How working overseas helped me adjust to freelancing

Originally uploaded by littlesaint_uk.

Two years ago – almost to the day – I arrived in Melbourne with my boyfriend and a one-year visa. The purpose of my visit was to work for a few months in order to raise money for the rest of our round the world trip.

Unfortunately, I arrived in Melbourne at totally the wrong time. Someone had told us to arrive early in the Southern Hemisphere summer because all the backpacker jobs would be snapped up before February.

We were totally misinformed. For three months my boyfriend and I struggled to find office work. Our arrival had coincided with the pre-Christmas lull, which was much more pronounced in 2008 because of jitters about the economy. We finally got something in February (ironically). My boyfriend found a data entry job, while I got a relatively well paid dish-washing job.

Until we each got our breaks we had to live by our wits. House-sitting and working in return for accommodation helped us to get through the first two months.

It was also an opportunity to freelance – there was no choice in the matter. During my first two weeks there I got a press pass for the Homeless World Cup which was taking place in the city. I managed to sell a story to one of my contacts in the UK. A week later I covered a media event for Press Gazette.

My journalism activities continued after I started working as a agency waitress and dish-washer. It was funny going to serve people or wash dishes at kind of corporate events, then the next day I might be at one of those events in a journalistic capacity.

Our living arrangements were similarly fluid. After the house-sitting we were back in backpackers’ accommodation for a week. Then we rented a cheap room in a house in Brunswick in the north of the city for two months. It was miles from where I worked but it was nice to go home to somewhere of your own.

Even when I was not working, I tried to maintain some sense of discipline. I would go to the City or State library and spend the day using WiFi to try and find a job or to work on a story or a pitch.

I guess what I am trying to say is that because of my experiences in Australia, I was prepared mentally for going freelance and for the sudden nature of the move. Travelling and working overseas teaches you not to get too settled and keeps your mind flexible.

People talk about how travel changes them. For me, I didn’t realise how much it had changed me until I had to try and cope with making this adjustment. That’s when I saw the positive benefits that travelling had brought to me.

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