what’s the difference between and immigrant and an expat?

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if you’re waiting for the punchline, I’m sorry, there isn’t one.

in the wake of the political nightmare where my home country is currently attempting to divorce Europe – and indeed potentially itself – after 40 years of a harmonious, openly polygamous  relationship, I found myself also awake, restless and brain on overdrive, in the middle of the night. it took us 3 proposals for Europe to eventually accept us and now we have decided we want to out, (although we also want access to the single market still wahey!) subsequently causing everyone involved in the affair to pull out the dusty prenups agreed upon from the bottom and back of an old unused drawer. nobody thought they would ever be opened. I still think we are living in a parallel universe. but isn’t denial one of the first stages of a breakup??!

anyway, one of the main, if not the most significant reasons why the British people wanted to leave this arrangement was to “take back control of our borders” and restrict the amount of European foreigners that freely and legally come into the country; namely those from poorer countries, entering our rich country and taking all our jobs etc.

this got me thinking.

what’s the difference between an immigrant and an expatriate anyway?

I am a British National who has not lived in the UK, or indeed Europe, for over 3 years. in truth, I do not actually have a home anywhere: my partner is an Australian-New Zealander hybrid, and we have been hopping between the two southern cross countries for over a year now. I still have my British passport; I decided a long time ago that I will never give that up. it is a part of my identity which I am proud of, despite the turmoil happening back in the UK. (seriously, can I wake up yet?) I have not yet gotten round to applying for Australian residency, and I am in no rush to settle down yet. maybe I might never apply for it. furthermore, because of my lifestyle, I am constantly filling out visa forms and going through immigration at international airports.

so, knowing this, does this make me an immigrant or an expat?

I asked some people what they associated with the word “immigrant”: “refugees”, “foreigners”, “asylum seekers” are what came to mind. when I asked what connotations they considered for “expat”, words like “wealthy”, “successful”, “Europeans” surfaced. so we think of British being retired expats in Spain, but working Poles in Britain as immigrants. hmmmmm….

now I’m not insinuating that these people are racist; this is the result of what we have learned by being conditioned to believe through the media I think I think… we know what immigration and expatriation means, just like we know what risk and hazard mean, but it’s correctly distinguishing between the two that is irritatingly particular and difficult to grasp. it’s a very interesting and charged topic, the racial bias and socioeconomic perspective, but that’s for a different blog post which I’m not prepared or articulate enough to write about. when I googled that very question I keep asking, I stumbled over here. anyway, for a more curious,  innocent version, I thought I would look up the dictionary definitions of both “immigrant” and “expatriate”.

expatriate“: verb, “an expatriate is an individual living in a country other than their country of citizenship, often temporarily and for work reasons. an expatriate can also be an individual who has relinquished citizenship in their home country to become a citizen of another.”

immigrant“: noun, “a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.”

(I have to add this in as a side note: according to dictionary.com, the origins for the word “expatriate” comes from the French “expatrier” which means “to banish”, and the Latin “patria”, “one’s native country”. so before 1902, when the modern word came to mean “one who chooses to live abroad”, it originally meant “one who has been banished”. oh, the irony is not lost on me.)

but I digress… invaluably so, however. interestingly, the descriptions of the two lexicons seem more indistinguishable than we might have assumed, and actually has nothing to do with racial stereotypes – hurrah!. for me, the difference between them lies with a sense of commitment: an expatriate, according to this definition, lives “often temporarily and for work reasons” whereas an immigrant is deliberately looking for a fixed place to call home – a new residency. quite a contrast really.

so maybe there’s something more to it than just moving countries; maybe there’s a bigger emotional obligation for immigrants’ intentions to migrate; they don’t have the luxury that expats do to just get up and leave as they please.

well, this is awkward. rather than finding a clear definition I feel the line is blurred again. I’m dictionary defined as an expatriate, although I feel more immigrant by society’s (mis)conceptions. I guess I am simultaneously both and neither: as an expat, I am a wanderer, always hungry to explore more places, settling wholesomely and temporarily, but never getting too emotionally involved in the affair. as an immigrant, I dream of communism and being a citizen of the world, (oh UK how you’ve broken that unrealistic fantasy even more!), committing to every part of the world as my home and residence and making the effort to feel accepted and local wherever I am. however, I suppose I  hold most characteristics from being an expatriate, almost organically, just from the privileges of the randomness of where I was born: I think, if it doesn’t work out for the long run in this country, I can always move on to the next. (which, as my best friend Emmarightfully pointed out, in turn makes me feel grateful across all my country’s social mobility: free healthcare, education, democracy, freedom of movement…) well, I guess that’s something to be happy about at least amongst all the current ambiguity of the future. thanks for being Great, Britain!

school education vs life experience

arthur’s pass-ed out

let me begin by saying that, yes, I went to university and studied English Literature and Language for three years. I still don’t use punctuation properly, for the lame reason that I don’t like the aesthetics of capital letters. so is it any surprise that I voluntarily quit university? no, but I am proud and thankful to say that I did stay and completed my degree. I still am in love with language, reading and writing, probably more so, but this is not because of I chose to further my education in the specifics of English. where am I currently? I’m in New Zealand, part-managing a restaurant on one of the best drives in the world on the coast. it has nothing to do with my graduate or any educational abilities. it is also not something I find particularly fulfilling, nor that I believed I would still be doing at 25. so far, the very least my degree has given me is a ticket to a greater chance of immigrating to a country of my choice.

I am fully aware that the reason why I am not doing anything with my degree is because i haven’t actively pursued it; I can blame the idea that work experience is highly preferred than educational advances. I am sometimes embarrassed by my lack of dedication to my post-studies, rendering my degree a complete waste of time and money. in my (weak) defence, I never wanted to go to university; some people I know (and I am ashamed to admit given my privileged position to just be able to go) claimed to have dreamed as children getting accepted into university, as if it overrode the seemingly inherited infant dream of getting married complete with envisioned beautiful dress to the wo/man of their dreams. (I dreamed of neither of these things… am I still human?) I went to uni because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do with my life. and guess what? I still don’t. surprise!

but then again, did I always dream of travelling? the truth is I can’t remember, so I probably didn’t. therefore, i don’t actually know what ambitious things I yearned for in my youth. that’s embarrassing. maybe that explains my lack of career direction… oops. anyway, I was however familiar with travelling abroad thanks to have been fortunate enough to go on family holidays as a child. I guess, travelling sort of happened my accident for me. I suppose having a taste of living alone in a new city for university first sort of ignited this, then vacations abroad with my friends enhanced this curiosity in me. so I’m not sure if my thirst for knowledge, which is intrinsically linked with travel, correlates with my age, but I’m finding the world a whole lot more interesting than 14-year-old me did. I am perpetually thirsty to learn, absorbing as much information as possible like a sponge and allowing others’ impressions to leave indelible marks on me. I commit time into developing and improving myself in any way I can, stimulating my mental capacities because otherwise my brain softens like butter through a job like waitressing. sorry, not sorry.

this doesn’t mean I think subjects are school were necessarily irrelevant. it’s not like I apply ‘skills’ I learned like trigonometry to every day life, so I used to think the syllabus was stupid. but school teaches a broad range of subjects which interconnect into our daily lives and help us to understand the world around us just that little bit more; like history shows us how to got to where we are today and biology is, at least, a general understanding of how our own bodies work. school is integral because it encompasses everything to do with developing social skills, defining moral, teaching discipline and building confidence into every individual. I just wish school taught you more than geometry and post-modernism. why didn’t school teach you how to get a mortgage, how to write a will or how to deal with heartbreak? I know how to handle the latter (through A LOT of trial/error), but I still have no idea on the mortgage front. these are things I consider mandatory yet I still know nothing about. these are topics I would want to see discussed and explained in the Real Life class.

is travel better than education? no, of course it’s not. just like a formal education is not superior to travelling; you will find either under the ‘LEARNING’ heading. it all depends on your own stance. as long as you choose whichever avenue based on wanting to improve yourself, then both travel and education are invaluable. unfortunately sometimes these can be used as a status symbol: ‘I have a Masters in this and my occupation title is fancy therefore my knowledge and financial success is superior to yours’ or ‘look how many countries I have travelled to and how long I have been travelling for and i have been to ____ so my opinion and experience is superior to yours’. on the other end of the spectrum, I don’t care if you terminate your education at high school or don’t feel inclined to travel… it’s all individual choice. I have both received and completed a formal education at university and have travelled all over the world, although I have covered very little of it. (yes, I can have my cake and eat it too!). both have lasted three years (so far), and both have enriched me, so I feel I can make a pretty fair comparison. because I was never sure of uni, I felt somewhat oppressed and shackled by the education system. I was lost and confused and completely demotivated. it was also the first time i truly had my heart broken… Keats, you did not prepare me sufficiently for when this happened! travel, on the other hand, has encouraged my curiosity and liberated my mind. although I am sure that maturity has a big part to play, travel has made me perpetually hungry for knowledge, more tolerant and hopefully less ignorant. I am far less materialistic, spend more time immersing myself with nature and am more motivated to improve. I feel inspired and more creative in foreign spaces. travelling has been confronting and forced me to stand on my own two feet – something I struggled with at school where I preferred to be a wallflower rather than orally contributing. as cliché as it sounds, I either lost myself at uni or had not found myself yet, but I discovered myself travelling. and although it is ideal to have both and I consider my education and my freedom to travel privileges, if I were to pick one, I’d travel over and over and over again.

5 more things you and I need to stop doing:

I am really really bad at blogging. sometimes I see blogging as a chore that I refuse to acknowledge, like washing the dishes piling up in the sink or tackling the mountain of laundry pushed into the corner of the room. sometimes I think about things I could blog about, but pull the duvet up over my face, roll away from the idea and shamefully disregard it as something that ‘requires too much energy and research and time and dedication’, just like having a pet dog. the truth is I love writing, but i find it hard to motivate myself. sorry, let me rephrase: I am lazy at inspiring myself.

so I figured, maybe I would reintroduce this blog with a list of 5 things we need to stop doing. this isn’t the best blog post. but it’s a start. and that’s something right?

PROCRASTINATION
I am really so very bad (good?) at this that I am a procrastinator, which i am proud of the pun but I really should be ashamed of it. I am so good at putting things off that I justify the bad habit with, ‘I work better under pressure’. which, is true, but not a very attractive trait. the majority of stuff we cannot muster the energy to do are mandatories like vacuuming, sending a work email, cooking the dinner – where we have almost certainly have the skills to complete these mundane tasks. I should start by nurturing this blog back to life and giving it the attention it needs in order for my creativity to blossom. we should all stop putting off things that need to be acknowledged: after all, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’… right?

BEING JUDGEMENTAL
my personal idol, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said: “great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”. stop gossiping about others; you don’t know necessarily know who they are or what they’re going through. everyone is guilty of passing judgement on another innocent soul – whether it’s on their weight, haircut, or their marriage or career problems, and we are all quick to do it, almost reflexively. we judge usually over a comparison, and to feel better about ourselves. but most judgement I deem to be negative, therefore unhealthy, and unattractive and we should really begin to train ourselves in becoming impartial and neutral, even when it seems enticing to join in the comedy around prejudiced people.

PLAYING ON OUR PHONES
I HATE THIS WITH A PASSION. us millennials have become so attached to our technological devices, so consumed by the online world and the demand for instantaneous information that it might as well be an extension of our limb. i have said before that the irony of sitting with some friends in a social setting like a restaurant and ‘talking’ instead on social media is overwhelmingly undeniable and embarrassing. we are so disconnected from real life in favour of a superficial, blue-screen ideal that is really is quite plainly, sad. I feel that maybe I should swap their blood for kb/ps. there is nothing ruder than sitting in with another real life human and having your companion’s eyes glued to their phone screen like a newborn baby than directing their attention rightly at you. I take the last stop back – all judgement is welcomed here at the person in question.

SAYING YOU “HATE” SOMETHING
“hate” is such a strong, repulsive word and I think it’s thrown around so carelessly for a strong dislike that it means nothing anymore. (although I must mention that yes, the above use of the word ‘hate’ was very much impassioned). is our vocabulary limited that much that in order to describe how much we dislike something that we always must use ‘hate’? on the other end of the spectrum, the word itself is just a word, but it is the effort required to produce the sounds of the word that give it such power – pronouncing the ‘h’ is like fire leaving your mouth, coming up from your guts, and the ‘t’ reiterates and emphasizes the hateful person’s dispassion. I really dislike drinking unexpected room temperature soya milk but I loathe homophobia and racism … are the other on the same level? you can decide that one.

GIVING UP TOO EASILY
another Roosevelt, this time Theodore, said: “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, or difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life”. I don’t like people who want something and complain about not having it, but cannot be bothered to change their routine up (like people who complain about being overweight, stay eating terribly, and don’t bother to change their diet or include exercise). I find these kind of people demotivating and irritating. I like to inspire and be surrounded by people to ignite passion in me. and now a bit of self-plugging, this is also similar to my blog post on the art of an hour a day, where if you want to improve or challenge yourself, you should dedicate an hour each and every day to that cause.

so there’s that! I am going to try and blog more, spend more time with people and less time socializing online, stay out of the rumour mill and remain neutral through other peoples’ dissatisfaction, be consciously aware of the language I used to express my distaste of something, and fully immerse myself in the areas I want to improve and challenge myself in, like my Spanish and French learning. what are you going to achieve?

facts about straya you wouldn’t know unless you’ve visited

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a year ago, I arrived in Sydney, Australia from Thailand with my backpack and pretty much nothing else. I had no money, no friends and no real idea what the actual fuck I was doing. Australia was never somewhere I dreamed of going, except for the standard Great Barrier Reef bucket list job (tick, B T Dub). I came completely impulsively to the most expensive city in the world, overdrawn on my bank account and really struggling to get by. now a year has past, I’ve visited every state, met some incredible people and achieved some amazing goals. I’m working in a beautiful restaurant, living with friends and have come to really love Australia. in light of my year, I have composed a useless fact list of things I have discovered living in Australia (although they might not all be entirely factual).

you get paid weekly. gone are the days (weeks) of waiting til the end of the month to get paid a shit amount on minimum wage only to have to rinsed out by rent and bills. you get paid weekly here in Australia! which also means rent goes out weekly too, but when minimum wage is the equivalent of 12£ and expenditure all becomes relative (it’s pretty cheap wants you’re earning the dollar … not when you’re spending English pennies), you’re living the high life, wondering why you never got out before.

they make the best coffee in the world. ok so this may not be entirely accurate, but Australia wins hands down. every town and city is littered with independent coffee houses and cafes which all make their own unique coffee blends. Australia doesn’t buy into corporate shit like Starbucks. in fact I read in bill bryson’s book down under that Starbucks opened about 150 stores in the cities and a few years later about 90 of them had shut down because nobody gave a fuck about them. so kudos Australia for supporting your local economy. and delivering me the most divine of substances to my taste buds every morning.

they greet one another with “how you going” which doesn’t make any sense, really. although, to be fair, us Brits greet each other with “you awright?” where when I use this habitually on Aussies, they proceed to look at me with a perplexed expression on their face, assuming that I’m suggesting there is something wrong with them. (and there probably is because….)

everyone is a celiac. seriously. this annoys the fuck outta me. working in a restaurant, I get asked for a gluten free option in half of my food orders. it’s unreal. having an intolerance myself, I get that some people are in fact, celiac…. but even I eat dairy and although I feel bloated and uncomfortable and complain a lot, it’s all self-inflicted and I haven’t died.. yet.

they abbreviate everything. they probably have an abbreviation for abbreviation. ones you probably didn’t realize that you use: “sunnies” for sunglasses; “swimmers” for swimming costume; apparently even “chunder” was created for seasick passengers when crew would shout “watch out under”!

they celebrate the queen’s birthday. by giving you a long weekend – commonly referred to as a bank holiday in the UK. hell we don’t even get that in England! and I’m from Buckinghamshire!

they celebrate Christmas in July. because the seasons are opposite due to being located in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in summer here, and where I’m currently living can reach highs of 45 degrees. so some people go away for a long weekend and celebrate Christmas in the winter here in July.

they love to gamble.I’ve bin to both the world famous crown casino in melbourne and Sydney star casino. they have fruit machines in every pub, called “pokies”, that can pay out tens of thousands of dollars. on their long weekend for Anzac Day, they play a bizarre game called “2 up”, which is betting on the outcome of two flipped coins, simply put. this is apparently illegal for the rest of the year and they spend literally all day playing it. Australia accounts for 16% of all the world’s gambling, which is a hell of a lot if you think about it.

you can’t get pints in Australia. or at least it’s very rare. they have their own smaller version called a “schooner”, which holds 425 ml. pints hold 568 ml. it’s a sad time for us beer loving poms.

you have to pass a test to work in hospitality. yes really, it’s called an RSA (responsible service of alcohol) and you have to pay approximately $125 for a card to prove you have common sense when serving the general public alcohol. every state has its own version, so if you’re looking to work cross country prepare to potentially dish out more money for the same fucking certification. luckily you can take it online but it still took me 4 hours and I didn’t even read it- just kept hitting next until the multiple choice questions came up. there’s also extra fees for an additional RSG, which covers gambling and you have to sit in a classroom. I got off lucky, if I can even say that!

all the pubs are called hotels. lots of pubs in Australia can accommodate you rooms to stay. but the title is misleading: don’t think you’ll be staying in some lavish studio apartment: they’re usually basic, scummy rooms and anything but hotel-esque.

you’re a pussy if you think driving from the midlands to the north is long. here in straya they are hardcore! I’ve driven all around nsw and vic, I’m now a seasoned veteran. just popping to Newcastle from Sydney for the day – it’s only 3 hours so I won’t need to even toilet stop. :||||

they’re obsessed with nickelback and pink. I don’t think this is entirely factual, but, it is bizarrely true in my experience that they can’t help themselves when nickelback or pink come on the radio. and they’re always on the fuckin’ radio.

never visit Perth. I don’t know what the polls are saying with Melbourne and Sydney topping lists for being the most expensive cities in the world when Perth and WA in general is double the price of Sydney. it is the sunniest city in all of Australia, boasting on average 8.8 hours of sunshine a day and I absolutely loved Fremantle. it is also the most isolated city in the world. I think it is roughly 4,000 km from Sydney, which is the nearest city! maybe it’s only then when you stop driving hardcore from state to state and catch a plane instead.

– lau

the pros of having a man in the house

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a couple of weeks ago, we spontaneously moved into a new house. the house is beautiful and spacious, and my new housemate is a lovely girl from Wales. before James and I arrived, she lived on her own, in a bachelorette pad, if you will.

I’ve lived with men as housemates all my life. through uni I shared several houses with male housemates. and they suck sometimes. they leave the toilet seat up, they piss on the floor, they leave all their shavings in and around the sink, they collect plates and takeaway containers of half-eaten food in their rooms and in my experience, they often live (unfathomable to me) contentedly in squalor.

but living with a man also has it’s upsides, I promise. just hear me out.

they fix things. my housemate bought a really expensive, really impressive new fridge, silver and contemporary, complete with own water and ice dispenser. the door’s skirting and the cabinet above the fridge’s cove prevented it from even remotely fitting into the space. so James being a typical man’s man who thinks the idea of measurements and tools is a man’s wet dream, got to work by removing, sanding, poly filling, painting the door frame and reattaching the cupboard above. so now the fridge fits so perfectly it’s like it was always meant to be. if it was up to me and nat, the fridge would have bin promptly returned, and we’d’ve ended up living on imperishables from tins and room temperature tap water.

they kill bugs. going back to the last great pro, my bike got a flat tyre today. without question James immediately got his hands filthy by taking apart the back wheel. in his quest on looking for the pump, he encountered a red back spider – one bite from one of these babies can be fatal. so he killed it. god bless Australia hey. as a woman we are stereotypically, blamelessly, and societally accepted to be afraid of tiny insects. furthermore he set fire to all the cobwebs littering the patio rails and previously worked as a pest controller for a friend. strictly man jobs.

they do the mandatory man jobs that are innately masculine. they take the bins out, the unblock the drains of clogged hair (even if it’s mainly yours), they change the tyres (see above) and they open impossibly chastised jars. it’s unwritten law.

they are your personal chauffeur. it’s great, I’m pretty poor and currently providing for the both of us, but if I need to go somewhere I’ve got my own personal taxi on speed dial. and I don’t have to pay. hurray!

they eat all the leftovers. I’m not a big eater, although I do inhale my food, and regretfully I often waste produce because I buy it and don’t eat it because I don’t eat a lot. men are like dogs scavenging. they won’t let anything go to waste, which is great because then I don’t feel guilty about having to waste good food. now if only I didn’t need a Hoover..

they balance out the bitchiness. I know all girls say they’re “one of the boys”, but that’s because boys are so much more fun and laid back. they don’t go behind each other’s back and they usually confront issues straight away if something’s upset them – which is also a rarity. I’ve lived in a house full of girls and it was so unbelievably dull and unnecessarily tense, for no reason. I wouldn’t trade the world for Emma but she’s literally the only girl I can tolerate.

they install things. similarly to fixing things, men also like installing things. the sky box (foxtel here), the Internet, the DVD player I can’t get to work through the tv. I probably could if I tried, but I know a man will enthusiastically get to work on it and probably reach conclusion before me, so why bother?

they keep the bed warm. it’s winter here in Australia and altho it’s still pretty hot, sometimes at night it gets chilly. there’s no radiators in the houses, only air con, which is the exact opposite of what I want in the cold seasons. but having a man to lie with is having your own personal hot water bottle with arms.

they satisfy my primitive needs. look, my vibrator doesn’t have arms. unfortunately unlike lady toys, men do answer back and need to recharge too, but sex and cuddles is always a winning combination.

I implore all you women to maybe seriously consider a male roommate. they will also provide beer and video games… and a shoulder to hide behind when scary movies become a bit too much.

do women expect too much?

rinoa and squall forever

early wednesday morning I woke up as the sun was creeping up slowly and upon realizing it was the perfect time to skype my best friend Emma all the way back in close-to-midnight England, I rose to the opportunity immediately. we got together, as women do, bitching and ranting and reassessing our lives at current. amidst the contented complaining, I thought suddenly struck me, very Carrie Bradshaw-esque… “I couldn’t help myself but wonder, do women expect too much from men:?”
 this thought blindsided me a little bit. I am usually quite good at analyzing and finding suitable reason for most socio-matters, but this truly dumbfounded me. I’m surprised the woman herself never touched upon it. over the past year I’ve discovered more and more that I am transforming into my mother at an alarming pace (we’ll save that for another post), particularly with having a boyfriend I’m often exasperated with. this has further cemented my stance on having children: a man is enough. I honestly believe if it wasn’t for me the bed would never have bin changed ever and the mountain of used plates and leftover food would have eventually slipped and toppled onto him, suffocating him into a bloody and rotten mess while he obliviously slept.
 I will cut him some slack though; it is not just him. I have witnessed it with other couples, and experienced it in previous relationships. I don’t want to come across all feminist and holding metaphorical picket signs, but I do believe women tolerate more than they should. I know I do. and I’m sick of it.
 but have I brought this on myself? do I expect too much? well, to be honest – yes and no. I think, in terms of household “chores” to put it into childish terms (because am I being immature?), I complete, at a rough estimate, say … 100% of the household duties. and I’m happy to do that, because I hate living in squalor. maybe men are ok with living in filth so they don’t feel it mandatory to complete. maybe I just know unhygienic men. or maybe, more accurately, the aussies are right about poms not showering and therefore continue to uphold the disgusting stereotype.
 because I’m ok with doing all the laundry and dishes and vaccuuming, I don’t feel that I am at liberty to complain about house maintenance. however, I do feel that I have a right to complain about feeling undervalued and unappreciated despite my efforts, secretly expected to do these things because if left long enough I will do them, and because I am British and we are renowned for our champion complaining skills. what frustrates and upsets me the most is not the acknowledgement or the thanks, but the excuses: “oh well I’ve bin at work all day, I just wana chill out”. excuses to be lazy. cool story bro, I’ve bin on my feet for 12 hours and can still manage necessities before winding down.
 we all know that, as a generalization, men and women are polar opposites when it comes to communication. women like to vocalize their opinions and problems and complaints and talk about things to exhaustion – and then some. we like to drop hints and fluster rather than confront the issue bothering us and when asked what’s wrong we respond, as if on autopilot, with “nothing, I’m fine”, and then we get upset when the “hint” isn’t addressed. women overanalyze everything. perhaps that is what I am doing right now. in contrast, men rarely like to talk about their woes, they would prefer to go to the pub and knock back a few beers instead. generally speaking, they are emotionally detached, or at least in comparison to women. men look for solutions rather than reasons for. whatever they do say they want it to be direct and literal; instead us females search for subtleties in their words futilely. I don’t think women are irrational, I just think we expect too much … sometimes.
 having said that though, men totally expect too much of women too. I still believe we’re still seen as the sole house maintainer; even in my family home I remember my mom would do all the laundry, gardening, cleaning and cooking. my dad helped, but he would do manly things, like sharpening knives and carving the meats, and perhaps loading the dishwasher. women are expected to hold down a full-time job, cook, clean and look after kids (I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about the last one). I know men like to be sin as the breadwinner, the financial and emotional security for a woman, but that’s not their sole purposes. in return for the lack of efforts, women feel neglected. this is probably why relationships are most likely to break down. we feel second best, and only feel wanted when the man wants to fulfill his sexual needs. this isn’t always the case, but it feels like it.
 as humans seeking partners, we want to find compatibility with someone who is:
  •  ambitious and financially stable, but not a workaholic
  • charismatic but not slutty
  • emotionally available but independent

all of these desired elements are total contradictions. if you want money and you wana be successful, you’re guna work all hours. if you’re attractive and charming, you are probably going to exploit what your mama gave you. if you’re sensitive, you’re guna want to talk, but apparently that’s not very macho. it’s also not very attractive  for a woman to unload all her shit onto a man whose ears are inconsolably burning from all the talking. furthermore, women want a man who possesses the traditional attributes of a man: ie, paying for dinner, opening doors, putting his jacket on the floor so you can walk over a fucking puddle, yet none of us women possess the qualities of a traditional woman. we work and we can work men’s jobs, because we are fucking brilliant.

 so what do we do? where do we put our collective foot down? nobody deserves to be taken for granted. we give to receive. I just feel like I keep giving, and get nothing. maybe it’s time to sit down with each other, and tell the men that they have to start putting in more effort with us instead of expecting us to just do it all, and include us in other parts of their lives other than just the boudoir. we’ll tell the women that they should understand that men are not emotionally available or interested in gossip the way we are, and to be more confrontational about any problems concerning the man (and nothing else).

am I right? (crickets chirping)

 I originally wanted this post to be all about women’s standards and expectations of men, spawned from a random topic during my skype conversation, but then I realized I was just downplaying women, which, as a woman myself, felt wrong. (see, I still don’t believe women are irrational!) now I’ve kind of made it into some sort of controversial first-drafted, incoherent, amateur psychological analysis on men and womens’ innate behaviors and desires. I did study psychology… that’s my only pathetic attempt to redeem myself. oops.

boredom does not exist

this morning I woke up and realized I was bored. as a self-proclaimed city girl, living in the heart of rural new south wales automatically called for some necessary adaptation: I was not mentally or physically prepared for the overwhelming lack of activity in a quiet town. there is a nice abundance of quaint coffee shops, a gym and overpopulated with pubs that all serve the same beer and food where most of the community spend their evenings socializing and playing pool. I often spend my free time feeling simultaneously restless and listless – full of energy but not passionate enough to channel it into anything specific – which results in me feeling frustrated and bored.
bored.
boredom and its generates is a terrible word which should be banished from ever leaving our tongues. when people say they are bored, they are lying. what they actually are is lazy. they’re too lazy and disinterested to focus any energy into an activity which probably doesn’t even require a lot of energy. and then they subsequently complain. people use the term “boredom” because their language is too limited to distinguish any other kind of feeling. in an age where technology is all the rage and receiving information is instantaneous, we’ve become impatient and unimpressed and essentially desensitized with simple pleasures in life.
at the moment I am buckling under the pressures of stress. I went from having 3 jobs to earn and save as much money as rapidly as possible to fund our trip around Australia … to having none (2 jobs didn’t pay me, the other had an unexpected member of staff return, which I think is unfair dismissal on my behalf, but what the hell I’m only a backpacker.) I am struggling to remain positive because the situation is straining our relationship. (we’re okay tho, thanks for asking!) my job aspects are pretty limited in a small central west nsw town, and I’ve exhausted nearly all possible avenues. having little money and living with people that are my only friends around here is pretty isolating, which in turn makes me succumb to depression very quickly and easily.
but that doesn’t mean I should be bored. there are so many things I – we – could do to defy boredom.
read a book. thanks to the internet, I’ve read lots of books ranging from Homer’s The Odyssey to Sir Alex Ferguson’s My Autobiography to Sigmund Freud’s Dream Psychology. this inspires me to write and allows me to escape from my present woes in reality. it doesn’t have to be fictional. take the time to learn about a topic that interests you. I’m trying to utilize James’ marine biology knowledge, although it’s not working very well, I resort to books instead.
take a bike ride. I am a little bit biased towards the two wheels because I freaking love riding my bike. Australia is renowned for its lush weather and even in these Autumn months it is still pretty hot. riding a bike with a friend or on my own makes me feel good because I enjoy exercising, and it releases tension, even if temporarily. of course, riding a bike is just an idea: you could walk or even run if you preferred. but walking is slow AND, I’ll allow it this once, BORING. so take a bike.
exercise. furthermore, just exercise in general. as everyone knows, exercise releases endorphins which makes us feel good (so does chocolate but we won’t talk about that). I particularly like a good long run, and lifting weights. plus in my house I have a built-in outdoor pool! (and now you’re asking me why I’m so ‘bored’). plus you’ll be knackered so you’ll sleep better, so all those anxious thoughts that prod at you during the early hours won’t bother you for once.
learn a skill. there are so many things you could start learning, I’ve said this so many times! learn a language, learn to cook, learn to freakin knit for all I care. study hard. you’ll feel productive, interested, and most importantly you’ll feel smart busy! the opposite of bored.
get a hobby. go to yoga classes, swim classes, kickboxing classes, cooking classes, language learning classes. draw, write, paint your nails. decorate your house with handcrafted stuff. create more. get inspired! you’ll feel more accomplished in yourself and more productive in your days.
eat better. I’ve just started cooking more elaborate meals, which are subsequently far healthier and heartier than takeaways or microwave meals, and I actually enjoy it so much. I didn’t think I would because I’m quite virginal in the kitchen, or I thought I was, but I’m actually not too bad. and food is such a social activity. we have enjoyed cooking for huge gatherings and it’s still novice days yet! a healthy diet will benefit you mentally and physically, change your mood and help you sleep better.
has anyone noticed how many of these suggestions overlap one another? all learning new things and keeping active. marry with a good diet and you’re onto a winner. don’t forget to apply the An-Hour-A-Day Rule. yes, plugging, no, not ashamed.
what do you do to keep yourself from being ‘bored’?

a diverted story on why long distance relationships never work (except sometimes, actually, they do)

our love child

“I have to leave the country before or on march 18.”
“my visa runs out then too. do you think we could go together?” (internal panic: please don’t leave me here illegally, I have no idea what the fuck I am suppose to do)
exactly one year ago today, I embarked on a visa run with James from Thailand to Myanmar and back. coincidentally, our visas both expired on march 18, which meant in order to renew our Thai visas, we had to do a country hop to receive a stamp and ferry back in. the process sounds simple, whereas in fact it is an irritatingly long and mundane affair which took over a day to complete. because people are arriving in Thailand every single day on a variety of different visas, it’s not always easy to find someone or a group of people who need to renew theirs at the same time as you.I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe that there was some sort of cosmic alignment that James and I had visas due on exactly the same day.further more, at the airport, James was wearing a Paul Smith shirt which has brazened on the hem, “whatever it takes”.yes, I chose to absorb that as another one of the universe’s little signs.

I have never believed that long distance relationships work; to me it was always a hopeful fabrication people told who were attempting the ordeal because they were too weak to let go of one another, dismissing the fact that time doesn’t wait and life is cruel. you could hear every poor soul’s voice cracking as they persisted in the belief of the delusion. if you tell a lie long enough to yourself, you begin to actually believe it.

James and I mutually decided that march 18 was to be our year anniversary, because despite the fact we really don’t know when it officially is, it is when things began to seriously physically blossom. when people ask me about my boyfriend, they are astounded and completely discombobulated we managed to spend just shy of seven months apart, where we only saw each other once, in august, for a very brief trip to Adelaide from Sydney (not to mention we were only together around two and a half months before leaving Thailand separately!). and I totally understand that. our relationship was – is – bizarre. hilariously, we have spent more time apart in our year than we have together. and to top it off with a bit of irony, James is on a visa run to Singapore for the week during which our fated one year anniversary falls between. unlike the ideas before with the signs from the universe, I choose to ignore this as a kind of Romeo and Juliet “star-cross’d lovers” sort of foreshadowing of our future.

I attempted long distance before when I was living in the north of England and my beau at the time was still in the south, and was wildly reluctant, but tried it because I thought I loved him. he described our long distance relationship as “only a nuisance, not a problem”. but there is one massive, obvious deal breaker that single-handedly can deny a relationship any progress and that is sex. I honestly believe that at least a third of any relationship is founded on sex (the other fundamental factors being trust and friendship, durr). humans need human contact. we need intimacy. a relationship will not work if there is not physical communication, with all parts of the body. with a long distance relationship, you cannot attain this kind of intimacy, which I believe ultimately leads to the demise of most long distance relationships. furthermore, we act different in person than we do on the phone, or particularly through text where tone is lost in a sea of translation. we use tone and facial expressions, hand gestures, body language. the way we dress, the way we style our hair. the actions we employ to maximize flirtation, empathy, sadness, anger – they all play a massive part in face-to-face communication. long distance does not allow that. long distance belongs in the fantasy romcom movies like Going the Distance or You’ve Got Mail (neither of which I have actually seen, but, I’m sure it all works out happily ever after.)

time is precious in long distance relationships. it is a wonderful gift to fully appreciate another person because you haven’t sin them for so long; but often because time is so short, problems are ignored and not addressed. problems like, when you will next get to see them, if you ever do. or if you can ever rectify the situation to make it just a relationship, rather than the long definitive title of “long distance relationship” where everyone thinks you’re insane. sometimes I feel like long distance relationships can actually become dangerous by luring the individuals to amplify their feelings for one another, due to the absence and the yearning for their return, more than they legitimately feel. you’re just so happy to see each other that everything seems perfect, you don’t feel you need to waste your precious time dealing with negativity or you know, realism. we’re so happy to see one another that we are always stuck in a honeymoon-type phrase, which although is lovely and wonderful, is not really healthy or realistic because a healthy relationship requires obstacles and problems to overcome and subsequently, cultivate as a result of.

being in a long distance relationship is, to me, the equivalent of being in purgatory. in order to progress, you must either end the relationship, or plan to remove the first two words of the title. sometimes long distance can strengthen a relationship by allowing you the time and space to evaluate positively, but usually this is when the long distance part has a known termination, rather than being dangled in suspense for what seems like a painful forever.

I am not stupid or naive; I know I cannot predict what The Future holds. I know people always think their current love is different, more special. but with James it is different. I am older and way more mature with more experience than I was back then. I never travelled to Thailand in the hope of establishing any sort of relationship, let alone a long distance one, and especially not with another pom, but it happened. sure we still have our problems… but that’s normal and healthy. James was everything I dreamed of being, and that dream realized in the shape of a man. James inspires me with his knowledge and his language. I thought England was tough but we were in different countries on different continents. the secret here was that we were both fully dedicated to each other. we both persisted with communication at the cost of “whatever it takes”, made solid plans of reuniting until eventually James quit his job and travelled countries to finally be with me. that is a massive commitment which only fairy tales still dream of, and it still freaks me out, but I know I have nothing to fear.

ladies, nice men do exist. I know this because I found one. and even if life took its toll and we ended things, I know we would still respect each other rather than lament one another. the key to making a long distance relationship work is communication, flexibility and belief: all of which I empathize are very difficult to achieve and consistently maintain. I will not try to sugarcoat it: it was fucking hard, being in different time zones and both working ridiculous hours. sometimes it would be over a week until I heard from him again. but never once did I consider giving up, which was fuelled further by James’ reciprocated determination. I never strayed; I never had eyes for anyone else. I hope to never endure it again, but I know our story ignites inspiration in others who are lame enough to believe romcoms do exist in reality, which in turn makes me feel supremely fortunate. (I permit you to barf now.)

how to make new years’ resolutions and keep them

I am a terrible blogger. I am a terrible blogger for which I vehemently apologize for my neglect and lack of communication. I am embarrassed, really. I unprecedentedly took a lot of time out from writing — namely because I ended up in a fit of rage and smashed my mac so I have bin without any sort of word processing device for a while. which isn’t a bad thing, I suppose. also I’m lazy. not only that, but having worked ridiculous and probably illegal hours on the run up to christmas in a foreign country 11 hours deep into the future ahead of my home country, the Gym, moving houses and skilfully mastering Call of Duty zombie co-op have admittedly bought the majority of my precious time.

looking back, I have had an absolutely amazing year. I was the most depressed I have ever felt living in Sydney since my confusing and dark adolescent years at university. this month marks exactly one year since I last stepped foot on English soil and I have explored many a foreign land since departing on a plane. I thought I would only be leaving for 3 months to complete my Divemaster qualification in the tropical waters of south east Thailand, but here I am 9 months on (sans baby) in blisteringly hot Australia with a typically English boyfriend I met on the asian island, making plans to potentially travel to New Zealand together next. isn’t it funny how life turns out.

so 2013 and bin and gone and now it’s the start of a brand new, exciting, frightening, liberating, suffocating, intoxicating, colorful, abundant, youthful year: 2014. the year has unequivocally changed, but it is doubtful that you really have. you are still the same person. (I actually think I have, through growth, but I don’t want to contradict myself). now, I don’t believe in New Years’ Resolutions. I read in fact that only 8% of people who make resolutions at the turn of a new year actually succeed in accomplishing them. that figure does not instill much confidence in me. but, because I am unfortunately an extremely impressionable young person, I willingly create my own and see how long I can last at it before getting frustrated/bored/lazy at it.

new years’ resolution goals:
for one, I don’t like to call it a “resolution” and much rather look at the commitment I’m making as a goal focus. a goal is something to work forward to provided you apply the full determination; any progress is satisfying and triumphant. a resolution suggests you will give up something flat out, expecting immediate success which often contrarily leads to failure due to several accidental slipups. this is what subsequently causes people to happily declare, “ah! what the hell, I’ve already smoked while drinking in the new year, no point in carrying on now!” and guiltlessly spark up another cigarette.

small goals = big progress:
you should also set small, attainable goals throughout the whole trial in order to create a gradual and successful ladder towards your ultimate goal. this deliberately sets ourselves up for success, which in turn motivates us more to achieve the big one. try running for 5 minutes before you attempt your first 5k. keep a diary (written or photo) so you can actually see the difference from the start to the present. remember, dramatic change does not happen over night but we can acknowledge gradual changes by completing baby milestone goals first.

wow! what a productive and impressive year we’re having!:
try to complete a dream or new goal every month to witness and experience amazing change in your new year. perfect the theory of “1 hour a day” and really notice how much better you are at understanding the grammar of a foreign language just by dedicating 60 minutes to study a day. grab a partner. everything is easier when you have the motivation and fun of a buddy helping you achieve your goals.

yes there’s cake, but no one is eating it:
most importantly, have fun!  don’t try to juggle too many different goals especially if they’re big ones demanding a lot of commitment or you’ll stress yourself out, probably suck at them all, and no doubt be more miserable than before. reward yourself for achieving the little steps, but be sensible: great work, you ran for 30 minutes on a treadmill! yes, let’s put all the calories you burned off back into your body with that cake, and add some extra fat to storage for good measure.

my new years’ goals? to keep running. to keep writing. to keep being adventurous. to keep loving.