Diana Paola Zappone
|First name||Diana Paola|
|Country of Origin||Colombia|
|Date of Birth||16/03/82|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||2006|
|Submitted by||Diana Paola Zappone|
I was studying a BA (linguistics, education, literature and philosophy) in Bogotá, Colombia, and working as a school teacher. My country has been always known for its history of violence and social problems but, I was very fortunate since they never affected me directly but, it was hard thinking about my future without knowing if I was going to be able to maintain a job in my area… At that moment, I was not able to make any savings, even though I was living with my mum and she was looking after the house. It was already hard for an engineer or a doctor to find a job just to get by… and teachers weren’t doing any better… The future is very uncertain for everyone in my generation. I come from a middle class family back in Bogotá and my mum offered to help me, as she always does, if I wanted to study a masters or something that helped to boost my professional skills. A few months before my graduation came to my attention the option of studying English in Australia. Since many employers take into account fluency in a second language, especially English, the idea was very appealing. My plan was to study in Australia for a year, come back home and continue teaching English and get financial independence.
With great effort my mum supported me and my trip to Australia was organised in 2006. Fifteen days after my graduation I was on my way to Australia! It was so exciting but sad since I left my family back home and I am an only child. I started to study English few days after my arrival in July and, at the beginning, was really hard to be on my own… But I knew how hard was to be able to come here so I put all my effort to learn as much as I could, not just the language but also about the country and its different cultures.
I arrived to the Gold Coast. Even the grass was greener! Its streets were clean; people were quite kind, relatively safe in comparison with Bogotá so, I liked it.
Upon the end of my English course I wanted to stay a bit longer, just to practice more, travel more. During the holidays I was able to work few days a week and save some money so I would not come back home empty handed. I worked as kitchen hand, dishwasher, waitress… It was not easy but I was determined to make the most of it. Australia and its ‘fair go’ attitude was about to surprise me. With my savings and some money from my tax return I was able to enroll in another course to put my English to the test. Studying full time and working few days a week allowed me to meet so many people! Among them it was my future husband.
I was calling my mum at least once a week to let her know I was OK, she was doing fine and my family was OK. That helped me as well but, the news from home weren’t that good… The situation in Colombia wasn’t improving. There was more unemployment… More violence… What if being already here was my chance to get a job in teaching… Not English but Spanish? It was a hard decision but, I decided to give it a go so, I kept saving to continue with my studies.
People came and went… Some of them were good friends but others no so much… Nothing was going to push me down, I came that far and I just needed it to keep going, studying hard and getting used to a different country. After few years, with the idea of not going back and working towards being a permanent resident, I met my husband. We married in 2010.
He is from Italian background and his family just reminded me of my own just way bigger. We had a fairly big wedding, many of the guests were from his side though but I was happy having my mum by my side.
Since my arrival to Australia, everything was hard work and determination. All the opportunities I had then were given at the right time. After I became a resident, I got a job teaching Spanish at university level! More than what I expected!
Now, happily married, I really appreciate how blessed I have been. I did not have terrible experiences and, most of the people I met were good and a positive influence in my life. Few people were quite nasty but I am glad they are not part of my life.
My husband works really hard and I love my job! We love our house and we are looking forward to keep moving ahead, progressing. Australia is such a young country full of opportunities for people who are willing to work hard for them. I really hope Australia will maintain its status and quality of life so it will never have the problems that Colombia has.