Category Archives: Sydney

Chapter Two: Hello Chicago

I’ve sat down at my computer several times over the last few weeks trying to write this post. I felt like I had a lot to say, and I was struggling to organize my thoughts into a concise post. This is my best attempt yet, so please bear with me.

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Chicago in Summer, a snap of the city from Lake Michigan in June

I moved back to the US this summer. This was the end of my four-year run in Sydney. It was a both a happy and sad decision to come back here. While in my heart I know it was the right choice and I’m excited for my next adventure, I can’t help but already miss Sydney. It had become a home to me.

One of the hardest parts of leaving Sydney was saying goodbye to friends. I had attended a lot of farewell drinks for friends leaving over the last few years before my own. Sydney felt like a very transient city at times, especially with so many of my friends being fellow expats. However, even my Australian friends were adventurous travellers and world-wanderers. It was never a guarantee that anyone would stay put, but I’m thankful for that experience too.

It was my friends in Sydney who taught me a lot about what it meant to travel and to see yourself as a citizen of the world. It’s been through watching them and their fearless approach to what’s ahead that I’ve gained a lot of my confidence to be away from home for so long, go places that I never thought I’d go, and see the world through new eyes. It’s a wonderful gift and something I’ll carry with me forever now. Thank you guys.

I’ve started a new job, working for The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) from their Chicago offices. They specialize in helping US students to study abroad in Australia, New Zealand, SE Asia and China. TEAN is the very same company that helped send me on that very first journey to Australia, as a study abroad student on the Gold Coast.

It’s a brilliant group of people that I’ve admired since I was a student with them. It feels very fitting that I’ve gone full circle to end up working for this company. I’ll now have the opportunity to help students take the first steps on their own journey.

One of our students wrote a blog post this week about her return back to the US from a semester studying in Shanghai, China. I thought that her description of how it felt to come back was beautifully told. It made me tear up reading it, thinking about my own recent return.

“There are places there to be discovered, they are just waiting for you to come.

Personally, I know about one that melted my heart.

Yes, China made me feel alive.”

Now please excuse my melted heart ❤

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Filed under Expat, Sydney, Travel

Reflection on Three Years in Sydney

Leaving Alice Springs, flying over the Red Centre

Leaving Alice Springs (Norther Territory) flying over the Red Centre

Three years in Sydney… How have I been away for three years? I’ve reached a point where I’m not quite sure if three years is long time or short time to be living abroad.  Depends who is asking.

In some ways it feels like ages. When I moved here I thought I would stay for 2-3 years at the most. My aim was to experience Australia in a more in-depth way than just a temporary holiday. I wanted Sydney it to be a home for me. I wanted to create a life here, with a career, friends and community. Reflecting on it now, I feel as though I have that, and I’m very grateful.

I moved to Sydney alone, not knowing anyone here. I remember wondering a lot in my first months when Sydney would become ordinary or completely familiar to me. I also wondered how long it would be until I had friends where I could be myself and let my guard down. I desperately wanted to feel comfortable in my surroundings. I’m not sure when it happened, but much has changed since those days.

Despite loving this place, I never thought Australia would be home forever. I always wanted it to be temporary, as part of my life, not the rest of my life. The thought leaving now, devastates me. While I have no plans to leave in the immediate future, it still isn’t a permanent home.

I know three years is really just a small blip on the radar. I have expat friends who have lived in multiple countries, travelled the world and have been away from “home” much longer than I have.  It’s actually funny how non-unique your own story starts to feel over time with the more people you meet. I find it can be both comforting and annoying at times. I guess that’s probably more a life lesson that translates beyond just moving abroad.

Before moving here, I had never really considered the idea of long-term travel or even living anywhere other than Australia. My dream wasn’t to just become an expat or live abroad; it was specifically to come live in Australia. However, lately these three years are feeling like they could be just a start.

Uluru at Sunset

Uluru at Sunset

One of my best friends came to visit earlier this month from the US. We spent a week in the Northern Territory for a camping adventure in the outback and to see Uluru (Ayers Rock). It’s something that’s been my ‘to see’ list since studying abroad in Australia, and I’m glad I finally made it there, it was a great way to celebrate a three year anniversary.

Thank you for wonderful times and great memories over these last three years Sydney. Looking forward to many more to come. Cheers!

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Sydney Life: Chapter Two

A lot has changed after two years abroad living in Australia. I’m starting to say stuff like “fortnightly” instead of “bi-weekly” and I don’t struggle to understand other accents (most of the time anyway).

I loved Sydney the day from the day I first arrived, but now I can say that I know Sydney. It makes me love this place for a new layer of reasons. I’ve made close friends here. I’ve created memories here – from my first Christmas on the beach to my friends’ engagement party last month. I have a local café, and I’ve become a coffee snob. I can give people directions, catch public transport without getting stressed and even feel comfortable driving on the other side of the road. It seems like small things, but I think it’s a big step to feel completely comfortable with these tiny differences in everyday life.  What used to be “different” now becomes the usual or standard, and I forget that it was ever not the standard. It’s strange to think, but beautiful as well.

I said a sad farewell to my colleagues at Switched on Media last week. Work and my friends there have been a huge part of my life for the last two years. I remember asking my director Scot about the culture of the company during our phone interview. I was about to move to Sydney and not know anyone, I was anxious to meet my colleagues. I consider myself very lucky that not only did I meet some awesome people, but I made some of my closest friends in Sydney. It exceeded my expectations, and I’ll miss that crew.

I now feel that I’m staring chapter two of my life in Sydney. I started a new role this week with Rocketman Media (check them out). It’s a small agency that specialises in influencer outreach. I couldn’t be more excited. It’s an amazing opportunity and work that I’m incredibly passionate about.  I also feel that it’s an innovative company, and it’s great to feel like you’re at the start of something new. I’ll look forward to sharing more updates with you as I go.

I’m still working on The Fetch Sydney as the local curator. Kate founded the Fetch in Melbourne, followed by Sydney and now has launched it in 7 cities worldwide (and still growing). It’s been an inspiration, and pleasure to be a part of it and watch it grow. We recently introduced the Fetch Community Ambassador program to get more people involved. It was perfect timing with all of the industry events happening as part of Vivid Sydney Festival. I’ve been doing some blogging there too.

Lights on MCA for Vivid Sydney

My last bit of news is that I’ve accepted a committee role with Project Australia. They are not for profit with a mission of helping other NFPs and community projects in Australia. I’ve really missed the volunteer work that was a big part of my life before moving to Sydney. It was groups like HOBY and Circle K International that allowed me to make friends and meet like-minded people with shared values. I feel that working with Project Australia will help connect me back to that world, and allow me give back to the community in a hands-on way.

Looking forward to the second chapter.

What’s new with you friends?

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Filed under About Me, Sydney

Finding a Job Abroad After College

I love telling the story of how I ended up in Australia. I have to love telling it, because I get asked all the time. When people hear my accent they want to know why I’m in Sydney and how it came to be. However, the people I’ve most enjoyed sharing my story with over the last couple years are students from back home in the US.

I wrote a guest post recent for Arik Hanson’s blog, Communications Conversations giving advice about finding a job abroad after college. It also got picked up by PR Daily. I was amazed by the response. Several students and recent grads tweeted me saying they shared this dream of moving abroad and working overseas.  I had wrote that one of the biggest challenges of finding a job abroad is believing that it’s possible. I think it’s especially tough for students from the US, who don’t grow up in a culture of travel and exploring the world.

The Australians are wonderful at this. So many of my Aussie friends have travelled internationally with their families from a young age.  Some chose to take gap years, go backpacking, and see the world before starting university or a full time job. Others waited until later, and then left their jobs to go travel. While it’s certainly not something everyone here has to do, it’s also not strange to hear about. For a young professional working in the States, it would probably never happen. If you got up and left, your job would not be waiting for you 10 months later upon your return. Without getting into the current economic differences, between Australia and the US, I do believe there are cultural elements at play.

To clarify, I’m not a world traveller. In fact, I’m not an expert on how to move abroad or job searching. I just love sharing my story. I hope that every soon-to-be-grad who has a vision of living and working overseas has someone who validates that dream for them.  Sometimes we need someone to give us an extra pat on the back and tell us we can reach our goals. That extra push is what helped me to achieve when I was already capable of achieving.

Good luck class of 2012. If you’re headed to Sydney, please let me know and I’ll shout you a coffee when you arrive.

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Customer Service and the Tipping Culture

cc license, Christopher Walker

When I moved to Australia it was weird not to leave tips in restaurants. I was still used to the 15-20% standard at home. On a related note, I also found the service at many establishments awful. It was frustrating, and then I found myself getting more frustrated for allowing such a silly thing to bother me.

A year and a half later, I’m mostly over it. Instead of being fed up with bad service, I appreciate really awesome service when I experience it. It’s something to celebrate rather than just have to expect in a tipping culture. Good service is genuine here. When someone is friendly and goes out of their way it makes me smile. I love that feeling.

I’m also happy not to tip. Stuff here is expensive enough already. I don’t need to add a 20% on top of that. As a general rule, I do still leave a small tip at nice restaurants for exceptional service. I’m really curious on what percentage of Australians tip at restaurants, and how much.

What is your experience with tipping and customer service in Australia?  

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Eating my way through Sydney

Game of Thrones @ GastroPark

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thank goodness summer is almost over. It’s been raining non-stop and I’ve been eating so much delicious food that I need a big winter sweater to bundle up in ASAP. I’m not sure what it is about this time of year but I’ve been lining up a few little foodie adventures I wanted to share with you. Perhaps it will inspire you to discover something tasty in Sydney.

I finally tried Longrain in Surry Hills. This has been a restaurant on my list since moving to Sydney. It had been recommended by a friend who used to live here. I think I probably built it up too much in my mind. We had a really nice dinner here, but it didn’t “wow” me like I wanted it too. That being said, I do want to go back with a big group and try more dishes. I think it’s a place that you need to try several of the dinners. For dessert I had yummiest black sticky rice with coconut cream and mango. Next new Surry Hills spot to check out will be Watts on Crown. My brunch partner in crime Trish spotted it.

Later this month we are going to an event at El Loco called “Vinos y Tacos” – it’s part of March into Merivale. This is a month-long series that Merivale (they have 12 restaurants and 25+ bars) put on each year. They have classes and dinner specials listed on their website.

I also somehow got talked into going to a crazy Game of Thrones feast at GastroPark. It’s a medieval dinner to celebrate the DVD release of this HBO series. I’ve never seen it, but apparently it’s pretty entertaining. I was just sold on the idea of going to an awesome medieval feast. I’ll have to watch a few of the shows before I go.

I’ve been geeking out a lot about the food trucks coming to Sydney. Major squeeee! This map with the truck locations on Google Maps was being shared on Twitter over the weekend. Here is some information on the 10 Trucks and a video from the City of Sydney with some more information. It all seems really thought out and structured so I hope they do well.  I am definitely organising a “food truck crawl” later this year.

To top it all off, this month is also “Parched March” where Sydney-siders are encouraged to drink at 30 new bars. Yes, this is a real thing, and yes, it also has a charity component so you can’t hate on it. There are participating bars offering drinks specials and the website has plenty of information about the event and the cause. While I won’t formally be participating in the campaign – I like to think that I’m an unofficial Parched March (and year-long) participant and supporter of Sydney small bars.

What other foodie adventures can we go on? 

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Aussie Phrases I Love

cc license, Neubie

These are just a few phrases and words I’ve come to adore while living in Australia. Some I’ve adopted into my own vocabulary and others continue to grow on me.

How are you going? – When I studied abroad in Australia we went abseiling our first week here. The instructor said to me, how are you going? So I answered “right handed.” She thought that was pretty funny. Looking back I can laugh about it now too.

Heaps – You can be heaps hungover, heaps hungry, heaps happy. It’s like a giant pile of emotion.

Totes– This is just a cute way of saying totally. I mean, this is just a totes cute way of saying totally.

Cheers – I like to sign off my emails with “cheers.” I like when people say “cheers” after you pay them at the register, and we get to say “cheers” as a toast at the pub.

What are you after? – This phrase might not be exclusively Aussie, but they sure do love it here. I notice it especially when you’re trying to pick something off the café menu.

Keen – I want get tickets to that concert, who’s keen?  I’m keen to get started on this work.

Average – an adjective to describe when you’re not feeling so great, or just so-so. “I can’t believe I had those tequila shots last night, I’m feeling pretty average today.”

Footy – I used to think Footy described AFL (Australian Football League) but apparently footy can also mean Rugby (NRL) or even soccer. I’m not really sure. I call everything with a ball (minus cricket) footy.

Ute – it’s a little baby truck. See photographic evidence below please.

Bogan – thank you Chris Lilly and Summer Heights High for teaching me what a skanky bogan was. Redneck, hill-jack, white trash… you get the idea.

Cheers big ears – I thought this was something silly my colleague Sam made up the first time I heard it. It makes me giggle every time.

Shout (a round) – Shouting rounds is fun. While buying rounds wasn’t a new concept to me, there is something unique about the Australia style shout.

Lemonade – it usually means sprite, but I’m pretty sure it can be any carbonated lemon or lime drink. The most important thing to know is that lemonade doesn’t equal a drink made of lemonades, sugar and water. Unless it’s “old fashioned lemonade” but you can only get that at the grocery store or markets.

What are your favourite Aussie words or slang? 

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