Some of my experiences on leaving home (from #sportjc)

On the 10th of April, I participated in an online chat (#sportjc) on Twitter hosted by @sportjobchat, which is a twitter handle or user name created by Remi Sabouri (Twitter @rsabouri) and Jonathan Levitt (@JWLevitt) whose main purpose is to help other entry-level (typically newly graduated students) job seekers discuss the job search (with recruiters, other students, academics, and others) and @sportjobchat acts as a filter for job advertisements.

Prior to the chat, @sportjobchat had been asked by a few fellow chat participants if there would be questions about working outside of the USA (Note: this chat is somewhat Ameri-centric, as the hosts and (seemingly) most of the participants are from the USA) and @sportjobchat asked me if I could inform the participants about my experiences working and studying in another country. For those new to my writings, I’m originally from London, Ontario and have lived in Australia since 2005.

During this particular chat, one of the questions posed to the participants was whether any had a desire to work or had worked/studied internationally. I answered that I’d both studied and worked in Australia and noted that leaving home had many pros and cons. I was then asked by the host for my top pro and worst con. My biggest pro was “A3: Biggest pro – it’s different and gives me both work but more importantly new life experiences that I’ll leverage later in life #sportjc” and my biggest con was “A3: Worst thing I did was compare overseas nations to home. Doesn’t have this & that, rather than focus on the positives #sportjc.” As Tweets are limited to 140 characters, which hinders one from providing details, I thought I would elaborate using this medium.

I’ll start with my biggest con, which is the negative and progress to the positives about the benefits from my pro. As noted, my biggest mistaken upon moving here was comparing everything to home in Canada: Driving and walking on the left, the funny pronunciation of Aussies, store sizes, availability of my favourite items, the higher cost of goods, and many more. Right away, these comparisons put all my experiences in a negative light, as they were compared, unfavourably, to Canada. Even good experiences were downgraded due to my comparisons. For those embarking on an overseas or international trip, I offer this piece of advice: Take everything as it is. You aren’t home for a reason (I’m hoping you chose to leave) so don’t compare your new place of residence to home, because it could put a dark cloud on all your new experiences. Since I don’t want to cast a negative cloud over this post, I’ll end the negativity here.

As previously mentioned, my biggest pro was that I was living in a different country and I got to do many new things (socially, new educational pursuits, and new work experiences), which I would be able to leverage later in life. Once I was in the proper mindset to enjoy my new life here in Australia, I realised all the “cool” things I could do that I couldn’t do in London, Ontario.

I surfed for the first time and bought a surfboard! I now own two surfboards, two body boards, and one skim board. I think the only board I’m missing is a skateboard ;). I got my scuba diving certificate and dove at the Great Barrier Reef and in the Southern Ocean. I’ve been skydiving twice over the beach at Byron Bay. I watched Australian Rules Football (AFL), Rugby League, and Rugby Union games for the first time. I’m not sure I’d have done any or all of these activities if I hadn’t left London, so I’m grateful I did.

I met many interesting people from all over the world during my master of sport management coursework (people from France, Oman, Germany, the Netherlands, USA, other place in Canada, and many more). I got to learn from them how sport is offered and which sports are popular in those nations. I was a research assistant for a variety of professors, which fostered my desire to do a masters thesis and PhD.

I worked with the AFL doing surveys on the Gold Coast area to see if there was public support for a new AFL team; there was and the team started last year, the Gold Coast Suns. I got to work for the V8 Supercars and the Indy Car series when it came to the Gold Coast for the Nikon Gold Coast 300.

I left the Gold Coast in 2010 to take up a full-time position as a teaching and researching academic at the University of Ballarat in Victoria near Melbourne. The interview process was quite extensive (my response to their selection criteria was many pages long!). I gained valuable experience as an academic in my 19 months there and met many wonderful people, who I consider friends and good colleagues. In January of 2012, I took up a new position at Edith Cowan University where I now work. I left University of Ballarat to take this new job because my research support (time and finance) is greater and I have a lowered teaching fraction. The move to Perth was fantastic and I’m really happy in my new role here. Perth has many great opportunities for me that I’m going to exploit, like living near the beach and being able to snorkel on a daily basis, which I do.

Through my academic and professional endeavours since I started in 2007, I’ve been able to travel to many nations to present my research at a variety of conferences. I’ve attended four Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) conferences (Auckland, NZ; Fremantle, Gold Coast, and Melbourne, Australia), two Sport Marketing Association (SMA) conferences (Gold Coast, Australia and Cleveland, USA), one North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) conference in San Diego, USA, one North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) conference in London, Ontario, and three European Association for Sport Management (EASM) confereces (Heidelberg, Germany; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Madrid, Spain). I’d previously been to several of these places, but many were new places that I hadn’t visited before and my research allowed me to attend and present at each of these conferences and see the sights in these places (Important note: I paid my own way to all but two (London and Madrid were partially funded)). I think this is important to note, otherwise, a reader may think that universities just pay for everything (I wish this were that case).

As you can read, leaving home has many pitfalls and difficulties, once you have overcome those, it became a wonderful experience for me. Had I not left home, I’m not sure I would have done as many things as I’ve been able to do, nor had the academic and professional success that I am currently enjoying.

As always, if something else comes to mind, I’ll update it.

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