Monthly Archives: June 2013

Breaking out of Comfort

In “The Social Dilemma” I talked about having social anxiety and my fears- and hopes- of traveling and learning how better to deal with it. Since landing in Australia four weeks ago I’ve made an effort to put myself out there and try new things, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. I can’t count how many times I sat at this very laptop and read account after account of other travelers with social phobias or introversion state how the more and more they traveled the more and more comfortable they became talking to strangers. I literally fantasized about being able to sit in a cafe and just say, “hello” to someone without thinking twice about it… actually I still fantasize about that, but it’s baby steps!

My first self-imposed challenge was a week after I arrived. There’s a fantastic group on LinkedIn called, “The Rugby Business Network” that connects anyone with a love for rugby with an aim to help business. The Sydney chapter have networking events roughly once a month, and coincidentally held their June event just as I arrived. I decided to sign up and give it a go with the mind set of the worst case scenario I would walk into a room of old businessmen drinking scotch on the rocks reminiscing about the glory days of their youth.  The event was held at The Rugby Club, a laid back bar/lounge tucked in a side street near Circular Quay in the CBD. (Side note: if you want relaxed atmosphere with great memorbilia decor to watch a match or grab a pint check this place out.)

As quickly as I entered the room I was spotted as a foreigner… where’s my table to hide under?! At this point I was still confident but it was quickly fleeting. Luckily, the spotter was Adrian Skeggs, a former Wallaby and the coordinator of the event. He quickly introduced himself and sorted me at a table where I was introduced to a man who works in advertising and a man who coaches rugby. We were quickly joined by two lovely women who work at a lawfirm and were there promoting a charity function they were putting together. The evening went on with a talk from former Wallaby, Phil Waugh and everyone was laughing and having a good time. The outcome was a good night out and a few new contacts. Baby step number one ended with me not falling flat on my rump.

Step two: Travelers unite!

Never underestimate the bond between travelers. I’ve experience an overwhelming kindness from Australians, but it’s hard to articulate just how amazing the other travelers have been. Simply enough, I’m sure it’s because they know exactly what I’m going through of turning up to a new country not knowing anyone and not sure of anything.

YTravelBlog  Caz and Craig organized a meet up for fellow travelers and travel writers (I’m pretending to be one of them) the beginning of June. I rocked up to the event unsure as to what to expect and anticipating the conversation going something like this:

Them-“Hello, where have you traveled?”

Me-“Nowhere really, this year in Australia is my first time out of the states.”

Them-“You’re not one of us! Be gone!!!”

Yeah, I have a hyperactive imagination coupled with anxiety and sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. Nonetheless, that was my full on expectation of the initial interaction. Thankfully that couldn’t have been farther from the actual situation.

Upon meeting Caz and Craig the other travel-writers/bloggers trickled in. In addition to a few other Australians, there were four other Americans. We pretty much took over (Amurica!), but it was also great because these Ex-Pats helped make me feel even more welcomed and realize that no matter where I land, there will be a support group if I just look for it.

Be sure and check out my new friends’ sites:

Brooke- Her Packing List

Flashpacker Family

Scott- HostelZoo

Hannah- HannahDeMilta.com

Caz & Craig- YTravelBlog

Happy Traveling!

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Aussie-isms: A Quick Tutorial

When preparing for my move to “The Land Down Undah” (yeah, I always say it with a terrible Aussie accent) I was worried about a myriad of things, none of which were a language barrier. They are a former British colony, like us in the states, they speak English, so there was nothing to adjust to accept understanding the non-rhotic accent. Oh was I wrong!

So, to make your travels to Oz a little easier I’ve started to compile a list of Aussie-isms that I’ve come to understand the first three weeks of my stay here.

G’Day = Not the official greeting of every Australian as most Americans are lead to believe. 

Toilet = Restroom     Obviously, but I’m finicky about certain words and really dislike them (like underware) and toilet is one of those words. However, here it’s common speak so I’ve had to get use to it.

Over-taking lane = Passing Lane     Makes enough sense right? Now let me paint a little scenario- Driving down the road, on what feels like the wrong side of the road, going 70km/hr (about 45mph) and you have an Australian man instructing “Overtake this person, they’re driving like a wanker!” Not only is your mind going “no, this is the correct side of the road, be cool” but you’re also now thinking “WTF is overtake?” Thank god for hand gestures and context clues.

Car Park = Parking Garage/ Parking Lot     Also note “garage” is pronounced like gare-ahje, not guh-rahj.

Piss = Pee     Right, anyone could figure this out, but it’s especially funny coming out of a three-year-old’s mouth, “I go take a piss.” Cracks me up every time.  Continue reading

Week Two: Sydney attractions and a bit of Urban Exploration

FOB

What do you do when you’re fresh off the boat (err, plane) and in a foreign city? Get a tourist guide and go crazy of course!

Credit: State Library, NSW

Credit: State Library, NSW

Before I arrived to Sydney I’d been scouring the interwebs for attractions and activities I wanted to do; this is a working-HOLIDAY after all. As last week’s blog detailed, I was greeted with open arms and heaps of plans, both of which were a welcomed relief. However, there’s no better way to get to know a city than to get out and walk around, explore, discover, get over the anxiety and talk to a local (still working on this part).

Urban Exploration 

So, on a Monday morning I turned up in Sydney CBD (central business district) bright eyed and bushy tailed as they say and made my way across Darling Harbour. First observation: these Sydney business folk wear a lot of black! They seem to be a cheery bunch so maybe it’s just the whole “black goes with everything and is uber professional” thing but my white long sleeve and baby blue jeans surely stood out in the sea of black suits and ties.

Once on the Pyrmont side of the Harbour I found a cute little coffee shop called Antidote… a fitting name for anyone who has ever suffered caffeine withdraws. I collected my flat white (basically caffe au lait) and was on my way to the Maritime Museum (covered in last week’s post).  Continue reading

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Week One: Chocolate, Wine and Maritime

Beat JetLag… simple.

After safely (barely) making it up to Avoca Beach (approximately 90km north of Sydney) I settled in and took a day to relax and adjust. I’d read the key to avoiding jetlag is not napping upon arrival and staying awake until local “bed time”. So I did just that and luckily had no issues with jetlag and adjusting to the time difference.

Saturday shops and Chocolate eatery

auschocomeSaturday morning we made our way to the local shopping plaza which is made up of indoor and outdoor shops and eateries. A normal shopping plaza by more regards but I mention it because of San Churros… an eatery that uses Spanish chocolate in every menu item they have. In other words: THE MOST AMAZING EATERY EVER! Of course being the sugar-addict I am, this place was heaven! The menu consists of everything from churros, to fondue, to shakes to banana parfaits.

Hunter Valley, NSW Wine Country 

Sunday we drove the 75 or so minutes north to the Hunter Valley region.

aushunterv

Pepper Tree Wines

Continue reading

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