Well there are significant changes on the horizon for me – so much has transpired that it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve only been gone under two weeks! I have seriously learned all of the CBD streets like the back of my hand! As I sit here on the train home, I have time to reflect on the last week and a half and to gather my thoughts and set goals for the upcoming week.
I may as well share all of my up’s and down’s, since most of my family and friends agree that it is “all part of the experience.” Last Saturday I went to Hotel Nest, the restaurant I was hired at about four months ago, long before I set off on my journey! After serving high tea for about four hours, the manager informed me that there wasn’t much work at the moment and unfortunately he would have to call me in the next couple weeks – cue jaw drop and astonished look. After speaking with Hayley from Work Enjoy Australia (the recruitment company that arranged the position), we decide that beginning Monday it was back to the grindstone and time to explore all options.
Monday hits and I head to the library straightaway to job and apartment hunt, unsure of which crisis to address first, the fact that I am unemployed or need a place to live! I spend most of the week apartment hunting, deciding to offload most of the job hunting to Hayley, since that is what she is being paid to do! I visit several houses and apartments to no avail – either I was not comfortable or impressed, or it is an unbelievably desirable place which is so desirable that I lose to other applicants who are willing to bid, offering highly weekly rental rates and ultimately securing the room (here you pay rent by the week and not by the month, and an average room will cost about $200 Australian dollars per week plus bills). For all of my real estate friends suffering back in the States, you would soooo enjoy the lucrative nature of the current housing market here!
Anyhow, after a job offer at a local school that was extremely below average in pay and quite limited with hours, I start to really hound Hayley about getting things together – after all this is really the first time I am unemployed since I received my working permit when I was just 15 ½ years old!
Wednesday hits and here’s where I am at: I have three interviews set for Tuesday and all are jobs which require occasional weekend hours (limiting my travel availability) and I wonder whether I am being too cynical. A phone call comes in, and with all of the random Australian unknown numbers that have been calling as a result of Hayley’s outreach, I answer with skepticism as the oh-so-cute English woman on the other end introduces herself from The Chocolate Box gourmet chocolate shop. Oh geez, I think to myself, now I am going to be a cashier and sell truffles and coffee. After just a few minutes I realize this is not a cashier position but a position with my name written alllllll over it. Marketing and public relations, with a specific focus on social networking, evaluating client advertising opportunities and advising on the design of printed collateral and branding materials, like posters, brochures, website, etc. Kind of a match made in heaven – just sayin’.
The woman says my resume popped out at her, and asks me to give her assistant Bethany a call. Bethany – a sweet, down-to-earth American girl from Atlanta who is also here on a working holiday visa and landed this job when she first came over. We talk public relations and marketing for about 30 minutes straight, both psyched to have connected with another North American. About an hour later I received a call from the owner again, asking me to please come in for an interview on Friday.
Thursday is Australia Day and I decide to take it easy and spend some time with the housemate Jess, so we catch brekky at The Pancake Parlour nearby – conveniently they serve beer with their pancakes so the day is off to an excellent start! We head down to the CBD to catch dinner then a concert with fireworks over the Yarra River, which runs directly through the downtown area in Melbs. Jess and I situate ourselves on a blanket along the foreshore (that’s Jess’s word for the bank) of the river, a little disappointed with the fireworks which last about seven minutes and are nearly behind a building and out of our area of visibility. I am still, however, overjoyed at the enthusiasm and positive vibes that surround – children chase each other happily around the park behind us while teenagers wrapped in Australian flags celebrate another year of accomplishment and prosperity in their successful country. Everyone is genuinely grateful to be in Aussie land, and on Australia Day there is a special emphasis on applauding newly inducted Australian citizens, because most Aussies revel in their diverse culture. After the fireworks and a little stroll around town, we head back home and I begin mentally preparing for the big interview the following morning.
Me and Jess celebrating Australia Day
Happy Australia Day!!
Friday I grab an early start and head down to the library in the CBD to figure out how to print my resume, though Jess assures me it is not necessary to bring it since apparently the interviews are very relaxed here. Flabbergasted, I feel unprepared without it and decide to bring it anyhow. In true Rockaway PR fashion, 30 minutes before I leave the house I realize I would like to have a list of references with me as well. Spitting out emails like it’s my job, I reach out to my girls (and guys) back home to garner support as I jam everything into my briefcase and get ready to leave. Within five minutes, each one gets back to me with all necessary information (thanks, you ladies/gents know who you are and I appreciate you times a hundred!) and I throw together a quick list and off I go. After printing my items at the library, I head to Starbuck’s and grab a quick coffee and danish. Nervous at the potential of this position and struggling to stay calm, I phone my boss from Miami for some final words of encouragement. With her positive vibes and the moral support of the Rockaway team in my back pocket, I set off for the interview and take a deep breath.
I rock the interview, and both the owner and Bethany seem decidedly certain of my hire. (Knock on wood, I cannot jinx myself before I am offered the position) Each answer I give prompts a smile and approving nod from both, and each job requirement sparks a memory of my experiences in Miami – thank goodness for the diverse nature of public relations – from hiring green pigs for a parade to teaching myself Photoshop and acting as a graphic designer, from driving an hour and a half just to set a table at a restaurant opening to finding and ordering the best quality branded sunglasses for a client events with just minutes to spare, all of my adventures come full circle as I realize I really can handle anything! I leave on Cloud Nine – the owner mentions she feels it is only fair to interview others with a chuckle (that means I prolly got it, right?) and will call me on Friday…five days and counting y’all! So here I sit crossing my fingers, toes, legs and eyes as I wish and hope for a chance at this job.
In the meantime, I am still job hunting because you never know who else they might interview – working in my favor is that the owner loves American work ethic (woot woot get it America!) and sees me as very similar to her beloved current assistant, who can no longer stay. Working against me is my limited stay as she would ideally like someone who can stay on a more long-term basis. Well anyhow, it is up to fate and the universe technically owes me (in Jess’s words), so I am sticking with my optimistic outlook!
Friday night is my first proper night on the town, and to make a long story short we are introduced to a bubbly girl named Jasmine through a friend of Jess’s, so we meet her, and after a Turkish meal at a local restaurant (I would explain the food in detail only it wasn’t impressive enough to remember apprarently), we head out to Brunswick street to hit the bars! We head to Bimbo’s bar, where we meet up with Max’s friend Matt and his roomie Dave for a drink. This place is hipster heaven – decorated with the most random trinkets and vintage and antique couches and tables, they play an array of tunes ranging from alternative to hip-hop. An eclectic group packs in to the local hotspot, including everyone from hipsters to Aussies to goths. And let’s not forget their clever incentives to tip:
Haha that’ll teach em’ to tip!
The next afternoon Jess, Jasmine and myself head over to Matt’s place for a BBQ and drinks – Sundays are fun days here! After a delicious meal of chicken, steak and sausages or “snags” as they call them, we play the drinking version of Jenga and then call it an early night.
Jenga time – I pull the piece that instructs me to hold my left index finger across my upper lip to mimic a mustache for the whole game haha
As I was searching for places to live on GumTree (like Craigslist in America only less sketch), I come across an ad that an American girl had placed – she’s been here for about seven months and is looking for a room to rent. Since I obviously don’t have a room for her to rent, I reach out to her to see if she’d like to get together so I can get more insight into Melbs from none other than a Texan! This morning we met at the beach in trendy St.Kilda, near where she lives, and after playing Chatty Cathy for about two hours we decide to head into the CBD to chase down a warm lead on a guy who supposedly unlocks iPhones (she has an iPhone and hasn’t been able to use it since she arrived, since it is locked). We go to the Victoria Markets, a hodgepodge of arts and crafts, clothing, accessories, and a whole fresh produce market complete with veggies and fruits galore!
After the cell phone unlocker dubs it impossible to unlock an American iPhone (bummer), we head off to grab lunch and shop. We gush over the irony of our meeting, and how strange it is that in America we may never have met. Fast friends, we spend all afternoon together and after indulging each other with every possible detail about our lives in Australia we part ways and vow to reconvene soon. Literally, I have made more friends here in the last week than I did in the year and a half I lived in Miami post-college!
The people here are freakishly hospitable, most you run into on the street more than willing to help you out in any way possible. As you can imagine, I’ve asked quite a few people for directions or suggestions, etc. Never once have I encountered anyone rude, and once a lady even Google-mapped and spelled out directions for me! Looking around you appreciate the diversity of Australians – to my left a blonde hair and blue-eyed modelesque woman with her suntanned boyfriend next to her. To my right, Aboriginals with simply the darkest skin I have ever seen! In front of me a group of Indian girls laughing and sharing text messages in Australian accents lol and next to them a group of young boys in swim trunks without shoes or shirts (I believe we call these “bogans” around these parts haha). Across the platform a backpacker with a pillow fastened to her 50-pound bag on her back, next to her an English man speaking on the phone in his distinct accent and two Chinese moms having a chat. I hear a mélange of dialects, from Italian to Spanish to Chinese to unfamiliar languages that I haven’t encountered. And somehow all demographics (generally speaking, because stereotypes are unfortunately inescapable) bask in daily harmony with one another, priding themselves on the myriad of cultures that make up Melbourne. I’ve never quite felt anything like it, it is the single most non-judgmental city I have visited and it enlightens me a bit more each day.
A overhead view of Melbourne from our BBQ
So my roller coaster week begins once again tomorrow – though several portions of my life exist in complete pandemonium at the moment, I have been forced to exist without internet and phone, which has turned out to be a positive for me. It took a whole week to stop and realize that the best approach to my situation is embracement, and I have come to appreciate the slower pace of life and enjoy the time off after working very hard for the last several years. Back home it is easy to be consumed with stress in our fast-paced society where many now struggle to make ends meet, and I am reminded now that there is life outside of work. Though the American economy is generally conducive to a stressed temperament, I am thankful for this learning experience that I can apply to my life when I return. And I am reluctantly grateful for the up’s as well as the down’s since I arrived, because as a wise woman and a dear friend recently told me in an email – you must be willing to jump into emptiness to fully experience the world – “I know times are tough, but follow the universe and continue to push through. Everything you need is already inside of you.” What an inspiration. Cheers everyone, stay tuned!