Australian life embraced by Butlerstown’s Anne-Marie

PicBBUTLERSTOWN native Anne-Marie White left Waterford for Australia in September 2004.Daughter of David and Rose O’Keeffe and sister of Brian and David, she first moved aged 21 as part of a one year working holiday visa.Anne-Marie attended St Paul’s Community College and completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Corporate Administration at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in 2004.

“I always knew in my heart that I wanted to come to Australia,” she explained.

“From when I was about 10 years old I always said that as soon as I finished college I would head off to Australia and I don’t think anything was ever going to stop me. My best friend also had the same itchy feet and three months after we both finished our degrees we headed off for what we thought would be one year of adventure, but for me it has now been over eight years!”Anne-Marie said that the large Irish community in Australia helped her to adjust to her new surroundings.“The first year in Australia was great. There is a great Irish community out here and like many backpackers we ended up living within a share house with a group of fellow Irish backpackers, half of us from Waterford. I was very lucky to get sponsored and was working as a recruitment consultant when I met my husband.”However, the couple decided to return to Ireland in 2006.

“Unfortunately, as he was on a one year working holiday visa, after a year and a half in Australia we made the move back to Ireland in October 2006 but we found that we didn’t really settle back in Ireland.  It was fantastic being close to our families again but Australia was still calling. I was lucky enough to get sponsored with a visa for a second time and moved back to Sydney in January 2008. In hindsight we really made the decision to leave at the right time as it was just before the recession and my husband is in construction.”

Despite initially finding the return to Australia quite difficult, Anne-Marie said she immersed herself in the Australian lifestyle.“We have been back here living in Sydney five years now and we have really settled into the Australian way of life. I found the initial move back difficult as I really did miss my family, but with plenty of Skype calls and phone calls I settled in. We also made a conscious effort to be out and about and to get to know lots of friends by joining teams and clubs,” she explained.“I think the outdoor lifestyle is the big difference between both countries. Over here I play touch rugby (rugby without the tackling) three times a week. My work has a tennis court which means we can pop down at lunchtime for a game. My husband loves surfing (even more than the Ozzies!) and we also love taking our dog for a run or walk on the beach.  It’s such a benefit of having a good climate out here and I think that’s one of the reasons that we stay here! I have recently tried to grow all my own veggies as we have a great climate for it out here although we have had a bit of a heatwave and between the lack of rain and our little dog digging up holes I haven’t been successful yet!”

She continued: “I also love that it’s such a versatile country. Two hours up the road we have the Hunter Valley wine region where I like to take a yearly trip with my friends so we can sample the wine. Or, you can hop on a plane and be down in Melbourne in one hour. Up north you have the tropical rainforests and Uluru. There really is always something to do.”For the last four years, Anne-Marie has been working as a Contract and Project Manager for Amgen Australia, a large biopharmaceutical company.“I have the excitement of working on many new clinical trials with new drugs,” she said.“I really do love my job as it’s a great company with a great culture of learning and flexibility. We are making a difference and it is very exciting to see the results of a trial where we can see that we are helping patients,” she added.

Anne-Marie is married to Paul White from Mayo, and the couple wed in Ireland in June of last year.

Recently, her brother Brian spent ten months living with her in Australia.“As great as it is here, the downside is being so far away from our families. We have been lucky this year to have my brother and my husband’s brothers staying with us for the last year and we try and get the families to make a trip out every so often.  The things I miss most are being able to pop in for a cup of tea and a biscuit, proper Irish coleslaw, pork sausages and chicken and stuffing rolls! I do also miss the freshness of the country. You don’t realise until you are home how fresh and clean the air is back in Ireland and how green the country really is!”While enjoying her life in Australia, Anne-Marie hinted that a return to living on the Emerald Isle may happen in the future.

PicC“I guess the big question is if we will ever move back to Waterford,” she said.”Never say never I think! While life is great in Australia there really is nowhere like home!”

If you have a relative or friend you would like to see profiled in our ‘Living Abroad’ series email kfoley@munster-express.ie or call 051-872141.

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