WWOOF Australia: Day 1

In the spirit of this summer being about risk-taking and adventure, I chose to WWOOF in Australia. For those not familiar with WWOOF, it is an acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Basically, you are given food and accommodations in exchange for farm labor. In addition, you are given a wealth of knowledge of how farms operate and how to incorporate sustainable practices into your daily life.

As someone whose experience is mainly in the corporate sector, me wanting to do this may come as a surprise. Especially because I own more handbags, shoes, and makeup than I can count – I am a “girly girl” who enjoys luxury and I don’t care who knows! However, I am deeply passionate about animals and would much prefer being in the country than in the city all the time. I also care about my environmental footprint and you will find me recycling everywhere I go. With a month away in Australia, I thought now would be the best time for me to take up the farming trade.

Side note: July and August are the winter months so I advise NOT coming in these months! I had little choice in the matter. 40-50F degree nights here aren’t bad to handle for a Bostonian like me though.

Now, let’s get to today’s activities:

Clean up wallaby poop. Someone has to clean them up! The poops are quite small but you have to develop an eye for them because they can blend in.

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I don’t mind cleaning up for these babies, especially since they are so cute and it’s so important to their health! Too much poop/bacterial exposure could cause fatal disease.

Prepare and weigh milk powder for baby kangaroos. With milk, it’s important to mention that kangaroos are lactose intolerant! If they have milk like we do, they will go blind. This special powder is similar in smell and texture to Similac that human moms use to feed babies, but is totally different!

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The babies are currently taking 500g per bottle feeding, so a scale is necessary to measure (bottom right below container).

Pick grass for wallaby’s. Small wallaby’s have milk like kangaroo’s but the older ones like to munch on yummy grass. I am to pick grass from the bush nearby, every day or two.

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Ruby is showing me how high she can stand. She is so sweet, but can be very naughty. She loves nibbling on my shoes.

Cuddle kangaroos. Since these babies are apart from their moms – they are either injured and/or orphaned at the farm – they mainly spend their days in a cloth pouch and held close. This mimics the pouch that mom kangaroos have. The babies who want to exit the pouch cannot walk properly and mainly rely on mom to keep them close.

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Not the best photo but earlier in the day when I took this, they still weren’t used to me. They are still learning my smell. You can tell how Jirra at left is in a little sack, cozy with pillows.

All in all, I learned a lot today about farm life and Australian wildlife care – much more than this post is covering. However, in the days ahead I hope to share some of the most exciting parts of this experience.

I will learn more about the wildlife on the farm which includes kangaroos, wallaby’s, chickens, a variety of birds including a a 65-year-old cockatoo, an echidna, platypus, and wombats. I will also learn about composting/how to create rich soil, and how to care for gardens.

I am very much outside of my comfort zone, but loving the lessons I am learning so far.

My Arrival to Australia

For this summer, I chose to spend a whole month in Australia! My mother is a native Australian who has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years (she met my dad at age 18 in Australia and quickly moved to the U.S. after they married). Both of my parents have told me that a visit to Australia requires more than a month to visit “properly.”

With everything there is to do in Australia and with the long flight, my parents insisted that I would need longer than a couple weeks. The problem…how would I ever be able to take this time off from work? Since I am in between jobs, now was the time to take this trip of a lifetime!

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Before an extremely long nap after my flight with Milo.

The trip to Australia from Boston is arduous – about 25 hours of time in the air, not including layover time. From the start, my flights with United Airlines were a disaster. My travel over included my itinerary changing, staying on the tarmac on a hot plane for hours, getting off said plan because it was on fire, missing a connection and spending a night in San Francisco, even a bomb square in my terminal.

My plane itself from LAX to Melbourne also didn’t have any TV’s working, or light to read (a 14 hour plane ride). Bottom line: things happen and sometimes everything that can go wrong will. Having a sense of humor is key.

After making it to Melbourne in the morning, I spend nearly a whole day sleeping, eating with family, and then going back to bed for the night. Even with sleeping on the plane, a voyage to Australia takes the life out of you. Luckily, I was had my uncle and his family waiting for me – along with their beautiful cats.

After spending a day resting up, I spent the following day going to local places that were relevant to my mom’s life. The highlight was the church where my parents got married in a town called Ascot Vale.

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In addition to light sightseeing, we indulged in a Melbourne favorite: coffee. Melbourne should really be the coffee capital of the world because cafe’s are everywhere!

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For the next month I will be covering more Melbourne highlights and gems from traveling, including coverage of exhibits and my life away exploring the Aussie countryside.

A Look Inside the Automobile and Fashion Museum

Every year, I obsess over the Met Gala in New York City and take a trip there every year to check out their latest fashion exhibit. I always thought that this would be the ultimate fashion experience but that all changed this month when I went to Museo Automovilístico y de la Moda (Automobile and Fashion Museum) in Málaga, Spain. With over 200 pieces of haute couture from over the ages, this museum will not disappoint!

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What set the exhibit apart is that alongside the fashion pieces were cars  from the same point in time. Cars and clothing both tell us so much about society – how we are advancing and how we are taking risks, for instance. Due to the pairing of cars and clothes, this exhibit is truly one-of-a-kind and you could pass hours learning about the exhibits.

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I believe this is a Benz used in a James Bond film. Check out the mannequin – can’t you imagine the driver wearing something like this? 

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This car was designed and painted by Sonia Delaunay, cofounder of the the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colors and geometric shapes.

Though these cars look better in person, they are truly unique. They had hundreds, many of historical significance and others of cultural importance, such as a psychedelic car driven by John Lennon. Moreover, they had cars driven by many Hollywood celebrities! However, my favorite part of the exhibit (despite loving cars and cars shows), was the fashion.

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Caught on camera by my boyfriend, in a room entirely dedicated to haute couture. 

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Fashion in the style of Doris Day. 

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This is one case of hats but there was an enormous room filled with hundreds of glamorous hats! It was one of my favorite rooms to explore. 

The fashion on display was completely break taking and these photos, as pretty as they may be, do not do the museum justice. The size of this museum and the quality of these pieces. I strongly believe there is something for everyone in this museum and you can learn more by going to their website: https://www.museoautomovilmalaga.com/en/

 

Impressions of Málaga

First stop in my travels this summer is Spain. It may sound adventurous but for me, Spain is my second home. My plan was to only go to new places but after comparing prices and considering that my boyfriend/travel companion had never been, I knew I wanted to show him where I have some of my best memories.

The last time I was visiting, about two years ago, I stayed in the north but this time around, I wanted to be in the south – in Andalusia. In my opinion, Andalusia, is where the Spanish culture and best cuisine is from. This bias stems from my experiences studying in Granada (in the south), where I first lived in Spain. There, they say that Andalusia is the heart of the country, and I believe it to be true.

Instead of going back to Granada, I chose to go to Málaga for the first stop in our Spanish tour. I have never been but in recent years, I hear that Málaga has really changed. They have invested in their museums and tourism has soared.

In total, I spent 5 nights in Málaga. Many have told me this is an excessive amount of time to stay in there but honestly, we had plenty to do. Spoiler alert: it is metropolitan but it is also on the beach.

Here are the top things to do when you are in Málaga:

Go to the Alcazaba. This is an ancient fortress and though the Alhambra in Granada is better, I repeat: this is an ancient fortress! We don’t have anything like this in the United States – not as old as in Europe, so this is a must. If you have the time also hike up the Castillo Gibralfaro (Gibralfaro Castle). The ancient fortress is directly adjacent to the castle so you can spend a day trekking back in time

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One view from inside the Alcazaba.
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Bring your walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. It looks like a leisurely walk up, but it was more a hike!

Head to the beach, known as Costa del Sol, or Playa de la Malagueta. It may look like any old beach from this photo, but it is cool to know that the beach is directly across from Africa. Alongside the beach, there is a lot of places to get food and refreshments.

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See the birthplace of Pablo Picasso or at least go to his museum. The French can claim Picasso all they want, but this city is where he is from so if you are an art buff, this is a must.

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See the Roman Theater. Before arriving to Málaga, I envisioned the Roman Theater being far away in the middle of nowhere. No, it is smack dab in the middle of the city, like the Colosseum in Rome. They light it up at night too so it is always stunning to see.

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El Pimpi. Also known as the restaurant owned by Antonio Banderas, I saw this covered on CBS Sunday Morning months ago and completely forgot about it. It is also is a few feet away from the Roman Theater (see #4). This isn’t any old bar, it is a sprawling restaurant that has is a hub spot for late-night drinks. What’s better: those drinks are GOOD. I don’t remember what I ordered but it was adorned with white chocolate on top. Yum. This is what my boyfriend ordered. Photo Jun 14, 6 39 28 PM

If you enjoy museums, reserve a block of time to go to them. If you aren’t into museums – I get it. I prefer to experience the culture of a country outdoors, without curation. However, Málaga has over 30 museums and likes to be known as a “City of Museums.” There really is something for everyone.

I know I mentioned the Picasso Museum but there are so many others (one on wine, another on flamenco, the list goes on…). If you have varied interests and hobbies, you might be surprised at what is offered for museums.

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At the Interactive Music Museum in Málaga.

I had an incredible time in Malaga and if you were to take a few days to visit, you would have plenty to do. From a walk along the beach, drinks at El Pimpi, or a hike up an ancient fortress, you too would make unforgettable memories!

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Whether you’re near or far from home this summer, happy exploring.

I Made a Big Decision

When I first started working for my current employer four years ago, I knew I wanted to be there long-term, growing a business I loved with a great team. I got to do just that and I am so grateful for those years. In the back of my head though, I frequently reflected on my time living in Europe and how one day, I wanted to not just travel, but to spend an extended period abroad.

You see – I have never been one to sit around in a resort. I love to learn new languages and learn about different cultures. Fast forward to present, I realized that now is the time to do this. I wanted to do this especially because I am about to begin another graduate program – an MBA.

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I am no stronger to new adventures. This is me, on a week-long volunteer trip in Germany back in 2016.

Not even a month ago, I graduated with my Master’s in English (which I covered in my last post). I had loved going to school while working full-time but the thought of doing another two-year program while working full-time made me overwhelmed. This led me to make the difficult decision to resign from my job. This week is my final week and the feeling is bittersweet. Change is scary! But I feel like years from now, I am going to look back and be happy that I chose this path.

Not everyone is in the position to quit their job, to travel, or to even go to school. I know I am in a position of privilege and a part of me is motivated because I am aware of the position I am in. However, I worked a lot and I planned a lot and am proud of that. My goal is to continue to give back to my local community so that more people are in the position to make similar choices.

In the meantime, I am taking prerequisites before business schools begins in August – statistics, macroeconomics, and microeconomics. Wish me luck!

I’ll share where I am in the world soon, as well as more on my MBA program and my move to another state for school.

If you could take a gap from work, where would you go and what would you do? Staying local is an option. 

I Got an M.A. in English: Some Things I Learned

This month I graduated with my Masters in English. I have been doing this for the past two years, studying part-time while working full-time. Even when I was tired from studying after work, I never complained because I knew I was lucky to be able to study what I love. However, it was not an easy path to get here. I dropped out of law school years before and felt like a total failure – even though I knew I was making the right choice. After years of work and life experience, I surprised myself by doing this program but I am glad I did. Image-1

Here are a few topics I loved exploring:

  1. What makes classic literature so classic? There is a lot of literary theory and we can mainly boil it down to there being a certain type of “taste” that society looks towards. In the end though, there are many books that are not “classics” but very well could have been. We may also  be surprised by the classics of tomorrow.
  2. There are many voices missing from literature. Namely, there is a lack of Black people and other races in literature. However, technology is leading the shift in addressing this. For instance, anyone can blog or tweet. However, so much more needs to be done to promote writing by people who do not fit a stereotypical profile.
  3. Massachusetts is a literary hub. I’m from MA and I have gone to school in MA but do you know what I have failed to appreciate all my life? Most of the famous writers in U.S. history are from here. I never appreciated this as much as I do now. You can complete any M.A. English program across the world and I guarantee you will be offered one American Literature class focused on our writers.
  4. There is an intersection between literature and coding. Yes, coding. As mentioned above, technology is taking the literary world by storm. Many scholars are using the online world to create digital spaces where scholarship on lesser known topics can exist, such as research on African American migration over the centuries. It has never been easier to share this type of research and due to the increased demand, many scholars adapt by learning code.

Of course, there is plenty more that was covered in my classes and these descriptions are barely the tip of the iceberg. Still, they were the topics that made me think the longest. By being engaged with these topics, I think it inspired me to think more creatively. It gave me more confidence while copywriting at work. Whether or not you have the opportunity to get a degree, I think working hard and always learning will help you get to where you want to be.

Arts Majors Can Make it Big!

I had an encounter today that inspired me to write this post. I recently applied to a part-time business school and received a letter in return that stated, “Based on your undergraduate coursework, we don’t believe you have the necessary skills required to do well in an MBA program.” You can believe I was deflated, but for multiple reasons.

Firstly, I have had 7 years work experience in the corporate sector managing publications and making important business decisions on the daily. In other words, I don’t agree with them. Secondly, this only mentions my undergraduate degree (I’m finishing a master’s now), which is in English. Nowadays, MBA programs are designed for people of all backgrounds and people go to business school to acquire…business skills. A part of me feels like I am not being reviewed fairly because of my B.A. in English. However, sometimes what people study as an undergrad does not align with what they do today. In fact, I feel like that is more the norm!

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Ironically, I frequently am asked to speak at university panels about the success of humanities students in the business realm. This is perhaps my favorite topic to discuss because I am living proof that you can be a creative and make it in business – you can even thrive!

All in all, this is one story of one school not looking at me holistically but it makes me wonder: how many people out there are feeling pigeon-holed because they have an arts degree and never thought they could use it? Or how many people get rejections like mine and assume they made a terrible decision with their degree choice?  I am sure I am not the only one being judged, and it’s up to us to break the status quo. Let’s show them (whoever “they” are), that we are more than our degrees!

Let’s live our lives creatively and with exuberance. Whether you want to be a car mechanic, fiddler, or business executive, put your whole heart into it and don’t ever let what people think of you hold you back.