Showing posts with label Expat Q and A Linkup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Expat Q and A Linkup. Show all posts

Monday, December 16, 2013

Expat To Expat Q&A {Holiday Edition}

Expat Q&A
Linking up today with Found Love Now What and The Hemborg Wife for this month's Expat to Expat Q&A which is all about the holiday season!

Has your idea of the holiday season changed since becoming an expat?
It was really interesting to experience Christmas in Australia last year.  And this year, we will be here until Dec. 24... so I basically will have two Aussie Christmases under my belt.  There are a lot of things I observed from being able to compare the way a big holiday like Christmas is celebrated in two different places.  But what stands out most is that for what I'm sure is a multitude of reasons, Christmas is very very VERY North American-ized/ European-ized.  I mean sure Australia has their fair share of Santa's depicted in board shorts surfing, but even still, the majority of the images/ideas surrounding Christmas are still very "western."  They still sing Jingle Bells and Let It Snow... you see snowmen in the stores... kids read books about Santa coming down the chimney, etc.  Guys, it is SUMMER here.  Most people in Australia have never seen snow, you would have to be crazy to have a fireplace here, pine trees do not exist here, and hot chocolate?  No way!  It is just so strange to me.  But it also makes me realize how powerful the images and ideas that North America and Europe project about something like a holiday (among other things) really are.  Sure, people here do have their own Christmas traditions that are better suited to their weather and lifestyles (grilling and hanging out at the pool or beach with a cold beer), but it almost makes me a little sad... that "our" culture has to be so overwhelming even on the other side of the world. 

How do you build new holiday traditions, while keeping ones that remind you of “home”?  
Last year was the first Christmas away from home for both David and I.  It was hard for both of us, although probably a little more for me since Christmas isn't AS big of a deal in his family.  I knew I would be sad to be so far away, so last year I made sure that we made our house feel as Christmas-y as possible.  We bought a fake tree and decorated it, put up lights, I made a big Christmas Eve dinner, and we had stockings and presents on Christmas morning followed by a big breakfast.  Doing these things definitely helped make being so far away a little easier.  It was also fun to incorporate some new traditions.  On Boxing Day last year (Dec. 26), we spent that day at the beach.  Now THAT is something I can definitely get on board with and would love to be able to make that a Christmas tradition.  Aussies also do a lot of vacationing around Christmas time since this is their summer and the long break from school for the kids.  So we also took part in that tradition and traveled to Melbourne just a few days after Christmas.  Again, I could totally partake in a post-Christmas vacay each year! 

Decorating our tree in shorts, bare feet, and tank top/short sleeves
This year has been a very different Christmas season again, but for other reasons.  We knew months ago that we would be visiting home for the holidays, and I was SO  looking forward to getting to feel those "American Christmas feelings" and be near friends and family.  However, once we found out we were moving and that our flights were now one way flights, I got a little scroogy about Christmas.  I'm just taking my frustration and sadness out on Christmas.  Sorry- nothing personal.  Basically what happened was Christmas began to be associated with a move that I was sad about, so I just kind of have avoided doing much of anything Christmas-related at all this year.  How scroogy is that?!  But I know that once we leave I will be fine, and I'll be able to put my displaced anger at Christmas aside.  And at that point, I fully intend on soaking up every last ounce of Christmas that I can on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Expat to Expat Q & A ~ Perceptions of Our Expat Life

Question #1: How do your family and friends back home perceive your new life, and is it accurate?

I actually think my family and close friends do have a pretty accurate perception of our life here in Australia.  Because I talk to these people pretty frequently, they are able to hear about both the positives and the negatives of living here.  However I'd say that my parents and my friend Jen (shout out to her new expat blog, "Lady, Relocated") probably have the best idea of what it's like to live here since we were lucky enough to have them visit already. It's one thing to tell people about the place you live and the experiences you're having, but it's another to actually be able to show them those places and let them experience the place for themselves. 

If I'm being honest, I guess it's probably safe to say that the friends I don't talk to regularly or other acquaintances from back home probably have a pretty distorted perception of what our life here is like.  And that is mostly because these are the people who only get to see the occasional Facebook travel photo updates.  By simply only considering what people see on social media, life probably looks pretty glamorous here.  Of course that is true sometimes- we are so lucky to be here and to get to do so much travelling, but those people don't get to see the other side of things: the challenges of living so far away, culture shock on a daily basis, dealing with my husband's ridiculously long work hours, etc.  During the time between the travelling (which is the majority of our time here), life here truly is pretty normal. 

Question #2: Do you find the need to edit your life from friends and family? 

I really try not to do this.  I try to be pretty open and honest about what life is like here- both the positives and the negatives.  However, I guess every once in a while, I have found myself "toning things down" a bit- this applies to both the highs and the lows.  By this I mean, I try to be careful not to come off as "brag-y" during the times that we do get to travel and see amazing places.  I want to share my photos and stories from these times so that my family and close friends can feel like they somehow shared in that experience with us, but not come off as obnoxious or boastful at the same time.  And on the other end of the spectrum, I sometimes also tend to "tone down" the lows as well.  By this I mean that if I'm having a really low or homesick day, I often try and minimize that to a certain extent when talking to family or close friends.  Not because I don't want to talk about it, but more because sometimes talking about it makes me really dwell on it more and sometimes end up feeling worse. 
The Glamorous Side of Our Aussie Life:


The Not-so-glamorous Side of Our Aussie Life:


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Expat to Expat Q & A {August Questions}

Linking up with Belinda and Bailie for this month's Expat to Expat Q & A!

Found Love. Now What?

1. What is your favorite food store in your city and why?
Well, to be quite honest, there aren't a whole lot of options.  However, I am pretty loyal to one food/grocery store here in Australia, and that is Woolworth's.  And since it's Australia and everything here is required to be abbreviated, I meant to say "Woolie's."  When I first moved, I was actually kind of nervous about what grocery shopping in another country would be like.  The first couple times, were a little overwhelming and did take like 2 hours, but I've since found that this store does for the most part have most things I need.  Don't get me started on Mexican food ingredients though...

Looks mostly the same as grocery stores in the US...
Except, I'm still getting used to seeing items like this:

2. For your answer to number 1 is it ok to buy the store brand items or do you pay extra for a name brand?

I've never been finicky about brand name versus generic.  I pretty much always just buy what is cheaper... and sometimes that is surprisingly the brand name.   
3. What do you think is the best way to get about your city? i.e. bus, bike, car, etc.
For being a small town, you would think getting around by foot or bike would be a good option here.  Unfortunately, this isn't the case.  Although it is a small town, things are pretty spread out, making a car absolutely necessary.  A bike could be useful in some instances, however, from about September through November, bike riding can be somewhat of a dangerous adventure.  You see, during that time of year, a native bird here- the magpie- is in the middle of its mating and nesting season.  These birds are extremely territorial during that time, and are known to literally stalk and even sometimes become aggressive to people on bikes or those walking/running.  It sounds made up, but it's true!  People brave enough to ride bikes during this time don't do so without ridiculous-looking zip ties poking out of their helmets as a magpie deterrent.  This is no joke, people!

 4.. Which store do you turn to for basics like toilet paper or cleaning supplies?

 There's not really anything similar to Target or Walmart here, which is where I bought those items in the States.  Here, I usually buy basics like TP or cleaning supplies at the grocery store, or sometimes even the pharmacy (which they actually call "the chemist" here).   
5. Where do you think is the best place in your city to get a cup of coffee (or beverage you prefer) and catch up with friends?
Since Australia has a lot of British influence, morning and afternoon tea/coffee are a pretty big part of daily life here.  So for a small town, there are a surprising number of coffee shops to choose from.  I myself don't like coffee, but I've become quite a chai tea latte aficionado since being here.  My favorite coffee place is probably "The Hungry Cow."  I love this place because it has tons of outdoor seating, and their chai lattes are great.  They also have a really great lunch and dinner menu as well. 
David sitting on one of the many cow seats you can actually sit on at the Hungry Cow
Plus these questions from Emma, at Adventures of a London Kiwi:
  • What was your “eureka, I’m practically a native” moment?
Truthfully, I don't think I've actually had one of these "eureka" moments yet, in fact, someone jokingly called me "fresh off the boat" just the other day.  I do still feel like a fish out of water most of the time.  Although when I do meet someone from the US who has just moved here, then I do feel pretty "native" in some ways. 
  • Does your real accent get in the way?
Yes! I notice this mostly at work.  Although, it's not so much the "accent" that gets in the way, but more the difference in American English vs. Australian English.  There are SO many words and phrases that differ in these supposed "same" languages.  I can't tell you how many "stupid moments" I've had at work when someone asks me something or asks me to do something for them and I have no idea what they're talking about.  Same goes for when I'm communicating with students.  If I tell them to throw something away, go to the restroom, use an eraser, write the letter z or h, or share markers- I get blank stares.  I'm still learning to instead say: put your rubbish in the bin, go to the toilet, use a rubber, write the letter "haych" or "zed," share your textas. 

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Expat to Expat Q & A - Travel

I guess after blogging everyday (minus two) in May, I needed a half month off!  So much for the blogging momentum I thought I had built :-)  Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things now by joining the "Expat to Expat Q&A" linkup.  This month's topic is about travel.   

Found Love.  Now What?

1. Which airport would you like to never see again?
I haven't really had a terrible airport experience (knock on wood), but I can think of a train station I would never like to see again- the Venice train station!  While studying abroad in Spain during college, I traveled to Italy with a group of girls from my program.  We planned to stop through Venice for one day and night on our way to Florence.  Well, our plane to Venice was extremely late... so much so that we had lost the entire day to explore Venice, and the hostel we had made a booking at was already closed by the time we got there.  We didn't know what else to do until our train left the next morning, so we ended up having to spend the night in the Venice train station.  It was sketchy as hell- to put it lightly.  Not to mention that it was fuh-reezing cold.  Needless to stay, not one of us slept a wink. 

These smiles didn't last long.
2. What is your travel nightmare?
I'm always paranoid about forgetting my passport.  I check about a million times before leaving to make sure that I have it.  Also, I don't really mind getting stuck in an airport, BUT my idea of a nightmare is getting in one of those situations where you're stuck on the plane on the tarmac for hours on end.  I hope I never find myself in that situation!

3. Would your rather stay in a fancy hotel and do less activities or stay in a hostel and do more activities?
Somewhere in between.  I definitely prioritize activities/sights/events while traveling, but as I get older (and further away from my student traveling days), I am a little more particular about where we stay.  It's hard to really enjoy and get the most out of a place when you are uncomfortable and not well-rested. 

4. Do you have any pre-travel rituals?
I always have to have a magazine to read during flight- preferably of the gossip magazine genre.  I also almost always have to have a diet soda for the flight... even though I know I should drink water. 

5. What is your favorite airline to fly with?
In the U.S., I love love LOVE flying Southwest.  You can't beat their prices, and the employees and crew members are always so friendly (and sometimes even entertaining while on board).  In Australia, I love to fly Qantas.  They're a little more on the pricey side, but unfortunately there aren't really many other options... especially when flying in/out of our town's little airport.  I love that they serve free booze even in economy, and they have great in-flight entertainment options on the longer flights. 

6. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
For some reason, ever since I can remember, I have always dreamed about going to Bora Bora.  Or anywhere where I can stay in a hut over water, really.  I'd also really love to go to Greece someday. 

7.  How do survive long haul flights?
Tylenol PM.  Seriously.  There is no way I could have survived my 16 hour flight from Dallas to Brisbane, AUS without it. 

8. What is your favorite stamp in your passport and why?
Well, my Spanish Visa was my favorite for a long time.  It was this really fancy, and actually quite pretty, sticker that got its very own page in my old passport.  Now that I have a new passport, my favorite stamp is the one I got when I first arrived in Australia.  I remember that feeling very momentous and exciting!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Expat to Expat Q & A

Since starting this blog, I've become a bit of an "expat blog junkie."  Many of the blogs I follow are those of fellow expats across the world.  I love reading about other parts of the world, travel adventures, and mostly feeling a sort of camaraderie with people who understand the "expat life."  One of my new favorite expat bloggers, Belinda at Found Love, Now What is co-hosting an Expat to Expat Q&A session, where expats from around the world are invited to answer the same set of questions.  Here's the link to the original link-up post.  The April questions and my responses are below.  Enjoy! 

A bit of my expat background: I now live in Queensland, Australia, but I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona.  I've also lived in Spokane, WA.; Granada, Spain; Los Angeles, CA; and Houston, TX.  I've been in Australia since August 2012. 

1. What was your favorite season back home and is it the same now; why or why not?
In Phoenix and Houston, my favorite season was Spring. Even though Spring in these two places can sometimes be all too short with summer often coming much too soon, I still loved this time.  I love the 70-90 temperature range, blooming flowers, sitting outside, and while teaching I loved taking my kiddos outside during this time. 

2. Is there a place you would want to move to based solely on the weather?
My ideal temperature range is 70-90 degrees. For the two years I lived in California, I got to experience this perfect weather nearly year round.  So, I guess I would move (back) to California, simply for the weather. 

3. What is an article of clothing that you had to buy for your new home due to the weather? i.e. galoshes, winter coat, etc
Having lived in my fair share or warm weather climates (Phoenix, Los Angeles, Houston), my wardrobe didn't really need many additions.  However, I DID have to buy a sun hat.  Australians are really big on sun protection, and just about everyone wears sun hats.  At the schools, teachers are required to wear hats outside, and the students follow the rule of "no hat, no play." 

My trusty Australian sun hat- a new wardrobe staple.
4. Have you found the weather stereotypes of your new home to be true?
Absolutely. Australia, especially Queensland, is probably just how you imagine it- hot and sunny just about everyday.  I've been here 8 months now, and I've been wearing the same clothes the whole time- never once having to cover my arms.  Since summer weather in Houston started in May and I moved at the end of August, this has essentially been what I've dubbed, "The Year of the Never-ending Summer." However, when the weather DOES change here (rain, etc.), the changes can be quite extreme

5. Is there somewhere you would never live based solely on the weather?
I do NOT do well with cold weather. Being born and raised in Phoenix truly made me a desert rat. I'd rather be hot than cold any day!  So, with that said, I could never live somewhere with harsh and extreme winters- especially where those winters were mostly gray. The four years I spent in Spokane, WA for college were amazing, but I really struggled with the weather. 

Don't let the smile fool you- I am a HUGE cold weather wimp!
6. What are you looking forward to most this spring?
Well, since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, we are currently in Fall (strange, I know).  Although, the seasons seem to be more of just a technicality.  Like I mentioned earlier, I've seen very little weather change in the 8 months I've been here. 

7. Where you live, what is your go to outfit for spring?
Again, I've been able to pretty much wear the same types of clothes the entire 8 months I've been here- which consists mostly of what one would consider summer and spring clothes.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would definitely be a sun dress and sandals. 

8. What is one thing or event that you miss that happens back home at this time of the year?
In Houston, the start of Spring (well early March) marks the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  This is basically a 2 week long holiday in Houston.  I was never a huge rodeo/western person, but I LOVE the rodeo. This year was the first time in 5 years I wasn't able to go.  I love the food, the BBQ Cookoff, the great concerts, the rides, and of course, the ridiculous and hilarious tradition of mutton bustin'.

Houston Rodeo 2012 - BBQ Cookoff
9. If your hubs could bring home a bouquet of any type of flower, what you pick?
I love gerber daisies and tulips!

10. What does your perfect Saturday look like?
I LOVE to sleep late, and luckily haven't lost that "talent" yet.  So I'd sleep in with no alarms set, enjoy my favorite meal of the day at a fun brunch restaurant, do something outside (go for a walk, swim, etc.), go shopping, and then enjoy a night of dinner and drinks out with the hubby.

Bonus: Are there any special holidays in your new country in the month of May?
None in May, but April 25 was Anzac Day here. I'm never one to argue with a holiday that provides a day off-even if it did happen to fall on a Thursday this year.