Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Get ready Kiwis, I'm moving to NEW ZEALAND!

Let me start by saying that making a decision as the most indecisive person in the world is not an easy task. So let's all have a moment of silence for me finally overcoming that battle.

After months of big ideas and constant head spinning, I, yes I, finally made a plan. You got it kids. I made a real life decision. I've had a lot of crazy ideas throughout the past few months, and it was tough to know what I really wanted and what made the most sense for me after my time in Australia. 

Here are a few of the many things I considered:

- volunteering (long and short term)
- teaching abroad (in Spain, Thailand, Korea to name a few)
- falling in real or fake love with an Aussie to secure another visa
- au pairing in Europe (Italy, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, etc.)
- solo traveling through Southeast Asia and beyond until I ran out of money
- a career in professional cuddling

You name it.. I probably considered it at one point. I briefly considered going home once too, but that lasted less than one day. Sorry friends and family for trying to keep up with me and my crazy brain. Just ask my sleep patterns... I can be quite exhausting. 

There was however, the one thing I hoped for since the day I knew I wouldn't be returning home anytime soon. And that was New Zealand.

I chose New Zealand as my next destination for a variety a reasons. The people are lovely, the mountains are stunning, and the beaches are breathtaking. The population is relatively dense and the lifestyle is incredibly laid back. And to live in a place that beautiful? I could only be so lucky.

New Zealand, as it turns out, is also one of only a few other places where Americans can get legal year-long working holiday visas. There are very few limits, the application process is easy, and the best part? IT'S COMPLETELY FREE (which was an extremely welcomed change after the $365 one for Oz). It's also relatively close to where I already am. And by relatively close, I mean less than a 12 hour plane ride, which as you know, is nothing after you travel for 35 hours straight. 

win, win, win, win, win. Is that too many wins? Whatever. You get the point. 

And while I had this brilliant idea in my head since day one, I had no idea that finding the perfect family in kiwi country would be so damn difficult. For every 100 of these jobs in Australia, there are probably 2 in New Zealand. Talk about a hunt. 

But completely out of nowhere, I stumbled upon the perfect profile on www.aupair-world.net:

- two kids- ages 4 months and 2 years old.
- 2 working parents, who are still in love (believe me, this matters as a person who has to live there)
- brand new, beautiful modern house. 
- close to hiking AND the beach, which coincidentally, happen to be two of my favorite things.
- my own car.
- 4 weeks PTO.
- 30 hour "work" weeks with flexibility for traveling.
- 6 month to 1 year commitment.

Welp. That sounds pretty damn ideal. And actually, it sounded a great deal like my current family... a family that I couldn't be happier with.

So, after briefly emailing and deciding we could potentially be a good fit, we agreed to skype. It was currently down to me and 4 other applicants. It was time to rock this thing. 

And here's my very professional opinion on how to prepare for one of those over-the-computer-kind-of-interviews: 

step 1- think about how fun and outgoing, yet responsible you are. 

step 2- eat ice cream... because whatever.. It's ice cream. 

step 3- put on some jammie shorts and lay in bed. this is nothing but a face-to-face interview. get comfortable.

step 4- put your hair up and celebrate by drinking cheap wine directly from the bottle. 

step 5- (not pictured) think happy thoughts and cross those fingers for dream job # 2!

The interview went extremely well and they were impressed by my easy-going personality, heaps of childcare experience, and ridiculously quick wit. The conversation flowed easily, and in my opinion, we couldn't have been a better match. However, as is always true, there was one other very stellar girl. Like every other potential job, no matter how many other interviews were conducted, it's always down to me and one other person. Why world why?!?!

So like after every interview, I felt defeated and thought of the hundreds of better things I could have said. Was I right for them? Would they pick me? I was going to be utterly devastated if they didn't. They said they'd sleep on it, and I would know by the weekend. 

But just as soon as I started my crazy, insane, worrier, panic attack, I noticed 3 new emails. And just like that, I received the offer. I GOT THE JOB!! After screaming, jumping, and a few brief happy tears, I joyously accepted within minutes. 

So I spent the last few days celebrating way too hard, applying for visas, and letting the whole idea settle. My next dream is officially coming true, and I could not be happier.  

Leaving Australia will undoubtedly break my heart, but having another once in a lifetime opportunity on this beautiful island, should help me cope :). Here is a look at my beautiful new home located in Mairangi Bay (North Island): 

Thank you all SO much for the congrats, well wishes, love, and unconditional support. I feel so blessed to have such great family, friends, and readers from around the world. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Home is where the heart is, and my heart is in Wisconsin.

It's no surprise that I desperately love Australia, both because of what it is, and what it signifies. It's beautiful, beachy, and I've changed more here in 7 months, than I have anywhere else in my life. It's the land of nutella, koalas, and sunshine nearly every day. The land of oceans, surfers, and ungodly beautiful accents. The land of cloudless skies, pale ales, and epic sunday sesh's. And if we're being totally honest, it's actually, not surprisingly, my perfect place.

But before I start my next Aussie installment, I'd like to dedicate this entry to the lovely land of cheese. Or for those of you who don't know what the hell I'm talking about: Wisconsin, USA.

As you may have guessed, living abroad has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. It's exciting and new, and the desperate change that I needed. It's actually been the single greatest experience of my entire life.

But it certainly does not come without sacrifice.

Unless you've left it all behind to start somewhere new, it's hard to truly grasp what a big move entails. And by big move, I mean 10,000 miles and a $2,000 plane ticket away kind of move. It means no trip homes, no simple phone calls, and of course the risk of missing out on heaps (see what I did there) of your favorite things.

And because Perth is literally the furthest away place on the planet, this year alone, I've had to miss out on plenty. This includes every holiday, a family reunion, two important weddings, and (gasp) my beloved packer season. And aside from missing some very meaningful events, there's also those very meaningful people, and the ability to buy stick deodorant that I, of course, miss too.

But after spending months of discovering the world, finding myself, and falling head over heels in love with being here, I've also come to realize one other very important thing:

Home is where the heart is... and my heart is in Wisconsin. 

I'll be honest, I never actually thought of Wisconsin as a place I would ever end up missing so much, because every thing I ever thought I wanted is here. And only recently have I realized, that maybe that's not entirely true. Perth pretty much has it all, and yet I've started craving the little comforts of home more and more.

So what about the place where I grew from the 'new girl' in 3rd grade, to a semi well-adapted 25-year-old? What about the place where beer and football rule all else and cheese curds can be easily eaten by the pound full? What about the place I love more than any other place in the world?

It's hard to put into words why I love Wisconsin so damn much. After all, the painfully shitty winter weather isn't something I would like to remember at this point. But despite that, it is still one of my most favorite places on earth. So without further ado, I present the list.

The things I desperately miss (and would literally give a kidney for):

- 10 cent chicken wings with BUFFALO sauce. nom. nom. nom.
- dollar beers.
- fat tire, blackberry brandy, and the occasional rumplemintz when I feel like not remembering my night.
- the men. beautiful, scruffy, well-dressed, good smelling, intelligent, and manly Wisconsin men.
- summerfesting.
- 4th of july. American flags, denim, and red solo cups.
- holidays with my family.
- boating. on a lake. with a beer in each hand.
- tanning on my deck.
- lake days.
- bonfires. and music. and beer. and more bonfires.
- the dodge county fair.
- tailgating. 'nuff said.
- football ;(.
- the uninhibited charm of the midwest people.
- my dog, my parents, and my beautiful little sister.
- my friends. old. new. and my forever bests.
- and every restaurant... on every block... because let's face it, I am a food addict.

Maybe it's missing the little comforts of home, or the people I so lovingly associate with it. Maybe it's the struggle of deciding if I want it back, or to keep my life moving forward somewhere else. I guess at this point, none of that really matters, because all that really matters is today. But no matter where I end up in this crazy, big world, I do know one thing for sure: Wisconsin is forever my home.

Monday, March 3, 2014

There's adventure... and then there's speed dating.

From caving, to skydiving, to a one-way ticket abroad. From my desperate attempts at making friends, to the time I planned trips around the world with complete strangers. It's all been quite the adventure, but nothing compares to the time (ok, last sunday) that I went speed dating.

It all started with a typical, hungover Sunday sesh at a beautiful rooftop bar downtown. The weather was sunny, the food was plentiful, and the Jerrica was a hungover hot mess. For those who don't know, sunday sesh is a popular Sunday tradition in Australia, in which people listen to music, socialize with friends, and mostly just drink heavily. It's pretty similar to a typical American Sunday funday, except the women are tall and thin, with skin tight dresses and 5 inch heels. They look like they're going out on a Saturday night in NYC, while I'm barely rolled out of bed with my hair brushed. I dig the hot mess Sunday Wisconsin look though, and I'm sticking to it, damn it.

But anyway.

I'm sitting with friends, listening to live music, and stuffing my face with pizza, per usual. A lady approaches and asks us outright if we're single. And before I go on my pro-single rant, I retract and wonder, is she hitting on us? Is she asking for a friend? What is going on here.

Whatever it is, I'm sure to hate it.

I reluctantly say yes, not knowing exactly what I'm getting myself into, and immediately feel regret when I find out why. Some girls dropped out of speed dating, and she desperately needed to fill the spots. I laughed out loud, and said in the sweetest way I knew how, "HELL NO".

But it was our friend Tara's last day in Australia and she thought it'd be fun. That and there was a promise of free food and booze, so how bad could it be? And the next thing I know, I'm writing down my email and putting on a name tag, ready to make things real awkward for these poor unsuspecting souls.

Let me start by saying that I HATE dates. Literally hate them. Unless we've been casually hanging out for 17 months, or I've been in love with you for 3 years, I would rather do almost anything than go on a date with a stranger. In fact, the last 'first date' I went on was with my most recent boyfriend in May of 2008, just to put things into perspective. And I couldn't help but laugh knowing that my first, first date in nearly 6 years was going to be with 10 different men in the span of an hour. Awkwarddddd.

Speed dating was a whole different ball game though, and I was ready to play.

The first guy got out his notepad, looked me up and down and said, "I'm going to call you legs". Oh dear lord. Here we go. He then proceeds to ask me a series of creepy questions, "dinner or dessert?", "speed or safety?", and I could no longer contain myself as I choked on some water. um... please. just stop. No worries though, I could tell I quickly killed the romance, when I heard from a friend that next to my name he wrote, "NOT looking for a boyfriend".

I think I made myself clear. "Love, Legs".

Here's a look at the potential bachelors. What name goes best with Jerrica? Sean? Ryan? or Desperate 1, 2, or 3? Please notice the blanks next to ALL of them under the "What you thought" category.

Normally though, I was pretty sweet. As sweet as I could be for putting up with men who just paid $50 to spend go on 10 minute dates with me and 9 other girls (3 of which were my friends by the way). But when you ask the favorite animal question, I have to laugh and respond with "platypus", because it's the only off the wall answer I can think of on the spot.

And when you ask me what my favorite flower is, I will tell you pretty bluntly that I'd rather be eating Mexican food, than pretending to be happy about your lame attempt at fishing for romance.

The truth is though, it was a pretty hilarious attempt at putting myself out there again. And although, I'd never consider finding the love of my life in a crowd of desperate men aged 23-37 who paid for the charade, the men were mostly surprisingly not that terrible. AND it was a pretty funny Perth adventure, especially for just another casual Sunday.
Next time I'm looking for an adventure though, I think I'll try bungee jumping instead.

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yip yip! my first featured blog post. feels a little like Christmas!

It's not everyday you're featured as one of the top new travel blogs, but fortunately today is one of those days :)!!!

Find me here, listed among some other incredible talents. So blessed to be able to travel, write, and to have the support from all of you.


See one of my previous posts, listed as # 3 on the website.

I so very much appreciate all of my family, friends, and readers from around the world.