Jennifer Tice's Blog

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New Website

New Website

You may have noticed that I have been absent on my blog for several days now, but it is all with good cause! I have decided to take the plunge and move from a WordPress blog to my very own website at www.jennifertice.com Thanks to WordPress and countless others who post great tips and advice on the web for free, I will now be blogging from this new location in order to have greater control and flexibility over the look and feel of the site.

I am still working out some of the kinks in terms of formatting, so you may notice lots of changes over the next few weeks. It is fully up and running and I will continue to post about my travels as I nail down the exact look and feel of the site.  Any and all comments regarding the site look and feel are appreciated.  Thank you in advance!

Jen

So it’s now week three of living in Surfer’s Paradise and still no job prospects.  I am considering selling my soul at this point to work for a telemarketing company, more to come on that development.  Today I think I have found the source of my lack of job prospects  – outright age discrimination.

25 is the new 65

25 is the new 65

I rang up to answer an ad in the Gold Coast Bulletin for a retail stores associate and after a few general questions she asked me, “How old are you?”  I answered truthfully, 25 years of age, and with that I got a stuttered reply of, “well we are really looking for someone more junior.”  This is probably the 3rd or 4th time I have been directly asked my age from various managers.  Just asking this question to a potential applicant is grounds for an unethical hiring lawsuit, never mind actually admitting to me that I am too old for the job.

And since when is 25 too old to work in a retail store? Am I no longer in touch with the teen segment of society? Am I aging before my time? I find this shocking since most people I know think I look much younger than my age.  Yes I have an education and real life work experience, but I would honestly be truly happy folding t-shirts part-time while I am travelling. I guess it won’t be long now till my seniors discount kicks in.

We are almost at the halfway point of our journey with 7 months now spent away from Canada, and 8 more months to go.  And although I have overall truly enjoyed the experience of travelling, there are moments when I miss the familiarities of home.  Australia has a lot to offer, but there are some things that it can’t replace.  So, in no particular, here are the top 4 things I miss about being in Canada:

  1. Family and Friends:  This one is an obvious one, probably at the top of everyone’s list who travels for long periods of time.  Sometimes it can be exhausting to have to introduce myself to dozens of new people every day and recount my story, trying to describe who I am and what I’m about in a few sentences or less.  While meeting and connecting with new friends here is great, having a cup of tea with a friend who already knows everything about you and doesn’t have to ask can’t compare.
  2. Snow: I am definitely more of a summer person, and I love spending days lazing around at the beach, but I can’t imagine not ever having a white Christmas. There is something about the first snowfall that feels magical and always makes me feel like a kid again.  The last two winters I have taken up snowboarding, and I definitely felt the absence of riding the slopes this year.
  3. Fast Internet: I never would have suspected Australia to be so far behind in technology, but most 3rd world countries have better internet than Australia.  It’s slow and very expensive when compared with Canadian standards.  Wi-fi hot spots are almost non-existent, and when you do finally get a connection, don’t even attempt to load more than one page at a time.
  4. Food: For the most part, Australia cuisine is similar to Canada’s but there are a few things missing.  Kraft dinner – why do they not have it here? I can’t remember how many nights in University I ate this stuff without getting sick of it.  I will admit it’s a weird food craving, but it definitely reminds me of home.  Also, I haven’t found any sushi here that even compares to our Vancouver standards

Sometimes you really can’t appreciate the small niceties of home, until you have been away for a while. It’s usually the things we take for granted that we end up missing the most.  For now, I will just have to suffer through the slow internet – and if anyone finds a box of real KD here, let me know!

 

It’s Thursday evening and I’ve made plans with Jo Anna to have a girls weekend and come and visit her up in Brisbane. The drive to Brisbane is fairly straightforward, about an hour and 15 minutes up the highway and you’re there.  I’m a little anxious heading out as I’ve hardly driven at all at night here in Australia, not to mention on the other side of the road.  I give my head a shake and remind myself that I drove everyday back in Canada and that I have nothing to worry about.

Broken down with nowhere to go

After 15 minutes I’m out of the city and onto the highway, it should be smooth sailing from here, so I thought.  Another 25 minutes or so pass, when I look down and see the heating gauge creeping up dangerously high.  I tell myself not to panic, the car does have a tendency to get quite hot, but usually it’s only when we’re driving in the city, not on the highway.  Another few minutes pass and the needle is almost at the max.  I immediately pull over and turn the car off, hoping this will help to cool it down.  I let 10 minutes pass and then turn the car on again, I pull back onto the highway and within minutes the gauge is back in the danger zone.  At this point I know I have to get to a gas station as quickly as possible to see what the problem is.  I slow down to about 80km/hr on the freeway and put my hazards on praying the next exit will have a gas station.

After what seems like ages, I pull off at the exit and into the first gas station I can find.  I turn off the car and think, “Now what?”  A husky guy is filling up his truck next to me, and I ask him if he wouldn’t mind looking in the hood of the car as it has been overheating.  He walks over, pops the hood, and spots the damage immediately.  The radiator hose has a giant rip in it and the radiator fluid has leaked everywhere, hence the overheating.  “You won’t be driving anywhere tonight with that” he tells me.  Great, my first time driving at night without Andrew, and I am stuck here at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Surfers Paradise and Brisbane.

Luckily, I have Andrew’s iPhone, so I look up some numbers for onside repairs and tow trucks.  A small crowd of guys have started to gather around my car, each offering their solution on how to fix it.  One guy in a pick-up truck is leaving the station, and calls out to one of the others about the problem with my car.  He walks over to my car, takes one look, and says it can be fixed no problem, I just need to get a new radiator hose and install it.  Of course, this sounded as simple to me as if he had asked me to recite the German national anthem.

“I think there’s an auto shop down the street that’s still open, if they have the part, I can repair it no problem”.  And just like that I hopping into his pickup truck as we to the auto shop.  As luck would have it, the store is open late on Thursdays, and they have the part in stock.  Back to the gas station we go, and within 15 minutes, the hose is changed, the radiator is filled with fluid and my oil is topped up.  I offer him a bottle of wine for his help, as it’s all I have on me to offer.  He says it was no trouble at all, and heads back on his way.

What looked like it might cost be $200 to get it towed, and then likely $100 bucks to repair in the shop, ended up costing me $24.99 and a bottle of wine. Sometimes fate works in mysterious ways, putting me at the right gas station at the right time to meet the right person.  Thank you to everyone who helped out, I will be paying this one forward for quite some time.

It’s been two weeks since we arrived back in Surfers Paradise.  Our top priority in week one was landing an apartment – while sleeping on couches is economical, it doesn’t provide for a great night’s sleep! We started handing out resumes from day one though, knowing it might take a few weeks to land a job.  Luckily with internet at our new place it also made applying for jobs a lot easier. Today we are officially at week 2 plus a day and we are both still unemployed.  Andrew did get a brief stint as a waiter at a restaurant in Broadbeach, I won’t mention the name to spare them embarrassment, but they seem to be the worst run restaurant ever with a husband and wife on the edge of divorce running the show.

As for me, I have applied to every retail store and restaurant in the area with no luck, as well as numerous temp agencies and other online job postings.  I have even gone as far to start applying to commission only sales jobs – selling tickets/promotions on the street.  For me this sounds about as much fun as gouging my eyes out.  After a while you start to question your worth – how I am not qualified to sell t-shirts? Am I too old, too young, am I over-qualified, under-qualified? Or is it that they just don’t want to hire anyone who is not Australian born?  Whatever the case, being out of work this long is starting to take its toll. It’s quite the contrast from Sydney, where being there for the holiday season meant you could have your pick of jobs at any restaurant or store in the city.

It definitely has been a wakeup call – both in terms of perseverance and budgeting.  I would recommend to other travelers, that when looking of work outside of peak holiday times, it may take several weeks to land something.  Make sure you have enough cash to get you through that time, and you can never start too early.  For now, I am trying to keep my head up, and trying to think of this free time as a gift rather than a burden.  It’s funny, for most of us when we’re working, we always wish we had more free time to work on our hobbies or just relax, but not working for this long, can turn out to be too much of a good thing.  It looks like at that glitters is not gold here on the gold coast of Australia.

When you add drinking, beach volleyball, a live band, kangaroos, parrots, giant lizards, boats and more drinking together, it all adds up to a university

Who says you can't drink before noon?

Who says you can't drink before noon?

boat cruise over to Stradbroke Island.  A number of Griffith University students have organized a boat cruise for a few hundred or so of their closest friends. For $40 bucks a ticket you get a boat ride over to the island with bar onboard, a live band at the island, a BBQ, free kayaks, and a very competitive volleyball round robin tournament.

It’s an early day with the boat starting to board at 10:15 am, which means by this point, most people have already been drinking for a few hours.

McLaren's Landing

McLaren's Landing

Everyone piles onto the boat after an extensive bag search and the party continues with music blaring from the speakers, cheap drinks, and a serious tournament of flip cup on the lower deck.  After about an hour and 15 minutes we arrive at Mclaren’s Landing, the main docking point on the island. The set up here is great – there is a large bar hut, as well as several others – one for the band, one for food and others just for getting out of the sun.

Feeding the Kangaroo

Feeding the Kangaroo

The place is filled with wildlife.  Just moments after arriving a number of people start to gather around a small kangaroo who is happy to be fed whatever scraps are lying around.  A few moments later a giant lizard, bigger than anything I have seen before pops out from behind the bush undergrowth.  It looks like we are going to have a face- off between kangaroo and lizard.  They both eye each other nervously.  No one is ready to make the first move.  The lizard creeps closer but then with one swipe from the kangaroo the match is over and the winner is declared.

Andrew and I were both lucky enough to get on a volleyball team at the last minute – “The No Names” what a fitting title.  It’s a strict elimination competition, although the losers do go on to play a few more games against the others.  It turns out I am the only girl on the team which is an advantage for me because there has to be one girl on the court at all times so I never have to rotate off.  We smash the first team we play, but lose our second game.  Somehow another team doesn’t end up showing up for the game (probably due to too many beers at this point in the afternoon) and we end up playing 6 more games against various teams, both as The No Names and the other team we have inherited.  It’s great to get back into the game after not playing for so long.

After 5 hours in the sun it’s time to board the ship to head home. Cost of the ticket – $40, price of drinks throughout the day $30, cost to replace lost flip-flops $20, perfect day on the island with friends – priceless.

So you’re travelling around Australia and decide you want to spend a few months on the Gold Coast.  You have two options: 1. Spend two months showering with flip-flops and sharing a dorm room with 7 other flatmates, or 2. Look for an apartment to share.  Getting an apartment is generally cheaper than a hostel, more secure and means you can stock up on groceries and shower without those flip-flops (hopefully!).  Start early and be aggressive, getting an apartment can take several weeks depending on when the previous roommates are moving out so don’t wait until the last minute.  Here are a few tips on landing a great place on the Gold Coast:

  1. Gumtree.com.au – this is by far the best online resource for getting a place.  Call whenever you can for a faster response and always send an email to follow up. You can also find roommates and jobs here, but I found the job section to be quite limited for the Gold Coast.
  2. Hit up the universities – both Bond and Griffith University have accommodation posting boards on their campus and online at http://www.bond.edu.au/accom/offcampus.htm and  http://www.gugcstudentguild.com.au/
  3. Hostels – you are likely already staying at one, there are dozens in Surfers Paradise most of which of posting boards and other people looking for roommates
  4. Gold Coast Accommodation Service – Located on Beach road right across from the main strip, they have postings of people looking to let a room in their apartment and they can help you find an apartment for longer stays of 3-6 months for those looking for their own place all free of charge
  5. Gold Coast Bulletin – Wednesday and Saturday edition of the paper has a classified section for housing and jobs, if you miss it the news agency on Surfers Parade usually keeps copies around for a few days
  6. Other websites for rental accommodations that were helpful include www.domain.com.au and www.realestate.com.au click the “Share” tab to find people looking for roommates

Good luck hunting! Don’t get discouraged as you will likely end up seeing a dozen places before you find one you like.  Keep your head up and don’t settle and before you know it you will be saying good-bye to dorm rooms and hello to peace and quiet!


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