How to move to Australia, study, find a job, make friends & learn Aussie English with Carlos & Julen
Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today you’re going to get to hear me chat to my two friends Carlos and Julen. I interview them over a glass of wine on Lygon St in Melbourne. So, we sat down at one of the Italian restaurants on Lygon st last night and had a chat. I just wanted to sort of get them to talk about their experiences getting visas and coming to Australia, enrolling and studying in Australia, finding a job in Australia, making friends here, travelling here, and also learning Australian English. So, I know you guys are going to get a lot of good information out of this episode whether you already are here in Australia or you’re thinking about travelling here. Sit back and have a listen, and enjoy the episode guys. Let’s go.
So, I’m here on Lygon st having wine with my friends from Portello Rosso, the Spanish restaurant that I work at. So, I’m here with Carlos.
Hi, how’re you?
And they’re here. They’re feeling a little nervous. So, we’ll make them feel comfortable. That’s why we’ve got alcohol. But, they’re here to sort of talk I guess a little bit about their experiences coming to Australia, what it’s been like, what it’s been like working. Julen’s just got a visa right? Just got sponsorship?
I’m looking for that.
But, tell us about your background then. Where’re you guys from?
Ok, you want to start?
So, yeah, I’m Julen, again. I’m from a small town in Spain, which is in the North and it’s called Pampalona. What was I going to say? I’m 26 years old now. Yeah, and I came to Australia to improve my English, try to look for a job, save some money and travel around, because I was looking forward to visit(ing) Australia. So, that was my goal. What about you Carlos?
Ok. So, I’m Carlos. I’m from Barcelona. I came here almost one year ago, and yeah, I… more or less the same as you, like, I came here to improve my English and, yeah, to have a new experience, because in Spain I didn’t like my last job. So, I wanted to do something new. Yeah, I decided that. Nothing else, I mean, yeah, I studied business administration in.. back in my country, and here I started studying English, and now I’m studying leadership management, so, more or less.
What were you doing back in Spain Julen?
So, I’m actually an engineer, (an) electrical engineer, but I didn’t work as an engineer in Spain, ’cause, yeah, we have this economical situation now, which (where*) the unemployment is really high now. So, yeah, I found a job as an engineer here in Australia. So, it’s my first engineer job. So, that’s good.
So, was that part of the reason you decided to come to Australia when you did, that you decided “Ah, the recision’s shitty”? Or, were you just looking, “Ah, it’s just time to travel to Australia anyway”?
Well, there were many reasons, like, one of them, yeah, it was ’cause it’s impossible to find a job as a… like a… related with you studies in Spain now, like unemployment for young people is more than 50%.
So, yeah, one of the reasons to come here, like, besides experience was to look for a job if I could. So, yeah, I’m really happy now that I found it.
What about you Carlos? What was the main reason for coming to Australia?
In my case, it was a bit different, because, yeah, I can’t complain about what I did back in Spain. So, I had many different jobs and I was working a lot. But yes, at some point I said I didn’t like this job position and I thought, like, I wanted to do something different. And I thought, like, yeah, what can I do, go to London to improve my English? But, London is full of Spanish people, Italian people, you know, and actually it’s not really a good place as well. So, yeah, I decided to go to Australia. And yeah, I’m really happy for that decision.
So, what made you guys choose Australia too over places like Canada or America? Isn’t that a little bit closer to Spain than say Australia? But is it a little harder to get a visa for and a long term visa?
For me, I was travelling in South East Asia two years ago and I met many people that they were working in Australia for a year with the working holiday visa, and they were saving some money and they were travelling in South East Asia. So, I met them and they were really happy with that decision so then I went back to Spain and I got my working holiday visa. It was the second year visa in Spain. We didn’t have it before. So, I decided to try to get the visa. I got it in September last year and I came here. I pick(ed*) Australia because it was like a dream when I was a kid, like, it’s really far from Spain. And I’ve been in London as well trying to learn English and it’s… I really like it but it’s… I wanted to try something different.
And get a bit of climate?
Exactly. That’s what I want(ed*) to say.
So, yeah, that was my reason.
Yeah, in my case, yeah, like, I was thinking about going to London like what I said. I thought it was going to be like really really busy or like many people from Spain, many people from all countries that (where*) they don’t speak really good English. So, yeah, I was thinking about going to Canada as well, or America, but yeah, (the) USA is not possible for us. We don’t have any visa. And, I had two options, like going to Canada or going to Australia, and I decided Australia, because of the weather, because yeah, I don’t know.
The kangaroos, yeah, sure.
So, what was that process like? When you guys had to apply to get a visa over in Spain, for the listeners who are going to be, say, in their home country and thinking about getting a visa sorted, is it easy? Is it difficult? Are there do’s and don’t’s? What do you… what was the process for you guys, and how difficult or easy was it?
So, for the working holiday visa in Spain it’s kind of new now, and there are… this year there are 600 visas. So, they started on the 1st of July. What you need is you need some savings, like, at least $5000 in your account. Then you need a minimum level of English. So, it would be like… I reckon it’s like 4.5 in the IELTs.
Yeah, it’s not really high.
So, it’s not really high. And then, what else (do) you need? You need… you need to have some uni studies even if you haven’t finished yet. If you’ve done more than 2 years it’s enough.
Because you can obviously come here and study as well potentially.
And yeah, finish your studies.
And not only uni students. Yeah.
I reckon it’s uni and like superior studies.
Yeah, something similar.
Yeah, it’s something like that. And then you have to… you need money to pay (for) the visa which was for me like $400. Something like that.
So, how long did it take you guys to go through that process before obviously you decided, and then getting all the way through it to literally getting off the plane and being in Australia? How long was that process?
It took me three months to get a visa first, ’cause I had to do the IELTS in Barcelona…
Yeah, I had to organise everything and get the savings in my account. So, it took like three months. I started in the beginning of July and I got it at the end of September. And then once you get the visa you have one year to come to Australia. And once you arrive to (in*) Australia you have another year to stay. So, I got it in September 2015 and I came here in June last year. So, yeah, I was trying to plan everything and get the money and that’s it.
What about you Carlos? How long did the process take?
Yeah, actually, I’m with a studying visa, student visa. So, in my case, it was quite quick. It didn’t take too much time because yeah for… to get a student visa you just have to have like money, enough money to pay what you want to study and that’s it, yeah.
Do you have to have enrolled in the thing that you want to study before you apply for your visa to come here, or do you do that once you get here?
Yeah, actually, I think… I don’t really know how it works, but I think you have to, like, go into your agency, and your agency is going to call the school that you want to apply for, and then, if they accept you then you have to apply for your visa.
You know, you have to have your school first, your… yeah. So, in that case it was… normally it’s so easy because you if you apply for an English school, yeah, it doesn’t take too much time to get in.
So, is that one of the easiest ways too to get a student visa, is not necessarily to apply to go to university, but to go to a language learning school once you get here and enrol in an English course.
‘Cause it seems like there’s a lot of foreigners who aren’t necessarily studying at university, but more they come here on a student visa who are studying class like to learn English.
That’s probably cheaper as well I guess.
Yeah, and actually, if you apply for the student visa you don’t have to have a good level of English.
You know? In that case if you want to go with the working holiday you have to pass the exam, you have to… you know, you have to have some level of English in order to come here. So, in my case, you don’t have to have any good level. You just have to come here and try to improve your English as much as possible.
So, you can be totally new, never have learnt any English, and you can come?
Exactly. And you don’t have any age limit, you know?
So, those are the two sort of options, I guess, for people who are just starting English and don’t speak it.
It’s probably better to do a student visa. But if you already have a good level and you want to get work as well… ‘Cause, are you restricted to work being on a student visa?
Yes, you can go work 20 hours per week or 40 hours, like, every two weeks.
Yeah. You can, yeah.
Whereas, the working holiday visa you can work full-time. So, you can work 40 hours a week, but you just can work 6 months for the same employer.
At one place? You have to move after that, do you?
You have to move after that, like, it happened to me when I was working with you guys in Portello. I had to quit my job because it was, yeah, it was going to be six months working there. So, I had to find another job after that.
And so, you’re on a working holiday visa, but do you have to do the 88 days of farm work or have you gotten around that because…
If you’re going to get a second year visa you can do that. So, if you do 88 (days), 3 months farm work you can get a second year visa.
But, you’re not going to do that are you?
No, I’m not going to do that. I think it’s… I reckon it’s too hard for me.
He’s getting too much money now.
So, can you stay at your employer though at the moment that they sponsor you. You don’t have to do it?
Yeah, but at the end of my visa I have to go back to Spain unless they sponsor my visa and I can stay here for a long time.
So, yeah, I didn’t realise. So, they can sponsor you as soon as you get here really?
It doesn’t have to be after you’ve done the 88 days.
I’m sure you can be a sponsor before you come here.
Yep. Oh wow, ok, got you, got you.
You find a company and they want to hire you and you accept the… because they usually select you for, like, a commitment, you know, ’cause they need you to stay… it’s usually like at least two years, because they have to pay a lot of money for that sponsor visa. So, they need some kind of commitment, and so you, yeah, you are going to stay here for like two, three years, and then we are going to sponsor your visa and pay for you.
So, I guess, while we’re on that topic, how easy was that to organise through the place that you’re at at the moment doing engineering? How easy or how difficult was it to get sponsorship, at least, the process of sponsorship happening?
So, in… yeah, for me, it was like I started doing an internship in my company as an engineer. So, I didn’t get any money for that. I was, like, working there for three months getting good experience and trying to help them with some projects.
But, did you know when you started that that sponsorship was on the table, was an option?
They didn’t tell me. I mean, you never know. I mean…
You can guess I think.
Yeah, you try to work hard to get it, but you never know. They can… So, they don’t say we are going to hire you at the end the internship. So, it’s up to them.
They can change their minds at any time? Wow.
So, even they can hire you or not. So, at the end of the three months of your internship they can say, “Thank you for your work, but we don’t need you anymore.”. So, you never know. I mean, I was really lucky with this job now, ’cause I’m working in a project that (where*) it’s going to be until at least the end of June. So, I’m working with them and…
And, so what’s the process now for you to get sponsorship? Is that just a matter of time or do you have to do anything?
Yeah, so, at the end of my visa if we agree to do, like, a new contract for me, so, they have to pay for my visa, they have to sponsor my visa, and I should say, like, “Ok, I’m going to stay here two years with you, working for you, ’cause you’re going to sponsor my visa.”. So, yeah, you need to (have) a kind of agreement on it from both sides.
And, actually, it’s a minimum of two years that you have to work for the company.
No, it’s up to the company. I mean, but it’s a lot of money. I don’t know how much money it is, but if they decide to sponsor your visa they need some kind of commitment because they want to be sure that you’re going to stay here with them, ’cause then you can… once you have your sponsorship visa you can move to another company. And so, they don’t want to pay for you and then you move to another company once you have your rights.
It’s kind of a hard decision to make, you know, because you know that if you got that sponsor you have to, like, say, like, you are going to be here for two years minimum.
Yeah, for a long time, ’cause…
So, yeah, it’s a hard decision.
Well, obviously, yeah, if they’re going to pay a lot of money up front they want to know that their investment is going to be worth it.
So, what was it like? We dial back to when you guys, you’d gotten your visa, you arrived in Australia. Firstly, what was your perception of Australia before you got here?
Yeah, I was thinking, like, really good weather, all the day in (at*) the beach, all the day seeing kangaroos on the road, you know.
Yeah, what about you?
For me, my first impression when I came from the airport to… I was in Swanston St and I thought I was in China. That was the first (thing) I remember. Really good. Because it’s full of Chinese people in the CBD. So, that was the first impression, but I, yeah, like people is (are*) really friendly, really good. It’s a little bit hard to get the accent (in the) first weeks. But yeah, like, good weather. Well, I came… No, I… it wasn’t good weather, ’cause I came in winter. So, it was winter when I came.
Yeah, actually, it was what I was trying to say that yeah I came to Melbourne, like, feeling like, “Oh, I’m going to be in 30 degrees, and then you see, you realise that the city is quite rainy.
Is it because you guys obviously left Spain when it was sunny and nice, and then you get off the plane in Melbourne and it’s just wet.
So, it was the beginning of summer in Spain when I left, and it was the beginning of winter here. So, I’ve been through two winters at the same… in the same year. So, that was hard. But, it’s because in Spain we all think, like, people they think it’s always summer in Australia and it’s always good weather everywhere.
Parts of Australia, just not the south.
Yeah, I know. We don’t know, I think we don’t consider it’s like this huge like this. So, that’s why.
So, what changed? Once you guys had obviously gotten here, what did you sort of see or experience that you were like, “Woah, I did not expect that! That is totally different?”. Was there anything that sort of took you back or that made you think, “Wow! I was not expecting Australia to be this kind of place or have this kind of thing here.”.
I’m going to say something that probably is not going to be really good for your interview.
You’re allowed to be honest.
Yeah, when I came here I… when you think about Australia you think, like, it’s a really important country, like, it’s really good. You can get a really good pay. So, yeah, I realised when I got here that some of the jobs you can find here are not really good.
You’ve got to be careful of like…
Yeah, you have to be really careful. You can have a really bad boss and can get, like, less than $15/hr, which is really bad. And, actually, a lot of the jobs that you can have here they are not like with (a) contract. You know…
Yeah, it’s cash-in-hand.
Yeah, cash-in-hand. So, you have to be aware of that if you want to come here.
It’s a good point.
So, yeah, you can always, like, look for really good jobs and try not to accept the first one.
But, yeah, many people, like, feel like they really need the money and yeah, they accept the first one, and they…
Or they want to work more hours, right?
Or they want to work 40 hours, because yeah it’s cash-in-hand. You can work all the hours you want.
Illegally of course. So, you have to be aware of that, and yeah.
So, did you guy go through that when you first got here, and then you found Portello Rosso where we obviously were?
No, in my case I was really happy I got the job from Portello like in two weeks.
It happened the same to me. I was really lucky, ’cause I got like 12 interviews.
And, I got a job in a Chinese restaurant first, but then I reckon the day after that I got a trial in (at*) Portello, and that night I was working in Portello and they offered me the contract. So, I was really lucky with that. So, I didn’t have that experience.
I know. It’s funny. I didn’t realise just how well they sort of took care of everyone before I started working there. And, I had a friend, obviously, Margit, I don’t know if you guys met her, who was working there. She got me the job. But then they were like, “Oh, you get paid this much per hour.” and I was like, “What?!”. But, it’s true, ’cause I was so expecting for them to be like, “Oh, we don’t really have enough work, you know, we’ll give you cash-in-hand if you do this.” and you’re like, “Eh. I’m about to get taken advantage of.”. So, do you have advice for people? Obviously, just shop around and try and find a place that’s going to respect you and take care of you and not abuse you as in giving you too many hours for too little money?
Yeah, I think that’s really important. Yeah, in my case, I can, like I said, it was like really really quick, like, I got this job really quick. But, yeah, if you don’t get a really good job for the first time you are here you just keep going, keep trying to look for a better one, and yeah.
What were you guys doing? So, you were obviously not Australian. You came to Australia. You were working on your English so you may not have been confident in your abilities. What did you do to get a job? What was the process? Just write a résumé and get help with that? Or…?
Yeah, you need to get some help with that, because résumés here in Australia are different from Spain. But for the photo. They don’t use (a) photo here in Australia, but in Spain if you write your CV you need to add a photo.
And then you don’t need to say your gender here. And maybe you don’t need to say your age.
You have to write a cover letter as well.
In Spain or in Australia?
No, in Australia.
There’re some differences between, yeah, Australian and Spanish CVs. So, yeah, you can get some tips from the internet as well. So, that’s it.
I know. I need to probably put something up on the Aussie English page saying, “Here’s my recommendations for writing a CV.”.
So, what did you guys do then once you had obviously written a CV and printed it out, did you just go from store to store or did you specifically look for a Spanish restaurant or it was just…
I did, and it was just… ’cause I had some friends that (who*) were working here in Melbourne and they told me just use Gumtree.
Yeah, that’s the way. And I was…
For those who don’t know Gumtree.com(.au) is a website where you can put ads up whether you’re looking for a job or selling something.
Seek(.com) as well.
You can find everything in there. Even you can buy whatever you want, houses, bicycles, cars, whatever.
Yeah, Gumtree is good. I think we’ve gotten furniture, and like, people to move into our house from Gumtree as like to rent the place.
You can find accommodation as well in there. So, yeah, I was using Gumtree for the first week. I was sending résumés, like, I don’t know, like, 30 résumés every day.
I got like 12 interviews the first week and I got a job like in a week. So, I was lucky but I was working hard…
Yeah, that’s not luck. You were handing out a lot of them.
Yeah, in my case, yeah, I started doing the same. I started, like, sending my CVs by internet and in Gumtree and Seek. I got one interview, it was in a coffee shop, and yeah, I did the interview, but it wasn’t really successful so, yeah, at some point I decided like, you know, I’m going to bring my résumé and I’m going to go to the CBD. I’m going to start with looking for Spanish restaurants because I felt comfortable with Spanish of course and I thought that it was going to be, like, quite busy. Yeah, and, probably I go… I went to three or four restaurants, and the fourth one was Portello. And yeah, I was really lucky, because the… like, Manil, do you remember Manil? He was leaving, and so, yeah, they told me, like, “You want to come tomorrow to do a trial?”, and I was like, “Fuck yeah! Of course!” Yeah…
It’s so funny. I always took for granted just how many cultures and restaurants there are in Melbourne, but that is such a good thing for foreigners to be able to come here to Melbourne and have access to restaurants that are obviously Chinese, Vietnamese, you know, Spanish, Italian, French, and be able to use that like a stepping-stone to learning English, and…
Yeah, and it’s the best way to learn English when you deal with a customer. That’s the best way.
Were you guys terrified when you first started of, like, taking orders? That would terrify me.
Yeah, sure! You can remember that I’m sure.
So, what was that experience like, and what advice would you have for people who have just gotten here, just gotten a job and are lacking confidence in their English? What’s your advice?
They should look up some words they use here in Australia, ’cause, like, it’s not as… it’s not just the English. It’s more about the things they drink or they eat here in Australia are different from Spain. Like, I didn’t know what was like a lemon lime and bitters (type of drink).
Yeah, that’s true.
I’d been working as a waiter in Spain for four or five years and I didn’t know that first. And there are some cocktails or some beers that you never know.
So, it’s really studying up on the vocab.
Yeah, it’s like… the best way is try to look up the words and then ask for your colleagues…
But it’s so funny because we obviously work in a Spanish restaurant and I had to do it in reverse where all of the food on the menu is firstly in Spanish. And so, I had to almost do like a vocab check. Although, I just skip it now and just say, “Lamb ribs”, you know, “Pork belly”, and don’t use the Spanish words, but…
I think in our case, it was quite better because you’re in a Spanish restaurant so the people that is (are*) going to come they are going to expect that you’re not going to speak really good English. I mean, not perfectly, you know?
But they’re not going to… I guess, yeah, have there been any interactions that you’ve had that made you feel bad or that… where the person’s got angry or anything like that, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the customers, even if they didn’t understand you guys, ever treat you poorly or give you a reason to lack (confidence).
No, they are really comprehensive (understanding*) with us. So, yeah.
They’re used to foreign people so I guess they know they’re in a Spanish restaurant, and…
And they really like that I think.
Yeah, some of them they love your accent.
When you say the Spanish, this is with a Spanish accent they love it. So…
Were you surprised about that when you came to Australia? That there would be a lot of sort of acceptance and almost enjoyment of having you guys in certain places like the restaurant where they were like, “Oh! It’s authentic!” you know, “You guys are legit”, you know, “Awesome!”.
Yeah, I was surprised because, yeah, you know for us Spanish people it’s really hard to get the pronunciation in English. We have like a really really strong accent. So, I thought they were going to hate us for our accent, but they are really, yeah, they really like it. Some people they come and they just love when you say “Churros” or “Jamón” or whatever. So…
And, I guess, that’s what you guys have to experience all the time is, “How do you say this? What’s the correct way to say this? How do you say Paella?”.
Yeah, they (ask*) you to repeat some words because they love it.
And they want to know how do you say, like, for example, “Cheers” in Spanish, or yeah, you know. They ask many questions, yeah. That’s really good. I was really surprised about that. Yeah.
So, what was the process too like? Once you’d gotten here, you’d gotten a job, and you were obviously then focused on studying or working on your English. What was it like improving your English here and what were the hurdles that you faced? Why was it difficult? What was the accent like?
Actually, I’m going to say another thing that probably is not really polite.
You’re allowed to, you’re allowed to, be honest.
But, I’ve learned more, like, during my job than when I was in the school, to be honest. Yeah, you can always improve your English in the school, but when you really feel like you are facing the English it’s when you are working, because…
Yep. It’s almost that sink or swim situation, right, where you have to use English now. There’s no way to switch to Spanish or…
Yeah, exactly, and you’re speaking with native people, you know. So, in class you can speak with Italians, you can speak with French (people), more or less you have the same level. You can understand each other. In the job it’s different. You know? You have to speak almost everyday with people from Australia, and yeah you have to understand them even if not you have a problem.
So, what did you do to sort of try and improve your English just by doing that? Was it just constantly leaving yourself open to those experiences, or were you studying on top of that, you know, stuff that you learned in the restaurant or…?
I don’t really study on my own. So, yeah.
That’s all good.
That’s true, that’s true. I think, yeah, like, talking with you a lot, talking with Charlie, with the customers, yeah, it’s how I improve the most, you know?
For me, it was different because I wasn’t in a school, I wasn’t learning English. So…
So, you came to Australia but you were doing study as an engineer or you were just on a working holiday with no study.
I was just on a working holiday so I was working in the restaurant and then I found this internship so I was working in both places at the same time. ‘Cause I went through this whole process about learning English in a foreign country in London. I did this. So, I was in a school learning English when I was 18. So, yeah, I know my English is not really good, but it was fair enough for the first months. And then, when I found the job in the restaurant I could feel I was improving my English. It was really good. And then when I found this internship in the company that’s completely different, because I’m working with all Aussies. Most of them are from the countryside. That accent it’s really really hard. The first weeks I couldn’t understand anything, so, from some of them, but now I can feel, like, I’ve been working there for five months now and I can feel my English is much better now. So, yeah, I tried to… for me, I mean, I can understand everything in English and when I talk I can get fluent in sometimes, but for me the worst point is the pronunciation. So, that’s the main thing I’m trying to focus on. I’m trying to improve my pronunciation, because, yeah, I think it’s the last thing to feel really confident.
Really polish it up.
So, what would you guys say is the way that you learned the Australian accent? Did you actively try and practice learning it by using resources or it was just constant exposure?
Yeah, for me, it’s the second one. Yeah.
I tried to, yeah, meet Aussie people and tried to… most of the times I just used the same words, like, “I reckon” or, yeah.
So, kind of repeat it after them, and then you start using it.
Yep. And I get used to it. So, that’s the way I do it. So, if I heard a new word I try to look it up and then I try to use it. So, that’s why, yeah, I say now, like, I wouldn’t say, “I reckon” when I was in London, but here I use it a lot. Like, “How you going?” all these kind of new expressions.
So, how long do you think it took both of you to sort of tune in to the Australian accent too? Did it take a very very very long time or was it pretty quick? Or is it hard to say? Again, it depends on who you meet.
I cannot say. Someday you realise that you’re understanding more people than you expected. So, yeah, I don’t know, probably it’s like everyday you’re trying to improve your English and you don’t realise how, but yeah you’re doing it.
I think it took me, like, one month in working in the restaurant to get used to the accent and all the new stuff that I was learning there. So, yeah maybe one month. At first, I mean, the restaurant was really really hard to understand everything and try to work all in English. So, that was… it’s good, because we’re some Latin people there, some Spanish and Chilean people there. So, it’s really good because your first days you can ask to your colleagues but yeah, like, I didn’t know it was so hard to learn the Aussie accent. I didn’t know it was so different from American or British accent. So, that was…
In my case, it was the first experience that I have (had*), like, in a different country that wasn’t Spain. So, yeah, I cannot really say that (the) American accent or (the) English accent is really different from (the) Australian (accent), because it’s my first experience with English. So, what I can say (is) that sometimes it’s really difficult to get what you are saying guys, but… yeah, true, but at some point…
Man, it’s difficult for me sometimes from other Australians. I know how it feels.
People from the countryside, it’s really really completely different. I have one of my colleagues in my new job, it’s like he’s from Warnambool, oh my god, (the) first week it’s like… it’s trying to…
That’s not even that bad.
He’s really friendly, and he’s trying to…
He has some answers to say when he doesn’t understand anything.
He’s trying to talk to me and ask me things about Spain and everything, but (in the) first weeks I was like… he was talking to me and I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah… No? Or… yeah? or no? Or, cheers!”. Or, yeah, I was saying “Cheers” or “No worries!”, because you can use those words every time. It’s like “Cheers. No worries!”. So, I was, yeah, answering like “Yeah, no worries!”, and he was happy with that. So, yeah, I didn’t understand all the first week. Even for him, it was really hard to understand me. So, yeah, it was funny.
I guess that gets us… “Cheers and No worries” gets us onto Australian slang terms. What are some funny Australian slang terms that you’ve learnt, and that you now use if you can think of any?
Yeah, I always use “I’m going to the Lew” for example.
What does that mean Carlos?
It means, “I’m going to the toilet”.
Yeah, the Lew.
The first one I learned, I was in the Skybus in (at*) the airport trying to go to the CBD, and I got into the bus and it was just the driver in there and he was like, “Ey mate, how you going?”, and I was like, “I’m going with you, right?!”, ’cause I didn’t know he meant like, “How you doing?” or “How are you?”.
“How’re you going?”.
Yeah, so I was like, “I thought I was going with you?”. That was funny. He was laughing a lot. “Yeah mate, don’t worry! We’re going together.” So, I think that was the first one that I learned here early, “How you going?”. That was the first one.
So, have you had any other funny misunderstandings whilst you’ve been here that you can think of? Any like… where you’ve pronounced the word wrong or…
Yeah. What was the word? I can’t remember.
I can’t really remember right now.
It was a word… Yeah, it’s… this is a really tough one for us. It’s like “Bitch” and “Beach”.
Oh, “Beach” and “Bitch”
Yeah, I remember me and Carlos have had that chat, quite a bit, “Beach” and “Bitch.
Yeah, Peter tried to teach us how to do it, but it’s…
But, how’ve you found, I mean, having those difficulties and still being in a position where you could make mistakes, how has the response been from natives? I mean, have they ever been upset or angry?
No, they usually laugh, and then they try to… yeah, some of them they don’t try to correct you, because they think they feel like, “I didn’t want to be, like, really rude with you.”, but yeah, some of them they laugh. They’re usually understanding. I mean, if you want to you can understand everything. So, usually they understand it. They laugh and they say, “Oh okay okay.”
If you don’t understand you can always do what I do, you know, like, “I have another waiter for you… my friend Julen or my friend Peter.”
Call Peter, and then…
You’ve got a customer!
He’s the translator. He’s the translator.
But that’s… it’s one of those things I’m always trying to teach my students and the listeners is to have more confidence and not be too worried about making mistakes, you know. It doesn’t matter. You get to laugh, you get to have fun, and people don’t ever really get upset or angry, you know, worst case scenario someone doesn’t understand and you both laugh and change the subject, right?
Yeah, that’s right.
Yeah, that was… yeah when I was 18-19 years old and I was trying to learn English in London I was really shy, so I was, yeah, I was really worried about making mistakes. So, that’s…can’t think of… you cannot improve your English, because you tried to just be quiet and just try not to, yeah, make mistakes. So, you just need to talk, and two beers, it’s a really good way to…
Yeah, I was about to say do you recommend “liquid courage”?
Yeah, for sure. Not many of them, but yeah…
Enough to be able to talk. Too many and you can’t talk.
It’s up to you, but two drinks are really good for English. You can feel you can use English much better with two drinks.
So, did you… is that why you guys tried to actively go out a little bit more as well is that when you feel a little bit more confident?
Yeah, …with some drinks.
And you try… when you are out with some Aussie people and you are having some drinks, they… I think they also can understand you much easier.
Yeah, I think too the trick with alcohol at least, or feeling really comfortable and at ease, is that you start making leaps. You start using words you wouldn’t normally use, you start, you know, not worrying so much, and so it does flow more, and if you don’t have an understanding, you know, if you have a misunderstanding or you don’t understand, you know, you just go through it. You go through it, you don’t really care, you just move on.
Yeah, you can ask, “What does this mean” because you are usually trying to avoid that (those*) kind of moments, like, “What do you mean? I don’t know. I don’t understand.”, but when you are having some drinks with friends it’s like, fuck…
So, those moments where you guys were making the most mistakes were probably also the moments where you were learning the most?
Yeah, I think it’s the best way. When you, yeah, when you are drunk it’s the best way to learn.
And you need someone to tell you, because, yeah…
The errors, the mistakes you’re making?
Yeah. You need someone to tell you, because if not, yeah, you are going to… you’re always going to go into (make*) that mistake, and you are going to keep going with that.
So, what’s your tip for that, Carlos and Julen? Like, I take it you guys got to the point where your English is so good now that people understand everything that you’re saying 99% of the time, maybe 1% they misunderstand something, but they understand even if you make grammatical errors. What’s… do you guys… what do you guys suggest for people who get to that point and now want to sort of improve their grammar and those small mistakes that they make that natives won’t call them up on, won’t say, “Oh! Wait a second.”. How do you guys try and improve on those smaller things?
I would say, like, when you get to a really good point, like, in English, I guess, like, the best way to keep improving is, like, looking for phrasal verbs, typical expressions that you really use, and you can always try to find another word that you feel more comfortable to use, but if you keep going, like, with difficult ones you are going to get it, and, yeah, I think you can have a really good improvement.
I reckon it’s a matter of time. You need time. Yeah, keep going and try to improve everyday, ’cause, yeah, when… once you get a level, like, you feel really comfy with that level it’s really hard to see your improvement.
Because you constantly have to be pushing yourself and trying to follow that zone of discomfort, that slight discomfort.
And you can feel like you are getting more fluent every time, so that’s the only way. It’s a matter of time. Try to keep going and, yeah, speak English all the time you can.
Yeah, read a lot, for example, like, once you get here you’re probably… the best thing you can do is buy a (an*) English book, or try to get, like, Netflix or something to see or to watch many films in English. I think that’s a really good way to keep improving. And, yeah, and then when you are talking in the street with your friends, with your Australian friends, yeah, you’re going to get a really good improvement anyway.
So what are the… we’ve talked about the do’s, what you should do. What shouldn’t you do? If you want to get to a good level what are the things that people do who don’t get good in English when they come to Australia?
Be with people from your country.
I’m going to say… yeah, exactly. I’m going to say something that I do, really.
I mean, you feel really comfy sometimes when with people from your own country, because you want to… they understand you. So, yeah, sometimes you need that, and I understand that, but yeah, you need to try to be with Aussie people, with foreign people, and just try to speak English the whole time. So, that’s the best way to…
Yeah, I agree. For example, yeah, I’m not the one that (who*) is, like, doing that properly, but, yeah, at least I’m working in an environment that, yeah, you are there, Charlie’s there, so you can always improve.
You’re forced to speak English.
Yeah, exactly. But, for example, if you go to an Italian restaurant most of the people that are working there they speak Italian all the time. So, if you are Italian, for example, you shouldn’t, I mean, it’s the easy way to start here, but if you really want to improve…
Try not to get too comfortable.
Yeah, exactly, you are going to be in your comfort zone and you’re not going to improve what you want to improve. So, yeah, I guess, you have to encourage yourself and try to be brave and speak with people that (who*) you are not really comfortable with, and at some point you’re going to get really better.
So, what would your advice be for meeting Australians and becoming friends with Australians? What’s something that you guys have done or gone to or tried that’s allowed you to do that? And what would you suggest for people to be able to do meet Australians or to meet people in any country they’re in…
I’ve met some Aussies here at the restaurant that… most of them they were trying to learn Spanish, so that was a good way, like an exchange of languages. So, that’s a good way. And, then yeah, now in my new job it’s like they are all Aussie so it’s a really good way to meet new Aussie people.
Yeah, well you don’t have a choice now.
Yeah, you don’t have a choice.
Either make friends or be on your own.
A really good recommendation that I have is, like, going to a language exchange. So, like what we did.
Yeah, we went to Mundo Lingo in Melbourne here, which is one (a meet-up) that is every week, right, at a bar and 100 people, 200 people meet up and just practice languages. That’s a pretty good way, yeah.
That’s a good way.
Tinder is another way.
Tinder’s a good way?
It’s a good way.
As long as you’re good with conversations on dates, right, though?
Yeah, but make sure you say that you’re Spanish, because, yeah, otherwise you could get confused with that, but…
Your profile says like you’re a Latin lover. So, yeah… they are going to accept you.
So, did you find that more people swiped right when you put “I was Spanish” in your profile than if you were to not put it down there?
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, most of them they want to meet some Spanish people because they want to try to improve their Spanish or try to learn Spanish. So, yeah, you can find people in (on*) there.
That’s funny you say that, I mean, I admit at the moment I use Tinder as well, and I have in my line, my top line, is like I’m, you know, a scientist and an Australian, I love learning languages like French and Portuguese, and I swear I get one in every three is probably either Portuguese or French and they’ll start with just, “Salut!” or “Como vai?”, you know? And I’ll just be like, “Yeah, they totally see that…”.
They want to learn English as well so that’s there way. So, you can learn Portuguese or French from them and they can learn English from you. So, that’s the way.
There you go then. The new language exchange program on Tinder.
Yeah, that’s another way! You have to use everything you have. So…
And so what’s the next step for you guys? Do you both want to stay here permanently? Are you looking to move on to bigger and better things, and travel elsewhere?
Actually, yeah, I would like to stay here, like, quite a long time, but, yeah, actually, I’m going back in one month.
Yep. I know that sucks!
Yeah, it really sucks. But yeah, actually, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do, so probably like Julen did I’m going to try to apply for the working holiday visa.
If I don’t find a really good job in Spain, and I don’t feel comfortable, yeah, I’m sure I’m going to come back.
Yep, and so then even though you’ve had the student visa if you apply for the working holiday one does that mean you’re able to come here for another 2 years again?
Oh wow. That’s awesome.
Actually, one thing that we missed (forgot*) to say is, like, for the working holiday visa you have to be, like, less (younger*) than 30 years old.
You have to be under…
Is it 35?
Yeah, they rise (rose*) it to 35.
Is that country specific too? Are the rules that apply to you as a Spanish person different for different countries?
Yeah, they are different, I mean, they are all similar in all the countries…
Yeah, but there’re specific to them?
…at least in Europe they are all similar, like, your English level and your age and everything, they are all similar, but there are some differences between countries. Like, for Spanish people, I don’t know why, you have to send all the… all your documents, you have to send it to Berlin, to Germany.
Because the… like, the Australian embassy, like, the biggest one in Europe it’s in Germany. So, you have to send all the documents to Berlin. So… it’s another thing you have to do.
What about you Julen? Are you wanting to stay here permanently or are you thinking about traveling elsewhere?
I don’t know yet. My visa expires in June. I have my contract until June. I’m working there and I have to think about it. I would like to travel around, like Australia and New Zealand, and then maybe go back to Spain to see my family and friends, and then I have to decide what to do with my life, ’cause, yeah, I would like to be here more time, ’cause, like, my job opportunities here are much more… much bigger (better*) than in Spain, ’cause it’s really bad in there now. So, I have to think about it.
Sorry, one important thing that I recommend to your followers is that if you really want to stay here, if you are thinking to stay (about staying*) here, I think the most important thing you have to have to do is like trying to get an internship, sorry, and once you get this internship…
Or get married!
So, use Tinder? Get on it. Change your GPS position to be in Australia now and start swiping.
Yeah, so if you get an internship, probably, yeah, you are going to be three months without getting any pay, but at the end (it) can be worth (it). Yeah, more than if you work, like, one year in a restaurant because the possibilities of getting a sponsorship being a waiter, it’s really hard, you know.
And even if you don’t get a sponsored visa, you don’t get a job, a real job from the… your agency, you’re going to learn a lot, you’re going to improve your English, you’re going to get some experience in your field.
So, at least you’re going to leave with something?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I wasn’t doing my internship because I wanted a job in that company or because I wanted to… I wanted them to hire me. I mean, I would like to. I was looking forward for (to*) that, but I didn’t want to… I was looking forward for (to*) the experience and…
It was not your aim, your main aim.
…yeah, so I was mixing both works at the same time, and at (in) the end it worked, but even if it didn’t work…
You got the experience.
…I got the experience and I was really happy with that.
Awesome. To finish up, where’ve you guys been in Australia? What has been something amazing you’ve seen or that was maybe not as amazing as you were expecting?
I’m going to say the most amazing thing I’ve lived (experienced*) here is, like, when I went with my friend to (on*) a road trip, yeah, I started in Melbourne and I rode (went*) ’til Brisbane. So, it was amazing. We hired a camper van and we visited amazing places from all the east of Australia. Yeah, and I really had a good experience of that, so yeah, I’m going to give that.
Yeah, for me I was working really hard the last 6 months so I couldn’t travel a lot, but, yeah, this last month I could go to The Great Ocean Road, Twelve Apostles and everything and it was amazing. It was very very nice. Yeah, I’m looking forward to go (going*) to Tasmania. It’s like my dream. So, I hope to go there in a few months. So, that’s the next…
Man, you’ll have to take me with you I’ve never been.
Yeah. No?! Really?
Yeah, I’ve never been to Tasmania.
They told me it’s a great place.
Oh well thanks so much guys for being on the podcast.
See you man.
No worries. See you later guys!
See you later!
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