Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are you still reading this?

Well, why?

I've moved!

Pop on over to the new Tales of a Yank website and see what you've been missing!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Moving On Up

So, I have some exciting news... I have moved to my own self-hosted site!

Please join me and update your readers:

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Do You Value?

DISCLAIMER: This may read a bit jumbled, but welcome to my brain.

I'm fairly certain that it's no secret that I'm having a mini identity crisis.

"What am I doing in Australia?" (Getting away from Philly)
"Why did I decided to come here again?" (Mythos + Greek Salad + Santorini Sun)
"Where am I going to go from here?" (Only time will tell)

Part of this anxiety is coming from the fact that I don't have a real job. The thing is, I can't seem to make myself look for a job because I don't know what I want to look for. I am working on a side project at the moment, so that is providing some income for the time being. My job dilemma isn't really about money though (I would work at a cafe in a second if it was about paying my rent), it's about where I'm going now that I don't have my college crutch to hang on to.

A few years ago during a time when I was having a crisis about one thing or another (I believe it was the What-The-Hell-Is-My-Major-Going-To-Be Debacle of 2006), I was given a task to complete that would help me sort out my priorities.

I was given a list of 100 values, ranging from family to integrity to rationality. I was to sort these values into 3 categories:
  • Not Important to Me
  • Important to Me
  • Very Important to Me
The hard part was limiting my "Very Important" pile to 10 values. It's not as easy as it may sound. After evaluating my choices, I was able to simmer a bit and refocus my mind. It's kind of an indirect exercise to organize your life.

Anyway, for some unknown reason, this listing of values ended up in my bag of miscellaneous shit that made its way with me to Oz. I decided to try the value sort again to see what I currently deemed to be most important.

Lindsay's Top 10* Values (in no specific order):
  1. Passion
  2. Compassion
  3. Courtesy
  4. Automony/Independence
  5. Purpose
  6. Dependability
  7. Friendship/Family
  8. Solitude
  9. Acheivement
  10. Integrity
Sometimes I get carried away and think that because I got a B.A. in Public Relations I am obligated to get an agency job. How else will I ever get anywhere in PR? After looking through my list of values, I've decided to pursue getting my Dive Instructor certification.

Now, I'm aware that has nothing to do with PR, but diving is one of my passions and becoming an instructor is something that I've wanted to do for about 10 years. It's easy for me to get caught up in black and white thinking and convince myself that I have to do X because of Y, when really I can do whatever the hell I want. I do eventually want to advance my career in public relations, but honestly, what's the rush?

What values do you hold important to you? Have you ever consciously thought about them?

*Okay, so I may have cheated and grouped a few together, but I'm indecisive. Sue me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quote of the Week - Seneca

There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.

It's too true.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Run Melbourne

If you follow me on Twitter, you have have most likely heard me mention joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer (yes, I'm that bad ass). It's all part of my mission to develop myself this year, both personally and professionally.

Ignoring the fact that my cardiovascular health* is apparently equivalent to that of a 37-year-old (do NOT even get me started on how depressed I was to see that my heart is 15 years older than I am!), I have decided to sign up for Run Melbourne. Actually, I had been planning on registering, but getting a Biggest Loser-style** wake-up call has pushed me to officially commit to the 5K.

Run Melbourne allows you to sign up in groups or run for a cause of your choice. I have decided to raise money for The Butterfly Foundation. The Butterfly Foundation is "dedicated to changing the culture, policy and practice in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders."

Eating disorders are misunderstood, deadly diseases. The effect that they hold over their sufferers (and their families) often last a lifetime. I feel very strongly about raising awareness and re-educating the public about these mental illnesses. I am hoping to raise a minimum of $500 for the cause.

I would really appreciate the support! I know that in times like these it may not be possible to donate. However, if you could take the time to post a link on Twitter or make a mention on your blog, every little bit will help!

Example of Tweet: Help @lmchugh raise money for eating disorder treatment and awareness by donating to her 5K run!

Please visit my fundraising page and pass the word along!

72 days until the race!

*In case anyone was wondering, my overall fitness age is 25, which isn't bad considering my lack of exercise as of late.

**Did you know that they play The Biggest Loser six days a week? Six days! It's complete overkill.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Lindsay Holidays: Passover

Last week I hosted my first of many "Lindsay Holidays" in Australia: Passover (stay tuned for the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and of course, Halloween). Do you know how hard it is to find Matzah in Melbourne? Now, I did venture out to St. Kilda this weekend where all the Orthodox Jews live, but Brunswick is like Turkey by way of India. Subsequently, I was unsuccesful on the Matzah front.

Anyway, I was able to find egg noodles and I made a damn good pasta sauce to go with. I know they weren't "Kosher for Passover" noodles, but I tried. It was as Kosher as dinner was going to get at that point. I am still unequipped to cook an authentic Jewish meal full-on, but one day my kitchen will have all the necessary supplies to do so.

Traditionally during the Seder, The Four Questions are asked to help remind us "Why this night is different from all other nights." During our dinner, one of our guests turned to me and asked "So, what do you Americans think of Australians?" I had to stop and think about it, and after a minute I said "Honestly, we don't."

When there's any mention of an Australian, there are one of two images that comes to mind:
  1. A mixture of a Crocodile Dundee, Steve Irwin, Outback-living hick; OR
  2. A tan, blonde surfer dude.
I prefer the tan, blonde surfer dude.

I turned the question around to the Aussies: What do you think of Americans? In asking this question, I braced myself for a response along the lines of "fat" and "redneck" and "obnoxious" - but that was not the case:

"I think of Sex and The City"

"Is it true that everyone in America has a therapist?"

Um, what? In Europe, I was told by a (now) friend that she was surprised that she liked me because I was American (meaning she didn't think I was overtly selfish - shocking!). In Israel, I was told by Israeli soldiers that all Americans "eat McDonalds, own guns, and drink Miller Lite."

It was refreshing to hear some not-so-negative perceptions for a change. I much prefer the funny ones.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Next?

From a young age, by family and friends, we are always asked what our next move will be:

What are your plans for the summer?
What are your plans for after high school?
What are your plans for after college?

It's commonplace to ask these sorts of questions and to be looking toward the future. I have always felt a lot of pressure to have a concrete answer because, damn it, I feel like I should know what I'm doing.

I feel guilty when I don't. I also feel like a freak if the right thing doesn't come out of my mouth. My move abroad "just because" didn't exactly get me the most welcomed of reactions (more like an abundance of confused stares). Obviously, reactions didn't impact my decision, but I'm at a point where I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing. At all. In any capacity.

I may be having a freak out, but I do know what I'm going to do next: I'm going to try and enjoy today.

I'm going to practice living in the present because what comes next isn't as important as what comes now. And right now, I'm going to continue my Monday TV on DVD marathon and not feel bad about not reading up on the latest business trends one bit.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Satisfying my Inner Tourist

I have booked my first official "holiday" of the year! I am heading up to Sydney in May to meet up with a girlfriend who is coming to visit me (invasion of the Yanks). It will be so refreshing to be able to act like a tourist, which is something I usually avoid like the plague. As I mentioned in my last post, it has been a bit frustrating trying to communicate to my friends that I am (unfortunately) not on a year-long vacation. Come May, I will have the chance to take as many obnoxious photos as I like and act a fool because, well, I don't live in Sydney! I am beyond excited, if you couldn't tell.

My agenda so far includes goal #37 - completing the Harbor Bridge climb, catching up with some more friends from my Contiki tour, a Bondi rendez-vous with Daisy (I hope!), and a meander around Kings Cross (I missed out on the Red Light District in Amsterdam, so this will have to do).

Anyone have any suggestions for what to see or do in Sydney?

Also, I need some inspiration for post for a rainy day:
What do you want to know about life in Australia?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Traveling v. Moving

I have the feeling that most of my friends think that my journey "Down Under" is just a repeat of my European travels. To their dismay, the pub crawls with strangers have been lacking, the new friends from around the world aren't as plentiful, and every day is not filled with new experiences. Traveling by yourself to a new part of the world and moving there are two wholly unique experiences - especially when you are not moving for a job or school or something that puts you into a network.

Traveling alone is an adventure. A constant adventure. Your accomodation fosters interaction, especially in backpacking and hostel environments. The people that you are surrounded by are, for the most part, in a similar situation as you. Everything is fun! and new! and over the top! and deserving of an exclamation point!

Moving is static. Moving somewhere new is not all fun and games. It forces you to put yourself out there and trust people who you don't really know well enough to trust. You have to push yourself to your limits and step outside of your comfort zone. It gets lonely. It gets boring. It fosters freak-outs instead of interaction.

I'm not saying that I'm unhappy with my decision to move or that I'm thinking of coming home anytime before my visa is up (that would happen over my dead body). What I am saying is that the perception that I'm sitting on the beach with a drink in my hand being fed grapes by tanned men is getting old because that is just so far from the case.

I'm managing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Art of Picking a Footy Team (or Why I go for Carlton)

I am a loyal sports fan and I believe whole-heartedly in home team pride. That's why I am a huge Philadelphia sports supporter (and I accept all of the good, bad, and ugly associations with that statement). When I got to Melbourne, I was excited to cheer for my new home team.

In footy, there are 16 teams (soon enough to be 17). The thing is, 10 (I think?) are from Melbourne. That made me wonder: how do people choose the teams that they go for? It's not as simple as being a Phillies fan (2008 World Series Champs!) or an Eagles fan because there are so many teams in one area.

After asking around, I found out that many people either follow who their family goes for, follow a certain player that they like, select a team based on their colors, or (as I was instructed to do by many people) "just look at the team rosters and see which team has the hottest players."

Now, I'm all for watching good-looking guys run around for two hours, but I was also pretty certain that there was bound to be at least one attractive man on each team, so I decided to do a little more research. Plus, I actually like to watch sports games for the GAME. Beautiful people are merely a bonus.

I live in a suburb called Brunswick, and the nearest home team to me is the Carlton Blues. I literally live up the street from their grounds. As they say in our famous baseball song "root, root, root for the home team!" (as per earlier discussions of the word root, I will not be singing any version of this song while in Australia). I was set on buying my Blues scarf.

My friend had different plans. I was instructed that I had to go for her team upon arrival in Melbourne. I "wasn't allowed" to choose my own team. I didn't like the sound of that game very much. I would never make someone be a Philly fan - I would respect their team decision and then proceed to explain how much their team sucks. I'd probably say something like "Oh god, I HATE the Cowboys. Almost as much as I hate the GIANTS. We're so going to kill you. I can't believe you actually LIKE that team. My Eagles are going to kick your ass on Sunday. Fly Eagles Fly!" We'd have a fun rivalry and when I lost I'd probably pout and have a beer and ignore my calls for a day or so.

However, after humoring her for a game, I understood why she didn't want me to be supporter of any other team. She is a die-hard Demons fan. Yes, the wooden spoon of the league. The team that is dead last. The team that cannot hold onto the damn ball for the life of them. I give her credit for sticking with her team even in times of awful play, as I would do the same thing (and have - before this past October, I had never seen a Philly team win a championship... no one had for 25 years). After a painful game at the G, I decided to go and buy a footy scarf to show my support... for the team that I had originally intended to go for.

Plus, I personally think that navy blue and white look great on a girl with dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin. Can't beat that. Go Blues!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Note on Fashion

Last month there were tons of activities and festivals going on around Melbourne: The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, The Grand Prix, and Melbourne Fashion Week.

The fashion in Melbourne is something that stood out to me immediately upon arrival. I think that the trends and attitude toward fashion is what I expected while I was overseas in Europe this past summer. What I mean by that is there are no rules. Anything goes. You can walk outside wearing something that you think is just totally ridiculous, only to pass about 20 people walking down Elisabeth St. wearing outfits that are ten times more outrageous.

Note: It has been pointed out to me that something I think is completely normal and tame may be off the wall for someone else. I get that, but I hope you also get my point.

In Europe, I expected people to take more risks with their attire. I expected people to be really put together. They weren't for the most part. I remember being pretty shocked with the sloppiness that I observed. I was also prepared to see more diversity in style. I do acknowledge that the areas that I visited were primarily tourist hubs, but still. I definitely thought that all the hype about Europeans being chic and Americans lagging behind was a crock. (Just to clarify, this is in regard to normal people, not designers).

It's kind of nice being able to experiment with different styles and atypical trends that I would never be comfortable enough to try at home due to scrutiny (real or imagined - I am quite paranoid). I'm still pretty J. Crew at heart, but there's a flair waiting to come out. So I say, take out those liquid leggings, layer twenty mis-matched items, wear those ripped tights, button up that cardi, and bring back the catholic-school-girl-gone-punk thing and the 80's. Melbourne is ready for it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

98 to go!

A few months ago, I announced that I would be participating in the 101 in 1001 project and posted my own 101 list. I know that I haven't updated much about my progress, so here's a little glimpse into what I've been up to:

Completed tasks

35. Before I left for Australia, I saw a movie in a movie theater: Slumdog Millionaire. I love movies, but never seem to get out to see them, so this was an accomplishment for me.

47. Even though I'm missing out on the enthusiasm at home surrounding March Madness, I did make a bracket for the NCAA tournament. Sure, it was trashed after the first day of play, but the goal wasn't to win - just participate! Thank you CBS Sportsline for streaming the games online so that I was able to watch them in Oz. No thanks to Melbourne for seriously lacking in the American Sports Bar department!

58. The AFL season started last Thursday night, so I figured it was time to learn about footy. I solicited help from friends to understand the rules (really, the lack of rules) in Aussie Rules football. No high contact, no throwing (you have to handball - think of a serve in volleyball), and after you run for a bit with the ball, you have to bounce it. Otherwise, just keep running. I went to my first footy game on Sunday and was surprised how into it I got - I definitely understood the basic flow of the game.

I have a few goals in progress, including

17. Keep an accurate log of food and exercise for one month

32. Keep a journal while living in Australia

55. Read 100 books

80. Reunite with ten people I met in Europe (I'm up to seven!)

84. Make an excel sheet of addresses, phone numbers, and passwords

99. Blog about each completed task

I'll be posting more regular updates on my progress now that I have time to focus on getting some of these tasks accomplished. No excuses!

Remember, if you decide to create your own 101 list, let me know so that I can follow your journey!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Learning to say "No"

I use many different milestones to gauge my independence. Being financially independent, in particular, is a huge goal of mine. I'm getting there! Paying rent, utilities and all that is a pretty good step. This move to Australia has brought me even closer to feeling more like a grown-up because I feel like I've learned to say "No" ...

Well, to be honest, more like "No, thank you." That's a minor detail. Moving to a new place with limited contacts and a rent to pay creates a sense of urgency in the job department. The economy anywhere doesn't exactly help my cause. Hire a foreigner over a local! Right.

I didn't have a job set up coming to Melbourne, but I did have a job interview. Through some connections, I was lucky to find an organization that was willing to meet with me. As I walked into the office, I was prepared for an interview. What I walked into was basically "How much do you want to work? What hours are you looking for?" It was overwhelming: One week in town and I have a job? A job that's not at a restaurant? A job using my degree? Sign me up!

We discussed tasks that I would be assigned to including writing marketing materials and learning new software to create videos. I was really excited to put what I learned in school to use. I spent my first few days reading and researching in order to become more well-versed in the language used in the healthcare industry.

I walked into work mid-way into my first week and was given a new job: telemarketing. Um, excuse me? I was in utter shock, but I figured that I would give it a go and call a few people - anyway, that wasn't why I was hired, so it'd just be a sporadic task. Or would it?

I was expected to make cold calls for the next week. I had a few issues with this. Firstly, I did not feel comforable enough with the company to be able to sell it. I felt that I would have to be putting my callers on hold to relay questions, and that's the last thing that someone will stand for when being harassed. That leads me into issue number two: it felt like harassment. I felt pangs of guilt every time I picked up the phone. I was supposed to be asking for a cell phone number if the point-person was not in the office, but I just could not do it. I couldn't! I was miserable. The third major problem I had with telemarketing was my accent. Now, I know I need to get over the fact that I sound American - I mean, I am. However, I know, personally, that if I were to get a call at home from someone with a foregin accent, I would be even more inclined to hang up the phone. It just seemed like an overall horrible idea for me to be telemarketing, and it wasn't what I signed on to do.

I was torn. I needed a job. I may be in Australia on a Work and Holiday visa, but I do have bills. I am living here, not traveling around going from hostel to hostel. I thought about trying to stick out the telemarketing, but after a few four-letter-word-latent phone calls outside of Flinders Street Station at lunch hour (hi Mom!), I knew I couldn't keep doing what I was doing. I tried to address the issue with my boss, but then I took on the roll of office gopher. I knew that I wasn't happy, and I also knew that I didn't move to Australia to be unhappy. I could have found a miserable job in Philly and would be a few grand richer!

And so, I quit. I thanked my bosses for the opportunity to work and save up enough rent for two months, but it ultimately was a case of "Thanks, but no thanks."

This past week was my last week. I had the opportunity to help plan and coordinate the first of five national forums for the year. It was a great opportunity to see some behind-the-scenes action that goes on at a conference, specifically dealing with venue staff. Interstingly enough, on my last day at the office, I was given a marketing brochure to restructure. How funny, I was actually doing what I was hired to do! My bosses said it was a shame that I hadn't been writing the whole time I was working there, to which I bit my tongue. No use in arguing. They said they were looking to put together a body of work for me to rewrite, so if that happens I would gladly work on a project basis.

In the meantime, I have some plans to do some consulting work to add some content to my portfolio. Honestly, I want to be able to enjoy the city before it turns to winter. I want to be able to explore. I'm really proud of myself for making the best decision for my situation. Yes, I will need to work, but since I'm not in "dire straights" as my uncle would say, I am taking a step back to appreciate where I am. I couldn't be happier with my decision.

I'm a big girl now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Attitude is Everything.

The past few days I have been working at the Planning 4 Reliability National Forum, which has been taking place at the G. The conference participants included maintenance staff, engineers, and reliability workers. It was nice to see a field that is not known for their communication skills engaging in networking opportunities and open forums. I remember how much I enjoyed participating in the PRSSA/PRSA conferences in 2007 and how much I learned from those few days.

I’ve been assisting the Event Manager, so it has been a great chance to gain some experience working with venue staff and seeing what kind of issues go wrong behind the scenes – and more importantly, how to fix them before the attendees notice.

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to take a break from chasing down the catering staff to sit and listen to one of the conference’s keynote speakers. Fred Delahunty. The theme of his speech was about the power of attitude.

Delahunty was the casualty of an electrical explosion at his plant. Today, the native Kiwi looks like an average man – a physically-fit grandfather of sorts. Ten years ago, he was given a -22% chance of survival after sustaining third-degree burns over 60% of his body. Delahunty did not want his story to come across as motivational or inspirational, rather as a testament to the importance of having a good attitude and holding safety as the number one priority in the workplace.

The accident at his plant could have been avoided with more open lines of communication. He called for the audience to guard against complacency. He reminded us to make sure that when we deliver a message, the recipient not only hears, but understands what has been said. He explains that bad work habits are a direct result of a bad attitude, which enables accidents to more-readily occur.

Unfortunately for Delahunty, it is impossible for his story to not been seen as inspirational. The drive demonstrated by a man who once had essentially lost his independence is unbelievable. Before he concluded his speech, Delahunty made a lasting point: [Recovery] is 20% expertise and 80% attitude. I believe that this can be applied to everything. Will-power is what ultimately sets those who overcome ailments apart from those who don’t. Drive and determination are what set two job candidates apart when the skill-sets are comparable.

Communication is not something to be left solely to those in the field of communications. We are all communicators, whether we like it or not.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Regular Updates to Return

Just a quick update to say:
  1. I have internet at my apartment!
  2. I got and quit a job within a month. Stories to follow.
  3. Oh, by the way, I've been gone for a month!
  4. Zac Effron is making an appearance on Rove tonight (think Letterman or Leno) and recounted a time where he made a mistake with the use of root during an interview with an Aussie- we're twins!
  5. The difference between moving and traveling as well as 101 List updates are in your future.
  6. T for Temple U - March Madness begins!
Have a good week!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Say what?

I've been itching to update, but since I have to pay for the internet right now I've been avoiding anything of substance (news, blogs, everything that I actually have to read). I have a half-hour to kill because I wasn't paying attention and went over from the first pay-point by two minutes. Lucky for you!

This week I was feeling a bit off because the cultural differences have started to hit me. That, coupled with my current inability to easily contact home, has been frustrating. Before I left I acknowledged that there would be some culture shock, but honestly, going to another country where there are a bunch of English speakers doesn't really conjure up images traditionally aligned with culture shock.

It's a completely different world. To start (and it's only the start) the language is technically English, but it's not. At all. Everything is slang. For instance, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is called the MCG. Alright, that's fair enough. The thing is, no one calls it the MCG. It's the G. Shortening the shortened version! They even say that on the news, where you'd think formal names would most come into play. It's strange as.

You read that right, strange as. There is nothing missing at the end of the sentence. It's hot as, or random as, or tired as. Sentence are cut in half!

I reckon there are heaps of little sayings that I could write. I may not be too keen on the phrasing as of yet, but give me a few weeks. Soon enough, you won't be able to understand me!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Settling in.

Adapted from a recent e-mail:

I'm sorry that it has taken me a bit to update, but I am alive and well! After baggage fees and a temporarily unrecognized visa (cue panic attack), I made it to Dubai and through to Melbourne. Two of my friends picked me up at the airport and I have never been happier to see anyone than I was after about 30-ish hours of travel. I'm writing this on my break from work. How crazy! I'm working in Melbourne less than two weeks after getting here. Crazier still, it's not a restaurant job, but a marketing position. I'm working in downtown Melbourne in an area called Southbank. It's right along the Yarra River and next to the Crown Casino. It's kind of the most perfect location I could ask for. My co-workers are great and I think I will learn a lot. Today (and probably the rest of the week) has been dedicated to learning about Root Cause Analysis and familiarizing myself with healthcare lingo... very draining. My eyes hurt - but it's nice to be using my head!

Part of the reason I haven't been able to update until now is because I am still without internet in my apartment (hopefully this week it will get set up). Luckily for me there's an internet cafe literally around the corner from my apartment. Stan (the owner) and I are fairly well acquainted thanks to my internet dependence. I live in a neighborhood called Brunswick right off of the main road, Sydney Road. Yes, if you follow it north you will get to Sydney. Mind you, that would take something like 9 hours to do. There was just a street party this past Sunday and about 50,000 people were estimated to traffic throughout the day. It was pretty neat - tons of music and crafts and food. The area has tons of kebab shops and fresh fruit and veggie stands. It's true what I heard before I moved: every area has a very distinct feel to it. Fitzroy, a town a little north of Brunswick, is full of hippies. I know this because they all showed up for the street fair. Hippies and people who like to wear ripped tights. There are some very funky trends here - my J. Crew self may be a little classic compared to the overt self-expression through fashion that is Melbourne. Although there are many different styles, the uniform dress-code for a night out is shorter and tighter (or so I've observed). Fairly universal.

Anyway, my roommate, Sharon, is a Kiwi (from New Zealand) and was great in finding our apartment. She moved out the week prior to my arrival and I'd say we have done pretty well for ourselves furnishing our apartment, securing jobs, and catching up with our friends from Europe. Side note: Did you know that apartments "down under" come standard without a refrigerator? Because I didn't. Hello, unforeseen cost! Anyway, we have an amazing couch and table and a fridge and all that good stuff. And I have a bed! With pillows! And a cell phone!

It has been really great catching up with the people I met while traveling throughout Europe. My "oldest friend" (meaning, from London, in August) Tom has been great about showing me around. He just moved from the west coast (Perth) about a month ago, so it's nice to have a few people who are also relatively new to the city to explore with. The girls from my tour have also been a great help. My friend Jo got me and my roommate tickets to the soccer grand final this past weekend: Melbourne v. Adelaide. Thankfully, Melbourne won. It was a good introduction to Aussie sports. Now I just have to research and select a footy team to barrack for (I'm using my favorite color, red, and the "quality" of the players as criteria). I am so fortunate to have met such kind people while abroad. They have helped to make the transition much easier and less painless.

I am happy, sheltered, employed, and most importantly, warm.

If anyone decides to quit their job or take a vacation my home is yours! We did purchase a pretty sweet couch.

Soon to come: the job, the city, the culture shock (and oh yes, there is culture shock).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Slang

I made it to Melbourne and I am obsessed with my apartment. Once I get my internet set up I will give you a grand tour. In the meantime...

Words to be eliminated from my vocabulary:
  • Cell phone
  • Tank top
  • Sweatpants

More to come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just a Quickie

  • Flights (of the 13-hour variety) are best spent with an empty row, allowing for optimal leg extension.
  • Hello, Dubai! Where the airport doesn't get busy until midnight.
  • Emirates Airlines is Lindsay Approved. Personal TV screen (meaning unlimited movies, music, and television all at your individual disposal), brunch, comfy seats (even in economy class), neat uniforms... need I say more?
  • One thing I always loved in Philly was being stopped in the street for directions. It meant that I looked like I had some sort of clue as to where I was going. I just got stopped by a woman who asked if the gate where I was sitting was destined for Melbourne. It felt so cool!
Honestly though, who can tell one white girl from another, especially with mouths closed? She probably thought I was an Aussie... AH.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

En Route.

Well, my journey has officially begun. I'm sitting in the Philadelphia airport waiting for my first (of three) flights. After a surprising, unwelcomed, and unavoidable baggage fee, I made it through security with ease.

Let's just say my bags cost me (uh, I mean, hi Dad! Love you!) more than half of my plane ticket. I would have shipped a bunch of stuff if I had known the fees were going to be so outrageous, but the information I found was (apparently) unclear. Obviously. Never again!

My last few weeks in Philly were perfect. I got to see everyone that I wanted to see at least once, which is all that I could ask for.

My intinerary for the next few days is as follows: Philadelphia to JFK to Dubai to Melbourne. My internet should be set up and ready to go by the time I arrive, so I will update you with the details of my apartment and neigborhood as soon as I adjust to the time change (I'm giving myself a week).

Here's to hoping for semi-bearable flights... at least, as bearable as back-to-back 13-hour flights can be!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Time Next Week I Won't Exist

You read the title correctly: This time next week I will be en route to Melbourne, but thanks to all those crazy time changes, there will be no Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 for me!

Thanks for bearing with my lack of posting as of late. I have finally gotten over the intense anxiety attacks that were driving me mental. No magic pills (although I did unsuccessfully beg for some Xanax). I just stopped listening to everyone else. The anxiety other people were having for me was what ultimately made me act like a crazy.

I do have some very good news to report: At the end of last week I got an apartment! It's in a neighborhood called Brunswick. I am two blocks off of Sydney Road, the main strip. My girlfriend from New Zealand will be arriving on Saturday, and I will be there the next Wednesday. It's so unbelievable. I'm finished work. I've begun packing. I'm basically just running around seeing people and buying last-minute items (like a Kindle).

On a less cheery note, I'm sure everyone has heard about the awful fires in Victoria. I am thankful that none of my friends over there have been injured or have lost anything. Upon arrival, I hope to see what I can do to help out locally. Aside from it being a good deed, I feel like it will be a good way to get involved in the community. I will be sure to keep you updated.

Six days and counting!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Ultimate Hostess Workout (Winter Edition)

Are you working 60 hours a week hanging coats and smiling until your cheeks hurt? Are you lacking the time and money to spend on a gym membership? If so, this is the workout for you.

For best results: wear (at least) 3" heels, work in a restaurant with multiple floors, and have co-workers that don't hustle.

  • Warm Up:
    • Sit on a backless chair (ex. bar stool) to make confirmation calls, forcing core stabilization to maintain posture.
    • Stretch out arms reaching for the hole puncher, pens, and the continually ringing second phone line that everyone else refuses to answer. Repeat 50 times.
    • Jog up and down two flights of stairs with two to-go bags full of clean towels to restock the bathrooms. Repeat three times per restroom.
    • Jump up onto the bar, rewrite the chalkboard, jump down off of the bar. Get that heart rate pumping! Repeat as mistakes in the menu are found throughout the morning and as Management decides the wine boards need tweaking.
  • Workout:
    • Complete two laps around the restaurant per server per table sat.
    • After lifting three 10 lb. coats onto one hanger, lift above head and hook onto coat rack. Repeat approx. 100 times.
    • Per every five hangers, use body to push coats closer together (to make room for more furs). Tighten up biceps and triceps for accelerated results.
    • Run up and down main stairs and kitchen stairs twice per half hour (for status check and bathroom check). Complete seven sets.
    • Carry six trays of dirty dishes while bussers watch you do their job.
  • Cool Down:
    • Drag two 15 lb. bags of dirty linen across the length of the restaurant to the linen closet.
    • Return coats - be sure to keep arm muscles tense.
    • Return to bar stool, tightening core, and enter in guest notes for the evening.
    • Triumphantly throw heels on the floor, walk over to the bar, and bat eyelashes for a glass of wine.
Congratulations! You've just experienced my life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

T-Minus Three Weeks

I'm not counting in months anymore, but weeks. I cannot even believe that this is happening for real. I apologize for my absence on this blog and from yours as well. This is my last full week of work (12-hour days, thank you Restaurant Week). I can't complain though, money is money is money.

The apartment search is in full swing, the job hunt has begun, and the anxiety attacks are no joke. I'm feeling a little crazy, but who wouldn't? All I know is that what I need is not here in Philly, so I may as well scope out my options in some place where it's Summer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Best Job (For Me) in the World

By now, I'm sure that most of you have heard of the self-proclaimed Best Job in the World. If not, check out the website (don't be surprised if you can't get on at first - the server has crashed a few times due to volume). Here's the basic summary: live on Hamilton Island (the largest island in the Great Barrier Reef) for six months, free accomodation, for a salary of $150,000 AUD... which is about $100,000 US. The job part? Oh, you know, snorkel, explore the islands, and blog about it. Genius marketing campaign by Queensland.

I know that there will be millions upon millions of applicants, but think about how many are not qualified. Who wouldn't want the chance to live over the Great Barrier Reef? The thing is, I actually am qualified. This is exactly what I wanted to do with part of my time abroad. The selection committee is searching for an individual with "enthusiasm for the role, entertainment value (personality and creativity), presentation skills (being media-friendly), and at least one year's relevant experience."

Let's see... I'm a scuba diver, PR graduate, travel junkie, blogger, social media user, adventure seeker... and I already have a visa!

In addition to a formal application (name, age, etc.) they are requiring a 60 second video application. They want you to show your personality and your knowledge about the Great Barrier Reef region. What I'm asking for is this: what do you think would make a good application video? I'm talking format, location, content... any suggestion is welcomed. I was mulling over the idea and figured what better way to get audience support than to ask my audience what they'd want to see?

I appreciate your help with this!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tweet Me Up, Scotty!

Tonight I had my first glimpse at how Twitter works. I signed up after much hesitation and confusion simply because I didn't get it. I mean, a website that consists solely of Facebook-style status updates? What is the point?

My primary intention in joining was to learn about how Twitter is used professionally. Exploring social media platforms and their role in the future of the field of communications is one of my personal goals for the next year. When I first joined Twitter, I used the search feature to find relevant "Tweeters" and have been following along (and interacting with) their feeds in an attempt to form relationships. Until I participated this evening in my first #Journchat, I hadn't seen the evidence of an active conversation. I'm sure that's because I wasn't connected to many people, but my efforts to reach out had been, for the majority, ignored. By participating in this discussion between public relations professionals, journalists, bloggers, and freelancers, I have not only found a group of people to interact with on Twitter, but I have also found a tool that I can (and will) use to keep myself educated about industry practices, which is essential since I'm no longer in school.

For those in the communications field, I encourage you to check it out next Monday!

(Not Quite) 101 Updates

I've been struggling to update this blog as often as I would like to, but I'll have to cut myself some slack for a few more weeks. I've been working as much as possible to try and get those last paychecks as high as they will go. This weekend I went down to Maryland to take a little break from reality. Thankfully I had today off since I always seem to need a day after a vacation to regroup.

As you may remember, I'm participating in the 1001 Day Project, and I am happy to report that I am making some progress on a few of my goals. For starters, I have recruited four people to make their own 101 lists - that means I am almost half-way to my goal for task 100!

In terms of projects to help simplify my life, I've gotten quite a few under way:

29. Organize Hard Drive
83. Go through bookshelf and donate excess
85. Go through closet and clear out excess
84. Make an excel sheet of addresses, phone numbers, and passwords

I'm making an effort to assure that these are not half-assed, and that I can be truly satisfied with the final product. I am setting my sights pretty high for these organizational tasks, as I want to get them done before I move. There's nothing worse than coming home from an extended period of time away to a messy room. Hopefully I will be able to report on some completed tasks soon!

Don't forget: if you decided to start your own 1001 Day Project let me know so that I can follow along!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Beer + Greek Salads = A year in Oz

The more people that I tell about my move abroad, the more times I hear the question "Where did that come from?" ...I'll tell you exactly where and when I decided to get a visa.

It was a perfect, sunny day in Santorini, Greece. It was mid-September: the temperature had the heat of summer, but the island was without the hoards of tourists that accompany peak season. I was sitting at a cafe along Perissa Beach with my friend, Tricia. We were enjoying our usual split: a greek salad and a tuna baguette. Oh, and let's not forget the Mythos. We were talking about how unprepared we were to leave Greece... I mean, who wants to leave a beach vacation? I expressed my ambivalence toward, well, everything at home. I had just graduated and had decided not to renew the lease on my perfect downtown apartment. I had no ties to anywhere, and although it was liberating, it also meant that I had to make some decision about what I wanted to do upon arriving home. That's when Tricia decided to tell me about how she lived in Australia for a year under Canada's Working Holiday Visa. She suggested that I look into the USA's agreement as we finished up our lunch. I have never turned back.

42 days!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunburned Series: Unsolved Mysteries (1)

Way back in December, I mentioned that I picked up Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country to read. True to form, I finished the book within a few days, but I haven't really had a chance to report on any interesting findings. I've decided to use this as an opportunity for a series of posts: The Sunburned Series.

There will be eight installments, as there a total of six states and two territories that make up Australia (Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory... incase you were wondering).

The first few pages of Bryson's book discuss how all things Australia are generally unknown to the rest of the world (as I have blogged about in the past). This, I believe, adds to the allure and mystery surrounding the continent. Bryson opens his travel essay listing some news items that, had they been from a more connected country, would (presumably) have gotten media coverage. The headline that most grabbed my attention was the unsolved disappearance of a prime minister. What?

In 1967, Harold Holt (PM) took a stroll along the shore in Victoria, plunged into the sea, and was never seen again. I feel like I should have heard about that before, even though it was well before my time. It was reported in the December 18, 1967 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald that "Mr. Holt, 59, disappeared while swimming in a very heavy surf off Cheviot beach, on the ocean side of Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula, 59 miles from Melbourne." No body was ever found.

According to a 2003 article in the Aussie publication The Age, any notion of foul play is largely unsupported by evidence, rather by those with active imaginations:
Dark rumours that he was depressed by the mounting opposition to Australia's Vietnam involvement or committed suicide or was assassinated by the CIA have never been seriously entertained. The most absurd scenario - fostered by English author (and now publisher of tracts for the Raelian cult) Anthony Grey in his 1983 book The Prime Minister was a Spy - had Mr Holt swimming out to rendezvous with a Chinese submarine. The most likely explanation is that he, like so many others, misjudged the conditions and his own abilities and drowned.

Though the disappearance of Mr. Holt remains unsolved, the case is "one of 103 suspected drownings between 1961 and 1985 that the Victorian coroner intends to review." It's amazing to me that only now, fourty years later, there is going to be an inquest into the disappearance! Can you imagine a US president vanishing into the Atlantic without an investigation? Didn't think so.

So there you have it: anyone can get lost in Australia, even the Prime Minister. Stay tuned for future Sunburned posts about deadly creatures, three-day railroad rides, and the unique Aussie sporting culture.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What am I doing?

2009: The last year that people will be able to purchase those eyeglasses with the "00" in the middle. Good riddance, I say... Oh right, and Happy New Year!

After the coat room cleared out, my tips were counted, and I watched the Penn's Landing fireworks from the steps of work, a little bit of reality set in.

Oh wow, 2009. It feels like it was just in the early 2000's not too long ago. I only have about six weeks to go! I cannot believe I'm moving to Australia so soon! I cannot believe I'm moving to Australia... What the hell am I doing?

And so, on the first day of the new year, I stayed in my pajamas and watched television all day. Anything to keep my mind quiet. Deep down, I know that I would regret not having gone through with the steps necessary to move to Melbourne, which is the only thing keeping me sane right now. Tonight, I'll simmer. Tomorrow, I'll regroup.