Tag 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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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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5 Tips for Planning a Sydney Meetup

20 publicI’ve been known to organise a few events here and there, but more often I’m attending events. I attend a lot of events actually. Sometimes, when I’m really busy, it’s almost every night of the week. It’s my plan to write an eBook guide on “How to organise a free or low cost community-based event in Sydney.” I want to give practical advice on venues, ticketing platforms, event format, and communication for people who have a great idea but perhaps have never run their own meetup. Some of it is common sense, but I think there will definitely be some value to be shared for the Sydney community.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick tips that have been on my mind.

1. List your event details online

Remember when I said some of this advice would be obvious? Yes, this is one of those tips. However, time and time again I struggle to find event pages and registration information. Is this event open to everyone? Do I need to print my ticket? When does it start? What’s the format?  Share as much information as possible to help people (especially new people that you haven’t met yet) feel comfortable showing up to your event.

2. Create your event hashtag early

If you want the event to be shared on Twitter with a specific hashtag, start using it early. Even before you have a registration page or speaker you can start communicating all messages on Twitter with that hashtag. This is often an after thought. The organiser will realize they want people to tweet with a specific hashtag at the start of the event (or halfway through). By this time people have crated their own, or perhaps assumed that people wouldn’t be talking about the event on Twitter collectively.

Bonus: Please also make sure it’s something short, easy to remember and somehow ties in with the event name. However, that’s another post for another time.

3. Choose an appropriate venue

Again, this might seem like another obvious tip, but I attend a lot of meetups where the space doesn’t suit the event. If you want people to be able to have conversations, perhaps avoid the noisy pub. It helps to visit or experience locations before choosing to host there if possible. Think about the type of experience you want people to have. Do you want it to be intimate with fewer people having conversations? Host a dinner. Do you want the whole city to attend? Then book a big room.

4. Introduce your event attendees

I’m a firm believer that great event organisers should know or meet everyone who comes to meetup. Of course, this is definitely much more difficult with large-scale or one-time events, but the host or hostess should always make an effort to meet people in attendance. Great hosts will also introduce other attendees, and more than just event in a polite “you both look lonely, so you should chat” type way. They should look to introduce people who could benefit from knowing each other.  If people make connections that are personally valuable to them, chances are they will be back to your meetup or event again.

5. Be wary of event fatigue

So you run an awesome meetup or event (every week, month, quarter, etc.) and suddenly after many awesome events you’re simply burnt out. That’s okay. Everyone gets tired and you don’t have an obligation to continue organising your event. However, if you’ve created something awesome with a community and following it’s also a shame to shut it down. Consider setting up a team to help you from the start so when the day comes where you’re ready to leave the meetup, others can take over. The event can live on without you and continue to be valuable to the attendees.

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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

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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Food that I miss in Australia

Dinner at Melt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland

When it comes to food, there isn’t as much I miss from home these days. I’ve grown to really love the food in Australia, and Sydney in-particular has to offer. I’ve found new brands that are similar to what I was familiar with back home or I’m happy to just swap what the states had to offer with the best of what this city has. However, there are still a few items that make my list of “missed foods” while abroad.

Mexican Food – Sydney has a great variety of food but they do fall short in this particular category. At home we go for Mexican at least once a week. It’s a cheap and good option. I think the part I dislike the most is how expensive it can be here, and no free chips and salsa – such a bummer. I miss those giant cheap margaritas that come in every flavour too.

Flautas from Luchitas

Chicken Wings – A huge bucket of chicken wings from Quaker Steak & Lube sounds awesome right now. You can go to chicken shops here and get whole, half or quarter chickens severed with salads or chips, but it’s not quite the same as hot wings.

Pumpkin sweets – I have found that pumpkin is typically a savoury food item in Australia. Pumpkin salads and sides are popular. I eat a lot of pizza with pumpkin topping. However the pumpkin I miss is sweet. I love pumpkin cookies, pie, ice cream and pumpkin roll. Drool.

homemade pumpkin roll

Pulled pork sandwiches, sloppy joes and other BBQ treats – Aussie BBQ are all about the sausage sizzlers but I miss foods from picnics at home. I love BBQ chicken on the grill during the summertime. Sloppy joes on burger buns were always a staple in our mealtimes at home as well.

Bagels and flavoured cream cheeses – I couldn’t even tell you where to get a good bagel in this city. There was a chain called “Bagel House” that did some different varieties and sandwiches but last I heard they went out of business. The grocery store sometimes carries plain and blueberry, but not guaranteed. I don’t think you can buy flavoured cream cheeses such as strawberry and honey. They have original and chives I think.

blueberry with strawberry cream cheese

Chocolate and peanut butter – How is chocolate and peanut butter not a worldwide sensation? I love it. You can buy overpriced Reese’s peanut butter cups here, but in general peanut butter with chocolate is uncommon. I hear that Zumbo has a chocolate peanut butter & jelly macaroon, maybe I should try that.

What foods do you miss from home when you’re away? 

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A Year of Sydney Sunsets on Instagram

Sydney has the most gorgeous sunsets. I’ve been snapping photos of the sky for the last year on my iPhone. I love to share them on Instagram and Twitter one by one, but it was really fun to pull them all together into one blog post here. These are a few of my favourite snaps.

“With innovation and technology, seems we have forgotten to cherish the true beauty the world has to offer.”  ~A.C. Van Cherub

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