A long journey to citizenship reaps the rewards
FOR most, citizenship in Australia is taken for granted, but for Marianna Pfeil, it was the reward at the end of a long journey.
Marianna arrived in Australia from Germany on May 1, 2009, ready to make a new home for herself here, but life is never easy as you expect it to be.
"I was an accountant in Germany, but in Australia you need a degree to be a certified public accountant," she said, "and since you didn't need one in Germany, I never got one."
For two years Marianna studied for a Bachelor of Accounting, and then a Masters in Economics to continue on her path to citizenship.
During this time, Marianna worked to support herself at a Sydney financial institute while studying at university.
"Due to the fact that I was here on a student visa I could only work 20 hours a week, and if you went over that your visa is cancelled so you had to be very careful," she said.
For Marianna, the process of attaining citizenship was a challenging one.
"I found it to be difficult, and from my experience talking to others, they found it difficult as well," she said, "And as I'm not a native English speaker, I had to learn a new language as well.
"But it's funny, I remember seeing people with UK and American passports sitting the test and I found it very strange, I guess you have to be sure they can speak their language."
Unlike many immigrants coming to Australia, Marianna eschewed the major urban sprawls and instead looked towards the bush and smaller towns, but it wasn't a conscious choice.
"I met someone at Sydney who said 'oh I live up in the bush', and because I spent so long in Germany, which isn't as big as Australia is, I thought Coutts Crossing wouldn't be far," she said.
"But then he asked me to fly there with him to Coutts and I asked him why not drive, it can't be that far right? And then he showed me a map."
In a proud moment outside the Clarence Valley Council Chambers in Grafton, Marianna Pfeil became an Australian citizen alongside eight others on August 13.
"I love it here," she said, "I love how easy going the people are, I love watching the birds and the kangaroos coming in the backyard and I love that on the weekends you can be at Yamba or at Coffs Harbour in an hour and a half.
"I think I have the best of both worlds; all the jobs are in the city so I work in Sydney during the week and then I fly home to enjoy the weekend here," she said.
"It can be hard sometimes to make the schedule, but it's worth it."