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Didn't someone say the best things in life are free?
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Amazing scenery in Fiji & Australia

For more, visit my new blog :)

 
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One of the my absolute favorite parts of Melbourne that I can NOT get enough of is the street art. Graffiti has such a negative connotation - unless you live in Melbourne where it is a widely accepted form of expression and one of the most popular and creative forms of art. I realized today how precious this type of art is when I walked down one of the most notorious graffiti laneways, Hosier Lane. This street is across from the Atrium entrance of Federation Square and has some of the city's best street art. 

The last time I was here was a few months ago. As I walked down the alley way, it was like it was the first time I had ever seen it - and then I realized that's because essentially, it was the first time ever seeing it. Most street art gets painted over eventually - which makes sense since it's public domain. As tragic and senseless as this concept of painting over & defacing art seemed at first, I began to realize that it was all part of this urban culture. It makes the street art of Melbourne that much more exquisite - that it is ever changing. You can essentially never walk down the same laneway twice because there is always different artwork to see. It makes the city a permanent [not-so-blank] canvas that artists can continue to create amazing things out of.

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Hosier Lane 19 March 2012
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Hosier Lane 21 September 2012
Had I known at the time that I had already photographed this laneway, I would have attempted to get the same exact angle/shot so I could compare. There's always next time:)

Some of my Favorite Street Art I've Come Across:

CBD Laneways

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This laneways is opposite of David Jones
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Hosier Lane - Mar 2012
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Hosier Lane - Sept 2012
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The Atrium from Hosier Lane
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Flinders Lane
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Centre Place

Random/Unknown Places

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If only I knew what bar this was taken at...
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Bike trail along the river between Bridge Rd and Victoria Victoria St

Brunswick Street Laneways

Chapel Street Laneways

 
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*buY a chocolate hair dryer --- that really bothered me too.
I actually didn't end up taking the job at the sports marketing agency. I thought long and hard about it and decided that it was too much of a commitment to be getting paid ZERO dollars to do training for like, 4 weeks. Luckily, I had an interview the following day (after getting offered the 1st job) at this company, World Series Paintball.

So the job posting doesn't say much and so I go in and of course, it's another sales gig. This one however, seemed like a lot less training/commitment and so I thought, what the hell - let's give it a shot. So I had an "observation/job shadow" thing last Friday for World Series. Not what I expected. They go around to industrial areas mainly (sometimes to Unis as well) and try to sell them these "Gold Pass" paintball tickets. Which, you could argue is a scam, but it's actually a pretty good deal. To sum it up, we promote these "$5 tickets" for "everything you need to get you started" (AKA padded suit, gun, mask, entry & 100 paintballs) - which would actually be a good deal if you didn't HAVE to purchase 200 more paintballs when you got there for $40. So no, it's not $5 to go paintballing, it's $45 if you're actually wanting to shoot your gun. And if you were to go there without the "Gold Pass", it's $50 for the same thing (minus the extra hundred paint balls). So it's still kind of a good deal. But not really.

Anyway, I think I've been talking about this "deal" so many times this week that I keep going on about it and can't think about anything else. So yeah, we go around to industrial areas and get rejected dozens and dozens of times. I didn't do terribly for my first week. But to sum it up - I got up at 6am every morning to be at the office by 745, have an hour long meeting, work from 10am-530/6pm and not get home until 7. Every day. Well every week day anyway. I didn't do amazing either. I said I didn't do terrible, but I also didn't do amazing. These girls do a damn good job selling to random old men and what not, but I, on the other hand, ended up making a total of $164 all week. And that's including the commission from the "Ten Pack" Nate & I purchased, so really I only made $129. Did I mention that this job is commission based only? As in NO base wage AT ALL? As in I made one hundred and twenty nine dollars working over 40 hours. That's $3.25 an hour. I think Asian child laborers make more than that.

Surprisingly, the money issue was not the reason my life as a sales rep only lasted 4 days. I could've gotten a lot better at it and I could've made a lot of money. The girls there make a minimum of $800 a week. My boss, who still goes around selling Mon-Fri makes over 150k a year. Granted she gets more commission than we do and also makes commission off our sales as well. 

I personally couldn't do it anymore because I am just not cut out for it. I am a firm believer in the fact that you can only truly be successful at something if you're passionate about it and love it. I didn't love it. I borderline HATED it. I love chatting with people and I spent most of this job making random conversation with people about anything NOT paintball (while also NOT making money). I talked to this guy yesterday for 40 minutes, half the time about what I was going to do about this job I hated. I don't feel comfortable trying to sell something that people don't want, need or will ever even use. I hear myself "pitching my sale" to them and I can hear how fake and insincere I sound. Because I don't care if these people go paintballing or not. Granted in restaurants, I don't really care what people eat, but I at least can give people a good experience while getting food in the restaurant they CHOSE to come eat in.

Bottom line, I don't have the drive to be a good sales rep like those other girls. They did an amazing job and made ridiculous amounts of money, but it's not for me. I hated going into company after company with signs on their doors saying "No Sales Rep/Hawkers/Canvassers" (all synonymous to ME). Most people were nice about it anyway but still, 98% of people I talked to said no to me. And I was even okay with getting all the "no's", I just hated bothering people so much. 

So that is my life as a Sales Rep. Four days total. And now I'm left with a sprained foot (we would walk miiiiles and miiiiiles everyyyy day. I made poor judgement about what shoes to wear), only $129, a week of my life gone, one more job added to my list and another career path I can cross off. I'm okay with it. Yes, I've always been one to jump around jobs, but there's no point being miserable in a job at my age. 
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A reminder for myself.
 
L I F E . V I A . I N S T A G R A M
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Bar None = fave local bar
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My hood->Camberwell.
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Autumn Beauty.
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My work schedule. My boss likes to emphasize my where I come from.
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BEST package from the BEST friend:)
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SDSU ALUMNI! Finally:)
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Good find = Simply Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant. Thank you Groupon!
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Southern<3Cross
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My little study buddy I made while writing papers at work.
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Clever
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Chinatown.
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I don't even think most Aussie's would eat this
"When you belong nowhere, you kind of belong everywhere. When you have nothing, there is the possibility of everything" - Ann Brashares

a few random things:

Officially had my LAST day of class! Possibly my last day of class I will EVER have. But maybe one day I'll decide to go to Grad school. I now have 2 papers, 1 group project and an exam to go until I'm officially DONE!

Graduation at SDSU was a couple weekends ago. Extremely bittersweet. Wish I could've gone but I knew from the beginning that living in Australia > a boring 2 hour ceremony wearing an unflattering, polyester gown. But I'm not gonna lie, I reallyyy wanted to wear it anyway haha. Or at least decorate a cap.

I had the most ODD job working my promotion job yesterday. I got an email for doing a campaign/promo for PomLife at 3:30am-7:30am. Obviously that was a typo on the email because who in their right mind would have us do a promotion at 3:30 in the morning? Unfortunately it was NOT a mistake and so yes, I did in fact wake up at 2am yesterday to catch a cab at 2:40 and start work at 3:15. F.M.L. We went to this huge warehouse a little east of the city to give away samples of PomLife pomegranates to retailers. Not only was it FREEZING cold (4 degrees to be exact. Celcius, anyway) but it was the biggest fail of a promo I've ever worked because all the workers were you know, working and not super interested in trying samples of pomegranates. Most of them had no idea what pomegranates even were. "Ummm what do I do with these?" "You're supposed to eat it sir. It's fruit." My coworker, who I had met that morning, and I ended up just talking the whole time and pretty much learned each other's life story for the next 4 hours.
So I still need to figure out my whole Visa situation so I can come back to this country. It'd be a real bummer if I left to find out I couldn't come back, especially since all my stuff will be here still. I guess there's a US Embassy at St. Kilda beach so I'm attempting to venture that way sometime next week. Amidst all the "studying" (aka facebooking & blogging to procrastinate. I'm actually supposed to be doing my project right now). My biggest distraction is actually watching the NBA playoffs which I am miraculously able to watch on Australian ESPN! I unfortunately have to watch them at 1030 in the morning but we usually DVR them and watch them later anyway. I just have to stay off facebook so I don't see a status about the game haha. 

There were two BEAUTIFUL days in a ROW the last 2 days. Today isn't looking too shabby either. It's another MIRACLE!  So I suppose I should go enjoy it now:)
 
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So after my span of seemingly “soul-searching” kinds of entries, I deemed it necessary to fiiinally actually write about you know, living in Australia and all. And so don’t worry, this is a TRAVEL entry, not a life entry (thank God, I know).

I have obviously been struggling with quite a few things in life right now (yes, I realize this is already starting to sound like a LIFE entry, promise it’s not…not completely anyway), and so here is a list of the ongoing BATTLES I have with this country. (I still love you Australia, don’t worry)

Public Transportation:

There are pros and cons to everything. I thought that the good outweighed the bad in this area, but I am increasingly despising public transportation a little bit more every time the tram is late (which is several times a day).

I am honestly almost impressed at how the Trams & Trains know me so well. And when I say “know me”, I mean HATE me. Or how it bases its being on Murphy’s Law. How can it possibly know that I need to go to an interview across town, so it makes sure the times on the internet are wrong? And then of course, when I get to the tram stop 2 minutes late, the tram was on time and I had missed it. When EVERY single other tram I wait for, is always AT LEAST 3-5 minutes late. You can almost rely on it (unless you’re trying to make it to an interview of course).

The best solution I have come up with for this problem, is to not check times. Always go extra early and more often than not, you end up waiting less than you would if you had prepared and checked the times online before (because like I said, they’re often wrong, and the trams are always late anyway). This unfortunately will not work after about, 7 or 8 o clock when you decide to go out in the city to get drinks because the trams don’t come as often (perhaps every half hour or so). So you may end up waiting longer than you would if you had planned it. Fortunately, you’re usually somewhat inebriated in this situation so waiting isn’t a huge issue. 

As frustrating as it may be, I still enjoy the economically sound (AKA cheapness) and peacefulness of riding on public transportation. There’s no better time to gather your thoughts and relax. Unless you, like me, have a tendency of falling asleep in any kind of moving vehicles and have had to be woken up by the driver on multiple occasions because you’ve reached the last stop. On the last tram of the night. 
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Escuela:

So school has never been my strong point. I guess that’s not really true. In elementary school I was a real “star”. Unfortunately, “uni” involves a tad bit more effort and focus, that I just don’t seem to be able to muster. So I thought that I had senioritis last semester but I didn’t even KNOW what senioritis was until this semester. Granted, these classes don’t actually count for anything because I’m graduating regardless, so I have a good excuse for lacking motivation. However, it’s too bad because these classes can be quite interesting. When I do decide to go.

Other than the battle of trying to even make it to classes, I also have a little bit of difficulty keeping up in one of my classes: Contemporary Australian Politics. When I began the class, I had no idea what the Australian Political system was like AT ALL, but that's not even the problem. It’s actually their viewpoints and perspectives that I have trouble with, because sometimes it’s just so completely different to how we think in The States.

For example, we talked about Australia’s Welfare system. Each class, a few people come to class prepared to debate certain topics. Yesterday we talked about Welfare and “Mutual Obligation”, which in short, is just certain things people that are receiving Welfare need to do in return. Such as getting a college education or doing specific types of community service, regardless if it’s related to “what you want to do in life”. So I kid you not, but students were legitimately saying that these people, who the government was GIVING money to, shouldn’t have to do anything in return. And this just BLOWS my mind because I’m thinking, why should tax payers have to pay for the living costs of lazy individuals? And I mean, if you know me at all, I am in no way conservative/Republican/right-winged AT ALL. I have an almost socialist view of how I would want our society to be.

But anyway, students were arguing for these teen moms and unemployed people – who mind you, aren’t necessarily from poor families and neighborhoods. We’re talking about your normal every-day people who just don’t want to work. It’s NOT hard to get welfare in this country. My teacher admittedly went on about how he got welfare when he was younger because it was so easy to get and you could literally live off of it fairly well. We’re not talking food-stamps here. These people get decent checks in the mail of amounts that people in The States don’t get for actually doing labor and working.

And so they’re arguing about how the Australian government is acting as a dictator by saying these teen-mom-welfare-receiving individuals need to get an education (which they will PAY for) because if someone doesn’t want to go to college, then they shouldn’t be forced to. I thought OUR government babied us, but it turns out that we’re quite harsh. (Granted we have a very high poverty and unemployment rate) but people shouldn’t just be GIVEN money and so much support by hard working tax payers because they don’t feel like working at a job that “isn’t what they want to do”. Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party leader (and “Liberal” to Australians means Republic basically), named these people “job snobs”. There are people here that could get a job and are qualified for jobs, but they don’t want to get work because it’s not the “right job” for them and are waiting around for the right one. And THESE are the people who are receiving welfare. Obviously there are people in need that are receiving it as well, but far too many people in this country get a free ride. There’s a “high unemployment rate” (which to them is about 5%) & also a shortage of skilled labour in many occupations (http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/stories/s27562.htm). (I actually have to write a paper about Welfare and I decided not to because I figured I was going to fail the class anyway. And yet here I am, quoting politicians and citing sources).

Anyway, like I said, these are the battles I’m dealing with. Like shutting my mouth during the class debate so people didn’t think all Americans are heartless. Since you know, these people are just “lost and confused and don’t know what they want to do in life”. Umm yes, I can relate, yet I’m still working two jobs and I’m not even a citizen of this country. But like I said, their perspectives are just so different. Australia is so much more laid-back and relaxed and I suppose, much nicer (as in the opposite of mean), than America. And maybe this kind of perspective has given them an advantage. I mean, it’s given them a LOT lower of an unemployment rate so I guess they did SOMETHING right. In the States if the same issues were brought up, our government would laugh at them and would definitely NOT give them any money just because they haven't found that right job that suited them. But then again, America is a power-hungry country with a high poverty/unemployment rate that can't afford to give any money away because we spent all our money on the war. (Still love you though, US!) So I guess it's all about perspective on which of these two countries is better off. And in what sense "better off" would mean.

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Work:

So it seems fairly hypocritical that I am going to complain about work right after that whole welfare shpeal…schpeal? However you spell that word…but at LEAST I have a job. Although I don’t think this country would give me welfare checks regardless, so maybe I’m just biased ha. Anyway, I’m struggling with this whole “not-tipping” concept. Right, it’s great when I go out to bars and restaurants and the price on the menu is what I’ll ACTUALLY be paying, and not 30% more (tax + tip). But when I’m on the other side of it, NOT receiving tips, it’s quite a bust.

I’ve worked in the serving/restaurant industry for what, 7 years now? Ever since my lovely little hostess gig at the Denny’s down the street from my house in Orangevale. And even THEN I got tipped. Anyway, I have dealt with a fair amount of abuse from customers saying their food sucked, or their drink wasn’t strong enough, or they put too much tomato sauce – whoa, I mean KETCHUP – on their burger so they need a new one and blah blah blah. Okay, you’re giving me money – like literally handing me money that I get to put in my pocket and go home with and spend on drinks later. SOO, I will put up with your nonsense. But Mr. I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-my-seat-and-order-at-the-register-even-though-this-is-a-café-where-everyone-else-is-but-you-should-serve-me-at-my-table-and-then-I’m-going-to-yell-at-you-because-you-should’ve-known-I-wanted-a-large-sized-latte-even-though-I-never-told-you-but-you-should’ve-read-my-mind – I don’t want to deal with you because YOU are not giving me my future rum&coke money. I am clearly losing a lot of patience with these people. Especially since I live in & work in this apparently “up-scale” town of Camberwell where even Australians can be snobby and a PAIN in my “arse” (that’s what Aussie’s say instead of ASS…weird). 

Unfortunately there’s no way to spin this battle to make it into a half-full cup of water or whatever the phrase is.

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Oh the Weather Outside is Weather…:

(Forgetting Sarah Marshall reference if you didn’t know. If you didn’t know, go watch it). So I for some reason, used to call San Diego weather bipolar. And I’m honestly confused as to why I did that. Because from what I remember, it was about 70-75 degrees and PERFECT about 300 days out of the year. Yes, there are 65 more days where the weather was a little less than perfect. Perhaps 65 degrees or 80 degrees. Every now and then it would rain.

I now know, like how I know how what senioritis is, what BIPOLAR WEATHER is. People actually call Melbourne the city that has 4 seasons in a day, or something more eloquently said than that. I am literally sitting in my room at this moment with the sun glaring off the neighbors’ window and straight into my eyes, when it was dark and cloudy about 10 minutes ago. No joke. It will rain for 20 seconds sometimes and then suddenly subside long enough for the sun to come out for about 15 minutes and then 10 minutes after that, I hear thunder and lightning. Sure, it sounds kinda cool. But what the hell am I supposed to wear when I’m getting dressed for the day? 

My iPhone weather app says it has a 40% chance of rain. I look out the weather and it’s completely sunny. I get ready and the clouds take over so I put on my rainboots, only to trudge around in school in them, feeling like an idiot while everyone else is wearing sandals in the sunshine and humidity. The only thing worse than that is deciding on wearing Toms and getting completely soaked because it starts pouring rain. And usually I would just bring my umbrella just because of how sporadic the weather is, but the wind & rain destroyed mine. That was also during an episode of battling the trams and having to run to my interview. (Evidence below).

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Fortunately, all the rain and bad weather (I’ve actually NEVER been in so much rain in my entire life) makes me appreciate every single day of good weather. Unfortunately, most of the days happen to be on the days I’m stuck inside working. (Murphy’s Law at it again..or is Catch 22? I honestly never could remember which was which and which applied to my life. Probably both ha). But regardless, it's nice to wake up to a beautiful day when your weather app told you there was a 95% chance of rain every single day. Every now and then, the unlikely 5% can endure:)

 
So I’m almost officially NOT unemployed, after three very long, leisurely months. Obviously I had to get a job sooner or later, although I preferred the latter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t have a strong passion for serving tables – ha. I applied to a few jobs online and got a few responses but I’ve been looking for something that pertains to what I’m studying. I mean, it would always be ideal to get a job that goes towards what you’re trying to do with your life, and extremely ideal to NOT serve again.

Of course, serving jobs are the easiest to come by, especially if you have experience. And this definitely holds true in Australia. I decided to suck it up since it has officially been a month living here, and go drop off my resume. Like I’ve mentioned before, I live in a good area that’s close to a ton of cafes and restaurants and shops. I figured at least one of them would be willing to hire me, especially if I applied to every single one.

So I set out last Friday with 8 resumes printed. And by the way, this isn’t your normal 1 page American resume. This is a “CV”/”Curriculum Vitae” (or something?) that’s about 3 pages long and goes into deal what skills you have acquired and how you use them, what companies you’ve worked for and what they’re all about and so on and so forth for 3 pages. The first place I went was this Italian restaurant that I’ve seen always pretty packed and they said that they would call me in a few days. The next 2 places I dropped it off at gave me an interview right then and there. The 4th place I went to asked me if I could come in and do a “trial” the following week. Then I dropped two more off for shits and giggles and they weren’t hiring anyway.

I figured I may as well call it a quits for the day since it had been relatively successful. I got a call about an hour after getting home asking me to come back into one of the restaurants I had dropped off my resume. Showed up and they pretty much offered me the job – only it wasn’t a part time/”casual” job that I was looking for, but full-time. By the way, these crazy Aussie’s have this thing called “casual” work which I guess is pretty ideal for travelers – something along the lines of being “on call” pretty much the entire time..something along those lines. Anyway, as my sister, Mallory, put it perfectly – I didn’t come to Australia to work full-time, let alone working full time serving. Not down. So I kindly declined.

So now I’ve gone to 2 “trials” – which sounds weird but I suppose it makes sense. They basically just throw you in and see how you do. You get half-assed trained and they see if you sink or swim. I suppose it’s quite an effective way to hire adequate servers. Unfortunately I sank at my first trial – sorry I can’t bring drinks to table 25 when you haven’t told me which table is 25. And that I don’t recognize all of their 50 Australian wines. Anyway, the second trial went quite well and they even put me on the schedule! Mind you, it’s when I have class and now I have to get it covered (they had me fill out the availability form and I’m pretty sure I did it backwards….put an X every AM & PM I could work – which is all of them except for Monday & Tuesday AM’s. I, of course, got scheduled Monday AM), but that must have meant I did something right!

It’s at this super cute Italian café about 3 minutes walking from my house. All the food looks delicious and everyone that works there seemed pretty chill. It’s your basic café job so I would work the register, bring out food, handle cash etc. Nothing crazy. Unfortunately (isn’t there always an “unfortunately”..) the pay is pretty shitty, or as the Aussie’s say, “the pay is pretty shit” (apparently “shit” is an adjective here as well). I get it, the minimum wage here is way higher and $12 an hour might not sound bad, but they don’t tip here. And so $12 really isn’t the best of deals. Especially when other places had offered me $15 and I thought that was “shit”.

Anyway, I’m going in for another trial this Wednesday, along with an interview Wednesday morning as well. And this one is for a big kid job! It’s an Event Marketing and Information Assistant at this not-for-profit company, BrainLink, which is an organization aimed at funding money for different kinds of brain disease patients. Pretty much the PERFECT job because I’ve been working with non-profits AND it’s an event position AND not to mention it pays $30 an hour. Oh AND it’s only 8 hours a week, which is perfect for a person (me) that wants to travel a lot!

Sooo to sum everything up à if you have serving experience, you’ve got a GOOD shot at finding a job in Australia relatively easily. And I’m pretty sure being American, where customer service is our number one priority, doesn’t hurt either. Don’t let employers trick you into working “close to full time” when they actually 100% mean FULL time as in Thursday – Sunday for 10 hours a day, and no, I doubt you get breaks either (I’ve heard people don’t get breaks). Pretty much, if you’re able to be picky and don’t want to get screwed over – don’t settle. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before but employers don’t really care about you because you’re expendable. You kinda just gotta turn it around sometimes, especially if you DO have lots of experience, and realize that there are plenty of job opportunities if you work hard to find them so make sure you have your priorities straight.

Obviously, my priorities are something like fun, traveling, relaxing, then maybe school, perhaps working after that ;)

You’re life is what you make it. Stop bitching about your stupid jobs and either get a new one, maybe work towards what you got your degree in or do something exciting. Obviously I’m not right on my way to being super successful and getting a great job but that’s not what I want to do right now. My first priorities are having fun and traveling and that’s what I’m doing.

A few other tips -- If you're planning on looking for work, make sure to apply for a Tax File Number (you can just google it and apply online) because it takes about 1-2 weeks to get in the mail and you need one to work, otherwise you get taxed the shit out of. Also, look up Aussie Resume Builders online. I used one through Deakin, but it gives you the format of how they want it to look, which is pretty different to how I've been taught in the states. OH & just FYI - they LOOOVE our American accents and our culture so show some personality : )

 
Brighton Beach. Laser Tag. Healesville Sanctuary. Melbourne Zoo. Moomba Festival. Movies.

Heard about Brighton Beach and how they have all these cute little beach sheds along the beach and so Nate and I went last week. It wasn't the most amazing beach, but the sheds were super cute. It didn't even take too long to get there. We live in a super convenient location right next to a train station that goes pretty much everywhere, sometimes with a few layovers. Brighton Beach was about 40 minutes from us. It might seem long but it's not bad if you consider the lack of parking you have to do. AND it's SO cheap to get around on public transportation. I have a "MyKi" card and a concession card (student discount) and it's $4 a day, for wherever you want to go. I discovered a couple weeks ago, though, that if you pay for a few weeks in advance, it's even cheaper. So it's only like, $2 a day for me, or $50ish a month. Which isn't bad, comparing it to the $60 I spent a week on gas back home.
We also went laser tagging at DarkZone. It was definitely, by FAR, the most intense hour and a half of laser tag, or maybe just LIFE in general hah. There were maybe 35 or so people and we all were on 3 separate teams. It was pretty much all college students and the venue was HUGE. I think it was 3 stories or so and everybody had a home base that they had to protect. Definitely the best $15 I ever spent.

I've been DYING to hold a Koala Bear (& possibly kidnap it & bring it home) so Nate and I went to the Healesville Sanctuary. Unfortunately it's illegal to hold koalas in Victoria so I'm gonna have to go to Queensland to find one haha. Healesville was AWESOME though. It's not your typical zoo, though, where everything is super caged up and separated. All that separates you from most of the animal is a simple fence where they're just hanging out so you can pet them and feed them (2nd pic is me feeding a wallaby!) We visited the animal hospital right when they brought in an eagle with a broken leg and wing. We got to watch them care for it and one of the doctors showed us the eagle's x-rays. Yesterday, we also went to the Melbourne Zoo, which was more like your standard zoo but still more open than the zoos I'm used to. I've only really been to the San Diego Zoo, which is like, world famous & humungous, so these zoos are a lot different. They're just so much more open and all of the animals are way more active, which is the best part.)
The Moomba Festival is an annual Festival set right in the city on the river. They have a waterski tournament going on the entire weekend and fireworks every night. And then of course all your typical games and rides and food. We didn't go on any rides because it was like, $10 a person to go on anything, but we had fun just walking around. I saw someone with a huge. purple plush Sac Kings basketball and they told me they won it so we searched everywhere for the booth. By the time I got there, there weren't any Kings balls left :( The fireworks show was awesome - they had it synced with famous opera music and it was coming from the middle of the river.
I absolutely LOVE this city. Despite how expensive it is, there's so many things you can do, and a lot of things you can do for free. Like the Moomba Festival - you might not be able to ride any rides for free, but at least it's free to go. I feel like there's just so many hidden secrets about this city you can only find if you decide to just wander around, or get lost, like I have on a few occasions : )
I've been fortunate enough to get lost and find some AMAZING graffiti, a beautiful bike trail along the river and the random [not-on-purpose] humor these crazy Aussie's have everywhere.
God i LOVE this city.
 
When I first came here, I tried really hard to save money and not splurge on unnecessary things, especially since the price of everything is pretty much double. I was literally eating a piece of fruit for breakfast and lunch and then maybe eating something decent for dinner. But then Nate came and we fell into the habit of cooking nice meals, because we always did back home. I think we've gone to the grocery store about every other day.

But I decided last week that I wanted to go out and eat as much as possible because isn't that the point of why I'm here? I mean, I'm obviously not here for the sole purpose of eating, but I mean going out and exploring the city and trying new places and eating new things. Granted I probably haven't tried that many NEW things, but we've gone to plenty of restaurants and bars. I've been saving up for this trip for quite some time so I may as well spend the money I have:)

A few people have told me to check out a few places so we've been trying to go to as many of them as possible, while of course, finding some hidden places on our own. We live right down the street from Camberwell where's a TON of little cafes and restaurants and bars and so we've been trying to go to as many as possible.
There's a TON of cute little Italian restaurants on all these little side streets in the city. We found one a week or so ago and ordered this Antipasto plate (1st pic) that was AMAZING - it had EVERYTHING on it; chicken, sausage, calamari, salmon, cheeses, bread, etc. There's also a ton of Asian restaurants of course too that are pretty cheap. We looked for a place on Yelp to celebrate Nate getting a job (a banking job with NAB - National Australian Bank - soo proud of him!!) and Movida got really good reviews and it was in the $$ range ($ being cheap, $$$$ being the most expensive) so we went. It was a little Spanish Tapas Bar and it was AMAZING. Unfortunately, every $5ish tapas plate was LITERALLY one bite. And a tiny bite at that. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to paying $20 minimum for dinner.
Alcohol here is also insanely expensive. It's depressing really. This is actually Captain on SALE here. Sooo sad. So we've basically been drinking a LOT of wine. Bowler's Run is a life saver -- $3 for a bottle! We went to Costco yesterday because if there's cheap alcohol ANYWHERE in Australia, it HAS to be at Costco. Wrong. I'm pretty sure prices are the same, if not more, despite the Costco lady on the phone saying that their prices were quite a bit cheaper (liar). Costco was the ultimate FAIL, although we did come home with a delicious (& huge) jar of chocolate covered raisins : )


 
So I've failed to write for a few weeks so I have a good amount of stuff to write about:) I figured I would kind of separate the entries so I wouldn't just have one realll long entry. The past few weeks have been amazing! Nothing too crazy, but a lot of exploring, wine, eating and more settling in.

I didn't even mention in my last entry that I had started class (I guess we can see where my priorities are ha). They've been relatively interesting. A couple of the lectures are rather boring, but it could be in part that I can barely understand anything the professor is saying. I swear Australian English can be a completely different language than American English.
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This is my "wishlist" that I made, since Deakin's website doesn't really have the same tools that I had from SDSU. They're actually pretty mellow about the classes you take. You can pretty much switch into any "tutorial" or "seminar" you want. By the time I had tried to get into my Philosophy class, it was full and so I just emailed the teacher and he said to just come to class. And then when I got there he just had me sign my name and that was it! They have tutorials or "tuts", which I compare to break-out sessions. You basically just discuss what the teacher talked about in the Lecture. And then there are seminars which is basically a lecture slash tutorial and there are practicals.

I would say that the work load is definitely quite different then how college was back home. They definitely have a lot less assignments, but each of them are obviously worth a lot more. I was kinda nervous at first because I already had a presentation the 2nd week of school, but it was super easy. It was for my philosophy class and I don't think I have spent less time preparing for a presentation and the teacher told us that we got a 9/10, which is the highest score he gives. Not too shabby:)

The first day of school was actually quite frustrating. I wrote down my "timetable" (which is what they say everywhere instead of a schedule) and the classroom number would be Lecture Theater 13 or something but it wouldn't say what building it was in. And so I would walk around campus looking for it (luckily this campus is TINY. People here think it's a rather large campus but I would say that SDSU is about 6 times bigger) and ask people, anyone really, if they knew where it was and nobody did. As if it were every adult/student I asked was their first fricken day there as well. I was late to every class I think but so were a bunch of other people. Timeliness is not the Aussie's best attribute.

But anyway, I don't think my classes will be half bad. I think I only have one test out of all my classes and the rest I have 1 or 2 essays per class and then a presentation. I was trying really hard in the first 2 weeks to make sure I was doing all the work and readings and what not, but I tried this week to not care about it all hah. Sounds weird, but I came here to travel and explore and be immersed in the culture and I don't even need the classes to graduate anyway. I'm going to go to [most] of them because they're interesting and I want to learn about Australia (one of my classes is "Australia Today" and it's for international students to learn about well..Australia today. I'm also taking an Australian Politics class so I'll be learning a fair amount of practical things:). But it's my LAST semester as a college student and I definitely think some senioritis is called for:)

 
When I first arrived in Australia, they told us at our International Students trip that we would experience emotions on the "W Curve". Which, initially, relieved me because I realized I wasn't the only one that was having adjustment issues. I have a tendency of putting up a front like everything is okay and I'm having the time of my life at all times. Not the case when I first arrived, which I have already explained. But anyway, Got through the culture shock and have been going through the recovery the last week or so. Nathaniel finally got here so I'm sure that was part of it. But even if he wasn't here, although I'm obviously glad he is, I think I still would be okay.

Anyway, I moved out of my sh*thole of a house, pardon my language. You know how I said before that the hard part was finding someone to fill my room? Wrong (again). The hardest part was finding a place for both me and Nate to live in. I decided I wanted to be closer to the city & basically just out of the middle of nowhere (AKA Burwood). So we went through the grueling process of searching for places and calling/texting/emailing dozens and dozens of people. We finally found a place that was a tad bit expensive, and when I say a tad bit, I mean extremely and ridiculously expensive, yet BEAUTIFUL place in Hawthorn. It's an amazing location right by all these shops and restaurants and bars and shopping and EVERYTHING. It's about 15 minutes to Deakin and only a 10 minute express train ride to the city. MONEY. (Literally, a LOT of money hah.) But it was soo worth it so we decided to go for it. If we both decided to do housing separately, we'd each be paying more, so it's really not that big of a deal that I'm paying almost as much a WEEK as I did for a MONTH of rent at my old place in San Diego. It's on the 4th floor at the top of the building, has a huge balcony/patio, the whole place is huge & clean and new and beautifullll.

So we moved in and that was yet another arduous process. We had to take multiple trips to the new place from my old place via TRAM and lug all of our luggage on and off and walked miles and miles (okay, Nate did most of the carrying). And so the last 2 days have been spent making our room a room. Because, oh yeah - this room wasn't furnished either. So we made due with an air mattress for the first couple of nights and then decided to finally hit up Ikea - yup, they have it here too - and break the bank a little bit. We didn't do half bad either. I feel like a broke college kid all over again:) We also had a great time lugging back a bed (in a box of course because it's Ikea. But it's stil a bed, which is very heavy) and a bedside table along with other random stuff. 

I also opened up a bank account here finally (& a joint bank account w/ Nate - yikes! Our bank teller thought it was very exciting that it was our first time opening a joint account together. OOOH, and the savings accounts here give you 5.5% interest. RIDIC. If you ever come here, get an account where you can withdraw or transfer all of your money from your home country to Australia and just keep everything in your savings so you can earn interest). We've finally cooked some real meals for ourselves and have groceries in the fridge for the first time in months. This is also the first time in 3 months that I've had a real closet and a real room. I've been moving from San Diego to the bay to Sacramento to Vegas back to San Diego to Australia and had roughly 14 different residencies all together. So it feels nice to finally not live out of a suitcase.

A few great discoveries I've learned the last couple days: Australia has Groupon! They also have Yelp, which is equally as exciting! We found a couple good asian restaurants and markets that were pretty cheap (the only cheap thing we've found in Australia). We walked around the city yesterday for the first time and discovered how HUGE it is and amazingly beautiful as well. & Nate made some delicious rootbeer floats with Captain Morgan, A&W & cookies 'n cream ice cream - BOMB:)