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What it feels like to be an immigrant: Atty. Rochelle Castro Shares Herstory

In uncertain times such as these, it's natural to seek out alternate opportunities in order to both improve and steady our lives. Finding inspiring stories are also imperative these days to remind us that our situations are temporary and we can always rise above setbacks and challenges. 

Amongst those alternatives is the prospect of taking the risk of migrating in search for greener pastures and higher income. Enter Atty. Rochelle Castro, a teacher with a successful career before deciding to move to Australia. 

The Hardest Thing to Sort Out at First 

The most difficult thing for Atty. Castro, then Professor Castro, was to prepare for relocation from PH to Australia. She already has a great career as a professor in prestigious universities in the Philippines. It is not easy to give up all you had worked hard for, plus you are also going to leave family and good friends behind.  

I had  to  emotionally prepare myself. It didn’t really  affect me  personally. That’s all operational but the emotional  preparation  of actually  relocating was the most difficult. I prepared my mind, my emotion that the time when I finally  received  my  permanent  visa, when  I  read  that e-mail from  my immigration  lawyer, I wasn’t devastated, I wasn’t shocked I wasn’t surprised. I  actually had  an  immigration  lawyer   who was  in Australia at that time who guided me with my papers. I  had to  make a  decision  within that day how many weeks would I give myself to relocate.”

Migration Woes 

She decided to take a leap of faith despite her success in PH. The transition has its charms and woes. As with any major change in one’s life, Atty. Castro recalled some of the challenges she faced along the way.  

I did have an Australian migration lawyer helping me with the papers but what he did was just simply complete my paperwork here. I didn’t get any guidance on where to get things, and other helpful tips. I wish I had more help knowing  about  the  details on  English  review centers. I wish I had more help in knowing who to  call. At that time,  I did not know what I was looking for. I was not given guidance by my migration agent on the whole package that I would be expecting in this process. I was just told that just put this thing together,  here’s the  application, here  are the documents I have to comply with and we’ll see  how we go with that. So, I didn’t really get the whole picture  on what’s  going to  happen. I wish I knew that so at least I  was aware  of the timeframe I was getting from my uncle who lives in AU. I wish  that when  I  was  looking for  small guidance on the whole process, someone would help me understand it so that  I can set  myself in the timeframe. This  would  be  very  helpful  especially  when  I had to attend to certain changes in my life as my application moves forward.”

A Single Filipina Making a Living in Australia 

Being in a new country can be demanding to one’s identity. Here’s how Atty. Castro, a single Filipina then, would describe the transition.

  “For any immigrant, there’s  potentially a  difference  between  male  and female, but it really depends  on  personality. That’s how I view things. I’ve a strong, masculine side when I make decisions, behave, andconduct myself. I don’t usually talk about it but  I  was quite successful in the Philippines  with  my career. Proud of it.  Teaching in top Universities, working  with  great colleagues, having great  students,  graduating  with honors  in  UP  Diliman,  all that, all successful! But the #1 challenge is to go back to zero as if I just graduated from the university.”

It became evident that certain changes have to be made; coincidentally, she considered to continue teaching due to its convenience but it was not that easy. 

“When I went here, I wasn’t sure exactly  what I was  going to get  into. Although  it  was  convenient to  jump  back into “teaching”, I needed a certification. I needed to study. They  needed a  local experience. That’s the reality  of an  immigrant. You  will get rejections because you don’t have local experience. You need to ready yourself as an  immigrant  to start from the bottom. That’s  going to attack the ego actually.  That’s a lot of self-assessments for immigrants! If  they can’t handle that, if they got so  much  ego, they will struggle. This is  what I’ve noticed with the number of immigrants. Most  of them want immediate high position. As for me, I had a  significant accomplishment  on my education but I was ready.  I  was  speaking  to  my  parents,  they  were  guiding  me  and reminding me that you need to be ready! I am lucky to have witnessed how  my  parents  handled  changes, I grew up in Canada, I  saw  how they put their egos aside. That actually does wonders for immigrants.” 

Career Change from Professor to Lawyer 

A friend mentioned to consider moving to another career path for a new experience. She juggled various odd jobs before deciding to venture into law. 

So, in my  head when I was looking for  a  job. I wasn’t sure  what  career I want. I  recalled the  reason why I migrated in the first place. I wanted to migrate because  I  wanted  money.  Knowing   what   I  wanted,  I  looked  at   the newspapers  at that time, there was something that stood out to me, there were  so  many  vacancies  in  the legal industry and that struck me, there are  more  chances  in  earning  money  there. So, I decided to apply as a receptionist in a law firm. I asked my mom what she thinks. To be  honest, I was quite intimidated with lawyers at that time and I never really thought I’m  going  into law. My mom said why don’t you give it a go? That  time, I was  working in  a  BPO,  Telstra,  and  at the same time, I had a job in a  restaurant.  I  was  also  doing  commercial  cleaning  so  I  was  cleaning offices,  I love  cleaning  so  I  didn’t mind. I want to be busy all the time. I first  lived  with  my  uncle.  Stayed  there for 5 months and I was  able  to afford to get my own place, get my own car and other things. I didn’t want to rely too long on other people so that was one biggest motivation.

Atty. Castro recalls the moments that made it clear for her that she is definitely going to pursue a career in law.  

I  spoke  to  the  owner  of the  law  firm  where  I applied,  he invited me for a face-to-face interview and then that  night I got a voice mail, he  said  “yeah you  got  the job.” I remembered that  night when I received that phone call, I felt like  I won the lottery!  I  had to evaluate if I  wanted to stay in my  call center job.  The  law  firm  was just 1  block  away from  where my building was. I  looked  at it, and  there was a  law  school  nearby  and I  just stood there  and reflecting “Am I ready to go into this industry? So, I took  the job, I  took a deep breath, attended the job. The 3rd day  at work, the  owner of the  law  firm said, “I think you should study law.” I  was quite flattered  and that’s  actually  one  of  the biggest motivators of me to actually enrol. The rest  is  history  from  there. I  got  married  in  Australia, I  moved from one firm    to  another.   My  husband  saw  that   since I  am helping  law  firms develop, I  should  just  open my own. I was really scared, that was almost 5  years  ago! I  took  a  deep  breath another deep breath and I jumped in and now the firm is doing really well.”

Thus Professor Rochelle Castro blossomed into a principal lawyer in her own law firm in Australia - RC&CO Lawyers, whom are our international partners. RC&CO Lawyers specialize in 9 areas: Strata & Division, Property, Building and Construction, Immigration, Commercial & Business, Debt Collection, Insolvency, Victims of Crime and Criminal, and Personal Injury.  

Advice for Those Who Want to Migrate 

The road to success is not so clearly defined nor easily paved. It actually pays know to know how one should behave and what mindset to maintain in order to be successful. According to Atty, Castro, there is a mindset that immigrants are second-class citizens. Yet, through hard work, perseverance, and having a clear mindset, prosperity is attainable. In her own words: 

There’s  that  stigma  that  when  you  go  to  another  country you become second class  citizen. Now  if you  have that mentality, that’s exactly  what’s going to happen to you. It’s not about the environment that you’re migrating into,  but  it’s  actually  about  your  mindset  that  will  make  or  break  you. Migrating  is not about forgetting who you are, migrating is about improving what  you  have and who you are.  It’s about keeping the great values as a Filipino but it’s also accepting the country you’ve joined into.” 

In case the idea of migrating has now piqued your interest, Golden Harbour Career Management Consultants partnered with RC&CO can assist you in the process, giving you sound, updated, and practical advice every step of the way as you begin creating your own immigrant success story.  

To end, here are inspiring words from Atty. Castro: 

There’s always room for improvement. If you want to migrate, you must be willing to change who you are by upgrading yourself. There’s nothing wrong with who I am now, but If I can better myself tomorrow, that would be even better and everything else will flow from there.” 



For straightforward advice on migration, visa processing, and AU recognised qualification certificates, contact our career pathway specialists now. Make every effort count.  

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