Why I like to work when I travel

In a recent post, I asked a question and asked for any questions readers may have about me in general. The questions shared a very similar theme so it is nice to add them here and answer them in a dedicated post. My question was, if you had to only travel for two weeks a year, would you stay at home and travel abroad for those two weeks, or live abroad (anywhere) and go back to your home country for the two weeks. The answers I would say were 50/50. Some people like home. Others like to make new places their home. There of course is no ‘right’ answer.

So without further ado, here are the questions I received. I am sorry if someone posts a question after I put this out, I will of course answer it in a comment reply. Hopefully this is a good opportunity to learn something new about me and I have linked those bloggers that asked the questions so please feel free to check them out too.

Let’s start with this one from TracyNicole:

Where have you lived and do you have a job that is easy to obtain no matter where you live or do you do a new job each place you live?

I have lived in four separate locations. They are (in chronological order):

County Durham, England

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Lubbock, TX

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Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England

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Sydney, Australia

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Notice the similarity of the bridges in Newcastle and Sydney. Although the same company built both, Sydney Harbour Bridge looks more like the Hell Gate Bridge in New York. Apparently both of the above bridges had designs derived from the Hell Gate Bridge, but Sydney certainly has more of a resemblance. The same people, but slightly different designs. I have always found that pretty cool, especially now that I have walked over both of them. Once is certainly bigger and more well known!

Regarding the second part of the question, I feel very lucky when it comes to finding work. I was born in Durham, but my first real job was in Newcastle. I was working for the tourist board helping promote the city, I commuted to and from Durham via bus (an hour and a half commute that I hated) but the job was worth it. This was during university and after graduating I was offered a paid internship in Texas, and of course I accepted it. This has been the easiest job to find as I didn’t even have an interview. I simply graduated and there were enough spaces available to apply. After my 12 month contract came to an end, I stayed in contact with the company I worked for in Newcastle and found an apartment there. I continued to work in hospitality here for roughly four years.

When I arrived in Sydney in September, I did not have a job secured. I was very lucky to find a hotel hiring on Circular Quay and because of my experience, started work a couple of days later.

So in terms of employment, I highly recommend anyone that is at university to look for internships and opportunities to travel abroad. Travelling to Sydney I did not have anything secured, but if you have the experience or just enough motivation to keep looking for work, it can be found. I personally like to go into workplaces in person and introduce myself instead of simply uploading a CV online, I feel it makes you stand out more and shows a little more effort. So my work isn’t flexible in the sense that I can be transferred, however hospitality is everywhere and having the experience in this industry helps me to find such work anywhere I go. I have never been able to keep the same job once I have moved, but always had similar work. Only one company (in Texas) hired me before I moved there. Everywhere else, I had to find employment after landing.

Thanks for the question!

Thank you to atheistsmeow for this one:

Have you set a time limit for how long you will stay in one place to work, or are you playing it by ear?

Unfortunately, my current visa restrictions means I can only work for six months with any one company. So my last working day was March 11th. I am playing it by ear in terms of where I will be and who I am working for with these restrictions in mind. I feel it is a good thing however, as it forces me to keep moving. What is different with my american visa was that I could only work for the one company that sponsored me for 12 months, meaning I was restricted to one city. I did travel, but probably not as much as I will do in Australia.

Here’s one from Pins for the Wins:

How do you make each new place feel more like home when you move?

Interestingly enough I don’t really do much to my new home once I move. For example my current apartment isn’t filled with things to remind me of home. But this is because I like to be out of the house more than I am in it, and when I am here I like to Skype with family and friends back home. I know some people take pictures and put them in frames, or take along certain possessions and foods. I probably would have been more like this if I was travelling before the days of instant communication. Now, I know I can Skype in an instant and see family as well as the home I left behind for travel. What I do like to do however is bring back items from my travels to keep in my home back in the UK. When I am back there I like to have reminders of where I have been!

This is interesting to think about actually, if you are the opposite and make your new home remind you of ‘back home’ let me know. For me, I know I won’t be in these destinations for too long, not long enough to make them homely. If I was to permanently move here however, I am sure I would put more effort in.

This question is from by The Wee Bakery:

How many countries have you visited? Is there anywhere you went for a holiday and just ended up staying?

I have visited *closes eyes and tries to think* the following countries, in chronological order again to help jog my memory.

  • Spain (four times, only once to the mainland)
  • France
  • Norway
  • The Netherlands
  • USA (NYC three times, TX for a year and then up the east coast)
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Brazil (one month, including the Olympics and a couple weeks flying from city to city although I needed more time)
  • Argentina (this doesn’t really count, we crossed the border and ate at a restaurant. But it was fun!)
  • Australia

So I am by no means ‘well travelled’ compared to some bloggers here, however I feel very fortunate to have visited as many as I have. A question  often get asked iswhich was my favourite, however they are all so different it is hard to compare. Some have greater food, some a better quality of life, some have better weather. It all depends on who you are as a person and what you want from a holiday.

Many of these places I wish I could have stayed longer in, however there hasn’t been an instance in which I decided to stay there. But that is why I have decided to take year long visas, to make sure I get to see as much as I can without running out of time and being full of regrets. Large countries need more than a week or two, sometimes just to get over the jet-lag alone!

Cheers Miss LiV Adventures for asking:

My question for you is why did you decide to travel, and how did you find the means?

I decided to travel when I was 20. I went on holidays with family and still do and loved the thrill of flying to a completely different country, weather, currency, food etc. I was also very shy growing up, and once I was given the opportunity to work in the States I jumped for it. This was the best decision I have ever made. I became much more confident, I had to become self reliant and get over the uncomfort of living so far from family. It really did develop me as a person, and I realised how much of the world I was missing by not doing so. I am also not religious, and I really want to make the most of this life whilst I can. I know when I go back home I will see the same faces walking into the same shop buying the same newspaper, and this is okay but it freaks me out a little. I need to be out there seeing what the world has to offer!

It isn’t cheap to travel, which is why on these year long trips I work to fund myself. The Australian Working Holiday Visa is great for this, allowing you to work for six months with any company whilst you fund such travels. There is also the opportunity for sponsorship if a company decides to keep you on, meaning more opportunity to stay longer. I wanted to make the most of this whilst I was able to obtain this visa. I haven’t been sponsored, however they give you the option to stay for a second year by doing three months of farmwork in rural areas.

Update: I am also single, still in my twenties with no children. This makes it much easier for me to travel, less responsibilities means I currently have more time to travel when I want and where. A factor that I didn’t think to add!

by AJ

Where are you going next?

So, now that I have finished my current contract, I have until September to stay anywhere in Australia. However as I briefly mentioned above, by doing 88 days of farmwork I can apply for a second year. So this is what I am going to be doing now. In the next week or so I am going to fly up to Queensland and start this farming adventure to extend my visa until September 2019. This means I will have much more time to explore this vast nation, something I haven’t really been able to do whilst working full time in Sydney.

So the bad news is, I need to work hard in high temperatures to get that second year. The good news is that I will have plenty more to blog about until my visa expires, with plenty more locations to visit and sights to see. I am considering two locations to fly to in the next week, I will let you know when I have made a decision. Exciting times!

Thank you all for the questions, it is great to read them and I am pleased to give you some answers. I had fun doing this and I am sure I will have another Q&A in the not too distant future if you enjoyed it! 

As always, I appreciate the feedback and any comments you may have. What country should I visit next and why?

Sam

 

The sticker on my laptop

So I was in a Sydney bar blogging (Manly was the area, for any curious locals) and I noticed some American college basketball on TV. It turned out to be Texas Tech, the college I was located close to whilst living in the Lone Star State. Not many people had heard of Lubbock, but college sports help put it on the map thanks to the Red Raiders. I could see their 60k+ seater stadium from my apartment balcony, impressive for a college team and not possible for a UK college team.

 

Whilst I was clearing out my apartment in England back in August to move out to Australia, I found a sticker that I bought in Texas all that time ago. I put it on my laptop hoping that it would help me build a collection of stickers from various regions of the world. I like the look of Casey Neistat’s laptop for this reason. It gives it a bit of personality.


Live update: Some guy just walked up to me and asked if I was from the States because of my laptop sticker. Right as I was typing this section, he was from Cali and I had to explain I lived in TX although I am actually British. I feel I have to apologise for misleading people that ask this, they are hoping for a chat with someone from home and realise this isn’t going to be the case as soon as I open my mouth. Odd timing, however since I have started going into public places for WiFi it has drawn quite a lot of attention. A bit like if I was taking a cute puppy everywhere, you know its just a matter of time before someone is going to walk up and introduce themselves. I like conversation, so it’s fine.

But yes, I feel it gives my laptop a little more life. It’s with me almost all the time now, so I like my laptop to reflect me a little. I’m overdue an Australia sticker though, I haven’t got around to buying one.

So yes, this short post is dedicated to Tech and Texas. And Shiner Bock, and brisket, and pool parties, and turning up late everyday to work due to those pool parties, and the constant worry of being fired for being late and inevitably sent back to the UK as I was on a strict sponsored visa, and the difficulty being understood because of my think northern accent…. 

I am reminded of a lot when I see that great flag.

But now I need a sticker for my current travels. What should I get? A koala? A kangaroo? The Australian flag? What do you still carry around that reminds you of a previous trip? 

I bet many of you have some cool reminders of past adventures, in many cool and creative forms.
 

Places I Need To See: Texas Adventure…Space Center Houston — A Feeling of Chaos (Re-blog)

I have a love/hate relationship with space. All I want to do is learn more about this terrifyingly vast and potentially infinite, mysterious unknown that we are born into and hurtling through at incomprehensible speeds. I have honestly had mild panic attacks sitting down outside on a clear evening gazing at the stars… have you ever leaned over the railing from a skyscraper or cliff edge and had that sweaty palm moment? I get that sometimes whilst gazing at the skies.

I don’t think that is a common effect of something so romantic and breathtaking, and that being said, it doesn’t stop my fascination. If anything it helps to build it.

A Feeling of Chaos has typed up a nice piece on her visit to the NASA Space Center in Houston, a place I would love to see in my lifetime. To see a shuttle would be amazing. To see it piggy-backed by a 747? No words.

This immense power and capability only makes me wonder what the future has in store. I admittedly have been following Elon Musk’s SpaceX updates more than NASA, as he has been putting in some damn fascinating plans for Mars exploration and population. Will this be a competitor for NASA? If anything helps technology move forward, it is competition.

That being said, I am very jealous of this visit! You can read all about it below.

I am totally and utterly in love with outer space; and I have been since I was in the 6th grade. Anything and everything about space makes me act like a little kid in a candy shop. So I figured I would do whatever it took to visit Johnson Space Center…or at least the visitor […]

via Texas Adventure…Space Center Houston — A Feeling of Chaos

I never knew Houston was this colourful…

Despite living in Texas for twelve fantastic months, I never ventured as far south as Houston. This blog post makes me regret that. The bright, optimistic street art in a city I overlooked in favour of other Texan cities was worth a re-blog. I hope Seersucker Optional and the city of Houston forgives me.

Houston is pretty awesome! As I said in my last post, Houston has really become a vibrant, artistic city! I was blown away by all the public art and painted walls. I thought I’d take you all on a little tour of the city, and highlight my favorite things to see! Main […]

via Colorful Greetings from Houston in Draper James — Seersucker Optional

Featured Photo by Felipe Galvan on Unsplash

Familiar accents in a far away land

Today has been a good day. Very busy and therefore productive, tiring and therefore a good workout. It is also one that ended in high spirits as Australia will be in the 2018 World Cup after beating Honduras 3-1 in Sydney. There were- and I am sure still are- yellow shirts everywhere in the streets and will be long into the night. Yellow shirts and football (soccer) have always been associated with Brazil, you could have been fooled into thinking you were walking back from the Maracana tonight rather than the ANZ Stadium in Sydney’s Olympic Park or out of the many bars showing the game.

This was a development very late on in the evening and wasn’t the plan for this post, however if any occasion results in fireworks it is probably worth a mention*. I originally wanted to post about a couple I met today from the UK, from my city in fact. In fact, just down the road in a neighbouring village, we finally worked out the distance after the lady said ‘you know, near the Red Kite Pub?’. Pubs are a great marker for getting your bearings if you are lost in the UK, particularly in a village or small town.

There is always a great deal of excitement when you overhear a conversation in your own dialect when abroad. You would never have spoken to them if they were sitting next to you in a cafe back home, now suddenly they are your best friends and you are planning life together. It is like our caveman instincts kick in and we need to group up in an environment of strange sounding people. No matter how far you travel, it is just a matter of time before you encounter one of your fellow citizens. This can be seen as a blessing or a curse. Here in Sydney, it seems like a Brit is around every corner. Back when I was living in West Texas, we were few and far between. I loved the opportunity to only hear my accent once in a blue moon, it made the encounter much more interesting.

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Do you enjoy meeting your fellow countrymen and women when on holiday, or do you see a holiday as a break from the norm and therefore avoid fellow citizens at all costs?

*I am unsure if the fireworks were directly related to the win tonight, however it was very fitting even if unrelated.

Featured photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

See you next Tuesday

Is it just me, or is having a company name like ‘UNT’ on the wall a disaster waiting to happen?

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No wonder they placed it out of reach.

Graffiti artists are like sand though. They get everywhere and anywhere. The example below from Reddit made my palms sweat.

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The featured image was taken in Dallas, and after a quick Google found that it stands for University of North Texas. I don’t know much about this college (I used to live very close to the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock however) and remember driving through Austin and being blown away by the stadium for the Longhorns. I couldn’t believe college football was so popular.

That is one difference between living in the UK and the USA. We have the Premier League, one of the biggest leagues in the world and as England is so compact in comparison, you are never too far from a top flight team. My nearest is a ten minute drive however as they were only promoted last season and have lost the first two games of this current season, how long they will stay in this league is anyone’s guess. The USA is huge, Texas alone could swallow the whole of the UK up. With that in mind cities with large populations are vast distances from the NFL, NHL and the like. Universities give these cities a fantastic sporting identity.

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Watching Texas Tech in Lbk, TX. Raider Power!

I am not sure if this is the case with all large nations (Brazil, Canada, Russia, India, I am calling you out!), and I will find if that is the case in Australia in a couple of weeks time.

Happy Tuesday!

Does your town have a Ghost Bike?

I have a few photos from various countries of bikes being used for things other than riding. Everything about a bikes design is built with the belief that a person will be on top of it, so seeing a bike upright without feet on the pedals and hands on the grips can be a little eerie, like finding a glove without a hand in it or a clothing lying in a field. Where is the person?

Take this photo of a bike, taken by the beach in Rio.

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Okay, this one isn’t as strange as it has been used as a stand for souvenirs. It is probably very difficult to ride like that anyway, but it looks cool and I decided to take a photograph. Looking at the background it does seem like bikes were pretty common here, I can’t remember seeing so many whilst I was there. This is another great example of the power of photography. Our memories change over time, our photographs don’t. Photographs are a way to look back in time for what it was, we might see things we couldn’t remember being there, or didn’t realise at all.

I also took this picture of this bike in Austin, TX.

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This one has a different story. I cannot remember what was on the sign other than the name of person that died and the words ‘Ghost Bikes’… I decided to google Ghost Bikes today and it is a pretty fascinating read. They first appeared in St Louis, Missouri in 2003 and since then 630 ghost bikes have appeared in 210 locations around the world.

From the website GhostBikes.org it has the following to say about the phenomenon:

Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque. They serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists’ right to safe travel.

The bike was found on a bridge, I am pretty sure the same bridge as this one, although I may be wrong. It was definitely taken shortly afterwards.

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I thought this may have been a one off at the time. Clearly it isn’t and it shows how the internet can bring people together, people that have a shared story of loss with a mutual passion or profession. The following countries have Ghost Bikes, some in multiple locations:

Different nations, very similar stories and I am sure there are ways to find out about these people and a little insight to their lives that were tragically cut short.

Travel Diary: So long America, it was fun :(

I wanted to find an image that represents the USA in differing ways for this post, I decided on this picture taken in Austin, TX.

The famous yellow taxi. Glass highrises dwarfing the one storey eateries lining the grid traffic systems. Right lane driving. These all stand out to me as a British traveller.

My home city of Durham bans building over two storeys high in some areas to prevent obscuring any views of the cathedral, or so I was taught on a geography trip back in school. Grid systems would be ideal, sadly this is impossible when our city was built when horses were the main mode of transport. It was also important to build in an area that was difficult to conquer, common throughout Europe. It is a city that has always taken my breath away, not just because of the views but the effort needed to walk up to the market place. You can see why the centre is pedestrianised, and how this spot was perfect for the building of a castle and cathedral.

Credit: Van Rhijn Aerial Photography

But this post is about the New World. Today, I received notification that my US visa expired. It isn’t something that I have looked to renew as I have spent the years since 2010 in Malaysia, Brazil and short breaks in Europe. A lot happens in this space of time. I lost my father and uncle in recent years which of course took the wind out of my sails. I had no ambition to travel at all but thanks to great friends and amazing family, I got back on my feet. I would love to have went back the States and it feels weird that I haven’t, I made great friends and still keep in touch.

Sometimes we don’t get upset that something is over until it is over. I haven’t thought much about the visa still being valid but now I see it isn’t, I slumped a bit. If anything it is a reminder that I need to visit this great nation once again, one so vast that one image alone cannot portray the United States of America accurately. I miss the food, the friendly people, the numbered streets and alphabetised avenues and people thinking I’m Irish or Australian.

My visa expiring has inspired me to visit again one day!

Pre-travel goodbyes

I love the inside of this card.

Happiness is living your dreams whilst you are wide awake…

It is getting to that point in which I receive the good lucks and all the bests. When it starts to hit me and the feelings of excitement dwindle a little, the realisation hits me of the sacrifices made in moving to another country. I won’t see my family for a little while. My ‘little while’ may be a long damn time for some, it depends how you perceive one year.

They need me and I need them. I also need to live, if my family didn’t do the same in their youth, what stories would they have to tell me? Would I be here at all?

Thank you to the two Scottish Margaret’s for this one!

The reality is that even though my family will miss me as much as I will miss them, we all have a duty to self progress. To be a little selfish and to treat ourselves as much as we want to treat those we love. What better way to show how much we love family than to give them something to be proud of? To show them how well they have raised us, the ambition and drive placed within us materialised in the form of a plane ticket and new footsteps in unspoiled sand.

My visit to Texas back in 2010 was the longest I have been without family, thirteen months. Oddly, I was always someone preffering to stay at home. I loved my home comforts. I assume university helped me out of that comfort zone, after my second trip to New York City during my degree. I realised long-haul wasn’t a scary experience and thanks to the Jet-stream over the Atlantic, the return journey home was a pretty short one. If I remember rightly it was only 6 hours 30 minutes (ish), sharing the whole back row with one friend. A journey back home from another part of the UK may take that time (driving of course) and that would be without such homesickness. Homesickness for me is prevented by not thinking of how far away my family are in miles but in time. No matter where we are in the world, family are pretty much in reach within 24 hours.

Please forgive the quality of the images below, I used a cheap camera. I didn’t have a smartphone back then and have never owned a professional photography camera. FYI, the first picture was from my first visit in 2008, when the foundations were still being cleared and prepared for One World Trade Center and memorial. My visits to NYC have been 2008, 2010 and 2011. The One World Trade Center is under construction in a couple of images, snapped in 2011 after I left Texas and flew from New York to London. I still didn’t own a decent camera!

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The first two visits were only short breaks, five days each. I remember flying to Dallas on that first long stretch away from home. As the green card was being placed on my tray and the captain announced how long of the flight was left, it finally hit me that I would be away for a year, starting there and then. A year! I am glad it hit me when it did, if I felt the same feeling of reluctance earlier I may not have bought my plane ticket. The feeling didn’t last long, my brain instantly stimulated by new accents and weather, new foods and sports. When I did need to contact home I could do in an instant thanks to Facebook and Skype. The whole experience wasn’t as daunting as I feared it would be whilst I filled in the green card. I still firmly believe it was the best year of my life.

I also seem to remember more of that year than I do all the years since combined. Despite having many more trips, a year of travel consists of so many stories and new experiences. Similar to how we feel about aging, time flies the older we get. As a child everything is new. Every colour and word, every animal and sound. The more our days become increasingly similar to the last, the less we notice the hands moving on the clock. Travel for me is a time machine slowing down life. When I think of being away for such a long in Australia come September, I think of the benefits.

Like a gym session, don’t worry about how crap you feel doing it, think of the results!!

Discovery

Hang on, was I on Route 66? Looking through my Texas pics I noticed the signs below the giant cowboy, even if they didn’t catch my attention at the time.

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Apparently not. Well, kind of. I asked google the question and the website route66news was kind in response.

‘Yes. It sits on an obscure and short-lived alignment of Route 66 from the 1920s.’

That’s enough for me to brag about!

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The author adds:

Although the Big Texan no longer sits on Route 66, it began on Amarillo Boulevard (aka Route 66) in 1960 and often shows its Mother Road roots in the gift shop and decor. It moved to Interstate 40 during the early 1970s after Route 66 was bypassed.

Then an input from West Texas A&M University marketing professor and Route 66 researcher Nick Gerlich:

‘A solid argument can be made that the current Big Texan sits on or adjacent to the 1926-1928 alignment, which followed 18th Ave SE in from Washburn. The current freeway obscures much of that now, but the BT is one of few businesses to be able to say it has sat on two different alignments.’

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Have any readers been? I miss that place. 

Even if I haven’t been on it I have visited a venue that has contributed to its legacy, I wouldn’t be researching the historical route right now. I guess that’s just as good as being on the route and not realising at all. 

Glass half full and all that.