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Sunday...Sessions? The Subtle Differences Between the US and Australia

It would appear that most people I know have spent the weekend in either Hawaii or Vegas. I must admit, this is one of the few times I've "missed" home. By this I mean, I miss the relaxed atmosphere of Sunday Funday (especially during football season). I miss spending the day with friends enjoying cheap food and even cheaper drinks. By the end of my stay in San Diego, I developed a bit of a routine: wake up, go surfing with Keshia, protein style double single with grilled onion, then meeting up with Steff and Lauren in PB for some wild ruckus. So, in turn, comes another list of differences between AUS and the USA. 

Sunday Funday vs. Sunday Sessions: 
There really isn't a big difference between the two. In the States, Sunday Funday consists of going out with friends (normally for bottomless mimosas brunch, then followed with continued shenanigans). It is usually at its peak during football season as you have a whole day to watch the amazing sport. In AUS, Sunday Sessions consist of relaxing at a friends house, drinking, and BBQing. My final vote: DRAW. Nothing beats day drinking by the beach, watching football, dirt cheap food and beverages, and hanging out with friends. However, there are definite times that chilling at a mates house, cooking good food and drinking just makes a sound end to a weekend. 
Bottomless Mimosas & Build Your Own Bloody Mary's
Football vs. Footy
I miss having my Sunday's consist of Football. I've grown up pretty much addicted to football and hockey. I firmly believed that football was the sport of men requiring physical agility, mental quickness, and overall badassness. I was craving a sport similar to that knowing I would be confined to football updates or waking up at 4 am on a Monday to get my NFL fix. Then, the beautiful sport of Aussie football was introduced for me. This sport is like hockey and rugby had a baby. And this baby was the most bad ass, kick ass baby of sport. Needless to say, I'm addicted. Still, don't understand all the rules but I'm ok with that. My final vote: FOOTY. Sorry, 'Merica but seeing as hockey is my favorite sport, it is no wonder I'm drawn so much to Footy. After this year's disgrace of a Superbowl, the constant hypocrisy of the NFL, and the fact I have to get up at 4 am to watch the Lions, I'll hold out for the updates on the games. But I will always be a Lions fan! 
Preseason Football/Postseason Footy
4th of July vs. Australia Day: 
I thought the holidays would be quite different. However, there are heaps of similarities. In both AUS and the US family and friends gather together to celebrate their country. Similarities: Red, White, and Blue; barbecues; basking in the hot summer sun, and celebrating one's country. Differences: Green and Yellow; an excessive pride of one's country. My final vote: USA! Sorry AUS, the one thing Americans have on you is country pride. Yes, there are some bad Americans (just as there are bad Australians), but I'm proud to say at least one day of the year Americans can all get a little crazy and celebrate the country we call home with a flamboyant amount of pride.  
Last 4th in the US
To Tailgate or Not to Tailgate: 
Tailgating is a magical experience where people gather before a sporting event to share food, drink, and memories. The general rule is that if you're wearing the same jersey as fellow tailgaters, you're welcome to join their tailgate party (and them to yours). I would have thought the Aussies would be all over tailgating. Due to alcohol permits and zoning, it just doesn't happen. I've also had a few Aussies say that tailgating could be the worst thing to happen as you don't need to give Aussies further excuses to drink. This happens to be a concept I can't quite wrap my head around. I still think tailgating should be allowed at any and all sporting events...worldwide.  My final vote: 'MERICA WITH THE TAILGATE.   
Superbowl and Grand Final
Drinking for Holidays vs. Drinking
I've noticed that Americans use any holiday as an excuse to party whereas Aussies just party. They don't need an excuse to have a good time with their mates. I'm not entirely sure how Australians can afford to drink. Yes, there are higher wages here, but the prices of alcohol are crazy. I know quite a few people who party on a nightly basis, and I'm not sure how their liver or wallet allows them too. I thought drinking in the US was expensive. Overall, as long as you have fun...who cares! Just be responsible...PLEASE don't drink and drive! My final vote: ?? I'm honestly not too sure on this one. Maybe it's my age; maybe I'm "maturing," but drinking in excess just doesn't sound enticing to me anymore. Although, I do love any excuse to dress in theme. 

Yes, that man took off his pants and started rapping.

Yea... I just needed to throw this one in because I miss going to the shooting range and let's be honest...that picture is pretty bad ass! My final vote: AUS for the win. I definitely enjoy not wondering what strangers are packing on the train.

Pew! Pew!

Until next time...
Stay curious

10 Ways to Spot an American Abroad

When thinking of the United States, what images emerge? Do you hold any preconceived notions about people from the US? Are they positive, negative, a bit of both? Now, remember a time you saw an American travelling overseas. Where these stereotypes reinforced or challenged? 

Throughout my time in Australia, I have received somewhat contradictory responses when anyone finds out I'm from the US. Many are afraid to outright as if I am American. Frequently, Australians will hear the accent and ask if you're Canadian. This is because  Canadians lose their shit if they're referred to as Americans, or so I've been told (I get it, dude. I've seen Justin Trudeau). And since we all know how much I love taking the piss out of myself and my home country, I thought I would make it a little easier for everyone by detailing ways to spot an American travelling abroad.

1. Baseball Hat

Ok so this one isn't as common as when I first moved to Melbourne, but it still is a fairly accurate indicator that a person is from the US. We love our sports teams, uni teams, and a good ol' snap back. 

Bonus points if your baseball cap has sparkles

If you see a person walking around in a baseball cap, make a comment about the team. If you get a response (specific to that team), they're American. 

2. Walking While Eating

American's are notorious for constantly being in a rush. There aren't enough hours in the day because we're all trying to be superheroes being the perfect spouse, employee, and friend all whilst eating correctly, working out on the reg, travelling the world, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It's no wonder that we're shooed out of restaurants the second our meals are finished so the next person can sit down. This often leads to eating on the go or in our cars. 

The trend of eating on the go doesn't seem to stop while on holiday. Many American's are perplexed when waiters do not immediately drop the check the second they've finished their meal, or by the confused looks they're given when they order their coffee and pastries to go. There's so much to see and so little time! Why would one waste it relaxing while eating?! I am still guilty of eating in my car or while walking down the street. Old habits die hard, and I'm a busy girl. 

3. Activewear or Oversized Jumpers

Step out into Melbourne's CBD, and you'll find dapper businessmen and gorgeously dressed businesswomen frantically running around the streets. You'll discover uni students in stylish clothing with their backpack full of study materials either walking to campus or the state library. And then you'll find the tourists rocking an oversized jumper (generally with a sport or uni team) and activewear. These tourists usually are American.  

Honestly, I'm not sure how the rest of the world doesn't consistently live in activewear. Putting on pants every morning is a friggin commitment, and lord knows I love being comfortable and capable of escaping danger at any moment. Did I honestly believe I would workout whilst on holiday? Please. But who wants to wear jeans when you can look fabulous in your activewear. 

The Real Dog Mum's of Melbourne

4. Applauding Basically Anything

Have you ever been on an airplane where people begin clapping when the pilot lands the plane? How much you wanna bet the person who started this was American? My mother is a notorious clapper. Someone gets her order right, applause. A person spelt her name correctly, roaring clap (this is actually a challenging thing). DJ played her favourite song, applause followed by wooing and dancing. 

Long story short, Americans are happy, and they know it... so they clap their hand *clap* *clap*

5. Not Knowing a Foreign Language

I'm ashamed to admit, I have been guilty of this while travelling abroad. It made travelling in Vietnam and Cambodia a little more challenging. Yes, most people I met did speak some English, but really, I could have learned a few basic phrases to make things a little smoother. 

In Vietnam, I frequently encountered fellow Americans becoming increasingly frustrated because they were unable to communicate with the locals. Like to the point that they were getting pissed off that the locals didn't speak English. Sadly, Vietnam was not the only country I've witnessed this. We're really dang good at making sure everyone in our country speaks English. Apparently, these standards do not decrease whilst travelling. 

6. Not Knowing the Metric System

If someone approaches you and says, "Can you tell me how many feet to the train station?", You're speaking to an American. We, as Americans, like to be different from the rest of the world. We're the only country to put a man on the moon. We have the most nuclear weapons. Naturally, we would have our own units of measurements (that we stole from the Brits and a Dutch-German-Polish scientist). 

Since moving to Australia, I've fully embraced the metric system. It's simple, easily divisible, and is easy to convert. It secretly brings me joy when Americans ask me for directions, and I tell them in the metric system. It tickles my insides. 

7. Loudness

Whether its due to our excessively massive personal space bubbles, noise levels in many of our settings, or our obsessive love of sports teams, we Americans have developed the stereotype of being extremely loud. It may just be that we have a problem controlling THE VOLUME OF OUR VOICE. 

Not sure if we're American or Canadian? Don't worry mate, we'll tell ya (see #10). 

8. Professional or College Team Apparel 

Just like our activewear, we love reppin' our favourite profession or college team. We proudly wear them where ever we go. I take my Datsyuk Red Wings jersey on every trip I take. We're loud. We're proud. And you best better not root for our team's rivals. 

9. The Accent
I'm pretty sure this one is a given especially if the American is from the South. American's have a really distinct accent. I'm not sure why everyone confuses our accent with Canadians. I guess it's like Americans confusing New Zealander's accents as Australian. They're similar but not quite right. 

10. We're Basically Vegans or Crossfitters

Just like the vegans and the crossfitters, you don't have to ask if a person is American, they'll bloody tell ya. When in doubt simply yell, "America". If the response you get is "f*ck yea!", you're in the presence of an American. 

Obviously, this is not indicative of all Americans. But it's always entertaining to poke fun at yourself. If you're from the US and have travelled, did you fall into any of these stereotypes? If you've seen an American abroad, what was your experience? 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

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Choosing the Path Less Taken: The Continual Stressors of Life Abroad

From the outside, moving to a new country seems exciting, thrilling, and something only those with money can afford to do. Relocating to a new country is exciting but also incredibly terrifying. The move may seem like the most stressful part of living abroad; however, some stressors are frequently present while living abroad. There are numerous reasons why one may move abroad. After many discussions with other immigrants, I've found 5 themes frequently arose:

1. Won't You Miss Your Family/Friends?
Excuse my French but no sh*t Sherlock. Of course, when you move to a foreign country, you're going to miss your friends and family. This is a given. It is continuously there no matter how long you've been away. You miss birthdays, holidays, births, weddings, the whole enchilada. Some people will understand this and continue to support you. Other people though find the separation to be a bit too much. 

I've had this happen with both friends and family. When returning home, I'm not choosing certain people over others. If I could, I'd visit everyone each time I'm back. Unfortunately, money and time tend to stop this. Losing people from your life because you chose to live abroad is never an easy thing to cope with. 

2. Immigration...The Stomach Ulcer of Departments
Oh lord, I swear once my immigration status is complete I will write an entire post about it. But as I'm sure nobody wants to read a 68-page manifesto on my frustrations with immigration today. Unless you're travelling on a straightforward visa such as a Tourist Visa or Work and Holiday Visa, immigration will become the bane of your existence. 

On almost a daily basis, one of my friends who is dealing with immigration has a breakdown. Now I can only speak for immigration in Australia but it stressful and continually changing. You think I'm joking, but almost every fortnight there's some sort of change to the website. Just the thought of checking the site fills me with anxiety. But if you adequately prepare, have some awesome friends, and cry into a tub of ice cream occasionally, you will be ok. 

3. Lack of Support System...You're Crashing and Burning on Your Own
Most people I've spoken to migrated to Australia solo. They did not know anyone, they're family was back in their home country, and they were on their own. I took the safer route, moving to Australia instead of England because there were people I knew in Melbourne. I figured worst comes to worst, I had at least one person I knew. 

I understand many people, regardless of where they live, do not have the luxury of close friends or family. It's kind of sh*t having to go through life on your own. But for those who do have an excellent support network, imagine a crisis where you need them immediately. The only problem, it's a minimum 15-hour flight plus travel time to get there. You run into financial hardships, high chance you're going to have a dangerous situation. You break up with the individual you moved countries for, you're crying solo into a tub of $15 Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream whilst listening to Sarah McLachlan instead of crying with your bestie. 

Even if you have an incredible support system in your new country, you're often overwhelmed with anxiety about being too much of a burden. Are people inviting you to holiday dinners because they want to or because they feel obligated? If something bad did happen, would anyone actually help you out? What if they think you're too much of a burden? Yay anxiety! 

4. The Constant Justification of Your Decision
Many will not understand why you chose to move to a foreign country. Whether this is out of envy, lack of understanding or just plain rudeness, facing these individuals is never a pleasant experience. I've personally heard, "what are you running away from?" or "you'll just fail and come home in a couple months". I've had friends be told they were stupid for moving across the world for the person they loved. I've heard stories of people entirely ending friendships because they didn't agree with the person moving. 

First off, it's not your dang decisions. Immigrants do not have to justify anything to you. If they're sharing tales of their move with you, you're probably important to them. So pull your head out of your butt and be friggin supportive. Moving to a new country is hard and scary. Each immigrant has their own reasons for moving. Deal with it. 

Secondly, please stop using the "your relationship is just going to fail, and then you'll be stuck in a foreign country alone" reasoning as to why a person shouldn't move. If it's ok for people to move cross country for love or end up on their fifth marriage, why can't someone move across the world for love? Statistically, you've got a 50/50 it'll work out but if that person is happy, who friggin cares! 

5. Potential Loss of Identity and Assimilation
When you move to a new country, you're constantly torn between staying true to your roots and assimilating to your new home. Where you were born shapes the person you've become, but if you cling too hard to the past, you'll find yourself sad, isolated, and wanting to move back asap. Where is the happy medium between old and new?

Fortunately, there are quite a few similarities between the US and Australia. Assimilation wasn't personally that difficult. But I've had conversations with friends from other countries who did assimilation difficult. It wasn't that they didn't want to adapt to Australian culture, it was simply overwhelming. They felt they were completely losing their identity. Not the most fun thing one can experience. 

Moving to a different country is a personal choice that does come with many challenges. Just because someone does not 100% fit the image of the country does not mean they're not attempting to assimilate. If one of your friends is an immigrant, try and understand things from their point of view. Give them pointers on how to adapt to life in their new country. Be supportive of their journey and their process. 

And until next time...
Stay Curious

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Be A Winter Warrior! Running the Sandy Point Half Marathon

Does anyone else find running during the winter a serious challenge? During summer, the beautiful, warm weather invites you into its gently breezing arms while you soak up the sunshine during your run. If you run during the winter, you get bitch slapped by the cold every step you take. With willpower slowly, or rapidly, depleting, how does one find the motivation to run during the colder times of the year?

*This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from any purchases at no additional costs to you. All opinions are 100% my own*

I was never a runner. Heck, I still wouldn't even call myself a runner. Every race I run in physically and mentally inflicts pain on me. But I continue to sign myself up for race after race. Why you may ask? Because it challenges me and forces me to continually better myself. I had run a handful of races during more pleasant weather, so I thought why not sign up for the Sandy Point Half Marathon. 

*In full disclosure, I did not actually run the half marathon. I only signed up for the 10K so still maintained a little bit of my sanity*

The easiest way to force yourself to sign up during the winter, SIGN UP FOR A RACE. It doesn't matter the length. Even a 5K can seem like a bloody marathon when you have icicles dangling from your eyelashes. The point is, you've already signed up and paid the money. Do not allow your warm, comfy blanket to entice you into spending money with zero follow through!

After you've given yourself the kick in the pants needed to sign up for a race, it's time to get some proper winter running clothes. DO NOT make my mistake. I ran in 8C without the mist and wind chill factor in a cotton t-shirt. I cannot stress enough that running in cotton is never a good time. 

I highly recommend something with cool-dry technology so that even when you sweat you stay nice and dry and warm. Invest in a decent pair of compression leggings and a long-sleeved top, and you'll never want to stop running! If you're in an even colder climate than Melbourne, layers are your friend. Rug up with a jacket, beanie, gloves, and those little hand warmers. 

I did not think this through properly

Now that you're prepped with your cool winter wardrobe, it time to vary up your runs. It's ok to run on the treadmill and elliptical but make sure you're running outside at least once a week, NO MATTER WHAT THE WEATHER IS. This will help prepare you for any forecast Mother Nature may send your way race day. 

Alright, you little winter warrior, you've got your clothes, you've prepped for your race, and now it's race day. Time to go out there and rock the heck out of the run and prove yourself to be a winter warrior! 

I don't think any preparation could have prepared me for how cold it was going to be race day. The mist from the ocean gently coating me like I was a popsicle that stayed in the freezer for too long was not my idea of a good day. But for some reason, the cold made me run faster. I was ready to get the race done and over with! Running with Archer also gives me an added boost of adrenaline to keep the pace up. 

To recap, when running during the winter:
1. Sign yourself up for a race. This will give your first boost of motivation.
2. Get yourself some good winter activewear.
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Do you prefer running during warmer or colder weather? Share your running stories in the comments below. 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

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