I was born in Venezuela but because of some political problems at the time, I decided to move to Colombia, my mother’s country, to study medicine. While I was in medical school, I met an Australian backpacker who had sold everything and left his job to spend a year travelling around South America. The last country he visited was Colombia. He said he always knew he was going to meet his wife on that holiday and he met me!
We first met on a dating site on the internet, and arranged to meet at Colombia’s Carnival festival in the Caribbean city of Cartagena. His Spanish was so-so and my English was okay. To be honest, when we said goodbye, I didn’t think we’d talk again, but two days later he messaged saying he would like to meet me again, and that he was planning to come to my city for a month and a half. That was a big thing.
At first, I was concerned about introducing him to my family because they are very conservative, but when I did, everyone loved him. He even spent Christmas with us. When he finally left, he said he would come back. But a lot of guys come through South America and say that, so I didn’t think he really would.I was surprised though. Next, he organised for me to spend a month with him on the Gold Coast, where he was working as a television producer. Then he came back to see me in Colombia. After that, we went back and forth. I was a bit scared at first, because I had just started my medical degree, and I didn’t have any plans to move out of my country. But in the end, we had a long-distance relationship for 7 years, only seeing each other once a year!
When I finally finished my studies, he asked me to move to his town, Devonport, in Tasmania. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, as I’m a city person, and I like busy places, but I decided to take a chance and come. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like I was expecting. I had visited before, but this time it was winter and the weather was very bad. And I was surprised that the city area closed around 5 pm and wasn’t even open on Sundays!
It also wasn’t easy to have my qualification recognised here, so I had to do bar work, waitressing and cleaning while I was studying to pass the medical test. Although this was difficult, I think it helped me grow as a person.
In my first year in Tasmania, I experienced some anxiety and started to feel depressed. But I found solace in painting. I’ve been painting since I was thirteen years old, and in that time I was feeling down, my husband encouraged me to keep going. As a result, I did many paintings and people started to buy them! I even did a small exhibition and I still have a Facebook page Capri Art where I sell my paintings.
Finally, I passed the Australian Medical Exam and was offered a job in the local hospital here. I still can’t really believe I’m working as a doctor in Australia!
I’m not sure yet what area of medicine I would like to specialise in. When I was waitressing, I realised there was a growing problem with mental health and substance abuse in this region and psychiatry is something that interests me. I also have my own experience of struggling in my first year.
It has been hard to make friends since moving here, but I guess it is difficult for everyone moving to a new place. And since I’ve been working as a doctor, I’ve felt a lot more confident, and that I’m contributing to the community. I work long hours but I’ve also been able to get out and see some of Tasmania’s beautiful nature, which has been wonderful. I’ve also met people from a lot of different cultures, which is one of the things I love about Australia. It’s not always easy when you first arrive in a country, but I believe you just have to try and try and one day you will get there.