Oy! from Aussie Land

By Jennifer C., Cultural Embrace Work Participant in Australia

Oi! from Aussie land, I’m Jennifer C Campbell, your Work and Travel Australia blogger. A country jam-packed with the ultimate three ‘S’s: Sun, Sand, and Surf, crystal waters and a no worries attitude, Australia is easily proving to be quite the backpacker’s dream. A few typical traveling twists and turns in the mix throw off my sweet semi-settled lifestyle, but as always, going with flow and keeping the drive to make my experience one-for-the-books prevails.

December 1, 2009

Oy! from Aussie Land,

The last few weeks in Australia have been filled with some of the most unconventional, even strength of mind searching, but wonderful and real days of my life. A few curve balls after another such as a job change, a move, new best friends leaving to travel elsewhere, lost items, exploding expensive electronics, etc have made for a pretty interesting time. But even though I have both found and face planted on these and a few other bumps in the road I’d been warned about from other travelers, I can honestly say I’ve still had the magnificent “I cannot believe this is my life” moment at least once every day. I’m embracing the twists and truly learning the meaning of going with the flow, which I believe is absolutely vital in traveling.

My brother recently reminded me of John Lennon’s famous quote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” In a traveler’s world, I’m taking this to mean your plans are going to scatter and change, so just enjoy this moment and have no expectations for the next. Because that’s what traveling is all about right? Taking on new chapters and adding onto your cultural gains whether they are expected or not.

So in saying this, I’ll share with you a few pieces of advice most backpackers I’ve met would agree on:

  1. Never take good people you meet for granted. Enjoy them now and keep as many connections as possible, even if you are traveling with your best mates.
  2. If you take the wrong ferry, bus or train and have time to explore where you have accidently ended up, do it. It will probably make an even better story than you started out to make in the first place.
  3. Don’t try to cram your day full of attractions, because you won’t have enough time to let any single one of them sink in. Pick one or two and really take them in.Other important tips worth mentioning:
  4. Take note of EVERY free Internet cafe!
  5. Combine your travel book advice with the information the locals give you on a destination. You will usually find the destination to be somewhere in the middle of the two.
  6. Watch your spending and use every kitchen you have available to you. Nothing burns money faster than eating out!
  7. Pack light or get ready to get rid of some of your (maybe even favorite) items. There is nothing worse than hoping on a bus and whacking every person sitting in an isle seat all the way to row fourteen because you can’t fit everything in your backpack… happens to the best of us.

But apart from recent trials, tips and notes circling around in my head, I have actually had a pretty remarkable few weeks. The Manly Beach Festival of Surfing, which I mentioned earlier this month in my blog, was absolutely top notch. Aside from the Rip Curl and Billabong pro surfing legends and newer to the scene surf pros chatting around and battling through surf offs to settle twenty-year-old rivalries and competing to claim new glories, the beautiful weather and perfect surf brought heaps of other wave and sun seekers, all combining to complete my own perfect vision of Australia. Meeting pro surfing world champion Mick Fanning wasn’t a bad touch to the weekend either! I’ve still been living in a bathing suit and enjoying the sun and surf almost every day in beaches scattered from Seven Mile to Bondi, which is an incredible way of living minus the fact finding last minute hostels in the area you end up in can be tough this time of year and no matter how many showers you take you will still end up with sand in your bed. (Other items I have learned to embrace.) And since I finally moved into my first apartment in OZ (which is fifteen meters from the beach in Coogee, awesome) a few days ago with friends, it is even easier to commit to the beach-bum lifestyle. However, now that I am a bit more settled and done running in and out of hostels for a while, it is seriously time for me to brush the sand off and find another job to pay the rent.

And thankfully, because of my connections through Cultural Embrace, I have excellent job-hunting resources. The job database Cultural Embrace hooks you up with is a great tool for starting the search. With the time I have spent on the database I know the kinds of businesses in need of holiday employees, which kinds of jobs are keen on employing travelers and what areas of the city are most looking to hire making my on-foot hunts likely more productive. Another avenue I have been taking, which Cultural Embrace’s partner company helps you locate, are classes that certify you to work in bars, restaurants, and casinos, and other day classes that offer training in several different fields of work. And because the job market, even for non-technical jobs in retail or bar work, is so competitive at the moment with the extra million travelers in Sydney this time of year, I am glad to have the support of the partner company in my search.

However, if retail and bar work is not your thing, no worries, there are plenty more professional opportunities available here as well. Most of these opportunities require a six-month commitment, but if you are looking for resume building experience, and maybe even sponsorship to get your once-in-a-lifetime year visa back, it is definitely doable and worth it.

In the meantime, between online job hunting and stopping around at local businesses, I have indeed found a few things to keep myself occupied. Since moving into my apartment one of my favorite time passers is the amazing 6k Beach Walk (or run) from Coogee to Bondi Beach. On the route are several beaches, snorkeling coves and bays such as Bronte, Clovelly, Gordons Bay and Tamarama and a cliff view cemetery, Waverly. (All of which are Google Image worthy! Beautiful!) And I cannot forget to mention the beer festival going on a street over from me…. very excited about that one. I also have my flat mates, and the other twenty-five people from all over the world living my beachfront building to keep me company while watching the cricket and off season rugby matches in the palm tree surrounded field across the street, cooking out on our deck sized balconies, and taking exploratory excursions to a few of the less well known areas in our coastal neighborhood. And since I signed a two-month lease (which, in most areas in Sydney including the outskirt beaches such as where I am living, you can find flats offering one month to one year leases) I have plenty of time to explore, take in my surroundings and report excellent local spots your travel books left out!

So, because I’ve had the opportunity to seek and soak in so much the last couple of weeks, I will end with a word-to-the-wise’ish message I have been living by: Whether you are on your own or traveling with your best mates, every breathing moment is an opportunity to learn and progress in your cultural immersion experience. Letting go of your stresses and appreciating everything for what it is, learning from your mistakes and moving on to the next adventure with an open mind and a wiser point of view are all key in the imprinting process of your environs.

I urge you in your next adventure, whether it is visiting a new area in your city or another country, keep your mind open to all of the possibilities that lay ahead of you. And most certainly, enjoy the person next to you and invest in listening to what they have taken in as well. They might have discovered something you’ve wondered right past.

I’m so thankful to be able to share details of my life traveling in Australia with you, and hope they give you a better idea of some of the opportunities the Australian Work and Travel visa can give you. I still have itchy feet, and lots of expeditions planned so look out for my blog again next week! Please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any questions or want some specifics on the adventures of a Work and Traveler in Australia. Cheers!

Live fully,

Jennifer C Campbell

November 2, 2009

Hey guys! Whoa. So much has happened in the last week and a half I am not even sure where to begin!

An unplanned landing in Fiji on my flight into Australia and catching the most beautiful sunrise I have seen yet, getting to Australia – yooah! Patio Salsa dancing in the harbor across from the Opera house, taking the wrong ferry to the zoo and ending up in Lavender Bay only to stumble across one of the most amazing gardens I will ever visit, Bondi Beach and rock art, Seven Mile Beach and kite surfers, Snakebites and crab racing, finding out what the term mixed shared hostel rooms ACTUALLY means, non-stop live music and beer festivals, meeting tons of awesome people, interviewing and job finding an incredibly unbelievable job, and the list goes on and on!

Let me just say that when Cultural Embrace, and any one else who has ever been backpacking in Australia, says it is easy to meet other travelers – this is an understatement. Within the first five hours of landing in Sydney I was having a beer with a group of locals at a popular outdoor cafe right in the heart of Sydney Centre and hooked up with an AWESOME group of girls from the UK whom I have been running around with ever since. A few other wonderful people I have seen quite often are the employees of the company Cultural Embrace sets you up with to receive hostel discounts, an orientation, and job, travel and other support.

The partner company has actually been one of my greatest assets since arriving- I use them way more than I thought I would, and I am so glad Cultural Embrace hooked me up with them. On my second day in Sydney, I attended an orientation with twenty five or so other work travelers, where I had help setting up my bank account, tax file number for paid work, online resume for quick submission when finding jobs on the database, and my phone account. They also walked us through the must sees and dos of OZ, safety precautions for the water and outback and met with us about specific job enquiries and such. Very helpful! And aside from all of the more professional offerings, everyone in the partner company office is incredibly welcoming, and ready to give you tips on fun hot spots around the city, and some are even ready to hit the scene with you! haha.

Speaking of hot spots around the city, Sydney has it all. Beautiful beaches and running routes, phenomenal museums and architecture, live music spots around every corner, awesome sports bars such as Cheers (perfect for a little football Liverpool versus Manchester United- I am still recovering), Scubar for a little crazy backpackers bar fun, Empire in Kings Cross for a bit of a classier evening- it is a great city for all interests.

But honestly one of my favorite things about Sydney so far is that there are a million different suburbs (Bondi, Coogee, Surry Hills, Glebe to name a few) so there is a great mixture of cultures offering something for everyone. Even the locals still appreciate hot tourist spots such as Bondi, Coogee and Manly Beach, and the night scene spots as well.

And although I have had an incredible time running around with my newfound friends from the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, Holland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, I have actually had an equally mind-blowing time with the job that I landed six days ago. And actually, I am at work right now! And guess what I am doing? I am lying on the grass, forty yards from the beach, at the camp grounds of Surf Camp Australia, enjoying the sun in between surf lessons, and hanging with the surf coaches, crew and twenty plus camp goers. Yep, I am at WORK right now!

Through the connections that Cultural Embrace offered me, I landed one of the most proper wicked jobs in all of Australia. I am a promotions and marketing rep for Surf Camp Australia. My job requires going to surf camps to surf and hang out with the crew and camp goers at least Monday through Wednesday every week in Seven Mile Beach, Byron Bay, Yamba and/or Gold Coast, promote Surf Camp Australia at their events and parties and any surf festival and event around the Sydney area they attend. What is also pretty cool is that Surf Camp Australia is sponsored by Rip Curl, so this coming weekend, November 5- 8 I am attending the Manly Beach Festival of Surfing by day and Surf Expo by night, hanging out with pro Rip Curl surfer Mick Fanning and I am even getting paid enough to live comfortably and potentially even end up with a bit of savings. Pretty awesome huh? I still cannot believe this is actually a job pinch me! Thank you Cultural Embrace!!

Life could not be any sweeter. And it is pretty easy to get all of my friends and family on the phone and Skype. So although I miss all of the people that make my life so fantastic back in the States, I am in touch everyday. So I will leave you with this: take the leap and embrace your adventurous side, it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make. Traveling to Australia has changed my life forever; it is a feeling I cannot describe through words in a blog or in conversation. So give it a go!

Please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any questions or want some specifics on the adventures of a Work and Traveler in Australia.

Live fully,

Jennifer C Campbell

Thank you for all of your love and support family and friends.

Mom, Dad, Marsha, Dan, John, Katherine, Adam, Claudia

All of my wonderful friends back home

And all you superbly awesome Cultural Embracers: Emlyn, Katy, Miranda, and Julie

October 22, 2009

Hello fellow adventure seekers!

I’m Jennifer Campbell, your Work and Travel Australia blogger.

A little about me: I’m Dallas, Texas bred, but a definite Austin, TX enthusiast. I love anything outdoors, including deep sea, surf and bay fishing, diving and snorkeling, zip lining, biking, running and hiking, and I’m also a photography and travel fanatic. This past May, I graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Advertising, and a craving for a life altering next chapter.

A year ago, if you’d asked me what I would be doing after graduation, I wouldn’t have said “Um, embarking on one of the greatest adventures of my life in the Land of Oz,” like I would today. My original life after graduation plan was to attend law school directly after undergrad, work and save a little money before I set off to travel. Fortunately for me, Cultural Embrace helped me find a loophole. It turns out Australia’s government recently widened their doors granting work visas for young adults, like myself- between the ages of 18-30, to work in non-technical fields for up to a year. With this opportunity, I will easily pay off the cost of living abroad while roaming the Australian country. Great news! This brilliant concept allows foreigners to travel with “no worries” about any limits of unearthing the awesome Australian lifestyle, sites, people and culture. So although my dream of law school still exists for down the line, I couldn’t be more excited to start this new journey and take advantage of being young, string free, and adventurous at the most convenient time I’ll probably have in my life. I’ve embraced the travel and adventure bug, and I couldn’t be more excited for my ‘gap break’ and to work and travel in Australia using Cultural Embraces support!

So why Australia? Although I’m not a fan of meat pies (ever so popular in Australia), I do fancy awesome beaches and surfing, a laid-back life style, outdoors, camping, shrimp on the barbie, kangaroos, and the occasional wombat. I even think I’ll learn to appreciate cricket! On the more practical side of things, the fact that their infrastructure for tourism is one of the worlds best, helps reassure my (and my parents), with help and safety concerns. The dozens of hostel chain options, campgrounds, transportation options, and about 4 million tourists annually from countries such as the U.S., U.K, New Zealand, and Germany – great for networking – helps too. I haven’t found a destination that sets you up to work and travel, and meet other trekkers more excellently than Australia. To top all of these travel Australia perks is the encouraging support I’ve received through Cultural Embrace with assistance with my questions and concerns, arrival arrangements, and granted access to a national job database with diverse listings across the Australian country (making it that much easier to find casual jobs to off-set my cost of living abroad). It’s also comforting to know I have their support and assistance, from their Austin offices, throughout the entirety of my stay abroad. I feel more prepared knowing I have the backing of a company that has such extensive experience arranging (and participating in) travels abroad.

While I’m Down Under I’ll be sharing my experience of a lifetime and the broadening of my horizons every step of the way with you. I’m extremely excited to report an insiders work and travel experience through Cultural Embrace, and answer your questions and even inspire you to take a leap into your own explorations (or better yet, join me in Australia!) Check out my weekly blog, videos and photos documenting my quest to achieve the greatest voyage of my life so far!

Live fully,

Jennifer C Campbell

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