First Family Excursion

Posted: 25th September 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The weather has been awful here with torrential rain and crazy winds – apparently Perth is known as Australia’s “Windy City”… who knew! I suppose you don’t get great waves for surfing if you’re not this windy.

Anyway, this past weekend the weather had relaxed a little and so we decided to do a road trip further north to check out two places: the white sand dunes and the Pinnacles.

The White Sand Dunes
Located in the town of Lancelin, the white sand dunes are just that, white sand dunes. As far as the eye can see of pristine white sand with a snow-like appearance. Tourists and locals have wasted no time in making the most of these natural beauties and you can often find motorbikes, 4×4 cars and sandboarders charging the alabaster mounds with fervor.

The children had a great time running up and down the dunes. We tried renting boards to attempt some sand boarding but were advised against it since there was torrential rain the night before that had left the sand quite wet. It hadn’t completely dried when we arrived that morning. It didn’t matter really because we still had a lot of fun looking around and walking along the lowly hills. It was a lovely morning out that culminated in having lunch nearby at the Lancelin Beach Hotel with Western Australia’s turquoise coast as our view.

Walking around the white sand dunes
Views of WA’s turquoise coast from the Lookout at Lancelin Beach Hotel

Next stop, the Pinnacles…

The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles are random limestone formations that look as if they sprouted in the middle of the desert landscape. They are a popular natural attraction. We were told that most families who move to Perth tend to see the Pinnacles within the first week of their arrival! I guess seeing them 3 months after we arrived here means we’re late bloomers 😉

We told the children that we were going to see dinosaur rocks to peak their interest, which worked. The rocks are located in Nambung National Park, almost 2 hours north of Lancelin.

It was a very windy day when we went, and on top of that the tours were canceled when we arrived at Nambung National Park for reasons which I now can’t remember. However, you don’t really need a tour anyway. If you enjoy walking for miles and miles seeing random limestone rocks, then you’ll enjoy this trip. And don’t forget to bring your camera…

Apparently, a must-do is to eat at, and do a tour of, the Lobster Shack in the nearby town of Cervantes. Unfortunately, by the time we got there they had just closed. As such we decided to drive to another seafood-inspired eatery in the same town. I was fascinated by the name of Cervantes, seeing as it is the name of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes who wrote the famous story of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Driving around I was intrigued by the street names: “Madrid”, “Seville”, “Iberia”, “Cadiz”! Surely this town had Spanish immigrants who first landed in Australia! Actually, no. OK… maybe the person who founded this town was Spanish. Nope, not that either. Why would a random town, 4 hours north of Perth City be called Cervantes then? Apparently, it was named after a ship that arrived there, headed by a British captain. Reading further into its history you soon discover that the ship was named Cervantes after the author. Phew! Felt like a 6-degrees of separation game for a second!

Spanish street names in Cervantes, WA

For more stories on sight-seeing, travel or life in Perth in general, please visit Cross Cultural TCK’s Blog

Job Hunting in Perth

Posted: 2nd September 2013 by admin in Uncategorized
I distinctly remember members of our family telling us not to bother looking for work in Perth from the UK. They said that it would take as little as a week to land a job there, and if we were contacting recruitment agencies all the way from England, it would be difficult to attend those interviews that were not uncommon to come at a moment’s notice!

We were told that with our skill sets we would be considered highly employable and therefore very easy for both of us to find work.

I have Marketing Communications experience for international 5-star hotel chains, speak 4 languages, and am a very fast learner.  I was told that my background provides me with many transferable skills that would fit most positions in Perth, and that having had such an international upbringing would serve me well in Australia’s fastest growing city.
I was very excited about the prospect of returning to work after such a long break. Mind you, this break wasn’t left totally unproductive. I filled my time with courses in photography, copywriting, handled the family holiday lettings business in Spain, did some freelance copywriting work, and achieved personal goals such as certifying as a Spinning® instructor. I’m not one to sit around.
I also appreciate the look of my CV from an employer’s perspective. As a mom who’s taken such a long time off, I don’t expect to be hired as a Marketing Manager, and am quite happy to start from the beginning. So I started looking for administrative and coordinator type roles. I thought that having been a Marketing Manager previously, coupled with my productive yet lengthy (7 years) time off, an administrative role would be a good place to start.
Job hunting in Perth is not as easy as we were told it would be.
After searching online at Seek for 2 months and applying to almost every suitable position without getting anywhere, I finally started feeling demotivated. I understand that 2 months isn’t a long time for job hunting, but when you’ve been told it takes a week, 2 months then feels like a long time. A friend then advised me to contact recruitment agencies directly. She said she and a few of her friends found their jobs by calling them up one by one and having a candid chat with an agent who was able to help advise them on what to do.
So that’s just what I did. I only got through 6 agencies because I kept hearing the same thing over and over “apply at, and if your CV has been successful, we’ll keep your record on file if anything turns up.” I asked the question if it mattered that I’ve had such a long time off, and was told that it didn’t.
One lady from Hays recruitment agency wasn’t so diplomatic, and I appreciated her advice over all the others, because she was totally honest with me. In a nutshell, she told me to stop wasting my time. Hays recruitment clients would never look at my CV as I’ve had such a long time off. She explained that their clients might, at most, consider someone who’s had 6 months off. I asked if it made a difference that I kept busy with courses and freelance work during my sabbatical. Apparently it did not matter how I filled that time. The market was bad and employers were that much tighter with their recruitment processes (reminded me of the UK!) Her advice was to contact companies directly, because those companies would not be paying an agency any retainer fees, so from a cost perspective there would be a higher chance of looking at my CV.

So, I guess that’s what I have to do. Looking at Seek today I noticed that it’s a challenge to contact companies directly. Most of the jobs listed are done through recruitment agencies and private listings are few and far between.

However, I remain hopeful and if nothing materializes, I may look into starting my own thing. Let’s see…

Posted: 16th August 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

Is anyone on here currently studying at the University  of Leicester???

Is Distance Really Relative?

Posted: 11th August 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

Distance, like everything else, is relative. The Earth is round after all.

“It’s just a plane ride away”, I heard my husband say when I complained about how far we would be from everyone we knew when we moved to Australia. In fact, that was also most of my friends’ sentiments; they were reacting in a bid to show some positivity about us moving miles away. 
I do have a bunch of amazing friends.
I have been feeling the distance and the isolation ever since we set foot in Perth, but I’ve never felt so far away as I have today, specially after hearing the news about the death of a dear friend’s mother.
Nienke, is one of the few amazing people in my life and someone I am so glad to call a friend. She is the kind of person who would come to London by plane to attend a business meeting for 8 strenuous hours until 6pm, and once done with her busy day, she would then walk to the underground, take the tube to the train station, get on the train from London to Guildford, at 8 months pregnant, carrying a rather heavy suitcase, just so she could spend 3 hours with me before her flight back; She’s done that a couple of times (obviously not pregnant each time!) She’s the kind of friend who would take time off to come to London from the Netherlands to run a 10k event with me for charity – a cause that concerned my father. She’s the sort of person who called frequently towards my last couple of months in the UK, when I didn’t have a chance to talk because I was so busy getting the house ready for the big move, with constant offers of “I’ll come over and help you pack” and “If you need help Alma, please let me know and I’ll come help with boxes, or look after the kids so you can pack, or whatever”. That is Nienke.
Nienke was extremely close to her mother. They would go on Mother/Daughter trips a lot, like trekking across Canada together for a month. Nienke and her mother were not just mother and daughter; they were really really close friends.
So when I received the 4-lined email of her heartbreaking news today, I really and truly felt that gargantuan gap; it was an imposing distance. And it felt so wrong to be so far away.
Frantically I dialed ‘00’ and 31 for the Netherlands, but apparently that wasn’t the international dialing code out of Australia. What the fuck was the code?! This was not the time to figure it out; I needed to call my friend, and now! I need to talk to her about her incomprehensible loss.
A quick Google search did the trick. With racing heart and fingers I dialed, she answered, I cried. I became speechless yet managed to clumsily express my sincerest emotions and tried my utmost to let her know that I was there for her… all the way from here. 
Nienke’s mother was diagnosed suddenly with cancer on Monday. The cancer was found in her liver. By Thursday it had metastasized and so Nienke flew from Dordrecht to Kroningen to be at her side. On Saturday, she passed away.
All I wanted to do was to be in back in Guildford, because from there, it’s only an hour’s plane ride to Kroningen.
“It’s just a plane ride away”, I recalled everyone saying when we left Europe.
A 23 hour plane ride!
In this moment, I feel further than I have ever felt from my friends. I want to be at Nienke’s side and help her with her grief. I want to be there to share the emotional burden – if nothing else, then to help her with her little boy so she and her husband can tend to funeral matters or anything else they need. I want to be there to hug my friend.
Today I am really feeling the distance, because my beautiful friend is going through the emotional turmoil of losing her wonderful mother… only a few months after losing her father in March.
Many said they envied us for moving to Australia – beautiful country, great weather, great lifestyle… right now I can’t see any of those things, because when the shit hits the fan, I’m not going to care about the landscape, whether or not I’m wearing a winter coat or  bikini, or whether I can be relaxed outdoors all day. 
No. When the shit hits the fan, I want to be close to the people I love, and right now they are a million miles away…

Here’s my latest guest post. Please read it if you are a TCK and transitioning to university or college. There’s 10 great tips there too.

read: transitioning globally to university

We have now been in Perth for 6 weeks. We struggled to get things done in a timely manner in “Wait Awhile”. So, in order to help others struggle less and get things done slightly quicker, I compiled a list of suggestions on how to settle in Perth. I only hope that this might make your transition smoother than ours!
Please note that this list hasn’t finished and will be modified and updated as we go along. Also, these are things that pertained to us as a family with an existing Skilled Immigrant Visa and a job waiting for us.
I must confess that Perth is not what I would consider 100% “immigrant-friendly”, in the traditional definition of the word ‘immigrant’. People tend to move here either for work or family ties, so there is a pre-existing structure for them to work from, as was the case with us (we had both work and family!). In that respect, there are no true immigrants, and as such, the government’s systems reflect that. Bare that in mind, have patience and all will be great!
The name of the game when getting your affairs in order in Perth is “WA Identification” – not even any Australian identification will do (as I also learned from my in-laws when they moved over from Brisbane and had to change their Queensland IDs over to WA IDs). So the more WA IDs you can collect, the smoother things will go for you.
We’ve discovered that, to obtain the best and least stressful results, there is an order in which to do things. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation (as I did) where you are required to submit an Aussie ID (e.g. Medicare card) in order to get an Aussie ID (e.g. driver’s license), thus wasting even more time that could have been better used.
So the following is a list of tips and steps on how to settle in Perth, WA, to do in a particular order, which can hopefully help speed things along… as much as Western Australian bureaucracy will allow.
To read the rest of this blog please go to Cross Cultural TCK

TCK research in Hospitality

Posted: 23rd July 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

Dear fellow TCK’s 🙂 I am currently a master student in Oxford, who would like to invite you to participate in an interview researching:

TCK’s as a by-product of globalization and their challenges and potential for multinational hospitality companies.

If you fit in the following criteria, please feel free to PM me.
Born: Between 1985 – 1995 (Generation Y)
TCK experience: Lived in a minimum of 2 countries outside of passport country between the ages of 0 – 18
Time: Minimum of 3 years abroad
Working experience: Minimum of 1 year in a multinational hotel company (does not have to be non-stop)

Best regards and thank you very much in advance,

Parentals and Relationships

Posted: 6th July 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

Parents are weird. I think its safe to say that’s a fairly universal truth, yes?

But not many of my non-TCK friends have the issue of actually fighting with a parent over whether or not the kid is ‘patriotic’ enough.

Dad, I’ve lived in 8 different places. And that is mostly YOUR fault, too, while we’re on the topic. Which one, exactly, am I supposed to have this undying loyalty towards? That’s like civilians asking me where ‘home’ is.

“So, where’s home for you?”

“I live here.”

“Yes, I know, but where’s home?”

“I was born in (blank).”

“That’s very interesting, but where is home? You know, HOME.”

Yes, because saying a word louder and slower, with emphasis, is really going to make me understand you better. Nope, you’re still strange and asking awkward questions. Stop. Stop that. NOW.

My parents aren’t even from the same place, so its like living through an election year with one parent who is Republican, and the other is a Democrat. (which is, coincidentally, also the case in my family)

I love my parents, though, and I have to give them credit for making it work. 25 years together, and they are still cutesy enough to make me sick. But they also made a point of making it work, too. Whenever my dad was deployed, he’d hide notes and presents around the house, for my mom to come across by accident. He’d write out a stack of cheesy cards, and have me order flowers for my mom and attach one of the cards. I am convinced he paid some of the other deployed people for their phone privileges, because none of the other military spouses got so many phone calls as my mum.

My dad has even started training my brother in how to make romantic gestures towards his (my brother’s) girlfriends. One summer, due to scheduling, my parents kept leaving the country, always missing seeing each other by only a few hours. This happened four times in a row. Each time, my dad would leave a surprise for my mum, to be discovered when she got home. She would do the same when she left. The first time he did this, my dad told my brother, “Now, son. Pay attention. You must always let your woman know when you miss her. They need to know this stuff.” When I told my mom all of this, she blushed like a teenager.

Ok, first of all, GAG.

Secondly, does this stuff actually work? Relationships are HARD. Maybe I’m biased, but it seems so much harder for TCKs.

I see people like my roommate who can barely go a weekend without seeing her boyfriend, and I just scratch my head at the idea of needing, and she truly does desperately need, that closeness, all the time. She’d be that person to turn down a free trip, even a short one, just because her boy couldn’t go. The poor lad is totally smitten with her too, and has decided to change careers because she can not handle the current one, which is only, you know, his dream job.

I do not know how I got on this topic…

Parents AND relationships in the same post. Gross.

I’m done.

A biscuit for having actually read all the way to the end. Nom nom.

Places I could possibly live:

Posted: 17th June 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

– Victoria, British Columbia

– Yangon, Myanmar

– Hanoi, Vietnam

– possibly Moreal, Canada

– In the redwood forest/ on the coast of California 🙂

– Portland, Oregon or Bend, Oregon

– Olympia, Washington

– Hawaii!

– Chengdu, China

– Oakland, California

   short term stints in:

– Denmark in general

– Seoul, Korea

– Paris, France (the nice areas ! ;] :P)

– India, in monasteries, not sure where yet…

   Kinds of places:

– In an auberge/ community oriented Hostel in the countryside

– In an intentional community in Oakland or San Francisco

More to be added later…

Check the post on my blog Interview with Apple Gidley on DrieCulturen blog

enter the giveaway before 30th June!