Yup, that’s me. You thought I was talking about someone else huh? No, I’ve been working and living on a farm in the Australian country for 4,5 months. Pause for reaction…
Rick and I arrived in Sydney on a one-year Working Holiday visa. A so-called 417-visa. To extend our stay as foreigners, Dutch people in particular, we could try to get sponsored by an employer or do 88 days of farm work. We never really focused on getting sponsored, so we choose to do 88 days of farm work. Well, to say we choose makes it sounds as if we were totally fine with this option, which definitely wasn’t the case. I was dreading it to the fullest!
Dreading farm work
First of all, farm work itself isn’t appealing to me at all. I’m no stranger to working hard, but fiscally hard work? Literally getting my hands dirty? Not familiar with the concept. We’ve heard horror stories of backpackers having to pick fruit 14 hours a day for 2 dollars an hour. It’s a fact that a lot of farmers take advantage of travelers that are desperate to get their second-year visa papers signed. The government has taken steps, but it’s still a common thing to get screwed over by farmers.
We made the conscious decision to not apply for fruit picking jobs in the popular states where there are tons of backpackers, like sunny Queensland, to increase our chances of getting a good paying job at an honest farmer, #TIP! We ended up working at for a great farmer at a potato farm in Victoria.
Leaving the city we love
The second thing I wasn’t looking forward to was living in the country. You’re not allowed to work on a farm near the bigger cities and therefore farm work is also known as regional work. I know people who would love to live in the country, being surrounded by nature and quietness, but I’m just not one of those people. I’m a city girl and I loved my city life in Sydney.
Not just because of the city itself, also because of the people we met, friends we made, the house we made our own those amazing first months in Australia. For the first time in my life I truly felt at home and after just 7 months I was supposed to leave that behind already? I literally cried when we drove out of our suburb Newtown that first weekend of April.
Next to leaving our house, friends and the city we love so much, we didn’t know in what type of house we would stay. In most cases farmers provide accommodation, but just as payment, it’s known that farmers screw over travelers on accommodation too. We didn’t know where or with whom we were going to end up, and I was really uncomfortable with that.
Fashion shoots on a paddy next to a cow?
Another thing that worried me was how I could keep my online business going. How the hell am I supposed to create fashionable content when I live in the middle of nowhere? Am I supposed to pose on a paddy next to a cow? Might be fun for 1 post, but what about the other 120 posts? And if I do find a way, will I even have Internet to actually post it? I was really scared I would have to shut down “the business” for 4 months because creating content and sharing it online is what I love to do.
I was lucky to find ways to create content and I’m extremely thankful for having three dots of 4G signal every day! There are a few villages about a 20-40 minute drive away and we’re “just” 2 hours from Melbourne. So I was able to keep my business going without anyone knowing about my life on the farm. And that made me really glad because I was actually ashamed of my situation.
Ashamed of my farm life
Though I would like to think I’m way too down to earth to go along with the ‘life has to be perfect’ trend we see on Instagram and Facebook, it gets to me too. You all know me as this fashion girl living in the big city; how stupid will I look if I share stuff about my crappy life on the farm? I mean there’s absolutely nothing wrong with farming – I actually gained great respect for people doing this 24/7! – but it’s not really fashionable and it makes my life look everything but perfect.
In the end, I’m actually more ashamed of not wanting to share it, then I am for sharing it now. Because I think we shouldn’t just share a perfect picture, we should also share our struggles. Nothing worth having comes easy and that’s just the way life is. Yet with social media nowadays it looks as everything does come easy. People share photos of their amazing travel adventures, their newest designer bag, their coolest cars and their beautiful house(s) as if it’s normal.
Some people are just lucky but most of us have to work hard, step outside our comfort-zone and do things we don’t want to do, to eventually get closer to our dreams. So if you ever feel like you’re the only one having to struggle while everyone else is leading the perfect life, you are not! We all go through things that suck, sometimes without even knowing why we have to deal with it, but eventually, you’ll get closer to your goals. Not by sitting at home, but to work hard and doing things outside of your comfort-zone, cause that’s the only way to move forward.
Wouldn’t have wanted to miss this experience!
When we left Sydney in April, I wish I could just snap my fingers and travel 4,5 months forward in time. In the end, I am really thankful magical things like that aren’t possible because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the past 4,5 months. Yes, it wasn’t the ideal life, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The past 3 months were actually the best months I ever had business-wise! Who would have known that would happen?!
But most importantly, I grew as a person from this experience. The pessimist in me has learned how to turn a shitty situation into a good one, by accepting it and making the most out of it, instead of constantly fighting it. Fighting things you have to go through is the toughest fight you’ll ever have. In the end, I handled the past 4,5 months like a boss and I’m really proud of myself! And being truly proud of myself is also a very new, yet great feeling.
Share your struggles!
I would like to challenge you to share some of your life struggles too, as I think we shouldn’t just share perfect pictures or perfect stories. Let’s comfort each other by sharing something real. I’m not asking you to share a very personal or depression story, but just something others probably can relate to. Like that time you had to move in with your parents because you decided to finally get that degree you’ve always wanted and started college again as a 40-year-old. Or something like that I’m looking forward to reading your comments!
As for my story, we got our 88 days of farm work!!! We’re going on a well-deserved holiday in a few days and while being overseas, we’re going to apply for our second-year visa. I’ll keep you posted!