воскресенье, 25 марта 2018 г.

Moving to Australia

Postdoc position. Motivation letter and letter on my qualifications: how do I match requirements. Six bullets, half about fortran and supercomputers, and the other half about geophysics.  I answered fairly on the first half of questions: 5-10 years of experience and more, and I answered even more fairly on requirements in geophysics: "I don't know it, but I wand to learn it". Interview: you occasionally wake up at midnight and see an email request. Several mugs of coffee in one gulp, find a tidy shirt and go for a talk at 1 AM. One month of waiting - and job offer arrived.

The Australian Red Ensign - alternative flag on red background

Visa. A huge bunch of documents. Police clearances. The most prominent story was with Russian one (here is the story). Exam on English (one more crazy story), list of all the countries and dates I have visited in past ten years (the most painful thing, since it is more than 30 and most of them are visited for multiple times). Call to London to clarify all the details. Medical certification is obligatory for all arriving to do some work here. Documents assembled in between three countries for the fourth one. Medical insurance must cover all the time since one applied for visa. Forms are filled and sent. Two days and new email. Granted for four years. Maximum that one can get. I got almost the last 457 visa, which is abolished now. That's great because it's better for both employee and employer.

Sydney town hall in daylight

Flatmates.com.au joins lots of people looking for or sharing their apartments, either houses, rooms, flats, furnished, non-furnished. It makes no sense to write in advance, because general approach is "inspect tomorrow, move in day after tomorrow". I wrote to some places, and some guys replied. One man from really great (by description) place asked from the beginning for copy of my passport and financial sustainability, and he disappeared  just on the date of my departure without leaving the address.
The first flight was with Easyjet. I paid for 23 kilos, but weighing found my backpack to be 28. A lady at counter asked me to pay 18 CHF per kilo, i.e. 90 CHF for 5 kilos. I drop off for repacking, changed nothing, came back, and weighing showed 23.8 kilos. Yeah, they took it! And she didn't weigh my "hand luggage".

Next flights. An empty A380 airplane from Doha to Sydney, plenty of room to sleep. 13000 km. Southern side of the plane, because sun is on the north in southern hemisphere. Actually, that was the hardest thing for me to adopt in Australia: I'm too used to always keep sun in mind for directions and time.

A counter of distance to Mecca increasing all the flight. Passengers have 30 minutes of free satellite Wi-Fi, and I used mine to check for an answer from that guy. Nothing. I had to buy an extra hour of access, but it stopped working. I called for an attendant, and he told me satellites are behind the horizon, but gave me a premium access card so that I could check it all the time. Internet appeared just before Sydney, but there was no answer and I had no address to stay in Australia.

Immigration card. Address - nil. Border officer started looking at it... "Purpose of your arrival is not a temporary visit, but permanent residence". Then he asked:
- And what is your address in Australia?
- I don't know! [7:30 PM]
- So what are you going to do, man?
- Ok, after I go through border control, I'm going to connect to the Internet and talk to this guy.
- So that you'll be able to tell me it if I call you later?
- Sure!
He returned me my passport without stamping it:
- May I get a stamp?
- You should go to my supervisor that way.
His boss stamped my passport and I went further. And yeah, of course, he didn't call me back after this evening.

The next stage in quarantine. I declared a pack of buckwheat, since it was formally matching the list.  A conversation with officer. Allowed.
Waiting hall. Internet. Still no answer. Sunset is finishing, so it's getting darker outside. What am I doing with my life? No place to live, other hemisphere and continent, an ocean around. Sharks, box jellyfishes, panic, depression, feeling pointless like my hamster just died. I texted one woman from aforementioned website, she said I can stay at her place. Hurrah! That's not a hotel, so price is reasonable (actually, it was cheap). Address and route.

Sydney downtown during daytime

Where can I get a train? Yes, an Opal card, please (transport card). These paradoxes of English: why do you say top up to put more money on a card, while down under is Australia? Maestro card is not accepted? Ok, wait for a while, I have another card but far away. Twenty minutes till the next train departs. A nice two-story dude takes me to the Town hall station. Of course, I got the best of my luck to find out the proper exit is under construction. 35 kilos of luggage, stairs and looking for a bus stop. Here many big bus stops have a plenty of stands (i.e. departing points) which may be as far as half kilometer (oups, sorry, kilometre, now I should use Aussie English, which is much more British). And, of course, local people know nothing.

The bus slowly crawls above numerous estuaries. The city at night. Stops are not announced (they are never announced)  There is a screen which transmits CCTV (that's a common feature in local buses). That's kind of the epic end of a total control era: you can watch yourself while you observe how do you watch yourself. Thankfully, GPS tracks me till that's time to leave. 2.5 half kilometres by foot. The closest distance buses can take me on Sunday evening.

Parramatta church and a megabat in sky. Flying foxes are numerous here, so that they fly round the district.

I found the house and knocked the door.
- Hello, could I talk to Sara?
His accent is different, so couple of minutes needed to point out the situation. She has left already. Ok, I just go in and occupy a room. Do whatever you want, even arrest me, I need a place to sleep.

Hot shower and hot dinner. The sky full of stars. It's really another sky. My eyes are starving here. They are looking for patterns, for stars and constellations, but they return me nothing. Feeling of missing something. Feeling of the missing sky. Awesome smell coming from endless flowers. Crickets and birds, all are unknown. Looks like June.

Typical landscape in Northern Sydney

Monday comes soon. I'm in the city of Parramatta district, and my university is on the opposite side of the city of Ryde. This distance is about 8 km, which is not the best thing to walk in hot sunlight (now it can be still +40C here). So I have to use public transport. Local buses have couple of merits. The first one is that some websites like moovit.com give a real time access to their locations. The second is called Sunday cap: total cost of all the trips made on Sunday on buses, trains and ferries can't exceed 2.60 AUD. The third advantage is that if card scanners do not work, everybody goes for free. I admire this point: I must not pay for an expensive single ticket because of their system does not work. Even if you are out of money, drivers may grant you a free ride. That's great because it might be tough to find a top-up service (some supermarkets and petrol station counters can do it for you). All of the rest are demerits. Buses are very expensive (up to 3.58 AUD for a ride with no month passes; however, one can save on travelling out of peak hours), absolutely unprecise (there can be just no bus or delayed strongly), extremely slow (7.5 km on a single bus with no transfers can take more than hour), pretty noisy and vibrating. Service is limited or ceased on weekends, so that there can be no buses on Sunday afternoon. And one should always signal by hand to driver, otherwise they don't stop.

Typical landscape in Northern Sydney

I came to a wrong building, which was actually campus security. They called a vehicle to carry me to HR. I like this attitude! An intro lecture by Human Resources. Something said about retirement savings, I should check it: my intuition tells me there are some money there. An excursion around the campus. Looks pretty sweet.

They gave me a plastic card for access to my office room. It took me a week to activate it, because a guy was ignoring number of my office despite it was clearly written in the mails. So I had to go to building manager, and my card was activated in five minutes. He also gave me a card holder which is pretty useful.

 An example on how do local laws work. This house was bought by people who wanted it to demolish and build a modern cottage. Local people united and made people speaking about it. Finally, city council listed it as a heritage, so that nothing can be done with it without a written consent.

New employees must go through numerous online trainings. One of them I couldn't enter because the system was down. When I finally logged in, nothing was prescribed to me, so that I marked all the sections as "passed". The second one is called "sustainability", and mostly points out such things as fair trade and ecological environment. Tests include questions like where should I deposit garbage or which food is better to prefer - seasonal or not. The right answer is "seasonal, because it reduces expenses and allows to deliver fresh nutrients". I have to agree that university matches its standards, at least I have never eaten such a fresh food as they serve in a local food court.   
The third set of tests is about harassments and offences. It includes such points as:
It does not matter if the person carrying out the behaviour in question does not intend to harass the other person. The recipient of the behaviour does not have to tell the harasser that their behaviour is unwelcome. It does not matter if the same behaviour does not appear to offend other people.
Or quizzes like that:
You are sitting at a work computer conducting online research. You find reference to a new book by a leading thinker in your field. Reviews of the book indicate that it is likely to be beneficial to your research. One of the reviews contains a link to a well-known legitimate website, indicating the book is available there for purchase.
You click on the hyperlink in the review to go to the website. When the site downloads you discover you have been redirected to a porn site and that your screen is now filled with hard core pornographic images.
What do you do?
(1) Ignore it and surf off to a work-related website to begin your days work.
(2) Close down your browser to get rid of the images and re-open it to get on with your work.
(3) Download some of the images onto your computer.
(4) Play a joke and forward it to a friend.
(5) Tell your supervisor what happened and ask for advice. [CORRECT ANSWER]
This is a good choice. Your supervisor consults with the information technology staff and then advises you to clear the browser's history and memory cache so that the images are deleted from the computer. The IT people take action to make sure the site is no longer accessible to staff.
The next day, a colleague complains to your supervisor that they had seen the pornographic images on your screen and were offended. Fortunately, your supervisor can reassure your colleague that you acted properly!
Or this point and an example:
It is good practice to avoid socialising ALONE with a student you are supervising. For example, you should avoid:
meals to celebrate birthdays or other occasions
supervisory meetings held at your or the student's home
supervisory meetings held over a drink in a pub or bar
going for a quick drink after a meeting

Real life example: influence of supervisor on future life of candidate
A senior fellow was dismissed after University investigations found that he had seriously sexually harassed his PhD student. He claimed that he had been unfairly dismissed because the student had willingly participated in a sexual relationship and there was no evidence that she had tried to break away from him.
The judge ruled that the student's conduct in not trying to break away from him sooner did not indicate that she had consented to his behaviour because he could "both as the student perceived it, and in fact, influence her future life profoundly. What he might do, or refrain from doing, both in relation to her studies and financial circumstances ... were of great significance to her. In those circumstances it is quite plausible for her to have done what he asked of her ..."
[M v. Australian National University, No. AI 1331 of 1995, Industrial Relations Court No. 378/96, Moore J]
That's pretty good that they point all of these things out. Finally I put me in a category of people representing diversity at the university.

 Sulphur-crested cockatoo. They are very noisy and scream a lot with their creaky voices.

Retirement savings has a number of options. First, you can choose between Defined Benefit, which gives you guaranteed income, and other schemes, which are more risky but profit might be higher.
While your employer contributes a certain per cent, you can choose additional financial donations: 0 to 7% (default option) of your after-tax salary or 0-8.25% of your before-tax salary. The latter cases might decrease your income tax sufficiently: for example, in my case I went under another level of progressive taxation scale. You should just worry about the concessional cap: if you put to the retirement account more money than the certain threshold, it would be heavily taxed. The final match with tax office should be in the end of June, so that the truth will be revealed.
Rates and all the caps may change every year, so one should keep eye on them.

Australian ibises. They walk everywhere and try to grab some food. If they find your leftovers such as salad, they make a fight for it, screaming like geese.

There is a huge  shopping mall near the Uni, where you can find almost everything you need.

Banking. I started with National Australia Bank, because it gives international cards for free and interest rate is not bad. That was the point when I needed my passport stamped: they asked me first for boarding passes to verify the date of my arrival, but the stamp was fine.

Sea in the city. Watson's bay.

Sim-card. Of course, their system crashed just at the moment I was buying a sim-card. After couple of hours they were able to finish my registration. Then I found out my smartphone does not support it, because major Australian mobile networks are already 3G only, and their standard is different from those my phone knows. I had to buy a local phone. I chose feature phone Aspera R32 - it's a simple water and dustproof guy with good battery. Looks fine till I still don't know how to use mobile Internet.

Six dolphins

I went also to a local store of government services to apply for a driving license and NSW card - an ID for Newsouthwelsh. It is pretty nice, with lots of sofas, free WiFi and plenty of PCs for self-service. One can find number of application forms like for a birth certificates with an option to require also a greeting certificate with decorations. They also have forms for death certificates, but they miss a page to choose a greeting certificate for this event.

There is no registration in police, like it is in Europe. There is a concept of home and postal addresses, but seems home address is something people do not really care about. The major IDs here are NSW card or driving license. Since one may have no valid ID at the moment he applies for it, there is a special field for a witnessing-the-identity person in application form.

While I was waiting in a line at post, I looked at books they sell here. For example (actually, I may really read it): "Great Convict Stories: Dramatic and moving tales from Australia's brutal early years". Walking around the city, I saw also some signs like "this part of the city began with some emancipated convicts settled here".

Numerous reptiloids. Walking along creeks you will see some water dragons sitting in grass or even on benches.

Looking for apartments. The most touching question. I moved in the first residence paying 160 AUD per week bills included. There was even no chair, so that I found one trashed on street, and brought it immediately. Due to the distance and transport costs I started thinking about moving. Now there are not a lot of options, because they close Macquarie University train station, so that though the university moved all the possible courses to another semesters, still a lot of people try to find something closer to it. Here I will describe some of the options:

(1) The monastery of one thousand doors. Actually, it is the guy cheated me in before arrival. I came. House is pleasant. The owner - a Chinese. Here, in the Northern Sydney, there are really lots of Chineses. Eastwood station is almost a small Chinatown. He took me to the room. Two walls made of bricks and two others made of doors. Doors! And there was a huge bed in the middle of a huge room. I can't get rid of an association, that it is an altar to sacrifice a victim for the sake of a one-thousand-door-god. And the room was pretty dark, because the only one small window pointed to wall. When I asked the landlord about guests, he said: "men can stay, and girls are not allowed, because they are dirty and noisy". That was the end point for any discussion. He also tried to say something that I shouldn't bring guests because I came to study here, but actually these words had no effect. My opinion on him got as low as possible already.

(2) The temple of hygiene. A small house, a nice path to it. But you can enter your room only through lavatory and kitchen. Sorry, I don't want to jump over a closet each time I enter my room. And also kitchen was so smelled with Chinese cuisine, so that my eyes were tearing.

A ruler to measure flood level. It was one more reason why I didn't want to stay at that place.

(3) A villa. A great place, a nice villa, a pleasant landlord. But. 5 km from my office and very limited bus service. Without any service on Sunday evening.

(4) One more room. Just a normal room. But with window towards a wall. Not an option.

(5) Beer-brewer. A room in a flat, very close to the university and shopping mall. Guy makes his own beer. One issue: you will be the third one subletting flat from a couple. Not a good option.

(6) Martian fields of intelligents. Marsfield is a suburb of Sydney adjacent to the university. Named after Mars creek, which got his name from Mars the god. A good house and nice people. But they have approach: "we are looking a guy who will fit the culture of this place". So first they said that they reply on Friday, than they said there is another people who want to take a look, and probably they will make a decision a week later. So that still no decision.

(7) A church at Marsfield, A bit trashed location and people seems to be not very tidy. But in twenty minutes by foot only from the university. Big kitchen and lving room.

So I'm in between the two last options.

And one more point. They use here another electric sockets. You can order ten adapters for 4 dollars from ebay.

This pidgin was used to be a punk even before it became mainstream. Ocyphaps lophotes. They can communicate each other flapping their wings during flight.

Actually, everybody was telling me local species are so dangerous. But nobody told me the most attacking specie of Australia is magpie. They attacked more than 80% of population. I was annoyed only with small black ants when I left couple of bananas on the floor. I removed them, and their were no ants in half an hour.
However, there is a lot of wildlife and even local university newspaper comes out with heading like "Is the spider on my ceiling watching me at night?" and mass media report stories like this. There are also additional websites to read about hazards.

At that point, I do like this country.

Комментариев нет:

Отправить комментарий