Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Job prowl

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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resumeIt’s nearing the time when I need to start looking for a job again.  As I prepare for my final weeks in this part of the world, I am reminded of the next stage to come.  Then, rather out of the blue, I received an e-mail yesterday, with a job opportunity that I was extremely interested in.  The benefit of having a business fraternity network is that I hear of a lot of openings that I otherwise would not have known about.  Plus, I could get a direct referral from my fellow brother who was about to leave the post for her next venture (it’s a co-ed organization, but since it’s a fraternity we refer to everyone as brothers).

So, I eagerly updated my résumé and drafted a cover letter after reviewing both my brother’s description of the position and the official one provided by the employer.  The duties include many overlaps with my interest areas and expertise, but also has plenty of room for growth and learning.  It’s with a company with a powerful reputation and a vibrant culture, so I’d love to be a part of that.  Also, the team itself is supposed to be a great one to work with and the only down side to this is that the tenure is for 6 months.  However, there’s a chance to get a full-time job from there, or to use this influential name to find a good job elsewhere.

For me, there is another constraint: I am still abroad at the time that they were hoping to hire.  That means that I first need to convince them to allow me to interview over Skype or an IM platform (which I have successfully done before with a recent job) and then I need to convince them to wait the two extra weeks for me to get back to start.  The odds are not high, but I have hope because it turns out that we got this e-mail request for applicants because the ones who they’d seen so far weren’t very impressive.  If they like me enough, I think they’ll find a way to bend the rules, since it’s not that far off from what they wanted.  Plus it’s such late notice, if they’re desperate enough, it could work out.  We’ll see!

photo credit: bc.edu

photo credit: bc.edu

In the mean time, I’ll wrap things up here before I begin my job search in earnest next month.  Panda’s been helping me look through listings to see if there’s anything I may like and I’ll use his account to browse some opportunities on a database maintained by our school.  I’ve got some ideas of types of companies to look for and I plan on visiting the Institute of the Environment at school when I get back to ask about local environmental companies.  Once again I’m not in a rush to start working, as it was when I first graduated in December.  This Singapore opportunity came up rather unexpectedly; I hadn’t planned on working for a few months.  I’m back in that boat again, where I will pursue opportunities that come my way, but I’m not too concerned about landing a job right away.  If I need money I can look to an old job I had, working on an independent contractor basis.  🙂

In the mood

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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[edit: It seems what I’m referring to here is often called flow.]

When it comes to writing, I really need to right conditions to work.  If ever I’m not “in the mood” to be writing, whether it’s for a paper, my blog, or my journal, I get a bit antsy trying to work through it.  However, if I am in the mood, I can go on and on without sleeping or eating.  That’s how I was with reading when I was a kid – it was my number one priority and the only time other things got in the way was when it started to prevent me from reading (like getting too hungry to concentrate).  The good thing is usually I’m at least mildly in the mood, so it’s not too bad to make myself get something done.

photo credit: teensygreen.com

photo credit: teensygreen.com

There are times when I really get focused and in the zone.  Take right now, for example.  Suddenly all the ideas for blog entries are starting to flow and I’ve written one draft after another (mostly all centered around the idea of my journal, since that’s been on my mind lately).  It’s refreshing, since it’ll probably come in useful next week as I head off to my travels and won’t really get time to write.  At least then I’ll have a nice back stock to choose from, which can easily be published with a quick edit.  Plus, these extra entries that are not time-sensitive are great for when I just don’t know what to talk about for a particular day.  You can always be so inspired, after all.  I also keep a running list of topics to cover that I may think of at any point, whether I’m out walking around or just surfing websites.

It’s also when I’m in the mood like this that I’m tempted to catch up in my journal, but I’m also afraid that I’ll get so into it I stay up into the wee hours of the morning.  As of now I don’t have the luxury to lose out on sleep like that, so I’m putting it off, much to my dismay, in the hopes that I’ll fit it into my schedule when I’m job searching starting next month.  I just hope my fun-loving self doesn’t get too wrapped up in going out and having fun all the time (though that isn’t so bad now, is it?).  There’s so much that I want to do when I get back though, so it will hard to resist going out all the time.  Unfortunately, my notes for my journal are now electronic, so it’s far more difficult to use them to write my entries as compared to when I used to have them in a handy little notebook.  Oh, perhaps I can find a way to transfer them to my iPod!

I just tried it and it worked!  This is excellent, now I just hope I won’t be too tired to write when I’m traveling the next two weeks.  Flights are only an hour to three hours long, so I don’t know how well I can focus, but at least there’s hope now!  I’m also super anal about how I write – there are designated sets of pens and markers and I must use each in the right order, so that’s a bit of a drag to haul around.  Nonetheless, my purse is big enough to handle it, so I’m excited at the prospect of finally starting to catch up again!

Best Job in the World

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Ah, back when I was visiting Australia...

Ah, back when I was visiting Australia...

Today marks the official first day of Ben Southall’s new job as Island Caretaker on Hamilton Island.  For those who don’t know, he competed to earn this job through a highly publicized “Best Job in the World” campaign that has seen its copiers: The Next Best Job (which had to be canceled due to the economic downturn) and A Really Goode Job (yes, it’s supposed to be spelled like that).  Back when this Australian opportunity first appeared, my mom showed it to me and suggested that I apply.  Were it not for the video entry, I probably would have, but video is not my forte.  I love to blog, I love to swim, I love wildlife, and I love what I’ve seen of Australia, but I do not want to spend hours editing film footage to vlog about.  Another thing stopping me from going crazy over this chance to live and work in Australia is the lack of company.  I’d have to live alone, or maybe bring my mom along, but everyone else in my life would be far too busy to join me.  Other than that, it’s really an amazing job and I’m sure Ben will have a spectacular time.

This was truly a great publicity stunt on the part of Queensland tourism.  It generated a lot of buzz and coverage because of its unusually generous offer.  Plus, they had international reach, with nearly all finalists from different countries.  Additionally, it didn’t take much effort on their part to set it up and share the news.  I’m sure a lot of viral marketing took effect to help spread the word, like how I found out from my mom.  Now that the hype’s over and things have settled down, I wonder how Ben will do in maintaining public interest in his activities.  I wish I could do something similar to that, visiting all the exciting places in a beautiful place like that (or, even better, in an entire region of countries).  I also wish I could do something fun like Matt, going around the world and doing a silly dance like that (and sharing the joy of the goofiness of it all).

Ben Southall

Ben Southall

Of course, this “dream job” is not without its challenges, what with the constant updates on various social media mediums and the constant activity.  I’ve never really wanted to be famous because I don’t want people tracking me all the time and I want the freedom to be lazy on the weekends or sleep through something I shouldn’t, or any number of the other flaws that people have.  Looking at his itinerary so far, it’s like bam, bam, bam – visit here, visit there, and then off to the next place.  I hope he has more down time, or else it could get quite tiring to be trying things all the time without a day or two to lounge around in bed or not have to absorb everything new and think of how to write about it.  Overall, I’m sure it’d be absolutely fabulous to do what he will get to in the coming months and I look forward to keeping a loose eye on his activities.  I look forward to the day that I can go to Australia again, and this time actually go in the ocean!

The strange human psyche

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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I am a strangely stubborn person.

Singapore National Day  <br>photo credit: Alec Ee, photo.net

Singapore National Day photo credit: Alec Ee, photo.net

This weekend, I called up my dad to talk about plans to travel, which my mom is not keen on.  He was open at first, telling me to cut back on the countries and he’d talk to her, but I was unsatisfied with the compromise.  For in cutting back on countries, I would also need to cut back on time and cutting back on time meant having to leave earlier, but leaving earlier meant missing National Day.  Now normally this would not be a big deal, after all, I’ve only ever heard of this celebration recently, but what is important to me is that the people I’ve been working with day in and day out wanted to share this experience with me.  When else would I get that opportunity?  I’m not even sure when the next time I can come back to this part of the world would be.

On the other side of things, I could just spend more time milling around Singapore, but in moving to the new place, we had agreed to a one-month period assuming I’d be gone for a month.  This would then add another week or two to that stay, which is far too much extra to ask for.  And in this situation, it’s not like they’d be able to chase me out, since they’d feel bad knowing that I have nowhere to go.  I guess it goes back to my age-old habit of trying to please everyone at the expense of myself (and, in turn, my parents).  So rather than miss out on the holiday and leaving early or asking for an extension to my living arrangement, my focus was on making both work out.

I wanted to be the ultimate tourist and find scenes like this!

I wanted to be the ultimate tourist and find scenes like this! photo credit: ishs.org

So though I knew that pushing for more would get me nowhere, I had defend my reasons.  Certainly other issues got in the way, mainly the different attitudes we have towards this period in my life.  My parents are waiting for me to get a stable job (which apparently means one with insurance) but I’m planning on spending these years exploring my options, interests, and capabilities.  At some point my stubbornness took over and it was no longer about what I wanted, but it became an issue of rebellion.  I stopped caring whether or not they’d help pay for some of my expenses and instead needed to express myself.  Perhaps I’m too adamant about getting an unconventional job (and preferably never a desk job again, or at least one that involves a lot of moving around), but for the coming months I’m not about to change my mind.

Now the most interesting thing to come of this was when my dad commented that with my psych background, I should know how to speak to him in such a way that would convince him of my desires so I could get what I want.  Well, I’m not out to use my knowledge to manipulate people.  Sure, I can work it to my advantage, but then I’d be treating others as fools, merely using them as pawns.  I’d much rather be the rebellious, stubborn daughter that I am than suppress that to get my way.  My dad said that I may have won the battle but not the war, but what he doesn’t get is that I’m not out to win.  I just want to make my position clear, which in the end puts me in a “losing” scenario, but I don’t feel the loss.  I’d rather scale down and pay my own way or go forth and find other ways to fund it than owe even more to my parents.  I’m only comfortable with owing them if they’re gladly willing to help, rather than reluctantly agreeing to.

photo credit: weber.edu

photo credit: weber.edu

No matter what happens, I know two things: 1. I will make the best of it and 2. I will never forget it (though I will not regret it either).  It’s a self-preservation mechanism that we all have: whatever happens, we will find a way to justify how that is better than the other options (otherwise we’ll sink into depression and perhaps end with suicide).  So, if I go to fewer places, I will justify that experience by focusing on the extra time I had at each place.  Even if somehow I end up not going anywhere at all, I’ll justify that by thinking of the money I saved or how it’ll be more fun to go with someone.  That’s just how the human psyche works.  Whenever something we don’t want happens, will find a way to make it seem not so bad or even good or else we’d drive ourselves crazy with regret.  As for not forgetting, I’ll always recall how much I wanted to travel in the fast-paced manner that I spent my time in Europe.  I may not yearn for it too much (after justifying why it didn’t happen and convincing myself why what ended up happening was better), but I will always remember how it could have been.  Sure I’ll get over it (in fact, I already have, since now I don’t have to spend as much effort planning and just thinking about the hectic pace makes me feel tired), but I will never forget these lavish dreams that I had.

Oh the nuances of the human mind.

Oh the places we’ll go!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Well-worn and well-used!

Well-worn and well-used!

Suddenly, a whole new world is opening up to me.  I am getting an opportunity to travel when I hadn’t thought of it before and it is a wondrous thing!  I’m especially pleased because I’ve been wanting to explore this part of the world, but it’s hard to fit in weekend trips when all I want to do is sleep.  I’m reminiscing of my days spent exploring the wonders of Europe, with little more than my Eurail pass and train schedule to guide my way.  It was an uncertain, yet exciting time and things didn’t always work out so well, but in the end it was certainly all worth it.  My second time around was more stable and my friend and I had pretty stable places to stay, but even then we found ourselves wandering the streets of Paris for three hours until about 3 AM, trying to find our way back to the hotel in the early hours of my birthday.  Adventurous with a tinge of mystery and risk (though not quite danger, thankfully).

So now, fantastical images are filling my head of all the lovely places I can go and the fun things I can do.  Explore the coasts and beaches?  I’m there!  Take a little ride along the river?  I’d love to!  Ride an elephant?  Show me the way! From luxury to wild, including massages and mudbaths or toughing it out in the middle of nowhere, I’d love to go do it.  I just need to find all the cool things to do and plan out this amazing expedition.  Of course, I’m also going to be cautious and try to find some buddies to come along or stay with friends along the way, but if all else fails, I’ve traveled solo before and I’ll just be smart about where I go and how I act.  I’ve certainly had to take many random precautions before just so I wouldn’t be picked out as a target.  That would mean leaving the valuables at home and traveling relatively light with just one little suitcase.  But hey, that’s all part of the fun of it!

Maybe now I can get up close and personal with some other creatures!

Maybe now I can get up close and personal with some other creatures!

At this point everything is very tentative, but I’m quite sure I will be doing a fair share of exploring, though the actual cities and number of countries I manage to make it to is completely up in the air.  So is my final departure date from Singapore, which I’m looking to move up by a few weeks (upwards of a month).  After all, I don’t want to spend too much time traveling and there’s no point in staying too much longer since I’ve got a great feel for the company culture here and much of the work I do is completely doable from a remote location.  Plus, I miss Panda terribly, there’s no sense in troubling too many people for too long with a complicated living situation, and though I really enjoy the people and vibe of C&S, I’ve never been a fan of working at a desk.  There will be so much I will miss about this place when it really comes time to head off indefinitely, but there’s also no sense in stretching resources thin when there’s no real reason to.

And thus I enter another transitional period of my life.  🙂

Amazing Race: some observations

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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photo credit: gearlive.com

photo credit: gearlive.com

When I went online today to try to find new episodes of the shows I started to follow recently, I found that apparently the seasons have ended.  I guess that makes sense in retrospect, seeing how dramatic the finale for House was, but I guess I didn’t quite see it for Lie to Me.  Well, once I found out, I tried to figure out when the next seasons start, but I guess they don’t tell you that.  Perhaps people who watch TV just know this, just like any schoolchild can tell you what month they start school.  Unfortunately, that is not knowledge I have had since sometime in middle school, so I’m quite out of the loop.  Thus, in an effort to do an activity that doesn’t require much out of me but is still relatively engaging, I thought I’d check out the latest season of the Amazing Race, which I have read about when Tammy and Victor won as the first Asian-American team.

What struck me was the relationships, the unpredictability, and the rush and intensity of it all.  First and most importantly, any sort of show like this that challenges people to work together under high stress situations tells you a lot about their personalities and relationship.  You watch as they get frustrated with what is going on and some people blame themselves, some people blame others, while some people will blame the situation itself.  And in terms of dealing with that stress, there are those who lash out at their partner, those who get upset with themselves, and those who are impatient or even rude to the locals.  It’s interesting to see the different coping mechanisms that come into play when these people are under stress.  Certainly anyone would start to crack and show their faults and again and again I would see power struggles within the teams, with one partner trying to be more dominant.  Usually this was because of their personal relationship as family or significant others.  It seemed to happen less so with the teams that were coworkers and friends.

photo credit: abovethelaw.com

photo credit: abovethelaw.com

Observing all of that made me evaluate myself and how I would behave under those circumstances.  I think I’d want to be the dominant one and would in turn be the one dishing out more criticism.  Of course, all of imagination towards how I could compete is in the scenario in which I would go with Panda.  So I’m thinking of the dynamics of our relationship, where I assert myself far more and tend to be more expressive when it comes to sharing my feelings and gripes.  So for me, the hardest thing would be to let go and not always control, but step back and let him do his thing.  The good thing with us is that whenever we get into a disagreement, at the bottom of it we both just want things to go well.  And though we’ll misunderstand each other, we’re both working hard to make things better, in our own ways.  As for how I’d treat the people along the way, I know I’d thank them a lot for their help, but I don’t know if I’d get exasperated when the communication barriers get in the way and delay things.  I can be impatient and demanding, and I may not always be able to be the gracious person I’d like to be.  I’m still working on that.  Don’t shows like this make you reevaluate yourself and your life too?

Secondly, there was the unpredictability of the situation.  Until the moment you step on that mat and hear you’ve been eliminated, there’s nearly always hope.  Time and again teams have yo-yoed from leading to lagging and back again and oftentimes they get back on an even playing field due to travel restrictions.  Plus, you never know exactly what’s going on with all the other teams, so even though you may have a good idea, something unexpected could have gotten in the way.  It’s a huge lesson in hope that I think people need to grasp better.  It’s too often that I see expressions of defeat and despair that end up in glee and joy when they discover that things weren’t as bad as they thought.  At the same time, there are great examples of people who don’t give up and fight to the last bit, no matter how badly off course they get.  That’s the beauty of it – this fighting courage that they get when it comes down to the wire.

Sometimes you just gotta go for it.

Sometimes you just gotta go for it.

Similarly, in life, so many people say negative things about what they think can’t happen only to be proven wrong.  I know I hold myself back a lot because I’m afraid of venturing out to be wrong.  However, everywhere you read, the most common thing that self-made successful people share is a certain level of bravery in taking risks and trying.  This is a topic addressed often in entrepreneurship.  If you want to do something and make something of yourself, you need to go out and attempt all kinds of crazy ideas.  Sure, lots of things will fall flat and you’ll probably get shot down more than you’d ever care for, but then you just have to pick yourselves up and keep going, taking what you’ve learned from each lesson to build on to your repertoire of knowledge.  I want to be like that since I want to be an entrepreneur and I hope shows like this are encouraging more people to act like that as well.

Finally, the intensity of the race and the pace that it goes at (which I’m sure is highly misrepresented in the show) is astonishing sometimes.  The one thing I don’t like about this premise is that people rush through these countries so quickly that they only get a glimpse of what things are like there.  It’s not true travel and tourism in the way that I value it.  So it makes me wonder how much down time they get and if they even have time to go check out some things they may have wanted to.  I think the worst thing would be to finally go to a place you’ve been dreaming of only to run around like maniacs trying to track down the right clues.  For their sake, I hope they get to do some of their own traveling, though it doesn’t really look like it.  I’m sure everyone is so focused on conserving their energy for the race and preparing themselves to take on challenges that they probably aren’t even in the right mindset to truly enjoy the cities they pass through.  It’s the one big downside I see to this great big game.

Me and my bags, dragged all around Europe.

Me and my bags, dragged all around Europe.

Though granted, I started to get nostalgic for my travels through Europe, like the 5 weeks I spent gallavanting around from Portugal to Hungary, Greece to Sweden, spanning 21 cities.  It was a similar mad rush, with me averaging 1.5 days per city, including travel time.  I had a basic plan that changed a few times depending on when I could catch trains, if I could book hostels, and where I felt like going next.  There’s a beauty and freedom in that kind of travel, where you only really know where you’re going to be in the next two days, but no more.  I had similar frustrations with missing trains, running with a rucksack on my back while dragging a suitcase behind me, and getting lost or stranded.  Additionally, I had to deal with extra fees when my luggage got too heavy for the small, cheap airlines that fly around locally.  The moment I arrived into a city, I’d get a map, go online, and find all the historical landmarks, museums, and other tourist attractions I was interested in visiting.  From there I’d map out my plan of action and go from there.  It was 5 full weeks of banking it from one place to another, trying out all kinds of cuisine I could find, and still managing to enjoy some hotspots and take a breather.  It was quite fun to travel like that and I miss it, though I do plan on going back to see things more in depth in the future and spend some time getting more immersed in the cultural feel.

So all in all, it was a very reflective experience that allowed me to think about my own life.  Which I think we should always be doing.  🙂

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