ve broken it up into two parts, guys. Here is Mai Medina from Mai’s Journey on YouTube. Remember, the links will all be in the transcript, and if you would like access to these transcripts go to theAussieEnglishPodcast.com, click ‘sign up’, and for just five dollars every single month you can get access to all of the transcripts and MP3s so you can study anywhere anytime. Anyway.
I give you Mai Medina from Mai’s Journey.
So moving on slightly. How did you get used to Australian English? What was, you were saying that you were having trouble at first when you started your University Masters here in Australia and that the teachers spoke obviously with an Australian accent, what did you do to get used to it and to overcome that language barrier?
Well I… because I didn’t have any Australian friends at uni. And at home we were all internationals of course, none of them were Australians.
But I think this is going to be… this is why it’s good, right? Because you have overcome it. And I think a lot of people listening are going to, at least if they’re in Australia or they end up in Australia and they haven’t done so yet, I think they may end up in a similar situation where it seems it’s always very difficult to penetrate the world of the native Australian speaker, right, and surround yourself with them all the time. So what did you do and what do you recommend people do if they find themselves in a similar situation?
I started dating.
Oh yeah. Ok, so you got on Tinder, huh, and started meeting Australian guys?
Yes. So I started dating and I was dating Australian guys. And then you get used to it. You go out with them, if you don’t understand a word you can say “can you say it again?” which is not the case in a classroom environment, you are not going to stop the teacher at every sentence trying to figure out why he just said. And then you just get used to it with time. Like, I don’t know, the first month was very hard. The second month not so hard. Right now I listen to lots of podcast and that also helps a lot. But back then podcasts were not a thing so I can’t say that I used that. But one of my friends, she is studying for her IELTS and she has been listening to podcasts, like English, Australian podcasts and she says, she said to me like a couple of weeks ago like “oh I can understand those girls”. And I was like “just keep listening, because you’ll get used to it” and she said “oh yeah”, I mean, yes, there are a few things that I can’t understand but you just get used to the way the pronunciation and the way you…
Well that’s it, right? It’s kind of like you’re doing a puzzle, right? And it’s not like you start the puzzle when there’s nothing on the board and then all of a sudden, it’s finished. You do little bit by little bit and slowly the picture emerges and it’s the same, I think, with English and improving your ability to understand native speakers. It’s not like you just do this one thing for this set amount of time and now you understand 100 percent of everything everyone says. Like, I still say “Pardon me” to other native speakers all the time if I miss what they say. But I definitely think you’re right, there are loads of podcasts, especially Australian English ones. You’ll find things like obviously mine, the Aussie English podcast, you’ll find Conversations is a good one. Hamish and Andy are two really funny comedians who have one. So there’s heaps on there, they’re free guys, get on there. But also did you watch Australian TV and were you doing any extracurricular activities that introduced you to Australians?
Not really, apart from dating that is the extracurricular activity. Not really, because I was studying full time and then I had to work to pay rent. So I was working at night and I was working as a cleaner. So I was cleaning a school in Toorak but then I didn’t have any interaction while I was cleaning because it was just me.
That’s a job I tend to try and get people to sort of like avoid if they can. Like it is good if, you know, you don’t need that many skills to get paid but it’s all alone or it’ll be with other people who speak say Spanish.
But I have to say that my English was good and that was the only thing that I found. So one of the sad realities is that if you are from Latin America and you are coming here to study and you are looking for a part time job, most likely you will start as cleaner.
Well, I was doing my PhD working as a waiter. I had to clean the toilets every day. I had to, like, you just have to take that piece of humble pie and just deal with the fact that you… even Australians take these shitty jobs to get through university. It’s not just you. It’s not because you’re foreign, it’s just that those jobs are open and they’re easy and you don’t need skills.
And also those are the ones that fix your timeframe, like your timeline, the time that you are available to work because I was studying during the day so I can only work at night and that was the only one. So… yeah!
That’s a good point. So can we dig into Tinder a little bit? What was your experience like dating in Australia? What should other Colombians or people from anywhere in the world who come to Australia and get on Tinder, obviously you can’t really speak to it from a male perspective but from a female perspective, what was that experience like and interacting with Australian men?
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It was different.
What does that mean Mai?
Oh… Ok so this was four years ago. So Tinder wasn’t as bad as it’s now.
Was Tinder out four years ago?
Wow, I am getting old! Far out!
Because I now have a boyfriend that I met on Tinder. But I haven’t used Tinder in four years. And my friend said that it’s really shitty now but before then I did Tinder and I did… what’s the other one?
There are a lot.
RSVP and Online Harmony, eHarmony?
Yeah, there are a lot of them, yeah.
So I did those three. And it was hard because first Australian guys are completely different to Colombian guys. The Colombian guy is very romantic. They are not upfront with what they really want. So they’re kind of like they’re sweet.
So that’s a bit more cat and mouse going on, where you don’t know what’s going on. Does he like me, does he not like me? Where with Australian guys, was it a different story?
Australian guys were very to the point. This is four years ago, but the ones that I met, some of them, not all of them but some of them were like “Oh you are a Latin, you are hot”, then “We want to F”, right?
We want to have sex, yeah okay.
And I was like “No I just want to date, I just want to go for a coffee or a dinner” but then they were expecting more.
Yeah. So how do you navigate that? What advice would you have for girls coming to Australia who want to date guys or who may end up dating them? How did you obviously navigate through all of these guys who were very upfront and find your current boyfriend who’s obviously done the right things, whatever the right things are?
Well my first advice is never go on dates at night, if it’s a first date. I mean the first date, don’t accept drinks because that’s just like a synonym of have sex. And if you are not up for that, don’t do it. So my recommendation is go for a coffee date at, I don’t know, 3pm or a brunch date. Something like that, that it’s not…
I think a good sign is, with that too, that if it is ever going to lead to sex on the first date, it’s going to have been after eight hours. It’s not going be, you know, it’s the kind of thing where it’s like you’ll have to have spent the whole day together getting to know the other person before anything happens, if it’s gonna happen.
And then the other thing is : don’t expect the guy to pay.
Really? Why is that?
Well with my boyfriend it was different but with different…, I mean I’m all for half and half, I don’t have a problem with that but I do know girls who are expecting the guys to pay for everything. And then because they are paying then they believe they have rights. Anyway, …
Well, it’s just mixed messages. Yeah, it is mix messages.
You have to be very upfront with: this is my half.
I think though from my point of view too. From my point of view, when I was dating a lot more, I would get almost the same way I think you would feel as a woman if someone was just like “okay come back to my house, I want sex”, you know? I would feel like, in the same sort of way, I would feel like I was being used, if you didn’t even offer to pay for the meal or anything. If you just assumed that it was my job, I’m paying for your time, for me it feels just as bad as if it were me assuming that you’re coming home now after all the stuff that I’ve done for you, by paying for the meal and, you know? So that’s a good expectation to have though when you come here and you date someone: your job is to offer, his job is to pay.
Yeah that’s correct. And the other thing that was very different, and it took a while to get used to, is that the fact that you are dating an Australian guy doesn’t mean that you are part of his life.
Really? What does that mean?
In Colombia you date a guy and immediately you meet his friends, you are part of his family and you are all the time with that person. That’s normal in Colombia. Here, you date a guy and normally the guy will keep things apart. He will date you, but then his friends will be his mates and that will be his priority until much… like a long time passes and you become the priority. And that is completely different in Colombia. In Colombia you’re in a relationship and it’s like your world just changes and you are just with your couple. Whereas here it’s completely different. It’s kind of like you have to earn that place in his social circle before he agrees to introduce you. Like it’s not immediately.
I guess though, that’s a good sign though too, right? Because, it’s kind of like, if he does say he wants to introduce you to his friends pretty quickly after dating you or his family, that’s a massively good sign that it’s serious and that he’s not just screwing around.
Yes he’s serious when he does that, whereas in Colombia it just really doesn’t matter.
And so how long have you been with your boyfriend now and how did the relationship compare to one in Colombia? Is it much the same at the point you’re at now?
Well we have been together for four years.
Oh wow so you really met him straight away.
I was one year single, only one year single. And now after three years we’re moving together, and yeah like he was very… like he has a really good relationship with his parents which sometimes is not the case with Australian guys. Like it’s another thing, like Australian guys, Australians in general, like the millennials or whatever, they tend to leave home quite early after they finish high school. So they live by themselves or with mates but then in Columbia it’s the opposite, they stay at home.
I think for us, Australians, we kind of… Did you ever watch the TV show “Everyone loves Raymond”? Have you seen that?
So there’s two brothers, one of them has moved out, has a family. The other one’s single, lives at home, he’s 40 years old and he’s kind of the joke. That’s the joke of the whole like the tension between them, that one brother’s young, has a family. The other one stayed at home and has failed all his relationships and that’s kind of the epitome of I think for Australian guys, we don’t want to end up the guy living with the family because, at least our sexual market value, if you go out with a woman and she finds out you live with your parents after your 20 something, it’s like she’s going to be like “What’s wrong with you?”. So I guess that… And it is interesting because I had a housemate from Estonia and his relationship with his mother was very different from mine where I chat to mine all the time but it’s kind of like I text message or chat to her on Facebook or I’ll see her or I call her maybe once a week, once every two weeks and then get into it and chat to her for quite awhile. But he was on the phone every night for like an hour. Like yeah and that was… I don’t know if that’s normal for Estonians but it was a lot more like he was very connected to that relationship. So yeah it is a bit different I think.
Yeah it’s a bit different. But yeah.
That’s interesting. Crazy okay. So you got Step one : get to Australia after sorting out your visa, your IELTS, the university. Step two : find somewhere to live. Step three : get a boyfriend. Step 4 : conquer Australian English.
Step 3 was finding a job.
Yes, okay let’s talk about that. What did you do in order to find a job?
After finding a job, I got a boyfriend.
So what did you do in order to find a job here in Australia?
I was very lucky. I have always… like I’m Catholic so I believe in God and I believe God just wants me here because I only had one year. My visa was only for one year. So I needed to leave Australia by the end of December 2013 and in August I applied for a job on LinkedIn. A random job at Nielsen which is a marketing research company. And around… no no that was like July. And on August they call me and say “hey, you applied for this job, this is to be a trainer”. I was like “a what?” “A trainer”, and I was like “I don’t have any” well, I didn’t say that but I was like “I don’t have any experience training people”. It was kind of like an HR kind of role and I was like okay so I went to the interview and after one interview they called me and say “yeah sure the job is yours”.
And I said “Look, I need to leave the country in December and I’m studying, so I only can work up to 20 hours per week. If you do give me the job, is it possible to get a sponsor?
They said “well, just start working and in November we will decide”. So I was like “okay”. But I didn’t have any other option I like “great”.
So is that the usual story though? What advice would you give to people who are thinking about coming to Australia and studying and then getting a job? Would you suggest getting on LinkedIn, websites like LinkedIn and submitting CVs and trying to go for those jobs?
Okay, so I think the marketplace has changed a lot since then. My advice is just check that your career is on the list at least.
Yes for permanent residency and citizenship later on down the tracks.
Or not even for PR, just for getting a sponsor. That’s it. And it is heart breaking because many careers are not in the list. And if you do not have the experience, you don’t get to be sponsored either.
So is that something you would really suggest sort of keeping in mind before you even come to Australia, look into that and try and work out, plan ahead what kind of career am I ultimately going to try and go down that road of that will hopefully lead to me getting permanent residency or citizenship or sponsorship in Australia?
Yes so my recommendation would be: if your career is not on the list just keep in mind it’s going to be really hard to stay. If your career is on the list, just look at Plan B because the list changes all the time.
That’s the other thing I was going to ask.
The original occupation that I used to get a sponsor in the first place is no longer in the list.
Okay, it changes.
And the one that I used to get the PR is no longer in the list. So I was lucky.
So you really need to keep your finger on the pulse, right? And stay up to date with things.
One of the things that in my channel I get lots of questions about how to stay, what can I do to stay in Australia? My recommendation is go to a Visa advisor and see what are your pathways because sponsorship is one pathway but you can also get a state visa but then that means you have to go to live in Canberra or Tasmania or Perth for two years to get the visa. But it is important that people do know what are the options if they have any because it is becoming really hard. Like if someone in marketing, it’s almost impossible to find sponsorships now because it’s not in the list. And if it’s in the list, it’s only the one that gives you two years with no option to apply or extend. It is getting really hard.
So the takeaway message there is just stay up to date with the list and the different requirements for these visas and the best way to do so is talk to an immigration agent and ask them for advice. And do you need to pay for that? Are there free services that you know of?
Normally the agencies that help you with the studies, normally they will know what is up to date. But I do believe for the ones that are more like PR and all that, you need to pay like a fee for the advice for them. But it’s very important because although all the information is online, it is really tricky to know what it is. Like, I have on that Visa Advisor Australian Government website so many times looking for answers and it’s so complicated, it’s not an easy “oh yes this is ABC”, no!
Yeah, that’s it.
And it keeps changing and one thing is that the website page is not up to date sometimes because the list is still the old list. So it is confusing.
So don’t leave it up to chance, guys. If you need to know more about this and you’re just winging it, you’re just improvising, make sure that you go and see an immigration agent or maybe ask your university or ask your English School for advice on who to talk to about this and get it. Get your ducks in a row, right. Have things organised. Have a plan of attack. All right, so what happened? You got sponsorship from this job.
I got a sponsor.
Yeah, and what did that lead to? You got to stay here for another three years before you got PR?
So the visa was for four years. And after two years of working on that job and four years of working or living in Australia, no I think it’s just after two years of working on that position, you can get permanent residency. So again I asked my job, my company…
Sorry, what did you say? It broke up again. You asked your job.
So I asked my boss in my company if they will be willing to help me with the PR because although I do have one Australian boyfriend and I could have done the PR by my Australian boyfriend, I wanted to do it by myself. So I talked to the company and they said “yes, sure we will sponsor you to the PR”. But then I had to take the exam again, the English test again.
Well I had the choice. I had.. you could take either the IELTS, the TOEFL or the PTE.
Okay, and which one did you choose and why?
I took the PTE, just because the IELTS… I think the IELTS is, to test English I believe the IELTS is the best of the three, because you get to interact with someone in your speaking and you get to write a proper essay in your writing. Whereas the other two are just computer based and it’s awful.
I do believe the PTE is way easier than the IELTS.
I’ve heard it’s a double-edged blade though because I have a student who did the PTE and I think he did incredibly well in everything except for speaking and it ended up being he got like 10 percent and he rang them up and was like “What the hell?”. And they said “oh the files that you spoke and sent through just came through but it was broken up and the microphone that you used or whatever wasn’t good and that’s why you got marked down”, so…
Yeah. I mean I think it’s easier because the machine is evaluating you. Like a human is not listening to you, it’s the machine. Because the machine is evaluating you, if you can speak English then you have very good chances of passing because they have to be more flexible because it’s a machine, right? Whereas if it’s a person, well, no. The person, it will be her opinion and her opinion only. And she will be listening to you for real, whereas the other one is a machine. But the problem with the PTE, and this is why I really recommend you, if someone is going to take the PTE, just buy the two exams for free, no, the two extra exams that you can buy from the website and for practice, because PTE is not about speaking English, PTE is about memory.
So what are the pros and cons? How much does each cost the PTE and the tough one, the IELTS?
If I remember correctly, all of them are quite the same. I think one is fifty dollars more expensive than the other one but they’re around 300/350 dollars. Yeah, I remember there was one more expensive but I can’t remember which one.
I think it might be the IELTS because I think my girlfriend did that maybe six months ago and it was 500 bucks.
Oh wow. Yeah no. The PTE is not that expensive. But the other thing is the PTE goes over two days. So one for the… No sorry. The IELTS goes over two days : one for the interview, one for the actual exam whereas the PTE and the TOEFL is just one day, you just go there, you just sit down in front of the computer and just pray to God that you are going to remember. Because one of the worst… I hated the PTE although it’s the easiest one, I hated it because the speaking part, like 90 percent of the questions of the speaking part were like “this is a sentence, remember all the sentence, and then, say it back”.
So you can’t miss a word or you get penalized completely. It’s like it’s all or nothing.
Exactly, that was my lowest score speaking. And I consider myself like a good English speaker but in that exam by the time the guy had finished saying whatever he was saying, I had completely forgotten how did it started.
I guess that’s a good point for IELTS where if someone’s listening to you or speaking with you, it’s kind of like they can fill in the gaps with their intuition or whatever, if you miss a word they still understand exactly what you’ve said and it’s like “okay, yeah you communicated successfully”. You might get marked down but you don’t get a zero.
Exactly. Where with the PTE that was the worst. But on the flip side the writing part is not an essay, because for the IELTS you need to have like a structure, you need an introduction, two paragraphs or one paragraph of content and a conclusion. Like it’s very structured and you need to follow that structure, otherwise you won’t pass, whereas with PTE they said “write an essay, but no more than 200 words”. How you are gonna write an essay 200 words?
That’s half a page.
It’s just a paragraph, and that’s it and I got the highest score in writing because it’s not an essay. So yeah, I hated the speaking and I got a really bad result in the speaking, but I still passed.
That’s pretty funny because you would tend to have the opposite in IELTS, right, where the writing is always the worst one for most people and speaking or listening tend to be the best.
So I recommend the PTE if you are very good at speaking and your writing is not that strong because the writing part is really easy.
Okay so you had to do that, you had to do those exams again and get a mark to get your sponsorship or to get PR?
The PR. You can not apply for PR if you don’t have that English level which has changed. So I was very lucky, so everything changed after I applied. Because now to get the PR, you have to be sponsor… I mean you have… it can only be done… oh no that’s for… I mean I think the levels of English have increased now for the PR.
Yes, I think there’s six and a half to seven band on the IELTS or something like that. Or maybe 6 and above. I guess the key is stay up to date with the requirements, no matter what you’re doing if it’s sponsorship or, you know PR, or citizenship, whatever it is, just make sure you find out what the requirements are, before you get into it too deeply. But what was it like when you were sponsored? Was that easy once that was done and you’d found someone who you worked for who is willing to sponsor you? What was the process like? And then what happened with PR? Is it easy once you get the ball rolling?
Yes, so if your career is on the list and the company said yes, it is very easy.
Of course they do it… my company did it via Fragomen which is a visa institution helping thing. They are very expensive but they are very good, like they get things rolling very quickly. Normally you get that, normally companies have an agency that helps them with that. I have heard of companies that they just said “yes, we are gonna sign the paper and the recommendation, it’s up to you to do everything” and that is very hard because you have to complete many papers, forms, you have to take a medical examination to get your PR. But in my case, it was really easy, I just sent my papers and that was it, like I took the exam, took the blood test and that was it, like I was done.
So did you pay anything for your sponsorship or for PR or was that paid for by your company?
So in my case, it was paid by the company.
Lucky. What could be expected though, if the company is not willing to pay for it but they are willing to accept it, what’s the kind of amount of money that you would expect to pay right now?
So for the PR, they can do whatever. So they can say “we cover all the costs”.
Who, the company or the government?
No, all of it, it’s the company.
So, the company can say “I will pay everything” or they can say “50/50”, or they can say “you pay everything”, that is for PR. For the other visa, for the first visa, for the sponsorship to stay in Australia, they have to cover everything. It’s illegal for them to ask you to pay.
But for PR, it’s up to them. In my case,… Normally what they do is, if they cover, I don’t know, whatever they cover, if they cover 100 percent or 50 percent, normally they will ask you to sign like a contract saying that you will not leave the company until X amount of years or otherwise you will have to pay them back. Once you are PR, you are not attached to the company. When you are sponsored, so 457 that doesn’t longer exist, but in that when you are sponsored, you are attached to the company.
Yeah, well they’ve invested in you and they just want to know that you’re not going to get the sponsorship and then leave.
That’s correct. So for example, in the first one, you are attached, so if you stop working there, you will need to find another sponsor right away, otherwise your visa will no longer be valid. Whereas with PR, as soon as you get the permanent residency, you are free to do whatever you want.
So even if you lost your job tomorrow, you’ve still got that there as long as you obviously can support yourself. Sorry?
I’m no longer there.
Ah cool! So you did change work obviously but the ball still was rolling with PR.
So I got my PR last April, so April 2017, sorry not last April. And I’ll leave my company in December, sorry January.
Brilliant! Far out! And so what was the process to go from PR and getting that to getting citizenship and I guess before you get to that, what made you decide to do it yourself as opposed to with your boyfriend?
I just didn’t want to depend on him. If there was no other option, I’m sure he would have said “oh sure let’s do it”. But I just didn’t want to, not because he would say “Oh thanks to me, you have PR”, no but more like for internal realisation and myself.
You did it all yourself. You didn’t ride on the coattails of anyone else. And what happens too if you got PR with your boyfriend and you guys broke up, are there any issues there?
No, because if you want to apply for a PR with a partner visa, you have to show and demonstrate evidence that you are in a long relationship. You have to present pictures and wedding invitations and tickets and everything because of course it’s very easy visa to fake kind of.
Otherwise yeah exactly.
The government tries to make sure that you are actually a couple. But once you get your PR, again you are free to do whatever, and if you are not together, that’s fine.
And so what’s the process then from PR to citizenship? Does PR lead to citizenship ultimately or you still have to go out of your way to get it and what made you decide to do that?
So PR it’s like indefinitely, like you kind of stay in Australia forever kind of thing. I think there is a limit of… like you can stay in Australia but you can not leave Australia for more than five years.
Yeah. I think at least when my supervisor was doing PR, he couldn’t leave Australia for a quarter of the year at a time I think. Like while he was trying to get citizenship or aim for it, for four years he couldn’t have been out of the country for more than one of those four years total.
Yes, something like that. So in theory you don’t need to apply for citizenship. I was very lucky. So when I applied for citizenship, you only needed to be PR for one year. From July this year, so in 2018 July 1st, that will change to four years. You have to be a PR for 4 years before applying to the citizenship. So I applied in April and I’m still waiting of course, the process takes up to 15 months.
And it’s really easy, like if you have the PR requirements then you just submit a form with a picture of you and the driver’s license.
It’s almost like “time served”, is it? You’re just sort of like “oh yeah, she’s been a PR for this long, yeah, give her citizenship”. And what’s the point? Was that just for you, you wanted an Australian passport or is there a benefit to it?
Yes. So, I think the biggest one for me is to get the Australian passport because being a Colombian, my Colombian passport still is not accepted in a lot of countries, so I do need a visa to get into lots of countries. Whereas the Australian passport is more trustworthy and countries are more willing to accept Australian passports without a visa. So that’s my first motivation. The other thing is that you can start voting and it will become mandatory of course for you.
Make sure you do, you’ll get fined 20 bucks if you don’t vote once you’re a citizen.
Yes exactly, which is not the case in other countries but yeah, it’s also another benefit. And the other thing that when you become Australian you can apply for benefits for school, high school, oh sorry, higher degrees like a PhD or Master.
You can get on the dole, you can get, you know, a retirement fund and all of that sort of stuff, you get the pension.
Yeah and also if you’re a girl and you have babies, if you are an Australian, you can get the benefit of the maternity leave, which is not the case with the others, if you are just a resident.
That’s crazy. So I guess you had come full circle, like you’ve left Columbia, you’ve come to Australia, you got educated here, you ended up finding a job and getting sponsored here which gave you the benefits of being able to work and stay here. Then PR, which meant you could obviously not be attached to the job and you could leave that job and do whatever you want, stay here for as long as you like, as long as you didn’t leave the country for too much of that period, right? Each year you had to stay here for three quarters of your time and now you’re getting citizenship, which will give you full citizen rights to Australia. Wow! That’s a pretty good story, I guess we should wrap up it’s been like almost an hour and a half.
I know, it’s been way too long!
That’s all good. I’m sure that the listeners will love it, there’s a lot of information there. So, where can people find out more about you, Mai? I know you’ve got an amazing video that I sort of found you through, or at least saw you for the first time. We’d been chatting online for Instagram and a few other things, but where can people find out more about you and what you do?
Yeah, so I do have a YouTube channel. It’s mostly about my life in Australia, so I do have some educational videos about how the health care system works, the transportation, how I got my PR, how I applied for the citizenship, how to get the driver license. Some of the videos are educational videos, but also some of them are more like my life, my favourites of the month, type of relaxer, my YouTube channel is YouTube… Well you can just go to YouTube and look “Mai’s Journey” or also on Instagram Mai Medina and that’s me.
Yeah, I’ll get the links to it and I’ll put them in the transcript. But it’s definitely good. Check out the YouTube channel guys, especially if you’re Spanish speakers because I think I noticed you had Spanish captions for some of these videos, so if they are learning English, the videos are in English, at least the ones that I saw were in English and you had captions in, I think, Spanish and English as well or just Spanish?
Just captions in Spanish. Yeah, just because my mom doesn’t speak English, so I do the captions for her.
Oh, that’s amazing.
But more than welcome everyone to watch those. Because funny enough, my audience in my YouTube channel is not Latin American people.
Exactly. I was wondering like, they would be other people in Australia, right, having difficulties with these things?
No, like 90 percent of my audience is people from India.
Oh wow! Okay.
So yes, and I get really like lots of questions from people from India on how to come to Australia. So, that’s why I keep it in English because I think I can reach a wider audience instead of just the Spanish.
I think you’re definitely right. Well Mai, thank you so much.
Thank you so much. It’s been a great Friday night.
No worries. Hopefully, I’ll get you back on the podcast in the future.
Thank you so much for having me.
See you guys!
Alright, guys, so that was it. Big thank you to Mai Medina. That was an amazing interview. I had a lot of fun doing this with her. Hopefully, I can get her on in the future and chat more about her experiences Down Under in Australia and what she’s gotten up to now, as it’s been a few months since we recorded this, and I’m sure a lot has happened. Anyway.
I hope you enjoy this episode, guys, and I hope to chat to you very soon. All the best. See ya.
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AE 338 – Interview: Lorena Tells Us How Go Study Australia Gives Students The Best Australian Experience!By pete — 1 year ago
AE 338 – Interview:
Lorena Tells Us How Go Study Australia Gives Students The Best Australian Experience!
G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I’ve got a bit of a special episode for you guys today, where we’re going to listen to an interview that I did this morning. Recently, Lorena from Go Study contacted me, and go study is a wonderful company in Australia that represents people typically coming from European countries like France, Spain, Italy, etc. and wanting to come to Australia, they’re wanting to come here as students, and Go Study is a free service where these guys act as student counsellors. So, whether you want help working out where to live, how to get a job, which school to pick, these guys have connections with over 500 schools in Australia, Lorena was telling me today. If you need advice on how to make a résumé, how to find and meet other people learning English or other Australians, how to file a tax return, all of this kind of information, if you’ve signed up to become a student already and you’re planning on studying in Australia, Go Study Australia is a free service, it’s 100 percent free for you guys to get assistance if you need help with anything, if you have any kind of worries. Lorena herself was from Spain. She had a French colleague in there, two other Italian colleagues, and I believe another Spanish speaking colleague as well working in Melbourne.
These guys are found all over Australia, in Sydney, in Brisbane in Perth, and Melbourne, and they’re also found in Europe. So, whether you’re in Australia currently studying somewhere and you need assistance or some kind of help or just a student adviser, you know, you want advice with regards to any of these things in English or in your native language Italian, Spanish, or French, Go Study Australia is for you. And if you’re over in Europe at the moment hoping to come to Australia contacting these guys is definitely the way to go, because again it’s 100 percent free. So, anyway, Lorena sent me an email, and in the spirit of full disclosure to guys she told me everything about Go Study Australia, what they’re passionate about, which is helping people from Europe come to Australia to get settled, and to help them live their dream in Australia while they’re studying here or potentially to move and eventually live here permanently. But she told me that the schools are the ones that fund Go Study Australia. Right? So, you guys sign up to study. You have to pay your fees to the school, and the school hires services like Go Study Australia to obviously take care of its students, to help with all of the other things outside of the schools as well as the schools themselves. And so, they have a program set up where they get ambassadors on board to be a part of this program, which is something that Lorena has asked me to become a part of. And for every student that signs up that says, “Hey, I heard about you through Aussie English and I’m coming because of Aussie English.” I’ll get 100 dollars. So, I’m just telling you that in the spirit of full disclosure. If you guys want to come to Australia or if you’re already in Australia and you want a really good service that is 100 percent free for you guys, I really recommend Go Study Australia.
I went down there today to hang out with her and her team, and I also interviewed her so that she could give you guys the information first hand. So, you can hear it from the horse’s mouth, straight from the horse’s mouth. And yeah, if you want to give a little bit of support to Aussie English and you’re looking for some kind of assistance while studying Down Under signing up to be a part of Go Study Australia and letting them know that you came from being suggested by Aussie English will send a hundred dollars my way to help me keep doing what I’m doing. And to put a little bit of icing on the cake, guys, I’m going to offer anyone who ends up signing up with Go Study Australia a half an hour free lesson with me via Skype. So, all you have to do is obviously sign up through Go Study Australia send me an email at TheAussieEnglishpodcast(at)gmail.dot com, and then we’ll set up a time to do a free lesson where we can talk about anything related to your English, your pronunciation, about coming to Australia, maybe you just want to chat to me in general, but you’ll get a free half an hour lesson with me as well. Anyway, let’s get into today’s episode, guys. There’s so much great information in here. Lorena tells us all about what to expect when moving to Australia. She gives us tips on how to learn English faster and what the best thing for students is to do with regards to finding a job, finding somewhere to live, all of this really good staff. And yeah, let’s get into it.
Pete: Alright guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I am down at Go Study Australia with Lorena. Thank you for inviting me down.
Lorena: Yeah, no worries. Thanks for having me.
Pete: So, she sent me an e-mail recently, told me about what they did. And I thought it would be the best opportunity to come down, interview her, find out a bit about her, what her experiences have been in Australia, and give you guys obviously the down low.
Lorena: A little bit of information. Yeah, so, here at Go Study Australia we we’re a student agency. So, what we do is students who have just arrived to Australia to sort of settle in. We sort of do a couple stages, right. So, we help students who have just arrived in Australia and just landed, opened their TFNs (Tax File Numbers), activate their health insurances, and do a little bit of the first steps in Australia, right? And then we help throughout the entire process while they’re here. That’s basically what we do. We open our doors to any students, you know, that they need a little bit of help and a little bit of guidance throughout their Aussie experience.
Pete: So, what are the biggest issues they sort of come in in contact with? When they when they come here they tend to sort of need specific help with straight off the bat?
Lorena: I guess, the main thing would be looking for jobs and having some of their first experience in Australia. What they first want to do is, you know, come here and try to find a job super super quick. So, that’s sort of the main thing that we help. And we actually do job sessions with students, and we help them review their CV (curriculum vitae), and do everything that they need in order to get you going. The other thing is English, obviously, and that’s sort of where you come in. (We) try to.
Pete: I try to.
Lorena: To try to teach students and give them a little bit of insight. One of the one of the things that students actually tell us all the time is, “Oh, the Australian accent, you know. It’s so different from what we learn in Spain or what we learn in Italy.” The accent or certain terminology, you guys tend to abbreviate everything. Right, that’s sort of, you know.
Pete: We can’t make it too easy for you.
Lorena: And most of the students are studying English here anyway. So they sort of get that extra push from the school. But it’s good to have a little bit of extra tips of, you know, what things mean here in Australia.
Pete: So, if they ever hit you up with specific questions with regards to like the accent or specific words you hear again and again and again.
Lorena: Well, one thing that a lot of students are baffled by is “ta”. People just land here, and you’ve always been sort of told that, you know, “Thank you” is what people say, or “Thanks” is the maximum, but people then start hearing “Ta”. And people come here and they’re like, “What? Lorena, what is “Ta”? Why are people telling me “Ta” all the time?” Yeah, that’s sort of the main one.
Pete: That’s so funny, because that was one of those ones where I didn’t even think about it until I had someone asking me. And I only… now I notice it everywhere. Every time I go… I’m working at the restaurant as a waiter. I take anything at any table, and instantly I know someone’s Australian if they’re like, “Oh, ta!”.
Lorena: Yeah. I didn’t notice. I mean, I grew up learning, you know, English, and I’ve always sort of had… I have no problem, you know, with understanding English. And I didn’t notice it until my partner said, “Oh, I learned to be in school that “Ta” means, “Thank you”.” And then I started hearing it everywhere. It’s like, “What do you mean…?”. And now everybody is like “Ta”.
Pete: And we also use it with kids. We’ll say, “Ah, ta, ta!”, as in, like, “Give me it”, “Ta”, like, “Hand it over.
Lorena: Yeah, so it’s very… you’ve got to learn it from very little yeah.
Pete: I think it probably comes from that where it’s a lot easier to say even “Thank you” as a small child. So, we just learnt “Ta”.
Lorena: Well, you guys like to abbreviate everything. I think that’s what I’ve learned about my experience here in Australia.
Pete: So, how long did that take to get your head around? All of the abbreviations, the slang, I don’t know…
Lorena: Well, the funny thing, because actually, you know, when you come to Australia you start sort of researching, and I was working in your study in the Madrid office for three years, so I sort of had my head around, you know, Australian culture and everything, and every once in a while, you get videos on YouTube and stuff like that of how Australian people see this thing, right?
Pete: All those accent comparison ones.
Lorena: Exactly. So, it’s nice, you know, like, you start, sort of, you know about what they are. But when you come here you truly start…
Pete: So, was it a shock for you? And do you find that other students have… like, I’ve heard that from people who had no exposure to the Australian accent before getting here. But for someone who did have somewhat of a previous exposure, was it still a shock when you got and surrounded by it.
Lorena: Well, not so much as a shock, right. I think it’s more of, “Oh that’s true. They actually do it.” Right?
Pete: So, they actually are as weird as they appear.
Lorena: So, a lot of times you think, oh, you know, when you think about stereotypes of any nationality, “Oh Spanish do this” or “Italian people do this”, then sometimes it’s an exaggeration. So, you assume that Australians, you know, the portrayal of Australians is an exaggeration, but then it’s not. People are, like, actually talking like that.
Pete: So, what were some examples? Did you have anywhere you go and you’re like, “Oh my gosh! Crocodile Dundee is in every other store.”
Lorena: “It’s there.” I think the word “Arvo” is something that I thought people just said it online that, “Oh yeah the Australians say “arvo” all the time”, and then when you come.
Pete: As a joke?
Lorena: Yeah. And then you come here and they’re like, “Oh, I’ll see you this arvo!”. What do you mean? What’s “arvo”?
Pete: Are you saying that ironically?
Lorena: Are you making fun of me? But I think that a lot of students come here with the expectation that it’s going to be a little bit tough at the beginning. But then when they come here they’re like, “Oh actually, Aussie English…”
Pete: That’s what I’ve found, like, it’s not… it doesn’t take too long for them to get used to it. They have that sort of fear of, “Oh, I’ve only ever watched, you know, British TV or American TV, and what am I going to do?”. And then I get here and you’re like, “Look, it’s kind of hard, but you’ll get it within like a month or two.”
Lorena: Yeah, I mean after a while you sort of pick up on it. And once you’ve heard “Arvo” one time, maybe you get weirded out the first time, right? You’re like, “Oh, arvo!?”. But then you know what it is. So people just keep on, you know, using it. So…
Pete: So, how long have you been learning English then? ‘Cause you obviously, you know, reached a very very high level.
Lorena: So, actually I’ve… I cheated, right? So, I have learnt English when I was very little. I grew up in Italy, in Rome, and then I went to an American school there and then I did my bachelor degree in the US in a small town called Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania. Very tiny. And then, I’ve been here in Australia for two years. I wish I could pick up the Australian accent, which I love. I think it’s so much fun.
Pete: Why is that the case? Why would you like to speak like us?
Lorena: I don’t know. I don’t know. It sounds, you know, like funky and… I think of all of the English accents, (the) Australian accent is my favourite one.
Pete: It seems to either be the favourite or the most hated.
Lorena: I know. But the American… I’ll apologise for American accent. I shouldn’t say that, but I do not like my American accent. I guess it’s just inevitable.
Pete: So, did you pick that up at school or did you pick that up once you got to America?
Lorena: I think it’s just, you know, I’ve learned English since very little, and it’s always been very intentional, because it wasn’t… you know, I didn’t learn English in America, right? I learned English in a small school, in a small international school surrounded by Italian people, Spanish people, French. So, it was very international. So, we also had sort of a neutral sort of accent so to speak. But then, all of the shows that you see are American. And then, obviously, I did my bachelor’s degree for four years in the US. So, I think, I guess it just sort of sticks to you.
Pete: I always found that aspect to that weird. Like, I watch so much American TV and films that it’s almost stranger when you see an Australian on one of these things. They stick out like a sore thumb. You’re just like, “Ohhhh”. I remember watching Lost and that blonde girl appearing on it, and you just being like, “oh what’s that accent!?”, and then you realise she’s Australian.
Lorena: Oh, that’s my accent.
Pete: And it’s funny how goes both ways where we understand everything… I can even tell you, you know, you’ll hear accents and you’ll be like “Oh they’re from south (of America) or they’re from, you know, New York or, oh they’re from California.”, and yet Americans will hear our accent and be like, “We didn’t understand any of that.”, ’cause they just get no exposure.
Lorena: Yeah. Yeah true. And it’s weird with accents, yeah? So, I guess you see that a lot. People pick up different accents. My partner has been studying English here in Australia, and when he came he didn’t have a lot of English. And now he’s picked up words, you know, and say things in Australian, which… it’s weird to me, sometimes. You know, a Spanish accent with Australian.
Pete: I love that mix though. That’s really good. But bringing it back to Go Study. So, what would you recommend for people who are wanting to come to Australia, how can we make that transition as effortless as possible?
Lorena: Yeah, well, we always recommend students to feel free to always ask for help. Our doors are always open. We have offices here in Melbourne. We have offices Sydney, and Brisbane, and in Perth, as well, obviously, in Spain, Italy, and France. And what I would recommend is, you know, just ask for help whenever you need it. Sometimes it’s hard when you come in to a new culture or a new country and you’re by yourself, and sometimes having a little niche of your own home is nice to have. And so, we always recommend, you know, if you’re in need just to come here and get some help. We do offer all kinds of help with jobs, with CVs, with their experience here. We also do a lot of events. So, we gather of people, and it’s also good for them to sort of mingle with other cultures and especially with other English-speaking people to practice. That’s the difficult part, the experience in Australia. A lot of students come and they’re sort of going to school, surrounded by international people, inevitably, as soon as you hear your own language it’s easy to sort of, you know, stick to that. What we push students to do is get out of their comfort zone, and meet people don’t speak your same language. That’s the only way that you’re really going to get… and I’m sure you’ve seen it. A lot of people maybe might know how to read it, how to write it, they might listen (to) it super well, but then in the moment that comes to speaking it’s the part where they struggle the most.
Pete: I think it’s like a muscle. Any time you practice reading and writing, you can do as passive things incredibly easily, but as soon as you want to do something active, a lot of the time, I think, especially Asian speakers, have trouble with this. And I don’t know if they have a culture where it’s not encouraged to make mistakes and to sort of go out of your way to speak as much as possible. Whereas, I think, on the other end of that, I’ve met… I think Brazilians are probably some of the most sort of active “I don’t give a shit. I’ll speak. I don’t care about making mistakes”
Lorena: I’ll just do it!
Pete: And yeah, so it’s almost like you just have to practice, you know, just getting out there and speaking as much as possible in order to work that muscle and strength, but…
Lorena: Yeah, it’s the most important part, right? So, we create a lot of environments for the students in which they’re sort of obligated, right, to step outside of their comfort zone, and meet new people, and being in a room even if you’re in a room with other people you stick your same language, if there’s people in the room then inevitably even with the people that you can speak the same language you will try your best to speak in English just as a, you know.
Pete: I’ve been so impressed with that. I’ve had… my housemate is Turkish, and she always brings over Turkish people, Turkish friends that she has, and they’ll all been speaking Turkish, and the moment I enter the room it just switches to English. And, I’ll just be like, “Do you guys actively… are focusing on that?”. And they’re like, “Yeah, somewhat.”. And I’m like isn’t it harder thought, like, if you always… I feel almost bad now, ’cause every time I walk in and five of them have to switch the language they’re using, I’m like, “Eh, just hang out. It’s fine. I’m leaving.”
Lorena: Well, I think it’s a matter of, you know, sort of respect. We’ve all been at the other end in which you in a room and everybody is speaking Dutch and you’re like, “oh what are they saying.
Pete: Yeah that’s it. I’m going to go stand outside in the rain.
Lorena: Yeah, you sort of feel more… especially, with Europeans, we do a lot of European students, and that notion, you understand immediately. It’s like oh there’s like one person in the room that doesn’t speak Spanish everybody else does, but just make that person feel welcome in the group we’re going to all speak English. And it’s easier. It’s easier when you are sort of in contact with people that don’t they don’t speak your mind.
Pete: What are the biggest mistakes that people can make when they get here with regards to friendship groups, getting a job, writing a CV? Do you have any quick and dirty tips?
Lorena: Yeah stay away from your own nationalities. Yeah, that’s a biggest mistake. So…
Pete: And if you’re Colombian that doesn’t mean you can just go and hang out with Chileans.
Lorena: Exactly that. Stay away from people that speak the same language as you do. I think that the… I think it’s neat, you know, human nature really.
Pete: Well it’s a path of least resistance, right?
Lorena: Yeah, exactly. What is the most comfortable thing? As soon as you can be comfortable you’ll sort of go into that mode. We always push students to, you know, meet people from other nationalities. Go out there. Try to… when you hear, for example for Spanish speaks, when you hear Spanish, leave the room, go (to) another place. If you’re French, if you hear French, just go to another place. (It) doesn’t mean that you… Because everyone… now and then it’s nice to sort of have that, the idea of saying, “OK. Well look, I’ve been speaking English since nine o’clock in the morning.
Pete: Especially, I guess, if you’re at that still beginning/intermediate level…
Lorena: It can be tiring.
Pete: It can be such hard work. Yeah, where you’ve got to be working it constantly. And then you’re just like, “I just want to be able to… almost just breath properly. Have a proper conversation.”.
Lorena: Yeah, sometimes it’s good. And actually, this is also sort of the philosophy that we have here in Go Study Australia, it’s a little bubble of home. So, we have people here who speak French, who speak Italian, who speak Spanish. So, also speaking of things related to jobs, to your friends, are tax returns. Sometimes speaking it an English, which is not your first language, might be a little bit hard. So, it’s good that you have that bubble sometimes that you can come in. But, the most important thing to remember is that you came to Australia to learn English, and to sort of immerse yourself in the culture. And if you automatically only make friends in your own nationality group or sort of speaking group it defeats the purpose. Then you could’ve just… yeah…
Pete: It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? I’ve met people who’ve moved here and instantly found other French people to move in with. And that was… it’s good in one sense that you have a home straight away, you potentially have a job if you know them. But they’ve been six months and still don’t speak a lick of English. They can barely, you know, put a sentence together. And then, I’ve met other people who start from the very beginning with nothing, and within five or six months they’re fluent, and it’s just crazy.
Lorena: Yeah. I think that yeah, the people… we see it here all the time. Students that… or the students that are the ones that really are successful at their experience in Australia are the ones that have tried their best to go around their comfort zone. Again, everybody likes to be comfortable and being in a situation where you don’t have to struggle, but.
Pete: But growth doesn’t come until you start looking for the edges.
Lorena: Exactly. It’s that struggle that will push you to be better, that will push you to sort of adapt to the situation. And especially, and I noticed this with my partner as well, in the moment that he’s outside of sort of the comfort zone is when his brain really starts to think in English, and, “Ok, I have to think about this word”. If he’s in a situation where he’s automatically speaking English, even if it’s very easy, it’s not challenging so it won’t push him to get.
Pete: It’s like going to the gym. You don’t go there and lift everything once.
Lorena: Exactly. Yeah.
Pete: Oh, that’s really cool. That’s really cool. So, what else would you say with regards to finding a job, can you do that too early? Do you need a certain level? Are there certain kinds of jobs that lend themselves better to specific levels in English? Or, just give everything a go and see what happens?
Lorena: Well, one thing that we tell students always is never say no.
Pete: Yeah. I’m trying to tell myself that all of the time at the moment as well.
Lorena: It’s sort of the best advice that you can give anyone. Don’t say no, just say yes to everything. Be open to any possibilities. Obviously, there’s certain things that your English will sort of have an impact on their relationship or the things that you’re going to do. If you have 0 level of English, the idea is, OK well find a place where you are not obviously in front of the public. So, a lot of students that come and don’t have a lot of English, they’ll look for jobs in hospitality, but like being a runner or dishwasher. You’re still going to have the surrounding in which you’re in the kitchen. People are going to speak English, and you’re still going to have that immersion of English, but obviously you know how, you know, how to speak you can speak to the public. And then, eventually you’ll start sort of moving forward.
Pete: And the way to look at that, I feel too, is that a lot of the time once you get to that point if you’re getting paid, you know, even if it’s only 15, 17, 20 bucks an hour to be a waiter, you’re getting paid to learn English whilst also just take food to tables, and you just get repeated conversations. They tend to be pretty easy and basic as well, ’cause you don’t really get into anything too existential, but it’s good practice.
No, but it’s good, because you’re… Yeah, it’s very good practice. And a lot of the students come here and they’ll be in school either in the morning or the afternoon, and the English that you learn in school is not the same English that you’ll get in the street or at work. So, having that complement. We see it all the time with students who just do English course, but then they never work or they never have a life outside. They’ll sort of reach… So, at the beginning they’ll start learning a lot of English and then they reach a plateau.
Pete: But they’re not using it.
Lorena: Right? And then they see they’re like, “Oh! I’m so frustrated. Why am I not learning more? Why am I stuck here?”. Right? At the beginning, you see it because you… Two, three months that you’re here you just go *up* supper fast, yeah? And then, you see it and you’re super glad that you’re doing it. And then, you reach a plateau and you’re like, “Oh, dammit! I want to do more!”, and that more it comes from being outside, from you finding a job, finding people that don’t speak your language, and get that sort of motivation outside of the comfort zone, and yeah.
Pete: So, what’s the best combination of all of that, friendship, work, and school? A bit of everything? As opposed to focusing on any single one.
Lorena: Yeah. I think that it’s an important balance of all three. We are very keen and we see the importance obviously of students actually having an education. So, going and doing an English course, or doing avocational course, and once they have a little bit more of their level of English to keep that sort of brain going, right? ‘Cause you need that stimulation to go. You obviously then need to sort of put it together with work and with social life. So, the most important… I don’t think there’s one more important than the other. You’re going to learn different aspects of different things in all three, right? So, the conversation that you have a work will not be the same conversation that you have in school, and will not be the same conversation that you have with your friends while you’re having a beer, right? So, that sort of combination of all, 33-33-33% each, yeah?
Pete: Yeah, but it’s synergistic, right? Where they may all be at 33%, but it ends up being 110% as opposed to if you spend 100% working on just one of them. You end up getting a lot.
Lorena: Yeah. Yeah exactly. And so, it’s more rotund, right, if you just get that experience of the entire three little pieces.
Pete: And so how can students find the best school? Obviously, this is where you guys come in as well. You just recommend just coming to you guys, and then you’re the problem solvers making this as easy as possible.
Lorena: Yeah, basically, we do see ourselves as problem solvers. Our role is to guide the student through the entire process. So, we’re experts at education in Australia. So, that’s where sort of our expertise comes in. We will help the student sort of be guided, and we’ll sit with the student, talk about what his goals are, what he wants to get out of the experience in Australia. And, we work with more than 500 schools all around Australia.
Pete: That’s brilliant.
Lorena: So, I mean in the end we’re… in those 500 options, there has to be something for everyone, right?
Pete: Yeah, definitely.
Lorena: We will guide them, we’ll sit down, we’ll talk about, you know, “what do you want to do?”, and then we’ll all try to obviously find something that will meet all of their requirements. So, we do a lot of English courses, and we do a lot of vocational as well. A lot of students prefer to go into the vocational once they’ve been sort of… they come here, they do six months or eight months of English, and then they want to extend their stay, and say, “look, I want to stay”. (The) student visa’s the sort of easiest way to be able to expend the knowledge in order to stay in Australia. And vocational courses is a good way of keep doing English, but a little bit more focussed in your sort of area of expertise. So, there’s a lot of different options, and we always invite students to just come in, and we’ll just sit down and have a conversation in English, if you want, or in your own language with one of our experienced counsellors, and sort of guide though the entire process to get their studies going.
Pete: Oh, brilliant. And so, before we finish up if you recommend any city in Australia to come, if you’re coming straight from overseas, which is a going to be? And you’re allowed to say, “Not, Melbourne.
Lorena: Actually, I would say Melbourne. Yeah! Oh yeah! I would say Melbourne, because for me Melbourne has it all, except for the weather.
Pete: Well, we have that as well it just tends to be in a single day.
Lorena: Yeah. I think Melbourne has the entire experience of what a student might want. It has the Australian experience, it has social life. it has a lot of work opportunities. I think it offers a lot of things to students. It has, you know, it has been voted most liveable city for seven years in a row. So, (that) has to count for something.
Pete: I still keep like… Why??
Lorena: You’re still like, “Why.
Pete: Surely, there must be better places somewhere else.
Lorena: But, I think that Melbourne, of all the cities in Australia, sort of gives you… obviously, all cities will give you a little bit of… It depends on what you’re looking for, right? But, Melbourne, if you want the whole experience, the whole package, I think Melbourne is the best place to be.
Pete: And what’s been the best thing that you’ve seen whether in Melbourne, or just Victoria, or Australia as a whole since you got here?
Lorena: Well, I haven’t travelled too much around Australia, ’cause I’m always in the office. But, actually, I think the best thing that I’ve seen so far… Well there’s two things. Something… you’ll be like, “that’s really not that great”, which is the penguins in St. Kilda.
Pete: That’s pretty cute. Did you see the water rats there as well?
Lorena: Yes, I did. They’re pretty cute, too.
Pete: I have a PhD in water rats, or not water rats, but Australian rats. And so, that’s why I’m like, “Yeah.
Lorena: I think that’s… My colleague Matap brought me there the first week that I was here. And, I was just amazed. Little penguins.
Pete: Yeah, they’re pretty cute and the sounds they’re making out there.
Lorena: And then, the other thing that I really loved was Wilson’s Prom(ontory). Yeah. That for me was the best thing that I’ve seen in Australia so far.
Pete: Did you go to Squeaky Beach and do the *stamps feet*?
Lorena: Yes. And go like this *stamps feet* all the time. And, yeah, I think those are the two favourite things. Obviously, I still have to see a lot of Australian. Australia’s very big.
Pete: Oh, man, I have to see a lot of Australian. There’s plenty of things I haven’t seen. Yeah.
Lorena: It’s very big, yeah?
Pete: It’s huge. I don’t think I’ve… I haven’t Uluru, I haven’t been to Perth, (I) haven’t been to Darwin.
Lorena: Yeah, sort of when you have it close to you sometimes you’re like, “Ah, I’ll go. At some point, I’ll go.”.
Pete: Exactly, and then it just never happens. So, I guess wrapping up, what’s the best way that students can get in touch with you, or listeners, viewers can get in touch with you?
Lorena: So, well we can… just walk in, obviously. You can write an e-mail to Melbourne(at)GoStudy.com.au, go to our website. It depends on the city that you sort of want to explore. If you’re in Melbourne, obviously, we’ll be able to help you, but we have offices elsewhere. But yeah, our website, our Facebook page.
Pete: Same for students overseas as well?
Lorena: For students overseas, it’s better that they contact their local office, whether they be Spain or Italy or France. But, I mean, we… if I get an email or if I get a contact from any student who’s elsewhere, who’s not here, I’ll direct them to the right direction.
Pete: Ah brilliant.
Lorena: Yeah, anyone who needs a little bit of help or needs sort of a little bit of extra push inside of Australia, feel free to contact Go Study Australia.
Pete: Awesome. Thanks Lorena!
Lorena: Thank you Pete!
So, I hope you enjoyed that episode of Aussie English, guys. I hope you enjoyed that interview. Remember, if you want to sign up to use the free service that is Go Study Australia, to make your life a lot easier once you get here, whether you want to find a job, whether you need help filling out your tax return, finding somewhere to live, paying your rent, meeting other people, socialising. Any of that stuff once you get here in Australia, you can do so go to www.GoStudy.com.au. And remember, if you sign up and you say that you’ve come from Aussie English, not only are you sending $100 my way to help me support myself and continue to make content for you guys, but if you email me at TheAussieEnglishPodcast(at)gmail.com and let me know that you’ve told them that Aussie English referred you, we can organise a free half an hour lesson on Skype where we can work together to take your English to the next level. So that’s it for today guys. I’ll chat to you soon. All the best.
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By pete — 9 months ago
Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE like a native speaker and also teach you about the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
AE 440 – Expression: Water Under the Bridge
The great job is done and the 7 years of “Thou shalt not trespass” to the public are relegated into the limbo of forgotten things. The bridge belongs to the man in the street and how he has taken possession of it. Posterity can never experience the thrill that we have known in watching it rise up slowly but surely, until today, it flung wide its gates.
G ‘day you mob! How’s it going? And welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
So, this is the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to improve their English, and specifically Australian English. It’s aimed at helping you improve your pronunciation, your listening comprehension, your spoken English, and also give you a bit more knowledge when it comes to things like Australian slang, culture, food, all that good stuff. So, welcome to the podcast episode, guys.
Today, is an expiration episode and the expression is ‘water under the bridge’, which we’ll get into shortly.
So, quickly, that scene at the start there was from a video from a film covering the opening, the inauguration, of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the year 1932. So, there’ll be a link in the transcript if you would like to watch that entire video. It’s about, what, 80, 90 years old now? And it’s pretty cool seeing all these people wearing different clothing like hats and suits that all come from back in that period, not to mention the fact that the bridge is out in open space. You go there today in Sydney, in the CBD, and there’s buildings everywhere. So, it’s a very cool video to watch.
Anyway guys, this is the Aussie English Podcast, which is brought to you by, first and foremost, you the listener, everyone who supports the podcast whether donating via Patreon, where you can sign up to donate as little as a dollar per month, or whether you’re giving a one-off donation via Paypal, or you’re a student in the Aussie English Classroom. And that is an online classroom where you get access to all the bonus content for each of these episodes, and remember, you can sign up and try that for a dollar for your first 30 days. TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com.
Anyway, guys, let’s get into today’s episode. So, the expression is ‘water under the bridge’, hence why I’m talking about the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I thought that linked in nicely. And I also found a joke, a joke, about bridges. Okay. So, here’s the joke.
So, a man goes to see his doctor and he says to the Doctor, “Doctor! Doctor! I think I’m a bridge! I think I’m a bridge!”, and the doctor asks, “What’s come over you? Why do you think you’re a bridge? What’s come over you?”. And the man replies, “Three cars, a van, and a motorbike!”.
Woo! That’s killer. Alright. So, basically, the joke there is with the phrasal verb ‘to come over someone’. Okay? So, this has multiple meanings. The first one there is the literal version of ‘to come over someone’, like to go over someone, to go over the top of someone, i.e. getting run over by a car, for example. So, “What’s come over you?”. “Three cars, a van, and a motorbike.”, as would come over a bridge.
But, ‘to come over something’, as well, can mean to influence someone suddenly to behave a certain way. So, you could imagine that if the dog that you have in your house starts barking like crazy one night, you might say to it, “What’s come over you, mate? Why are you behaving like this? Why are you suddenly doing this? What’s come over you?”. So, that’s the joke.
So, today’s expression, guys, is ‘water under the bridge’. ‘Water under the bridge’. For something to be ‘water under the bridge’.
So, this was suggested by Kel in the Aussie English Classroom private Facebook group. This is where we all get together, all the members of the classroom, the Aussie English Classroom, and we chat in there, we do live videos, we work on our spoken English, and each week, I try to suggest expressions as well as get students’ expressions, and everyone votes on them for this episode.
So, it was a great suggestion Kel. ‘Water under the bridge’. So, great suggestion and it’s an English expression that’s used everywhere. This is not specific to Australia.
So, let’s go through and define the words in the expression ‘water under the bridge’. Okay?
So, ‘water’. I’m sure you guys know what ‘water’ is, a colourless transparent odourless liquid, which forms things like seas, lakes, rivers, rain, and it’s the basis for fluids used in living organisms. Right? You are probably 70 to 80 percent water, and you drink water. The sea is full of water. I’m sure you know what ‘water’ is.
The next word here is a preposition or a particle, ‘under’, right? ‘Under’. To be ‘under’ something that is to be beneath something. It’s the opposite of being above something or on top of something. If you are situated below something, if you are beneath something, you are under something. You know, animals live underground, animals like moles or worms or ants. They live underground.
The last word here is a noun, ‘a bridge’, right? ‘A bridge’. ‘A bridge’ is a structure built to carry a road or a path or a railway across river, road, valley, canyon, or any other obstacle. Okay? ‘A bridge’. So, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a bridge. And we have a huge one in Melbourne called the West Gate Bridge. And these usually cross things like rivers or bays or roads, as we said before.
Alright. So. they’re the words.
Expression Definition & Origin:
What does the expression mean, though? When we put these words together and we use this expression ‘water under the bridge’, what on earth does that mean? Water under the bridge. Yeah, okay. So, there’s water and it’s under the bridge, what does that mean?
So, literally, ‘water under the bridge’ is exactly that. It is water that is beneath a bridge or water that is flowing below a bridge. It is going under a bridge. So, it’s allowed to flow beneath the bridge and it’s not obstructed by anything. It can freely move underneath a bridge.
But figuratively, when we say that something’s ‘water under a bridge’, it means that whatever’s happened in the past can’t be undone, it can’t be changed, you can’t go back in time and change things, so don’t worry about it. Let’s move on with things. It’s not a big deal. The past is in the past. What’s done is done. What’s happened is unchangeable. Let’s forget about it. It’s a water under the bridge, right? So, imagine it like water passing by under the bridge and it’s gone. It’s done. It’s finished. There’s nothing you can do about it so it’s not a big deal.
And you also hear this used like expressions, ‘what’s done is done’ or ‘the past is in the past’ or simply ‘the past’s the past’.
So, where did this expression originate from? The earliest example I could find was from 1934. So, a song was entitled ‘Water under the bridge’ and it was written by Paul Francis Webster, Lou Pollock, and it was performed by Fred Waring, and this was all the way back in the 1930s, and the first line of the chorus begins as, “We kissed and love flowed through my heart like water under the bridge.”. So, it’s probably not being used exactly as we use it today, but there it is ‘water under the bridge’.
Most recently too, as a quick mention, artists like Adele and Olivia Newton-John actually have songs called ‘Water under the bridge’. So, check those out on YouTube.
So, as usual, let’s go through three examples of how I would use this expression. If something’s water under the bridge, what does that mean? How would I use this in day to day life?
Okay, so example number one. Imagine that I’m walking through the city and I stumble into an old friend from primary school. So, I bump into an old friend from school. It was by chance. I didn’t expect to see them. So, I haven’t seen them in like 12 years and we have a bit of a chat after we’ve recognised each other, and maybe one of us realises that the other one was a bit of a brat, a bit of a rascal, in school and maybe bullied me or I bullied them, maybe we teased each other, we paid each other out a lot as kids. If one of us apologises for that and says, “You know what, I was a real naughty kid, I was a bit of a brat, I was a rascal when I was in primary school and I was nasty. Sorry about that. I really apologise for being horrible.”. The other person might say, “Man, that was 12 years ago. Nothing to apologise about. No worries. It was so long ago, it’s a water under the bridge.”. So, it’s in the past it’s unchangeable. It’s so long ago, forget about it. It’s water under the bridge.
Example number two. So, in this example imagine, you know, countries in Europe, in the Americas, in Asia, were all fighting each other in World War II, right? All of these countries were at each other’s throats. They were trying to kill each other. They were fighting for power. People hated each other. There was racism, genocide, rape, murder, torture, the deaths of millions of people. You guys will know about what happened in the 20th century there, in World War II. But today, many of these countries consider themselves allies. They consider themselves friends. They have good relations. They… their relations have improved since that time. So, all of that stuff that happened was in the past. What’s done is done, and today, it’s water under the bridge, right? So, even though England and Germany were on opposite sides in World War II, they’re now good allies in Europe. So, what’s done is done. What’s in the past is in the past. It’s all water under the bridge.
Example Number Three. Okay, so here’s a personal anecdote from me. When I was growing up, my sister and I really didn’t get along. We used to fight each other all the time. We’d be yelling at each other, teasing each other. Maybe my sister would run to my mum and dad and, you know, complain about me, she’d dob on me, or tell on me for something. Maybe I’d pull her hair or steal her toys. And so, we grew up really disliking each other. However today, we get along like a house on fire. We are pretty close, we hang out, we chat, we see each other quite a bit. So, everything that has happened in the past is in the past. What’s done is done. It’s unchangeable, but it’s all water under the bridge. We have a really good relationship now. We’re on good terms. So, if I pulled her aside and apologised to her, she would probably say to me, “Pete, don’t worry about it. It’s so long ago, it’s water under the bridge.”.
Alright guys, so by now, I hope you understand the expression ‘water under the bridge’. Remember, we used this to talk about anything that has happened in the past, a long time ago, and it’s unchangeable. You can’t undo it and you shouldn’t worry about it. So, what’s done is done and what’s in the past is in the past. It’s water under the bridge.
So, let’s do a listen and repeat exercise as usual, guys. This is your chance to practice your pronunciation, to try and focus on intonation and rhythm and connected speech, and if you really want to try and nail your Australian accent, it’s your chance to copy me as I speak. Otherwise, just say these words after me. Okay? So, listen then repeat after me. Let’s go.
Listen & Repeat:
It’s water under
It’s water under the
It’s water under the bridge x 5
Good job. So, now let’s just do a little bit more and I want you to imagine a situation where you want to say to someone, if they’ve apologised to you, that, “It’s not a problem, it’s water under the bridge”. But let’s use some common Australian English phrases. Okay? So, listen and repeat after me, guys. And this is how you would say, “Not to worry. It’s not a problem. It’s water under the bridge.”. So, listen and repeat.
All good. It’s water under the bridge.
Don’t worry. It’s water under the bridge.
No stress. It’s water under the bridge.
No dramas. It’s water under the bridge.
She’ll be right. It’s water under the bridge.
Great job, and I will mention here, if you want to make it even more informal and very, very friendly, you can add ‘mate’ at either end of either of those sentences. So, you could say “She’ll be right, mate. It’s water under the bridge.”, or you could say “She’ll be right. It’s water under the bridge, mate.”.
So, we use ‘mate’ in Australia a lot to really sort of emphasise the friendliness of discussions. Now, we might avoid using this on women, and some women may not decide to use this when they’re talking, in fact, most women probably won’t say ‘mate’, but if you’re a guy listening to this and you’re talking to other guys, especially Australians, don’t be afraid to say ‘mate’. It’ll really come across like you’re being incredibly friendly. Okay? So, there you go.
Alright, guys, remember, if you want to get access to all the bonus content that will break this exercise down, this pronunciation exercise and go through things like connected speech and rhythm, intonation, then sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. Each week at the moment, I am releasing videos that take you through step by step all the aspects of connected speech and pronunciation and will better equip you to sound like an Australian English speaker, and you can sign up there and try it for one dollar for 30 days at TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com.
So, let’s get into the Aussie English fact for today, guys, and then we will finish up.
So, the Aussie fact. Have you guessed what it’s about? It’s about the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So, I want to talk about that and I also want to talk about an interesting incident that occurred at the opening of the bridge in 1932. Alright so, let’s get into it.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is probably in the top three icons or iconic symbols synonymous with Australia. So, you would also know, obviously, the Sydney Opera House and Uluru. Those three things tend to be synonymous symbols with Australia. When you see them, you know you’re thinking about Australia at the same time. So, anyone who knows about Australia will definitely recognise the bridge. And let’s go through some facts about the bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is steel, it’s made of steel, and it is a steel through arch bridge. So, it’s a… it’s made of steel, it’s in the shape of an arch, and you drive through the middle of it. It carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney CBD, and the Central Business District, and the North Shore. So, it crosses the bay there.
The bridge is nicknamed the ‘Coathanger’, because of its arch-based design. And ‘a coathanger’ is something that you would hang a coat or any other item of clothing on in a wardrobe.
So, it’s the sixth longest-spanning arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge measuring about 134 metres from the very top all the way down to the water level.
Its construction began nearly 100 years ago on the 28th of July in 1923. So, I guess 95 years ago. And it ended nine years later on the 19th of January in 1932. So, talk about a bridge that took a long time to build. Hey guys? And the gates were open to the general public about two months after its construction was complete.
So, the bridge was formally opened on Saturday on the 19th of March in 1932. And following the speeches being given at that event, Jack Lang, who was the Premier of New South Wales at the time, he was about to cut the ribbon and declare the bridge open when a man in military uniform suddenly rode up on a horse brandishing a sword, a sabre, and he slashed the ribbon in two and declared that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in the name of the people of New South Wales before the official ceremony could begin.
So, this man was promptly swarmed by security and he was pulled from his horse, arrested, and escorted from the scene. The ribbon was hurriedly retired and Lang performed the official opening ceremony and the bridge was inaugurated, and the inauguration was followed by a 21-gun salute, as in, 21 guns were fired into the air as a celebration, and the RAAF or ‘RAAF’ the Royal Australian Air Force did a flypast, where all of these planes flew past above the bridge.
So, the intruder on horseback was later identified as Francis De Groot who was ultimately convicted of offensive behaviour and he was fined five pounds after a psychiatric test proved he was sane, but this verdict was reversed on appeal. And strangely enough, de Groot actually successfully sued the Commissioner of Police for wrongful arrest and was awarded an undisclosed out of court settlement. So, he might have even got more money than was the fine he was originally meant to pay, the five pounds, right?
So, De Groot was actually a member of a right-wing paramilitary group called the New Guard who were opposed to Lang’s leftist policies and resentful of the fact that a member of the Royal Family hadn’t been asked to open the bridge. So, these guys were obviously royalists, very passionate about the Royal Family, and wanted them to be at the forefront of this inauguration.
So, De Groot was not a member of the regular army, but he’d worn this uniform and it allowed him to blend in with the rest of the cavalry. So, that’s how he snuck in to this event.
After the official ceremonies, the public was allowed to walk across the bridge and there were somewhere between 300,000 and 1,000,000 people, 1,000,000 people, who took part in the opening festivities. So, that’s ridiculous, that’s crazy, because Sydney’s population at the time was only 1,250,000. So, if we assume that it was 1,000,000 people, that’s almost like 80 percent of the people in Sydney crossing it. And even if it was only 300,000, that’s still something like 20 percent. So, it’s a crazy amount of people that came to check out the bridge. I guess today, we’d probably just, you know, use our iPhones.
Anyway, today you can go and see this bridge. It can be viewed from many parts of Sydney’s CBD. You can get a train across, you can drive across it, you can cycle or walk across it, and you can even climb to the very top of it if you desire.
Anyway, guys, that is it for today. A massive thank you for listening and, I guess, a small mention, just remember, guys, that I am in the process of doing up the website, and when it comes in in the future I will be charging a small fee for the transcripts and the MP3 downloads. And so, the whole point of bringing this in, and the reason I want to remind you, is because I’m hiring other people to work for me to try and help me bring better content for you guys.
So, I thank you so much for all the people who replied to me via email when I sent that out this week. I really, really appreciated the replies that I got, and you guys overwhelmingly told me it was a good idea and that I should definitely start charging so that I can afford to improve the content and improve my English.
So, a massive thank you to you guys, and yeah, thank you for encouraging me, because sometimes it’s difficult to know whether you are making the right decision and that’s why I really enjoy putting it to you guys and asking you guys for your feedback. So, thank you.
Anyway, I’ll see you next week. Have a ripper of a weekend!
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