2 September 2016

Aurora V. Denaga - Expat in Brisbane, Australia

Aurora V. Denaga - Expat in Brisbane, Australia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Aurora V. Denaga, 34, a Filipino expat who has moved to Brisbane alone. Ms Denaga who has been living there for four years now works as a laboratory technician.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Philippines


Q: What made you move out of the Philippines?

A: An opportunity to work abroad came.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: It is what in the work contract.


Q: How long have you been living in Brisbane?  

A: Four years


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Brisbane?

A: Understanding their accent. Filipinos are used to American English; Australian English is even different to British English. It’s a whole new kind of listening skills.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Brisbane? What was your experience with these?

A: Good thing, I was directly hired. My employer provided everything for me. Didn’t spend anything for my working visa nor the international health insurance. 


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: Alone


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Brisbane? How did you manage to find a social circle in Brisbane?

A: Australians have this habit of greeting people, “how are you?” or “how is it goin’?” always.  It’s a nice attitude, welcoming I should say.

I’m a Catholic; by regularly attending a Sunday mass gave way to meeting other expats. Eventually, became my valued friends and treated each other as family.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Queensland is known to be the Sunshine State of Australia. The weather is just right. No snow though during winter. There are heaps of places to visit, parks are everywhere, and recreation facilities are mostly free to use. Very family oriented place.


Q: How does the cost of living in Brisbane compared to your home?

  •  How much is a cup of coffee?

A: In Australia, the standard of living is high. But, you can still afford to have a decent cup of coffee from a known café from your salary. (Even if you’re on a minimum wage). In the Philippines, buying a cup of coffee at 130.00-150.00 PHP is already a luxury. In Australia, a cup of coffee costs around 3.50-4.0 AUD.

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: A meal costs around 5.0-8.0 AUD.

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: It costs around 20.00-35.00 AUD to even 50.00 AUD

  • How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: A bottle of wine could be as cheap as 10-15.00AUD to as expensive as a couple of hundred dollars. And a pack of cigarettes is expensive at 15-25.00AUD. They have a strong campaign for anti-smoking that’s why cigarettes are expensive.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Brisbane?

A: Australia is a beautiful, wonderful country. Their culture is rich, and they value and respect their ancestors.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Brisbane?

A: For the positives: Australia is very family-oriented country. Lifestyle is laidback yet updated with technology. They have deep respect for the elders, and their infrastructures are truly accessible by the elders and with disabilities. Fresh air and surrounding are clean, parks and amenities are well-maintained and free to use. Most transactions can be done online.

In all countries, there are complaints against the government. There are racists. And finding work will not always be in-line with what you’ve studied.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Having a good support group is important when you live or work in other countries. Finding good people whom you can trust and treat as a family. And faith in God will keep you going.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I have my parents in the Philippines, it is my home. But I have come to love my new home, Australia. I see myself starting my family and growing old in this country.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Work stability. I was directly hired by an Australian company, but lately, the company has been unstable, and we’ve had a series of redundancies.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Filipinos are known in the world to be hard-workers, efficient and very family-oriented. To keep the Filipino culture alive in their homes and follow what are the rules and regulations in this country. Share what we have to other Filipinos who need our help and just starting. Learn the Australian way, live their way but never forget where we came from.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Brisbane?

A: Australian Filipina