Interview With An Expat

With a profession that takes him all over the world covering the major stories of our time, cameraman and talented photographer Oliver Clarke is the embodiment of not only a true expat but someone who is living the dream. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia his career with the Nine Network has lead Ollie to the four corners of the world delivering the news in often difficult and challenging circumstances. Currently based in London, Ollie’s success is truly inspirational and confirms that with hard work, sacrifice and dedication achieving your goals is possible. Seymour & Ford caught up with Ollie for a quick interview about his extraordinary life, achievements and adventures.  For more inspiration be sure to follow Ollie’s journey on Instagram @ollie_clarke
  •  Where are you originally from?

I was born in Sydney, Australia. More specifically, the leafy suburbs of Lane Cove!

  • In which country and city are you living now?
I currently reside in London, United Kingdom.
  • How long have you lived in London and how long are you planning to stay?
I’ve only lived in London for nine months, so I’m still getting used to it! I’m on a two year working visa, so I’ll see that out and then work out what I want to do with my life.
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  • Why did you move to London and what do you do?
I moved to London for a great opportunity for work – I am a News Cameraman for Channel Nine Australia. I’ve been doing the job for about five years, and moving to London was a goal of mine from the very beginning. Along with another Cameraman, two Journalist’s and a Producer, we cover news for Channel Nine Australia across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. So, although I’m based in London, I’m usually bouncing around various countries for work.
  • How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
This is the first time I’ve lived overseas, so it was a big step for me to leave friends and family to discover something new. Admittedly, England isn’t too much of a culture shock from Australia, so I found the transition fairly easy. There were a few things that were daunting, like working out where to live etc. but the majority of it all was fairly simple. Except for mountains of paperwork that the English insist on for every single little thing you do. It’s a nightmare!
  • Was it easy making friends and meeting people?
In general, English people seem to be very friendly, so making friends hasn’t been a major issue. Most of the people I’ve met over here, I got to know through friends I’d already made in Australia. There is an enormous Australian community living in London, so you’d have to be seriously unlucky not to know anyone already here when you first come over! That said, because of my strange work hours, I do miss the social interactions of an office style environment (we don’t have an office, per say), so meeting in bars is the best thing!
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  • What do you enjoy most about living in London?
I think the best thing, ironically, about living in London is the ease in which you can leave it! The whole of Europe is so close, so it’s easy to jump on a last minute trip for the weekend and experience a whole new culture in a short amount of time. Compared to Australia, which is smack-bang in the middle of nowhere, the proximity to the rest of the world is sensational!
  • What is the number one piece of advice you can give to would be expats?
“Winter is coming.” But seriously, if you’re from somewhere in the world where twelves degrees is cold, prepare yourself. It gets cold. And somewhat miserable. I’m probably sounding like a sad-sack, but compared to the brilliant Australian weather, England has a lot to answer for. Also, make the most of London living while you’re here. Throw yourself into every facet of life, whether it’s travel, making friends or whatever – make the most of your time while you are here.
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  • What has been the greatest challenge you have faced whilst living and working abroad?
I’m certain that my challenges would vary completely to someone else living here. Most of my challenges come from work – I work strange hours which puts strain on my social life, and I’m jumping on a plane with less than two hours notice, often for more than a week at a time. I love my job, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it, but the lack of being able to plan and live a life outside of it is frustrating.
  • How does the cost of living in London compare to living at home?
London is EXPENSIVE. There are no two ways around it. It’s pricey. Once you start earning the pound, it eases the pain a little, but stop making the conversions in your head as soon as you can, otherwise it’ll really deflate your ego!
  • What negatives are there to living in London?
Without sounding like a whiney baby, the weather really does suck. The constant gloom, early sunsets and impending rain becomes a frustrating reality. That said, a good pair of boots and a nice jacket fixes that problem.
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  • If and when you return home, how do you think you will cope with repatriation?
I think I’ll eventually want to go home. I’m looking forward to the things in Sydney I took for granted – the beaches, friends, the sound of cicadas chirping in the evening. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to London, but I don’t think I could live here forever.
  • How do you cope with homesickness?
Funnily enough, I haven’t actually been too homesick. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been here too long, and I’m always keeping busy, but I haven’t felt it. I’m heading back home for a holiday in Feb, which will be a nice chance for me to have a rest, see the people I have been missing, and get excited to get back over to London to throw myself into it all over again.
  • What are your top three favorite things to do in London on your days off?
  1. Discover new suburbs.
    It’s always amazing wandering around suburbs of London that you haven’t seen before, so I like to jump on the tube and check out what’s going on in other parts of town.
  2. Take photos.
    I love taking photos, so its always nice to head down to somewhere scenic like Richmond Park or Hyde Park, and just snap away for a few hours.
  3. Go to the Gym.
    Just because, hah!

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  • Before relocating, how did you prepare yourself mentally, financially and emotionally?
Funnily enough I didn’t have time to prepare myself at all for this new adventure. Work told me I was going, and 10 weeks later I was in London. Ironically I think that made things easier, because I didn’t have time to stress, I just had to get everything done. I had a partner at the time, who helped me sort everything out so that made life a whole lot easier, too. Financially, work covered a lot of the costs involved in moving overseas, so that definitely made things far easier.
  • What sacrifices have you had to make to live the expat life?
Doing what I do, you almost have to put your life on hold for two years whilst you gallivant around the world covering news. It’s by no means an easy job, and it’s more difficult for anyone special in your life too. Work comes first, and there is no opportunity to say, “No, I can’t go on that trip” – it is expected that you just have to go. That said, it’s a wild ride and one I’m happy to get on for a few years whist I still can!
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  • What have you discovered about yourself since living abroad?
The main thing I’ve discovered, and I’ve begun to like about myself whilst being over here, is my ability to be self reliant. I know I don’t always need people around, and I’m more than happy to do my own thing for days on end if I need to. I think it’s important to find out who you really are at some point in your life, so I’m grateful that I’m getting to discover that all now.
  • Have you experienced any moments of culture shock in your new home?
Not really. As I said, London isn’t too different to Australia, so it’s been fairly easy adjusting to my new life here. Of course, little things are different – I’m heading to the pub far more than I used to because it’s the place to go on a cold winters evening, but nothing that’s been too startling or confronting at all.
  • How did you go about finding long term accommodation in London?
As soon as I landed in London I was straight onto Facebook and a number of other social platforms, trying to find accommodation around some areas that I had been told were worth checking out. Spareroom was a great source of help, but in the end it was trusty Facebook that sealed the deal for me. There are always places to rent in London, often furnished, so it made finding a place fairly easy compared to the hustle and bustle of the Sydney rental market.
  • What is a typical day in your life in London?
I’d get up around 0800, make myself some breakfast (usually cereal – I can’t get enough!!) and then wander down the road for coffee. After that, it’s gym time, which can last anywhere from one to two hours, followed by a walk if I’ve still got the energy. Then it’s admin time – sorting out equipment for upcoming shoots, or itineraries for trips we have scheduled in. In the afternoon I’ll head into Sky News to get some vision of the story we would be covering in the evening, and begin editing. From about six o’clock onwards, it will be live crosses on whatever the news of the day is, up until around ten o’clock, when we pack up, and head home. I like to watch a bit of television to unwind, or play some video games, then off to bed ready for the next day. If something major happens in the world though, there is no ‘typical day’, and we just go-go-go to make sure we’re at wherever it is in time to broadcast back to Australia!
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*Disclaimer: All photographs are the property of Oliver Clarke in conjunction with the
Nine Network Australia*

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