Weekends out in Sydney

**Posting this late. Originally meant to post on Nov 21st**

This past weekend was technically my second in Sydney but first one that I’ve really done anything worth mentioning. My first weekend was really spent meeting the family and visiting a music festival in Newtown- aka one of the many hipster neighbourhoods in Sydney.

On Saturday I went to the Rocks neighbourhood with another au pair I’ve met, Jess. She’s also an American from Georgia. We went to the Rocks for their weekend market. It was fun just roaming around but everything in the city is SO expensive. I ended up buying a small painting of the harbour for around $18 US. Afterwards, we went to the Opera bar for a drink, neither of us had been. It turned out to be a much more interesting afternoon than we gambled for as we met two English guys who traded us sunscreen for buying bottles of champagne. It was one guys’ birthday, so they were feeling especially celebratory. Now, this was awesome for two reasons: 1) free alcohol and 2) FREE ALCOHOL. A bottle of wine in Syndey costs $40 AUS on average- that’s still about $30 US. So getting free drinks here is CLUTCH. Plus, sitting by the Opera house all day was pretty awesome as well.

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On Sunday, Jess and I did the Spit Bridge to Manly Beach walk and it was B-E-A-utiful! Parts of the water were so clear they didn’t look real. It’s about a 10K walk so we were tired after and just explored Manly beach the rest of the day.

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I locked the cat in the dishwasher- my first week as an au pair

Ok, so I have been living with my host family for a full week now. They could not be kinder, more welcoming people. There’s the parents, Kate and Dan, and the girls, Dixie (6 years old) and Maisie (8 years old).

My days au pairing (I’m not sure au pair can be used as a verb, but I’m doing it anyways!) are pretty simple.I usually wake up around 6 or 630- just because it gets light out so early here- and go to the kitchen around 7. The girls are usually already up and in their parents’ room. I’ll get their breakfast if they haven’t already had it and then I pack their morning tea and lunch. Morning tea isn’t actually tea, it’s just a snack, usually fruit and crackers. By 730 Kate and Dan have usually left and then I make sure the girls are ready for school. They don’t have to be there till 840 so we usually have time to check out new snapchat filters, tidy their room, or they’ll play. We walk to school which is about 10 minutes away. The rest of the day is mine to do whatever: go to yoga, explore the city, chill at the house. One day a week I’ll vacuum, mop and dust  and I’ll do some laundry on days I’m hanging at the house. The girls are done with school at 3. We’ll come home and have afternoon tea (again, no tea it’s just a snack) and then I’ll make them dinner around 5 or 530. Kate and Dan are usually home around 6 and then I’m pretty much done.

 

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Girls had superhero day at school

 

I am still getting adjusted to au pair life. It’s very different than any other job I’ve had before. The hardest thing about it has just been getting into the family’s routine and feeling comfortable living in their house. It’s not something I’ve ever done before so I am just taking it one day at a time. I’ve definitely made some mistakes. Example, I locked their kitten in the dishwasher. Phillips the cat joined the family around the same time I did and he is more like a puppy than a kitten. He loves attention and gets into EVERYTHING. If someone opens the pantry, fridge or dishwasher he’ll jump into it. So one day I was washing some dishes in the sink with the dishwasher door down. I got done at the sink and closed the door without thinking anything of it. I hadn’t seen him climb in at all. I go to put my contacts in before we get ready to walk to school and Dixie asks where Phillips is. I say “I’m not sure but I think he was in the kitchen earlier.” About 1 minute later I hear her yell out “He was in the dishwasher!” Needless to say, I felt really bad! He was only in there for a minute or two but still, poor little guy must have been so scared. So now I ALWAYS double and triple check the dishwasher before I close the door.

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Phillips the cat

First 4 Days in Aus

Ok, so this blogging thing is harder to stick with than I thought. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’ve been keeping a journal rather than write on here so I’ll to get on here more from now on…

Anyways, I’ve been in Australia for a little over 4 days and it’s been a whirlwind, to say the least. I’ve recovered from the trip, avoided jet lag the best I could, walked over 20 miles the first day just touring the city, and met the new family I will be Au Pairing for! It’s just crazy to think how much life has changed in the last two weeks alone but it’s definitely been an exciting few days. Here’s how I’ve spent the time so far:

I arrived on Thursday around noon and took the train from the airport then about 10 minutes to my hostel. I was exhausted after traveling 30 hours (flight time and layovers) but I didn’t want to make the jet lag even worse by falling asleep in the middle of the day. Plus, I’d slept about 8 hours on my plane ride from LA to Fiji.

After scanning the free map I picked up at my hostel I decided to head to Chinatown. The hostel wasn’t very close to the main downtown area or the harbor so I thought I’d stick to somewhere close at first. So I walked  and stopped every so often and meander through shops. I sat down for a quick bite to eat in Chinatown- dumplings, yum!- and then walked over to Hyde Park, a large park closer to central Sydney. The only thing about walking around so much was getting used to being in a big city again where cars drive on the left. Took my brain a little bit to adjust to that. It was about an hours walk back to my hostel where across the street there was a little park. All the trees are in bloom and it’s so pretty! Australia has trees that have a bright purple bloom, called Jacaranda trees, and I am OBSESSED with how pretty they are.

Back to the food for a second, Sydney has a TON of Asian food. Chinese, Sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean- there’s like 10 on every street! It’s crazy but I’m pretty much in heaven. My first meals were dumplings, Bahn Mih (a Vietnamese roast pork sandwich) and sushi. All if it was bomb.

On my second day, I did a free walking tour that went closer to the main part of the city. It ended at Circular Quay, where the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are. It’s a gorgeous city. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s just stunning seeing the Opera House against the water with all the sail boats driving by. Quite amazing! After the walking tour, I went to a mall to get my phone set up. I now have 5 gigs of data and can make international calls on my new Aussie phone number, but I can’t text internationally so FB or Snapchat is the easiest way for me to message people.

I ended up moving hostels Friday night and the new one was much more social. I  met another American girl and we had a long talk about the current political situation. It’s interesting being in another country since Donald’s been elected. Most everyone here can’t understand how someone like him could be elected. The most interesting part is that they even care at all. I can’t think of another country’s election or political appointment that I’ve ever cared about and that’s the case with most Americans I know. Just goes to show how much the rest of the world looks to America as a world leader.

Anyways, on Saturday I met the family I’m Au Pairing for. I don’t want to write too much about this because this is already a really long post so I’ll save my thoughts on that for my next post!

Operation Ameristralia.

Two weeks till I leave for Australia! I’ve been planning for this the last couple of months with a project plan I named “Operation Ameristralia.” To give some context, about two years ago Reddit and the internet freaked out at the imaginary prospect of Australia and America joining forces to become one super-country named Ameristralia. Seemed a badass name for a badass adventure so I stole it.

My project plan is essentially an excel document that I used to track all the tasks I needed to complete before leaving. Here’s a few, just in case anyone else is planning their own Operation Ameristralia:

  • Buy plane ticket
  • Buy travel insurance
  • Get visa
  • Sell that random Ukelele you bought two years ago and never learned to play
  • Sell Go Pro/Car/iPad mini
  • Tell mom you’re going to Australia
  • Tell dad you’re going to Australia
  • Resign from job
  • Go to the dentist
  • Open a Chase Sapphire Credit Card
  • Terminate renter’s insurance
  • Update resume (aka make a CV)
  • Sign up for a house sitting website- Trusted House Sitter or Mind My House

Ok, so there’s definitely a lot of other stuff I’ve done to get ready that’s not on this list. But you get the gist!

 

Because- why not?

To continue from my last post, I’d like to give some reasoning behind my drastic decision to quit my job and move to Australia for a few months.

Over the last two years I’ve been debating, analyzing, and contemplating what to do next in life. I thought my options were laid out pretty clearly: travel, go to grad school or get a new job. I knew that I didn’t want work in health insurance forever so the new job or grad school route seemed the most sensible. But then I started to think long-term. In 10 years from now, what do I want my life to look like? Or even longer-term, if I pictured 85-year-old Rachael, what would she think about the decisions I am making today?

Thinking in terms of 85-year-old Rachael has driven my most recent life choices. Because something I tend to forget is the fact that time is limited. Picturing 85-year-old Rachael forces time into a more appreciated perspective. Suddenly getting to experience a few months in Australia seems like an opportunity that is unlikely to so easily present itself again. So that begs the question- why not do it?

So while I did a “sensible” thing and applied for a graduate school program, I deferred my acceptance  for a year so I can take a few months to live and work in Australia. Because 85-year-old Rachael is never going to think back on scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef and think “Nah, I really should have saved that money for retirement.”

I love my life…but I’m giving it up and moving to Australia anyway.

Ok, internet, I’m putting it all out there. I’ve started this blog and I’m going to be really real: I’m not 100% sure what to say. But here’s a start:

I’m 25 years old. I live and work in my hometown of Columbus, Indiana. I’m quitting my job and am leaving for motherfucking Australia in a month where I’ll live for 6-ish months on a working holiday visa. I’ll be taking any job I can get in the hopes of being able to make enough for food, shelter and scuba diving.

Let me be clear, this blog is not a “I hated my job/city/house/life so I gave it all up and moved to a Carribean Island” kind of thing.

Here’s why:

1. First of all, I’m going to Australia- not the Carribean.

2. I did not hate my job. Sure, health insurance wasn’t the most exciting industry to be in but I actually enjoyed it and learned a TON about the inner workings of America’s health care system (spoiler alert- it’s very broken. But that’s a topic for a different blog post). I also got to work with a lot of great people- and the saying is true: the people make the place.

3. I moved back to my hometown after college, which wasn’t exactly the exciting kick off to the post-grad life that I had envisioned. Although, as far as hometowns go, Columbus doesn’t suck. It’s a family-oriented city with about 40,000 people. It’s driving distance to 5 big(ish) cities and has some of the best architecture in the country. Not too shabby. I really grew to love and appreciate my little Midwestern town.

4.I LOVED my Tiny House. I rented a 400 square foot house that most people would call a shit hole but I affectionately called it home. I know it’ll be one of the things I miss most while I travel- my own place.

TLDR: I’ve had a great first two years of adulting. But I’m still flipping the table on my life and going to motherfucking Australia. Why- you ask?

Because. Why the hell not? To be continued…