Life in Transition without 457 Visa

GIgi Chong sitting in a coffee shop (Photo: Alan Zhang)

She walks along the same route as her everyday life shuttling back and forth between home and workplace, without knowing whether she can still leave her footprints on the familiar roads once more. In such a season when the weather gets cold, her heart is hit by the temperature as well as the sudden change of her life path.

Gigi Chong is a 28-year-old fresh graduate of the University of Sydney from Hong Kong, China. Having finished all her credits, she had her commencement and got her Master Degree of Strategic Public Relation in this May. She intended to pursue her career life here on this well-loved land, but the abolition and replacement of 457 visa put her into a dilemma.

“Right after I submitted my application to 457 visa, the policy suddenly changed. It is undoubtedly a heavy blow to me at that moment.”

“Is my choice to study here wrong at the first place? Can I still enjoy the things I love here? What should I do and where should I go afterwards?” All these questions stuff into her mind at one moment and obsess her life all the time.

The Past Days

I first met Gigi in a café on the corner of an alley. She had an average height and build with long loose black hair. Creamy white sweater and blue jeans made her complexion look even healthy under the light of a radiant heating lamp aside. She would walk into a coffee shop and have a drink either with friends or herself as usual, but the mood of sitting in a café has changed from the past.

Gigi studied business and economics during Bachelor degree in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Having finished her Bachelor degree in 2011, she worked into the marketing area in Hong Kong for more than three years. She promoted food products for a company, such as the popular chocolate biscuit “Tim Tam” and Japanese condensed soup, etc. She was fully involved in different ways to popularise the products through television commercial, online and offline advertising. However, she didn’t feel happy about her life.

With large population density in such a small land, Hong Kong provided limited chances for young people to develop themselves. The competitive pressure became increasingly higher as more people going to Hong Kong for job hunting. The social environment had a tight squeeze for the graduate. Even if you find a job, you may not be satisfied with your life.

“In Hong Kong, if you look out of your window from home, you will see clearly what the people are doing in the opposite building. And people are rushing on the street all day long as if looking for something missing.”

In pursuing promising and desirable work, lifestyle and change the status quo, Gigi set off on her way to Australia in 2015 July.

Gigi Chong waits at the crossroad after work going back home (Photo: Alan Zhang)

Explore the Path

The life pace in Sydney allowed her to slow down and enjoy a high quality of life. Like any other girl, Gigi loves travelling, enjoying delicious food, and doing outdoor sports.

“I am not afraid of being tanned like some of my classmates. I like the time swimming in outdoor pools and basking in the sunshine. The air and weather here make me alive and energetic. I can’t think of any other ways to better enjoy life like this.”

Falling in love with Sydney, Gigi attempted to find job opportunity from her second semester. She left no means untried to ask her friends and classmates for help. She also studied very hard to win the limited place of internship provided by her apartment.

Her unremitting efforts made her work part-time in SBS Cantonese Channel eventually. She translates English news into Cantonese for the use of an anchor. She updated news on the Facebook platform every day, yet she felt the pressed for the timeliness and worked even harder.

“Sometimes, you have to understand the cultural meanings and the implications of certain sentences. Otherwise, the literal translation would only make it feel awkward.”

She spared no effort to look up relevant information and seek advice from colleagues, trying to understand the culture better and apply the knowledge into practice. Then, her works were appreciated by her superior, and she was permitted to produce her own five-minute radio program. This was a huge compliment for her.

“I heard from my friends that few interns had this chance to make a program. So, I had greater confidence and the conviction to stay here.”

Gigi Chong takes a 30-minutes train back and forth between home and workplace every day (Photo: Alan Zhang)

Dash of Reality

At the end of the second semester, she understood that there were certain majors and work domains for an employer to hire her and potentially stay here. Therefore, she decided to make good use of her previous knowledge and experience to find a relevant job in marketing.

She finally found a Norway software company named dRofus, which was then developing Asian markets. Gigi was thus chosen for her identity and previous working experience. At first, she did accounting, made the contract, and dealt with the invoice. Gradually, the degree of her proficiency made her expose to more different kinds of works.

By the time she graduated, the company had set up a new position in marketing. The boss was willing to hire her for the job and vouch for her. She then handed in her application for 457 visa with full of expectation. However, in no more than a month, she heard the news of abolition of 457 visa.

“When the policy changed, I was really worried and anxious. It was all I could do to find a desirable new life for me. It was like riding a roller coaster. It made you extremely excited yet depressed you downright.”

She talked to her friends and family members, without knowing what to do. The reality struck her once again to make a choice. However, she does have an opinion on the change of policy:

Gigi comments on the abolition of 457 visa (Recorded by Gigi Chong)

It takes thirty minutes for her to transfer from Roseville to Central, yet it takes years for people like her to chase a dream like this. The abolition protected the local chance, then who will vocalise the hardship of those dream-seekers?

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