The Black Expat: ‘My Heart, Mind, And Soul Are Stronger Since Moving To Australia’
By DeAnna Taylor
Meet Hermela Bealfan, a Northern Virginia native with Eritrean roots. After spending time working in hospitality as a bartender, manager, and event coordinator at some of the area’s hottest bars, she made the decision to pack up and move abroad.
After spending the last year and some change in Australia, Hermela is happier than ever.
She currently bartends at one of the nicest hotels in Cairns, to help reach the 88 days of required hospitality work to be granted her second-year visa.
We spoke with Hermela to learn more about her new life abroad and what each day looks like for her.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to pack up and move abroad?
Hermela: The first time I went backpacking nearly four years ago, I met so many people who were traveling long term with only a little money and a few bags. I was intrigued by the minimal/backpacking lifestyle. I realized I wasn’t truly happy with my current life and work situation in America, it was too much work for very little reward. I knew I wanted more for myself. Not money, but personal growth is what I was after.
TN: How did you settle on choosing Australia?
Hermela: I’ve always been curious about working and traveling in Australia, especially after backpacking around Southeast Asia and meeting tons of folks that have already done it. This has definitely been a rewarding and educational experience in many ways. I came to visit Australia twice before committing to moving here.
TN: How has life improved since making the move?
Hermela: My perception of this world has changed profoundly. My heart, mind, and soul are more open and stronger than ever. I’ve really pushed myself to new limits and can say I love my hippie/backpacker lifestyle. The corporate world or “American Dream” just isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. I have found that what I value these days doesn’t cost me anything but has made me a better person and my gratitude for this experience is infinite.
TN: What challenges have you faced as a Black woman abroad?
Hermela: I don’t wear much makeup, but I lost the little bit that I do own. It was impossible to find anything that matched my complexion out here in Cairns. What makes it even worse is the indigenous people of Australia (Aboriginals) are as dark or darker than me, but the stores don’t have anything for our people. Hair, skin and makeup products are hard to find up here, but down south in Melbourne and Sydney where it is a bit more diverse, you have the options just at a hefty price. Also, I wish people would stop touching my afro without asking!
TN: Walk us through an average day.
Hermela: An average day for me would be waking up in my 8 person hostel dorm room, having coffee, breakfast, and a little wake & bake with the roommates. I then go down to the lagoon or pool to relax and meet new people before my evening shift at the bar. I’m currently writing this from my hostel pool with a coffee.
TN: Will you remain in Australia or head somewhere new?
Hermela: I have so much I want to see and do in Australia before I leave this place, so I’m going to give myself another year or two out here before I move continents. Then again, it’s hard to say where I’ll be in January.
TN: What advice can you give those looking to move abroad?
Hermela: Stop overthinking it and don’t let others talk you out of living your dreams. If you want it, save up some money, leave on good terms, and come out and explore. The rest will fall into place, trust me. The trials and tribulations you experience while on the road only make you stronger. I’m happy to help anyone who wants to experience the world!
TN: Where can we find you online?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.