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.”
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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