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11 days since my last post. I’ve been swinging between sadness, fear, regret, guilt and numbness. I guess it’s always been my lot in life to take the burden of the problems on myself. I should have researched more, I should have thought harder, I should have been more thorough.  Given that there is 3 of us and I was the only one to do anything to plan this trip, in my mind this current predicament is still all my fault.

The biggest problem im having is the lack of real information on the Gold Coast. it gives people false ideas on what it’s really like to live here. I can’t speak for all of australia but definitely the gold coast. If I had known the off-season meant there was no work even in McDonald’s or that people don’t care to befriend holiday visa holders, I probably would have reconsidered the location. among other issues as well.

The lack of work, the lack of friends for networking and company, the contracts on everything. Yes Australia is expensive, to Americans. the prices of most things like hydro, tv, internet, food etc are all about the same as Canada when you consider they include taxes in their price so you never see any of it. But, the start-up costs of getting yourself settled is atrocious! we spent a small fortune to get ourselves to australia, then got hit with wave after wave of deposits, start-up fees, contracts, you name it.  just for our basic necessities. all of this only to find out there is no work. I really would have liked a warning.

Believe me we have tried looking for work. every single store weve browsed in, we’ve casually chatted with managers or employees. we ask if they are hiring and they say they are sorry and that they get X amount of resumes a day. it seems that is the standard response. we’ve searched Gumtree and Seek. We’ve called temp agencies and even looked as far as commutes and hour away. there is nothing. it seems what is available is reserved for all the locals who can offer up more than the 6 months we are locked to.

having local friends might have made it easier but it seems the second we open our mouth and they hear our accents they ready themselves for the inevitable question, one we’ve now heard a million times. “So are you guys on working holiday visas?”. like clockwork every time you see a wall drop in their eyes and the conversation ends.

The Gold Coast is beautiful. its stunning. easily one of the most beautiful places ive ever seen. I just wish we’d chosen to come here on vacation instead of all the prep and money spent to live here.  So unless something changes in the near future we will probably be heading home. I hate the idea that we are probably leaving this country with a negative view of it and so many regrets. I wish things had gone differently or that we’d chosen to backpack like we initially wanted instead of stay in one place

oh well, maybe im just feeling bitter cause I’m bored, lonely and broke. sorry guys…I swear ill try to be cheerier tomorrow.

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We all work through loss in different ways. Some of us show it through tears, some through frustration or anger, some through silence and some in ways that aren’t easily expressed. Myself, I show it through frustration and intolerance. If you’re going to be silly or goofy, go do it somewhere else. Don’t involve me in your antics, don’t try and impress me through your jokes and most of all don’t get mad at me for not being willing to relate to your humor. I am not a pack animal, I don’t do well grieving in groups. For me the best way to move through the process is in silent reflection and solitary confinement. It is no fault of anyone else that I shut myself off but also for the sake of others because I’m likely going to say things through my frustration that people are going to regret.

I lost my grandfather a few days ago. To me he was my Opa, the last half of my Dutch grandparents. He was a cheeky old man prone to bouts of growling orneriness but always had a twinkle of mischief in his loving eyes. No matter what I was going through in my life he was always the voice of reason, always trying to offer as unbiased advice as possible. We weren’t always close and sometimes years would go by between when we would see each other but he never held it against me or let it influence how he saw me as a person. He was one of those rare types that truly understood we are individuals on our own path and that I would eventually find my way back and he would be there to discuss the adventure with me when I did. Sadly he won’t be there when I get home this time.

When someone dies the dynamic changes. We don’t seem to realize that each of us adds something to a family. The change can be good or bad or just cause a shift, but each of us has an influence on the people around us and when that influence is gone things will never be the same. In the typical sense it’s the loss of the head of the family, the loss of “the last say” or the fountain of experienced knowledge. Someone else will step up to fill a role and that will cause things to shift even further. But as a person that is a piece of the puzzle of our family, we lose a huge chunk of insight, emotion, love…you name it. When I get home from the other side of this planet, things will be different.

So this week my family will lay him to rest next to the love of his life, his soulmate, a wonderful woman who blessed the world with her presence far to briefly. He missed her every day of his life after she was gone and finally they are together again.

Rest well Opa. I love you.
Cait

Coffeeshop internets

So its 10 business days before the internet gets hooked up in our place. Nate, Geoff and I have found a way to cheat the system. There is a coffee shop that is down the street from where we live and it offers free internet as long as you order a drink of some kind. Not only is this internet free but its also about 5x faster than what we have in the apartment currently. So we keep escaping out here to do all our heavy internet needs. I can only imagine them looking at their usage and seeing like 200g of data used in less than a week. We can justify it because to save money until we find work we have opted to stay in more, this means we need to download TV shows and games to keep ourselves busy.

I do have to agree with the sentiment that it IS expensive to live here but no more expensive than being bored in any large city. it costs $15 a visit to mcDonalds or $25-35 for a restaurant. an afternoon at the amusement parks even after we use our passes is still $25-30 after refreshments and bussing there and back. even going bowling or bussing to the mall alone costs $20 ($5 per person both ways) doing it this way we can get our daily spending down to $10 a day per person including our meals. we break up the indoors with walks on the beach or swimming.

Monday starts the job hunt for the boys, I have to figure out my resumes and then its just a matter of keeping an eye out for signs to go up in windows and on the job banks for postings. this is starting to feel alot like what we were doing at home but with delightfully warm weather. my back pain has been nagging me the last week, so as to whether its due to my body adjusting to the temperature or me just working it harder than i usually do, one can only guess.

not much of an entry but havent posted in a few days

Cait

So ive been looking for work the last couple days to no avail. Everyone here has been telling me that there is no work in their off season and I should have come at another time. its silly because I havent even gotten as far as a resume yet, even though I dont officially have a resume. I have politely been going into just about every store in the area and asking if they were hiring or even possibly looking for someone to do part time work. I have been looking on gumtree and seek.com.au and it has sadly been sparse. there are 5x the “looking for work” adds as there are “wanted” adds. The adds I have been lucky enough to find have all been for people in managerial positions or with 2-3 years experience only.

This doubled with the fact that I have no current work experience, any references or an actual resume (i would write one up if someone asked me to drop by with one) makes me feel super frusterated and pretty let down. I even tried the tactic of casually chatting with people for awhile about a relevant topic and then slipping in the “oh you wouldnt happen to be looking for anyone would you?”.

Feeling troubled and wanting to give myself more of a kickstart on the job front, Nate and I decided to go buy me some “australia” clothing. Fashion here is so incredibly different that im at a total loss as to how i can even fit in let alone be a step ahead. everyone here tends to dress like they walked off some catwalk in europe.  This just led to even more shock and dissapointment to discover that here in Australia my petite 120lb frame is a size 10. talk about a blow to the ego when all the clothing here for my agegroup is made for anorexic women with big knockers. after spending hours trying on clothing and feeling like a semi deflated pear (round bottom and shirts tailored for D cups+) we finally gave up at the nice fashion places and headed into the underground mall.

We discovered asian heaven below the Hard Rock Cafe. I cant help but feel like I was supporting child labour in some way as i delightfully sifted through racks of semi normal shaped clothing. I found a gorgeous ruffled cap sleeve sweater that tied in the front in a wonderful earthy camel colour for $2.99. no thats not off by a decimal place or two….$2.99. followed by a $9 shirt and 2 pairs  of $14 black skinny jeans that fit great. Like I said, I felt guilty as I walked out with my much needed work purchases I couldnt help but feel I was supporting child labour somewhere. But it went to find ME work and that had to count for something.

All in all im feeling pretty damn frusterated the last couple days; between finding out the hard way im going to have a helluva time finding any work, having a majour blow to my ego with my clothing size, not to mention being at a total loss with fashion here. I envy Nate and Geoff in some way because they will have a much easier job finding work being big guys. not only do they have all the jobs available to me open to them but they can also look into manual labour and more specific niche jobs to do with their training.

I have come to the decision when we get home, that I will have to take some classes to update my resume and make myself more relevant to the current world. whether I choose to work when we get back to canada or not, its downright humiliating being upstaged and having less to offer (on paper) than a 17 year old, 85lb girl.

Cait

It’s 3pm in the afternoon and I’m stretched out on the couch with my back to the warm sun. It’s labour day here today and nothing is open. We did have plans for today which were nulled by the fact that this city shuts down like Christmas time for their labour day. Instead today Im working my way in enjoyable, warm silence, through my 2nd book of the day.

I never realized how utterly relaxing and peaceful spending a summer like day with my nose in a book could be. One of the most singularly amazing experiences here is the climate and the comfort in its consistency. I took a break from reading to update my blog and give you guys an idea on how things were going.

It’s a wonderful 23 degrees with the usual light breeze in the air. The sun is glittering off the rolling surf just a handful of meters away. the constant giggling of children playing and the white-noise roar of the waves lulls me into a state of cat-like laziness. What else is one to do on a beautiful holiday like today besides relax and cultivate inner peace.

Nate and Geoff are enjoying cold beers and discussing similar interests. It’s hard not to smile hearing them enjoy themselves. I may be one for solitude but I can definitely appreciate and feel happy watching friends laughing together. They will probably be heading out shortly for one of their daily 1.5 hour walks along the beach.

Tomorrow is a day at the mall and adjoining movie theater. It’s cheap movie day and we intend to go catch a show. I will probably stick around to catch “The Avengers” for a 2nd time (it’s been out here for 2 weeks already) because I enjoyed it so much I’d like to see it again. Then we will go wander the shops and pick up a few necessities.

Just a typical blog entry 🙂
Cait

Australia is a really curious country full of contradictions and backwards ideas. Regardless of the image the western world has of the people who call this solitary continent home, it is a land full of guarded and enigmatic souls. This is for very good reason, because for the lucky few who get let into their inner sanctums, you discover that they protect strongly emotional interiors.

There are so many things that we hear about Australians and yet coming here I find that so little of it was true and so much of what we are seeing makes no sense to our Canadian way of thinking. It goes beyond driving on the other side of the road straight into the downright odd.

The Holden Thunder UTE – enough said. It’s a car-truck. I don’t know why Australians love them so much but they, or others like them, are everywhere. Maybe it’s a throwback to the el camino, I’m not sure, but they are downright weird.

Tomato Sauce – Ketchup/Catsup doesn’t exist here. People use this weird, savory red colored sauce with the same consistency as ketchup. It’s clearly listed as tomato sauce but doesn’t taste like ANY tomato product we have in canada.

Adding “ie” to the end of everything – Bikkies are biker gangs, Pokies are slot machines and numerous others. I don’t know where this comes from but its downright humorous. Australians are notorious for using lazy English and they admit it with pride. I can only imagine this is where it started.

Opposite everything – escalators, faucets, sidewalks etc. No toilets do not flush backwards as the water comes from the front of the bottom of the bowl and shoves it out the back bottom of the bowl. I wish someone had told me faucets were backwards before I stepped into an ice cold or scalding hot shower or that escalators were like their streets and i tried to go up the right sided down escalator.

Taxes in/ no tipping – with a minimum wage ridiculously high, more than double our own it’s not surprising that tipping isn’t practiced here. There are no starving waitresses trying to double their measly $8/hr wages with tips, a $5 tip on a huge bill for exceptional service is often greeted with a happy and shocked expression. It’s also a pleasant treat that taxes are included in all prices. There are no surprises, you know what you are paying before you get your bill.

Vagueness – Never have you ever experienced such a sudden look of disdain as when you ask an Aussie to be more specific. A good friend of mine who lives in Melbourne joked to me once that Aussies will never give you an exact answer. “how warm will it be today?” “not too warm”. “how far away is that store?” ” not too far”. This was proven as recently as today when I asked a lady at the concession in sea world how to get to the roller coasters. She says. “down the path”, but there were about 5 paths leading away and I needed a specific one. When I asked her which path she looked at me like I was stupid and asked what I meant.

Koalas/kangaroos – I feel bad for all the misled tourists who come expecting to see these Australian wonders in their natural habitat. According to every person I’ve asked thus far, you would have to travel so far out of the cities or flight zones to find them that most tourists would never be lucky enough to spot one out of a zoo. I hold hope for only the German tourists who are notorious In even our own country, for traveling 8 hours into the bush on unmapped logging roads to catch glimpses at our very Canadian nature.

Backwards green – its shocking just how much of the trash or plastic is green here. No styrofoam anywhere and just about every take out container or plastic bag, baggy or meat container is either reusable or degradable. Even Glad ziplock bags are biodegradable here. And yet their recycling program in the Gold Coast is sub par to any I’ve experienced. Maybe that’s their secret. There is no need for a crazy recycling program when everything breaks down rapidly at the dump.

I’ve barely grazed the tip of the iceberg. I struggled getting past the block to write this blog because there is just so much I want to share with my family and friends about what I’m experiencing here. So under specific request, here it is. Some of the oddities I’ve discovered thus far.

-Cait

Being a Dreamer.

People have always hinted at me or told me how they personally felt I should live my life. Some people have said it with love, some with concern some with criticism and some even said it with malice.  I am not perfect at this either, I have made suggestions on how someone might live their life better and not said it with any other intention than to make the running of that person’s life smoother, more effective or healthier. Part of the reason for this amazing adventure was to discover ourselves and maybe, when separated from those things that make us who we are, find a more mature life path. I had made mention of this in an earlier post but reflecting on it now I realise that maybe the things that needed to change werent the ones I expected.

Ever since I was a child I have always been a dreamer. I have had a very active fantasy life full of activity and adventure and fictional friends. I have prefered the people I learnt about in stories to the people I would come across in daily life. Not that these people weren’t interesting or important but because the people in stories were exactly what I imagined. Teachers would tell me to pull my head out of the clouds and acquaintances would call me weird. My parents would even so gently suggest that I try to enjoy more normal activities or that I should spend more time making friends and less time daydreaming so that I wouldn’t be targeted so much by my peers and have an easier childhood.

My childhood wasnt easy. I was frequently and almost daily targeted by bullies for being different, but as an adult who has not only lived through some horrific bullying as a child and some very unhealthy criticism as an adult I have come accept that this is who I am and it is also what has made me strong and made me a survivor. I am a dreamer, and I am not ashamed of it.

Coming to Australia and removing myself from my old environment was supposed to encourage me to grow up, maybe even grow away from the fangirl, super hero loving, video game obsessed, ‘my best friends are books’, introverted technophile I’ve always been, as society has always told me was immature and not respectable for someone my age. But I have realised that this is who I am, and I love who I am. Going to the amusement park today with Nate and Geoff showed me some of this. I had no interested in going on any of the large rides, in actuality the only one, almost childish ride I went on frightened me. but I derived great pleasure from the gift shops, from thumbing my way through piles of DC Comics apparel and toys. For me paying the atrocious entry cost seemed worth it to surround myself with harry potter, star wars and super hero memorabilia.

Sure I have only been here a week. but this week has shown me a lot so far. I think different, act different, believe different and dress different, and sending myself halfway around the world couldnt change that.