Movements

Last week we packed up our suitcases and moved the few kilometres to Brisbane’s Central Business District (CBD), into our temporary apartment that will be home for the next seven weeks.

I was sad to say goodbye to the neighbourhood we had lived in for the past few years, with its jacaranda lined streets and quirky cafes.

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We are still a short stroll from Fortitude Valley, its nightlife and edgy characters, a nice walk along Eagle Street Pier to New Farm’s boutiques and upmarket cafes. Newstead’s calming streets and quiet parks are only a ferry ride away. Even though we made that area home for most of our time here, it’s slightly comforting moving back into the hub of Brisbane.

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You see, when I first moved to Australia, I lived in a hostel for five weeks until I could find an apartment with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. We stayed across the street from the Queensland.Irish Club and thought it was fate. I spent my days at University, while he looked for work. We spent weekends at the State Library using their free WiFi to search for apartments and our spare cash to buy $0.50 ice cream cones. We moved in the same areas, frequenting the same bars as all of the other backpackers in this stopover city. Little did we know we were enjoying the cool winter weather, short-term company of new foreign friends and that spring, plenty of opportunities and adventures together were to come. 

Looking down from the 30th floor apartment we get to stay in until Christmas, I feel so lucky to have lived where I have lived in Brisbane and met all of the people I have encountered. From our balcony we can see the front door of the hostel that became our first home and the rooftop of the Irish Club where we have made friends, spent time with our families and enjoyed a taste of the familiar in between visits to the island itself.

Isn’t it funny how life can bring you back to a place or remind you of a moment in time?

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Coffee culture

Yesterday I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, especially since moving to Australia.

I learned how to make coffee.

Not just instant, filtered or drip coffee you can get in a diner or fast food joint. I learned how to make proper espresso.

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I took a course at Merlo Coffee in Fortitude Valley where I learned about the different blends they use, their roasting techniques, what grinds work best with their Wega machines and how to extract the perfect shot of espresso.

I tested my milk frothing skills, making a piccolo, flat white, latte, cappuccino and we even sampled ristrettos (half the extraction of a normal shot of espresso), long and short blacks.

While I am not a pro yet, it was great to get an insight on Australia’s coffee culture and the inspiration behind the company that a lawyer started years ago, to address the dilemma of finding a good cup in Queensland.

I can’t wait to apply my new barista skills and espresso knowledge overseas!

The big questions

We have started telling friends we’re leaving Australia at the end of this year.

The furniture is for sale and we are getting ready to move into a temporary apartment until we fly out in mid-December.

expat, Brisbane, Australia, Ireland, Canada, travel, adventure, relationships, love
© Amy Lynch

 

I will miss our street but I won’t miss all of the big questions:
“Do you have your Permanent Residency/Citizenship?” from everyone from strangers viewing our furniture, to acquaintances at parties and our friends here.
“Is it a lifestyle/family/work decision?” ask friends here.
“Why are you leaving Brisbane now?” from foreigners, both strangers and friends here.
“Do you like it here?” from all of the above.

While I don’t mind a bit of chit chat as you view our coffee table/entertainment unit/TV, is it really so odd that an Irish-Canadian couple are moving north?

I appreciate people’s curiosity about our situation, but I have been a bit surprised by the reactions. We have friends who say they’re gutted but they themselves are from Europe, so not a far stretch that we will most likely catch up with them again.

The Canadians and Irish overseas are excited (as are we) but it is an odd mix here of people who are happy for us, nervous for us and completely shocked and at a loss for why we would leave now.

It’s getting a bit easier to answer all of the questions the more people ask but I can only imagine how many times we will explain ourselves over the next two months.

It’s hard to describe, since we are moving permanently but we still feel like we could be back to visit and we tell everyone we’re not ruling out the possibility of moving again at some point.

Has anyone else ever felt like they aren’t allowed to feel excited about the next chapter ‘just yet’?

Melbourne weekend

Now that you know how much of a struggle it was for me to get to Melbourne, let me fill you in on what we did.

We ate lazy weekend breakfasts in St Kilda and at the Fleur Depot de Pain near our hotel on Albert Park.

St Kilda, Melbourne, vacation, travel, breakfast
© Amy Lynch

 

We wandered into the CBD, tramming it around on the way, strolling and stopping at the National Gallery of Victoria for a bit of artsy enlightenment.

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© Amy Lynch

 

We shopped at DFO, drank along South Bank and caught up with coworkers and a friend from overseas who is currently living Down Under.

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© Amy Lynch

 

I love this city, hard to believe it is the last time we will see it for a while. Farewell Melbourne (for now).

Turns out we won’t be leaving Brisbane as soon as we thought – more on that in my next post!

Seasoned traveller?

I thought I was pretty experienced when it comes to air travel, but boy was I proven wrong on my last trip to Melbourne.

Melbourne, travel, adventure, vacation
© Amy Lynch

 

Despite my multipurpose layers, minimal shoes, tiny toiletries and under 7 kilos of checked luggage, I managed to get pulled up by security for trying to sneak scissors on board. Twice.

Silly me, packing my travel grooming kit on the way to Melbourne in my carry on luggage. Then on the way back after the conference I got pulled up for forgetting our booth box scissors in my event supplies bag. Having a security guard rifle through your dirty laundry and butterfly stickers to try to locate a pair of pink child sized scissors? Not exactly my trip highlight.

Needless to say, I am now all the wiser and will be triple checking my hand luggage on future trips. Stay tuned for Melbourne highlights in my next post!

Social butterfly

I am presenting my first face-to-face workshop next week on Twitter and LinkedIn basics for business.

While I have done public speaking in Canada and Australia, including live interviews, radio spots and more recently, presenting and facilitating webinars online, this will be a new challenge for me.

It helps that I have been using both channels for five years personally and professionally, but it’s still normal to get the public speaking jitters right?

Last night as I was getting my ‘social media nails’ done for next week’s conference, I had a great chat with my nail artist.

nail art
© Amy Lynch

 

As she worked on perfecting my Twitter bird wings and beak, the former teacher gave me a few tips:
– look at their forehead instead of their eyes if you’re worried about stage fright;
– just be yourself and be confident;
– at the end of the day, everyone is there because they want to learn from you; and
– one I have known for a while…smile!

I remember trialling Twitter before signing my art school up for an account in 2009. The main benefit I won my Executive Director over with at the time was the fact it was free.

Who knew that when I arrived in Australia over three years ago tweeting about our adventures that I would be presenting on it in front of a room of people eager to learn all about hashtags and RTs?

Wish me luck! Watch this social media clip to get inspired, I was astounded by a few of the facts and how quickly times are a changing.

International romance

We are going to a an Irish-Australian wedding this weekend.

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© Amy Lynch

We have known the couple for the past two years and really hit it off as the men could reminisce of their homeland, while we women discussed international relationships. Didn’t I tell you I am in an Irish-Canadian marriage? Next weekend also marks our six-month wedding anniversary, so we have been thinking back to all of the Canadians and Irish who made their way to tiny Salthill in Galway to mark the occasion with us.

You see, we were incredibly lucky to have 1/3 of our guests from my side in a foreign country. But really, who wouldn’t want to visit Ireland in March!? My point is, international relationships are hard. Well ok, ALL relationships have their ups and downs. But international ones? Layer visa restrictions, cultural differences and distance from family and friends on top and you get a lively mixture of potential stressors and expectations to juggle, on top of your regular day-to-day ups and downs.

The longer I am an expat, the more I recognise how important cultural identity is (at least to us). We are both proud to be where we come from and to have support from both sides of the Atlantic, when we currently live on the other side of the world, is just the icing on the cake! Now it’s our turn to show support as we toast the happy couple on Saturday and wish them all the best as they start their lives together.

With Spring comes change

The countdown is on, less than a few months until we pack up our beautiful life in Australia and relocate to the northern hemisphere. Who knows what awaits us on the other side of the equator?

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© Amy Lynch

We have both now officially given our notice at work, started to tell friends of our plans and pretty soon we can commence the farewells before we leave. It is bittersweet, exciting, challenging, daunting and a leap of faith all at once. There’s something satisfying and eternally optimistic about putting one foot in front of the other, despite the fact you can’t see what lies ahead.

How do I relate? I feel as though we can start fresh but we will be leaving so many important connections and lovely relationships behind. The prospect of spending more time working for myself is exciting and inspiring, while being scary all the same since I may not have a choice but to spend ALL my time on my business if good professional opportunities don’t present themselves to us. The idea of being a short flight from family and friends, as well as having the rest of Europe on my doorstep makes my heart sing, unless I start thinking of the weather and the fact I need to get used to wearing socks, tights and proper shoes again.

But all that being said, I have come to realise that despite my reaction to change at times, it’s much more fulfilling to go forward into the unknown instead of staying stagnant and stale for too long. So here’s to taking that next step, however unsteady it may be!

Obtuse observations

Ob·tuse ( b-t s , -ty s , b-) adj. ob·tus·er, ob·tus·est

1. a. Lacking quickness of perception or intellect.
b. Characterized by a lack of intelligence or sensitivity: an obtuse remark.
c. Not distinctly felt: an obtuse pain.

2. a. Not sharp, pointed, or acute in form; blunt.

Brisbane, city, travel, food, dining, drink, explore
© Amy Lynch

The other day I was waiting for a bus when a gentleman wandered up to the stop and looked over the timetable. He then asked me if I caught this bus often and if it was slow (in my experience I either just missed it or it’s late).

When I answered him, he asked if I was Canadian. Good ear. I returned the favour and asked where he was from, which turned out to be South Africa.

We then proceeded to have the usual back and forth:
“How long are you here for?”
“Long-term or short?”
“What industry do you work in.”
At this point I was beginning to think I was at customs and immigration.

Apparently he was here long-term temporarily for 20 odd years. Ok…I replied with my typical, “Australia is beautiful, it’s easy to come for a while and want to stay forever.”

We spoke about Australian tendencies.l mentioned I thought they were blunt. He disagreed and said they were obtuse and never said what was on their mind. Hmmm…according to that above definition does blunt not mean the same as obtuse? I said they have a laidback attitude which is great for the lifestyle here. He said the ones he knows work very long hours…no comment on that one.

Needless to say, it can be quite eye-opening meeting a fellow expat whose views are the complete opposite to your own. I chalk this up to how different Canada and South Africa are and it made me grateful that I am happy to be leaving Australia on good terms with great experiences and friends I would like to keep in touch with.

Turns out I am not the only person who meets strangers and has deep and meaningful conversations with them in public. Read this guy’s gelato-inspired encounter.

Note to self: keep being grateful.