My name is Nikolai and for the last 32 years I was walking upside down, relative to all Australians, because my home city of Saint-Petersburg is located exactly on the opposite side of the globe. To be honest, everyday life looks pretty much the same in both hemispheres.
I finished high school, then spent 6 years at university, and since then ran my own business which consistently grew. My business in Russia is a chain of retail shops with outdoor and camping goods. The website’s daily visit count is more than 40 000 unique users and we started this enterprise from scratch more than 10 years ago. We not only import products from overseas, or have direct contracts with major producers in Russia, but even have our own brand.
However, the dream of visiting the world’s largest island had never left me, even taking into account the fact that I managed to visit many of the surrounding major islands – Indonesia, Japan, and New Zealand.
Travelling to Australia
I felt that in order to further develop my business, I needed to move to a new level by gaining an international financial education. There were lots of options, but I stopped at Griffith University. As soon as I received my Confirmation of Enrolment and paused my job, distancing myself as much as possible from business processes to start my education – COVID started. That was really difficult because me and my wife were literally left ‘sitting on our luggage’, waiting for the borders to reopen.
We had been closely tracking the vaccination pace in Queensland, to finally be able to cross the border. By the middle of February 2022, we were able to buy air tickets from Singapore airlines.
The first breath of hot Australian air was so fresh that our legs were giving way from instant relaxation. We were concerned about finding work while we studied, but luckily my wife Ekaterina was able to use her health skills to find a role as an assistance nurse in aged care.