Five on Friday: Australia and Summertime

Happy Friday, folks! As we wind down on our time in Sydney (only a few more weekends!) and we get to experience summer, here is a Five on Friday a bit about Australia, a bit gearing up for summertime. Enjoy!

And dont forget to enter the This Painted Life giveaway – we’re getting ready to wrap it up! To win, just follow meEmily AnneCourtney, and Laura on BlogLovin and then enter via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post. Good luck! :)

| ONE | It was literally raining spiders recently. (Thank the Lord not in Sydney.) Like, literally, what. the. heck.

Image via Popular Science Twitter

| TWO |  Y’all know that I love to read (check out some of my recent book recommendations here and here), so when I came across PopSugar’s “Best 2015 Summer Books for Women” (sorry dude readers), I thought I would pass along for all your summer beach reading needs!

| THREE | I am still a Buzzfeed-obssessed person. Some of their lists are just so spot on. So when I saw these opposing questions from Australians to Americans, and vice versa, I couldn’t help but share.

Ive made my peace with most things on the list, but still cant get over charging for ketchup! (AKA tomato sauce)

| FOUR | Vivid Sydney starts tonight! Ive been looking forward to this since we moved to Sydney in January. Essentially, Vivid Sydney is a month long, annual “light, music, and idea festival.” The main portion of Vivid Sydney is the light sculptures lighting projections on building that transform Sydney landmarks (most notably, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge) into a nighttime piece of art. I cant wait to see the opera house all lit up!

I cant wait! (Image via SydneyOperaHouse.com)

| FIVE | Our plan is to reveal Baby Blanton’s gender this weekend! Be sure to follow along on my Instagram, and Ill be back next week with full details for y’all! :)

 

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The one with Johnny Depp and Dogs

Chances are, you’ve heard about the Johnny Depp and dogs vs. the government of Australia debacle; it certainly dominated the news here (and from my Today Show and Last Week Tonight viewings, it was quite the news story stateside as well!)

Before I begin, let me put it out there that I by no means think that his dogs should have ever been euthanized – I love animals, especially dogs! That being said, rules are rules.

So if you’ve been living under a rock, basically, Johnny Depp “smuggled” his two dogs into Australia – a country which has exceedingly strict animal importation rules and restrictions. How did he even get the dogs into Australia, do you ask? Obviously private jet because, hello, Johnny Depp. Once the government got wind of this, the reaction was extreme and swift. The dogs’ lives were threatened by the Australian Minister of Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce if they weren’t removed from Australia within 50 hours of the warning. You see, Australia doesn’t have rabies and they dont want to start. I mean of course Johnny Depp’s dogs dont have rabies, but like I said earlier, rules are rules.

Johnny Depp and one of his terriers involved in the #WarOnTerrier (image via Sydney Morning Herald)

I’m on this rule kick because my own precious pooch was going to be submitted to the restrictions and quarantine rules that all other imported dogs must – it’s quite an extensive, not to mention expensive, process! When we stayed on in Australia last winter, we considered bringing Dash here because life without our sweet fluff ball was just not as cheery! We knew that it would be pricey to fly him here and assumed he would have a quarantine period once he landed, but let me tell y’all: it’s way more than just that.

Love this pooch!

Love this pooch! June cant come soon enough :)

For a dog to be imported to Australia from the United States (rules vary by country), the dog must be “quarantined” in the states for 6 months. During that period, they aren’t restricted to their homes or anything, but are monitored on a regular basis by approved vets where they give blood and get shots to ensure they are 100% free of rabies, etc. After that 6 month period, they can come into Australia, but are legit quarantined for 10 days in either Sydney or Melbourne in a special facility that you cant visit to fully confirm they dont have any disease. This is after a very long puppy flight in cargo! (I tried to convince Barr that we could either get Dash certified as a seeing eye dog OR fly him private a la Johnny Depp’s dogs, but he didnt go for either of those.) 😉

How could we not want him with us??

How could we not want him with us??

Now I think if you’re going to be in Australia for an extended period of time, going through this process is 100% worth it – and if we were going to be here longer than a year, we would have done it in a heartbeat. I understand why Mr Depp didnt do it for just a few weeks in Australia. What I dont understand or appreciate is him thinking that the rules didnt apply to him or his dogs. We all want our four-legged friends with us when were far from home, but we didnt sneak them into Australia. Shame on him for trying!

On the flip-side, however, shame on the Australian government for the approach they took – it was rash and frankly, they came off looking like big bullies. Yes, the dogs needed to be removed (for the safety of this rabies-free country as well as fair is fair), but threatening their lives with a countdown was a bit extreme. Also, why did Barnaby Joyce tweet “Dogs gone” after the dogs departed the country? Seems like an unnecessary jab/double-entrendre. However the hashtag #WarOnTerrier is humorous.

For John Oliver’s hilarious take, check out the below:

Considering bringing your dog from the states to Australia? Check out the Department of Agriculture’s website for a thorough step by step guide for the process.

One more for good measure

One more for good measure

And last, but not least, dont forget to enter for you chance to win a free, custom print from This Painted Life. Simply follow meEmily AnneCourtney, and Laura on BlogLovin and enter via the Rafflecopter below (and dont worry about providing your email address to them – they dont spam, I swear!)

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The one with the old wives tales

He caved – I finally wore Barr down and he generously gave me the gift of finding out our child’s gender before I delivered! Bless him – he’s literally the best guy (for this and so many other reasons.)

We now know if Baby Blanton will be wearing bows or bow ties. If our child will be made of “Snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails” or “Sugar and spice and everything nice”.

So what do the old wives tales say? Well based on these, we’re pretty much split, but we were convinced it was a girl – primarily because of the old wives tale of the heart rate (baby has consistently had a higher heart rate) as well as the one where they say if you break out a lot, it’s a girl because “she’s stealing your beauty.” It’s like high school skin all over again. (I am not complaining – having children is a dream come true! Just being real) :)

So were we right? Is baby Blanton a girl?? Ill keep y’all posted!

Baby Blanton Gender Predictions Old Wives Tales 1And dont forget to enter the giveaway for the This Painted Life custom work! Enter the Rafflecopter by simply following Emily Anne, Laura, Courtney and I on BlogLovin’! Easy peasy.

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Abby of Abby's Roads

Abby of Abby’s Roads

Alkeks Abroad

Courtney of Alkeks Abroad

EAT All Over the World

Emily Anne of EAT All Over the World

Laura of Laura and Pete Down Under

Laura of Laura and Pete Down Under

 

 

A Giveaway from This Painted Life

Y’all, I am so excited to cohost a fabulous giveaway with my favorite fellow Australian bloggers – expat and otherwise! I’m equally thrilled about the prize and vendor: a custom watercolor painting by This Painted Life.

How cute is this one?

How cute is this one?

Live in Australia, Dubai, London, the states or somewhere else? No problem. We’ll get it ya anywhere in the world!

Jason of This Painted Life does family portraits, homes, you name it! I am really impressed with his rendering of Emily Anne’s balcony view in Brisbane that he did from pictures:

This Painted Life Giveaway 2 This Painted Life Giveaway 3

So, how do you win a This Painted Life custom work? It’s super easy. Emily Anne, Courtney, Laura, and I have teamed up using Rafflecopter (which couldn’t be simpler) and all you’ll have to do is follow each of us on Bloglovin’ (a great reader resource so you can catch up on all your favorite blogs in one place).

And dont forget to check out these amazing Aussie bloggers’ blogs in the meantime – we span the east coast of this beautiful country and each come to you with different stories and perspectives. (As well as more of Jason from This Painted Life’s sweet work on Etsy!)

Good luck, chickadees!

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Abby of Abby's Roads

Abby of Abby’s Roads

Alkeks Abroad

Courtney of Alkeks Abroad

EAT All Over the World

Emily Anne of EAT All Over the World

Laura of Laura and Pete Down Under

Laura of Laura and Pete Down Under

The one where jet lag won

I dont think my parents believe in jet lag. When my mom was here a few months ago, she was like the Tasmanian Devil, with more energy than I have even without jet lag. My dad buzzed through Sydney this past weekend and was similarly poised and ready to roll. I wish that was a hereditary trait.

Call me an amateur then!

Does anyone else find that their jet lag is exponentially worse going in one direction than another? I felt hardly any issues going to California (and then onto Annapolis), but coming back to Sydney (flying westward) just about killed me. Do y’all find going westward or eastward harder?

Anyway, after pulling myself out of a jet lagged stupor (FINALLY) late last week, I figure I would extol my endless wisdom (ha!) on the subject to those that may be similarly suffering for those long, fun trips across a multitude of timezones.

  • On the Plane
    • Wear a watch and change it to your destination’s time before you board the plane. I cant stress this one enough. Once you get to the destination, dont think about what time it is where you left – it’s starts such a terrible mind warp if you get it into your head that you should be sleeping when you’re awake or you lost a whole day or whatever. Miserable! Better to set your mind to your destination’s time and keep it there. Also, if your watch is already set, try to get into that new time zone while you’re on the plane as best you can – sleep (or at least try to) when you’re supposed to as per the updated time zone and stay awake (as best you can) accordingly.
    • Drink lots of water. Like a lot. For some reason, I’ve found that staying super hydrated really helps cushion the blow of jet lag. (And it helps with any puffiness or swelling once you land.) Of course indulging in a glass of wine or beer always helps one drift off to sleep, but just make sure to counteract that with plenty of H20 also.
    • Invest in an eye mask or wear your sunnies on the plane when trying to sleep. I personally love this one, but any will do. It really helps you get into that REM sleep.
    • Walk around the cabin of the plane or boat or whatever. Staying “active” on the plane is useful in battling jet lag, plus if you’re drinking a lot of water, you’ll have to probably get up a handful of times to use the toilet anyway :) Stretching also really helps.

The #1 most terrible question to ask a jet lagged individual (and how you want to respond when you are jet lagged)

  • Upon Arrival
    • Immediately fall into sync with your new time zone. I personally love flights where I land first thing in the morning because although I am typically tuckered out, I force myself to stay awake for a majority of the day (no napping!) and am zonked by 7pm and usually sleep pretty soundly that night. Sure, I may get up early the next morning, but I had a fairly strong night’s sleep. Again, this one goes back to not thinking about what time it is where you left – try to adjust to the new norm from the get go.
    • Get out and about right away! I think the main reason my parents are such jet lag naysayers is because they are really active people who like to be outside. The sun and fresh air does wonders for helping one adjust to a new time zone. Seriously, there are studies that the sunlight helps adjust your circadian rhythm. So even if you’re pooped when you land, walk to dinner or just take in the fresh air right away. It keeps you awake and helps you adjust to those crazy hours.
    •  I would be lying to you if I said I didnt also adjust to jet lag with the help of sleep aids. Yes, even pregnant I used them (though I of course asked my doctor about what was safe for me and the baby!!) because the struggle is real, and I figured the baby needed the sleep as much as I did! Something gentle and natural like Melatonin is always a good pick, and you can get that in the vitamin section of any drug store. Personally, before pregnancy, I like Tylenol PM for the first day or two, but always just know your own body and ask a doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions – they’ll know best! (Or if you’re a real trooper like Barr or my dad, you can go cold turkey – I’m not advocating self medicating!)

What do y’all think – any additions? We’re heading back to the states next month and Im all ears (literally – that is something I inherited directly from my father – and figuratively.) Safe and well-rested travels, my readers!

The one with our last return

After typing that blog post title, I do realize it sounds a bit morbid, but I mean it in the sense that flying back from the states was our last! (At least as Australian residents – I do hope we come back again someday.) Anywho, we had such a great trip to the states – short and sweet for both of us, though seemingly world record short for my husband. I swear he flew as long as he was stateside – though it was 100% worth it.

Ive got to admit to y’all: this was the toughest time I think both of us have had returning to our expat life. I think that was just a big indication to us that we’re very ready to get back home to the states. I dont know if it was because we had such a great time at with friends, celebrating weddings, babies or just catching up, or maybe because we’re expecting a little one this time and want he or she to be back in our home country, but suffice it to say, we’re ready – at least at this point in our lives – I can definitely see us living abroad again!

So, back to our trip :) The impetus for our trip was a wedding. We try to go back to as many celebrations as financially and physically possible, but if we’re in a wedding (as Barr was this time around), we really make double the effort. Barr’s roommate from Duke and dear friend (Do guys say BFFs? If they did, that’s what Dan and Barr are, for sure) got hitched to another Dukie (Ill forgive her double-Duke status because she is a literal angel despite rooting for the Blue Devils).

A gorgeous Derby Day wedding

A gorgeous Derby Day wedding

They tied the knot in Annapolis, Maryland, but before I headed to the east coast, I made a pit stop on the best, I mean west coast, to see my own BFF (girls can definitely say that) in Los Angeles. She just had a little girl back in late January, and Im not just saying thing, she’s a literal doll. I couldn’t get enough of her – and my friends, Allison and Mike.

They surprised me with a belated birthday celebration

They surprised me with a belated birthday celebration

Do you have those types of friends where you dont have to do a whole lot of “stuff”, but rather just hanging out and being with one another is more than enough? That’s what this stop was like. I smile just thinking about it. (Apologies for lack of pictures – it was one of those trips!) Allison and Mike were the best hosts (per usual) and are super star and very chill parents – I am so grateful that I have friends and parent role models like them! And I love that Baby Blanton and their daughter will be so close in age.

Side note: can we talk about how pricey maternity clothes are?? Yikes. 

But I digress. So after a few glorious California days, I flew further eastward to celebrate a beautiful couple and reunite with my very jet-lagged husband. Bless him, he flew from Perth to Doha, Doha to DC. He’s the best because he greeted me with the biggest smile and was a trooper all weekend – I think he was energized by pure happiness to be around his Duke friends and adrenaline. Either way, the weekend was absolutely amazing.

The beaming bride and groom - as beautiful on the outside as the inside

The beaming bride and groom – as beautiful on the outside as the inside

I managed to see another one of my BFF’s and “little sister” from Wake – she drove from DC to spend the day in Annpaolis with me. Shaney is the epitome of a breath of fresh air, and I was so thrilled to spend the day with her (though I wish it was longer!)

Shaney and I in Annapolis - a picture perfect day

Shaney and I in Annapolis – a picture perfect day

And then Dan and Beth tied the knot on her parents’ gorgeous property right on the river, and they couldn’t have asked for better weather. They had such a personalized and thoughtful ceremony – one of the best Ive had the pleasure of seeing.

The lovely ceremony setting

The lovely ceremony setting

Another fabulous surprise from this wedding was the “Shut Up and Dance” flash mob dance that Dan and Beth’s friends had organized. I was totally shocked, and so were the bride and groom…the best! Check it out:

And before I sign off, I want to thank Courtney, Becca, Kristen and Virginia for their expat insights over the last week or so on Abby’s Roads – they’re all dolls, and I am so thankful to have met each of them (hope y’all enjoyed it too!)

Diary of an Expat: Virginia in Dubai

Virginia’s “Diary of an Expat” is the last in this series, and well be back to regular posts, etc next week! Virginia is one of my besets friends from our time in Dubai…it also happens that she was from Charlotte – it was crazy how many friends from North Carolina wanted to “set us up” before we moved to Dubai. And then, by pure coincidence, we ended up renting an apartment in the same building in the Dubai Marina. It was crazy! Anyway, Virginia is killing it in Dubai with her job in public relations and is always up for a good time – I miss her so much!

  • Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you originally from, where do you live now and how did you get there? 
    • I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, attended college at the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!), moved to Washington, DC in 2008 after graduation, where I lived and worked at a global Public Relations firm until December 2012, when I started the journey to Dubai, the city I’ve called home for the past 2.5 years!
    • As long as I can remember, I’ve loved traveling and after two study abroad experiences during college in London and Florence, and several international family vacations, I hoped I could one day live overseas. While I certainly never dreamed of living in the Middle East, the opportunity came up for me to transfer within my firm to the UAE, where we have offices in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. (Side note: if you know nothing about the Middle East except what you see on TV, Google mapping Dubai is likely terrifying).
    • At the time, I knew very little about the region – so was certainly hesitant when I saw the UAE’s proximity to Iraq, Iran, Yemen, etc. Thankfully, I did more research, and after much debating with friends, family, future colleague and other expats, decided to make the move!
Burj al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Burj al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel

  • What is the best part about living in your new expat home?
    • That’s a tough question– one thing I know for sure is that it’s certainly not the upcoming summer months!
    • I’d probably say the best part of my personal Dubai experience has been the lifelong friends I’ve made in my time here – from all parts of the world. As Dubai is made up of nearly 80% expats, and tends to be very transient, you tend to make strong bonds fairly quickly.
    • The first time I realized I loved Dubai, was at a large group dinner several months after moving here – each of us from different countries, religions, and backgrounds. Despite our differences, the conversation was natural and extremely interesting. Thanks to these friendships, I’ve become more educated, more open minded, and even more intrigued about the world we live in. I’m also so fortunate to have made so many great American friends during my time here– including Abby and Barr – who have helped make home feel that much closer!
Beautiful Virginia in Kenya

Beautiful Virginia in Kenya

  • What was the hardest adjustment you had when you started expat life?
    • Despite what many may think, expat life isn’t always glamorous – it can be challenging, and it takes time to adjust. Interestingly though, many things that I found particularly challenging when I moved here, I’ve become accustomed to, and even learned to accept!
    • Overall though, I’d probably say the hardest adjustment for me was relevant to work. I won’t elaborate on this one much, as I know it isn’t the most exciting topic, but even though I was with the same company, getting used to a new market, new working styles, and a new schedule (the work week throughout the Gulf is Sunday-Thursday) was quite difficult at first.
  • What has been your favorite travel experience from your expat home?
    • I’ve loved every trip for different reasons, and I’ve been able to visit some amazing places in the past couple years. Nepal was hands down though one of my most memorable trips  – the people were incredibly friendly, and the country itself is beautiful, with such a unique blend of cultures. The recent earthquake has been truly devastating – not only did so many lose their lives, but so many historic landmarks have been completely demolished. I’m so lucky that I got to experience Kathmandu, and its surrounding villages when I did.
Adventures in Kathmandu

Adventures in Kathmandu

  • What is 1 thing (yes, just 1!) that you wish you could have shipped from the states?
    • My bed, mattress and sheets – that’s sort of one thing right?! Sounds odd, I know, but I loved my bed in my DC apartment, and it was super comfortable.
Our two families in Dubai over Christmas 2013 :)

Our two families in Dubai over Christmas 2013 :)

  • Can you provide a piece of advice for folks that are considering expat life
    • Make the move. Daunting as packing up your life may be, and saying goodbye to all things familiar, expat life can be extremely rewarding. And  once you make the move, explore as much as you can. Finding your favorite ‘local’ spots, will make your new city feel like ‘home.’

Diary of an Expat: Singapore with Kristen

This next Diary of an Expat is from one of the sweetest, most bubbly women I know – and it’s about one of my favorite cities in the world…a win/win! Kristen is a fellow Charlottean (but she’s an actual one…like she grew up there, but Ill let her tell the rest of that story), but we met through mutual friends right before she moved to Chicago – we actually ended up renting her our townhouse in NC! The world is small.

Anyway, we’ve stayed in touch, and she and her fiancé went from the midwest winters to the never-ending summers of Singapore. I love seeing her Instagram and Facebook pictures of their adventures and travels – frankly, one of the best things about Singapore is how close you are to so many amazing and exotic destinations. So meet Kristen and learn about her life as an expat in Singapore…

  • Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you originally from, where do you live now and how did you get there?
    • My name is Kristen Keniry, born in Charleston, SC, grew up in Charlotte, NC and went to UNC Chapel Hill for college. I was a Carolina girl all growing up and my first move away from home was to Chicago, IL with a close friend of mine from high school when I was 27 years old. 
    • I lived in Chicago for 2 years and met my fiancé, Perry Vickery, who was living in Portland, OR at the time. We did long distance for a year and a half, always flying to see each other in a new city or destination in the US. We both love travel, meeting new people and gaining new life experiences. When his company offered him a job in Singapore and my company was so graciously willing to let me work from the Singapore office, we jumped at the chance to live and work oversees together (our first time living together and the first time living in the same city!!!)   
    • Midwesterners, like Southerners, value family, faith, hard work and look you in the eye. Moving to Chicago from Charlotte was a relatively easy transition coming from the South. But the move to Singapore just 9 months ago was completely different. I left everything in my comfort zone behind, and say goodbye to my customs, sense of space, and life as I knew it in exchange for the adventure of living and working in Southeast Asia with my fiancé.
Enjoying the Singapore Zoo (aren't they photogenic??)

Enjoying the Singapore Zoo (aren’t they photogenic??)

  • What is the best part about living in your new expat home? 
    • TRAVEL. Hands down it is seeing the world and meeting new people who are so different from me. My first few months were an incredible discovery of my new home, Southeast Asia, the food, the people, and languages. The energy is relentless, so unlike that of the States. From Singapore you can get to Bali in less than 2 hours and for about $140 flight. Perth is 4 hours, Thailand 1.5 hrs, Malaysia 1.5 hrs, Cambodia 2.5 hrs, Vietnam 2 hrs, India and Japan about 7 hours. And with budget airlines it makes travel easy and affordable – no reason not to check out a new country in a weekend!
    • And for those who don’t know much about Singapore, here is a brief overview:
      • Singapore’s is a small island in Southeast Asia, 85 miles north of the equator with a population of 5.3 million ethnically diverse people. Chinese constitute about three-fourths of the population, Malays form the next largest group, and Indians the third. Singapore is a land of immigrants and these ethnic groups and expatriates live together harmoniously. It is a cosmopolitan and diverse society that is accustomed to dealing with people from various cultures. The country’s four official languages are Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil. English is the language of administration, business, and education and it is widely spoken as a second language. Singapore’s principal religions are Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity.
  • What was the hardest adjustment you had when you started expat life? 
    • Missing friends and family (and my dog!) back home and getting used to every day being 95 degrees with 90% humidity. We are 10,000 miles away from home and 12-13 hours time difference depending on daylight savings. That means night calls most every night with Chicago for work and trying to schedule a time to talk with friends and family around that. It can be quite lonely at times but it has forced me to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people and form new relationships in Singapore. 
From CLT to SIN...a loooong way

From CLT to SIN…a loooong way

  • What has been your favorite travel experience from your expat home? 
    • There’s no way I can choose one, I have to mention 4 that were life changing:
      • New Years Eve on a boat in the Harbor of Sydney, Australia
      • The history of Hanoi & Sailing in Halong Bay, Vietnam.
      • Running a half marathon in the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia
      • A week in the fall in Kyoto, Japan
  • What is 1 thing (yes, just 1!) that you wish you could have shipped from the states?
    • Tilly!!!!! (my Bichon Frise) I sadly had to leave her with my parents as there are very severe quarantine protocols and it’s quite a long journey for her. I miss her every day and had a lot of teary nights adjusting to life without her here. 
    • As far as something that could actually be shipped, I would say some good wine (alcohol is 3-4x the cost of what it is in the US…Yellow Tail sells for $32 here in Singapore!) and my favorite cosmetics (they have Sephora here but it’s about 30-40% more expensive and not all the same offerings)
    • A noteworthy mention would be bras (nothing bigger than an A cup in stores here) and sheets that fit an American bed because bed sizes are different here…we learned that the hard way!
Kristen practicing yoga in Bali

Kristen practicing yoga in Bali

  • Can you provide a piece of advice for folks that are considering expat life?
    • I’m going to stick to my rule of 3’s here:
      • Change your mindset and find a local or a schooled expat who can teach you the culture and customs. YOU are now a foreigner. It’s going to be different, it’s going to be uncomfortable. You’re going to run into people on sidewalks because they not only drive on a different side of the road but they walk on different sides too. They speak English but it’s not the English you’re used to. Customs are different. Think of yourself as a student trying to learn a foreign language. It’s not wrong, it’s just different. It’s the same with cultures here. Go to lunch with someone you never would have met back home, ask questions and listen to their story. We may look differently, speak differently, dress differently – but we have much in common and at the end of the day are all just humans! 
      • Document, journal, photograph, Facebook, blog. I’m not a great example as I need to do much more, but these are experiences you will have for a lifetime and will want to tell your children about, so do a thorough job of recording these memories!  
      • Take risks and have a ‘I’ll try anything once’ attitude and you will go far as an expat. Living abroad is proof of our power as humans to adapt, to overcome fears, to make ourselves understood and to re-create a sense of home. Embrace the opportunity and have fun! 

Diary of an Expat: Perth & Vietnam with Becca

Y’all, I love this next expat friend and her “Diary of an Expat” story. Becca epitomizes friendly, welcoming and fun – to sum up: she’s an amazing expat. When I first moved to Perth, Becca was queen of the welcome wagon at the American Women’s Club, and greeted each new member (myself included) with open arms, recommendations for anything from doctors to restaurants, and is one of the best cooks you’ll ever meet.

She’s off on a new adventure, as you’ll learn, and while I know her friends in Perth are bummed, Vietnam is lucky to have she and her husband Rob! And be sure to check out her blog – she has such a fun and refreshing way of writing!

  • Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you originally from, where do you live now and how did you get there? I grew up a Omaha Nebraska and continued my Cornhusker upbringing at the University of Nebraska. My husband and I were living in Kansas City prior to moving to Perth four years ago. His job brought us here in the boom that Perth was experiencing at the time. Now a new job opportunity is taking us away to Vung Tau in Vietnam.

Becca, Abby, Lauren and Ashlie on our kayaking adventure in Perth last year

  • What is the best part about living in your new expat home? The best part is probably experiencing a different culture in a way that isn’t possible just through traveling. We’ve made so many life-long friends from Perth and really have felt at home, even though it’s a different home that we’re used to. One thing specifically is our interest and support of the National sports teams on a global scale that America doesn’t have. It was great to barrack for the Australian team with the rest of the country as we won the Cricket World Cup.
  • What was the hardest adjustment you had when you started expat life? The hardest thing for me is being so far away from family. It is said that Perth is the most isolated city in the world and at times I have felt it. There’s no quick (or inexpensive) way “home” when you’re feeling like you need a good hug from mom.
  • What has been your favorite travel experience from your expat home? Although we’ve been to many other countries while living in Perth I have to say that I’m particularly fond of what we’ve found in our own backyard! Western Australia has such a variety of gorgeous scenery that I can’t get enough. I went on a road trip to Kalgoorlie to see the super pit and then down to Esperance and the Kangaroo filled beaches and each kilometre was more impressive than the last. I also have to agree with Hugh Jackman when he said that Margaret River was the “best place he’s ever been to.”
  • What is 1 thing (yes, just 1!) that you wish you could have shipped from the states? Over the years I could’ve answered this so many different ways but also the years I’ve had have helped me learn how to make more things from scratch (girl I’ve roasted my own pumpkin for pie AND I even have a recipe for homemade cookie butter!!). But the one thing I can’t make up and haul back like a pack mule is Crystal Light Energy. It’s so well known that even my nephew once asked for his 6th birthday for “a giant bag of crystal light like Aunt Becca”.
New home in Vietnam

New home in Vietnam

  • Can you provide a piece of advice for folks that are considering expat life? Don’t try to make your new home into your old home – or you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Diary of an Expat: Brisbane with Courtney

I am kicking off the “Diary of an Expat” series with a new friend of mine: Courtney. You may remember I initially wrote about her when she nominated me for a Liebster Award a few weeks ago. (Basically, we’re these ships passing in the night – from moving from and to Katy, Texas when we were around 12 or so to moving to Australia, albeit different cities – and it’s just such a small world that we met via blogging and then got to meet in real life back in March in Sydney..hopefully it won’t be the last time! She’s fabulous.)

Anyway, I though Courtney would be an ideal person to kick off the Diary of an Expat week as she writes and maintains a great blog about she and her husband adventures in their new expat home of Brisbane, Queensland: Alkeks Abroad. From hot spots in the Brisbane to their travels around the region, Courtney is an A+ blogging expat. Ill let her own “diary” speak for itself…and check out her blog for more expat adventures!

  • Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you originally from, where do you live now and how did you get there? That is a tough question haha. I grew up an expat kid all over the place. My mom flew back to her hometown of Midland, Texas to have me so that’s where I was born. After that, I lived in 9 countries before I turned 14 (with a short stint in the US in between). When I was in 8th grade my family moved to Katy, Texas (a suburb of Houston) and that’s what I typically  say is my hometown when people ask. After college, I returned to the area and lived in Houston for 5 years before we headed to Australia. We moved to Brisbane in July 2014 when my husband’s company offered him a position here.
Courtney and her husband Travis

Courtney and her husband Travis – beauties!

  • What is the best part about living in your new expat home? I love spending our weekends exploring this big, beautiful country. Every time we visit somewhere new I fall more in love with Australia. 
  • What was the hardest adjustment you had when you started expat life? Not knowing anyone. After spending the previous 13 years in the same area it was hard to go back to expat life and being the “new kid.” Luckily, I made friends not too long after we got here but that first month was pretty hard. I am not kidding when I say I googled “how to make friends as an adult.
  • What has been your favorite travel experience from your expat home? Ah that’s a tough one. As I mentioned before, everywhere I go is my new favorite. Spending the day on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays probably takes the cake. It has raised my beach standards exponentially and I am not sure if I will ever be able to return to Galveston.
The Alkeks abroad in the Whitsundays

The Alkeks abroad in the Whitsundays

  • What is 1 thing (yes, just 1!) that you wish you could have shipped from the states? I literally almost wrote my laminator (#nerdalert) but I am going to twist your question a little bit and say I wish I could have a Chipotle burrito bowl shipped to my apartment once a week (you didn’t specify how many times!)
  • Can you provide a piece of advice for folks that are considering expat life? Be open minded. Don’t compare everything to “back home” because you will drive yourself insane. Yes, things are different but that doesn’t mean they are worse. There are plenty of things that the United States could learn from Australia and other countries and vice versa. Embrace the different and adapt.