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).