Worth a Shot
Posted on August 13, 2021 Leave a Comment
Well it’s finally over. After 17 months of visa applications, calls to airlines, pleading with immigration, medical tests, up until 3am working or fighting with my property manager, interviews with press from all over the world, and all the breakdowns in between – we’ve come to an end. My position was no longer feasible as a remote option and with the end of my professional relationship in Sydney, comes the cancellation of my PR application. It was never opened, but it was worth a shot.
When I moved to Sydney in September 2013 the plan was for 6 months, “a year tops” I told my parents when I got on the plane. As that year drew closer, I realized I didn’t want to go back yet – my heart hurt thinking of leaving all this behind that I had just figured out. Even though I tackled everything alone in the beginning; I was determined to make it work. And 7 years on I’m so proud to say I built it: with the help of friends, coworkers, random roommates, au pair families, and one ridiculous dog who changed my life.
I documented that first year here – and also in a private daily journal. I wish I’d kept up with it so I could remember every last person and spontaneous adventure I had – swimming with turtles at the great barrier reef, wine tasting in Tasmania, launching a new Mercedes-Benz model in New Zealand, 6am wake ups to go swimming before work, my roommates and irreplaceable friends from all over the world who taught me things I would have never learned otherwise. I went out on weekdays and celebrated every birthday like it was a “big birthday” (ALL BIRTHDAYS ARE IMPORTANT I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL) and because of that I can say I truly squeezed every last drop out of my time there. I was broke all the time but I had so much fun and I never missed out.
It was worth a shot.
The next steps feel eerily familiar to my time as a fresh graduate – start over. Find a job, buy a car, move out, get your dog. Except I’m not 22, I’m 30 this time. The whole thing feels relatively embarrassing, even though I know it shouldn’t. I didn’t chose for this to happen and I pushed back for over a year to stop it, but sometimes the decision isn’t yours – it’s someone else’s. So here we are.
It was worth a shot.
Thank you to everyone who has supported and helped me across 3 different countries:
- moving my ENTIRE house in Sydney
- Therapists in Melbourne (professional and amateur)
- Emotional support and new Chiefs fans in Vancouver and Quebec
- Friends in Seattle, Boston, New York, Denver, Detroit, and LA who let me come and spend a weekend with them to keep my mind off things
- Everyone in Kansas City who has let me crash at their house, eat their food, play with their dogs and listened to me vent
It’s hard to switch your life entirely – long distance friends become in-person, roommates are now 9,000 miles away, and nobody knows exactly how to handle it. Lets all cut ourselves some slack – I’m still learning how to re-navigate on the right side of the road, the wrong side of the equator, and the surprise life switch that I never planned for. I’m in Kansas for the forseeable future, but never say forever.
It is worth a shot.
I’ll never forget
Posted on April 2, 2020 Leave a Comment
I’ll never forget what it felt like to be left behind. Imagine a 7 year relationship, you each give and take – work hard to keep it going, and one day you go out to run some errands and return to find you’re locked out, you’ve lost your income, or even worse – you’re now locked out of your hospital in a time of need.
This is the life that temporary residents are living. Visa holders range from backpackers and tourists, to long-time residents with homes, children, jobs, pets, and lives in their community. We pay our taxes, bolster the economy, and move about our lives like the rest of Australia, and we do it without the support system of family, hometowns, etc.
When tragedy strikes, we’re ignored by the government. The most isolated residents are left to once again fend for themselves. Government assistance packages like Jobseeker and Job keeper payments aren’t available for temporary residents. People below the poverty line on these visas are not eligible for Centrelink (Welfare) payments. Sponsored and Training Visas not allowed to get another job to help supplement their income. The money is simply gone, and there is no way to replace it.
For those of us who went to visit to their native countries before the madness ensued, to see family or friends that we are forced to live without the rest of the year – we’re locked out. The border closure announcement was made with 24 hours notice, and flights just couldn’t get back in time.
The government offers an appeals process for visa holders who need to be let in for “compassionate or compelling” reasons – but it’s unclear what (if any) those reasons are, as Temporary Residents are being denied for reasons that seem to instill compassion in most people. Applications are denied despite evidence from a public hospital doctor – describing the urgency of an upcoming procedure. They’re denied for those with jobs that can’t be done remotely, animals left without care, leases on houses they can no longer afford or move out of, and more.
Perhaps the worst part is the uncertainty that lies in this twilight zone of survival. My phone no longer goes on do-not-disturb at night. I stay up until 2-4am to be on Aus answering hours in case I get an email from immigration and need to book a flight (the border closure announcement came at 2am my time). After I do fall asleep, I wake up every 30 min to check my phone, or every time it buzzes – in case it’s a news alert.
There are limitations obviously – the virus is real, borders need to be limited, and quarantines imposed for those returning. Financial support should not be taken advantage of or doled out to those who don’t need it, but to ignore temporary residents altogether – is a cruelty I never expected to experience in Australia.
We’ll never forget what it felt like – to have our hearts broken by the one thing we thought we could count on, our home.
If you’re interested in helping, here are some things you can do:
If you reside in AUS: Write to your MP and express to them that temporary residents should be given access to the border (as long as they hold an existing visa)
No matter where you are: Sign this petition to help temporary residents gain access to the jobseeker payments (Note: in New Zealand, all residents are granted access to government assistance)
Everyone: Don’t forget to check on your Temporary Resident friends and neighbours (from 6 feet away). Some of them will need help with pets, house upkeep, or in what is becoming a very real scenario – packing their things and moving out so they don’t have to pay rent on an empty property.
My Heroes are Problematic
Posted on March 8, 2019 Leave a Comment
#BalanceforBetter is the theme of International Women’s Day this year, and although it refers to the Balance between Men and Women in the workplace, the home, relationships and more – I’m taking it as a chance to dive into the balance we should all look for, when we’re looking up to someone.
The people we grew up watching and admiring, might not be even half as popular if they’d come into the spotlight today – but does that mean we throw out anything and everything we’ve learned from them? In reality, it’s more important to recognize the good and bad in those we aspire to be – separating what we want to take for ourselves, and what we’re leaving behind.
Osa Johnson and I have the most crossover in our life venn diagrams, of any of my heroes. We were both born and raised in Kansas, and ended up traveling the world – places further away than many of our peers would ever dare to go. Osa was interested in the new media of the time – Film.
She and her husband traveled to Africa and the South Pacific to capture wildlife on film that had rarely been seen by the general public in stills, let alone motion pictures. What started as an I’ll follow this guy anywhere attitude (“I went to Africa with Martin for just the same reason that lots of girls settled down on Main street back home—just to be with my husband.”) turned into a true and equal partnership of production. “I can grind a movie camera as well as any man,” she told the press – and that she did.
Their films were wildly successful and as a result they produced and shot more than 10, released over the next 15 years. Osa was also a writer, and wrote 6 stories for children and 4 memoirs – including “I Married Adventure” the book jacket of which has since become a Clutch, trinket tray, iPhone case, and notebook for Kate Spade.
But Osa was also an expert marksman (not my style) and felt most at home with a rifle over her back. She also often gave different comments to publications like “Good Housekeeping” than she did to the film industry. In one piece for Photoplay, she said “Yes, I always had my vanity bag handy, even in the jungle—everybody knows what an American husband thinks of a shiny nose” (DEAR GOD WHAT DO THEY THINK?!)
And while their films did wonders for expanding the knowledge of African wildlife and animals, they also exploited frowned upon conventions of early ethnographic filmmaking (a la Nanook of the North). Obviously not a practice I endorse.
When she and her husband were in a tragic plane accident, Osa survived and went on to give countless lectures and tours in her wheelchair. After regaining strength in her legs, she lead an expedition for 20th Centry Fox in Africa to film the “safari scenes” for Stanley and Livingstone (1939). The same year, the Los Angeles Times called her “the first woman ever to take the entire responsibility of an African expedition”. After she returned, she launched a line of – wait for it – “designer active wear” and also a stuffed animal line for her children’s book. She produced and starred in a film based off her own Memoir.
Surprisingly, I think about Osa more than you would expect. She comes to mind when I hear women my age respond to overseas travel as “impossible”, when I feel the pressure to pick one career path and know exactly where it’s going to be in a year, and I did think of her when I first saw the Wildest Dreams music video (although her husband did not resemble Scott Eastwood).
I’m taking the good parts of her, and I’m not forgetting the bad either – respect for our fellow women (the unnecessary need to take nose powder into the jungle), our fellow humans (the indigenous people who were here first), and our fellow animals (the cheetah did not need to be a pet) are all so important to me.
Yes, your heroes might also have flaws (a balance is necessary, lets remove Chris Brown from any hero lists, please), but I think that’s what makes them human. Takes them down a notch from legends or gods, and instead leaves them as a true hero.
Girl Gangs Raised Me
Posted on March 6, 2018 2 Comments
Like Mowgli (in attitude and haircut alike), I grew up in a Wolf Pack.
Surrounded by strong, fascinating women from a young age, my Mom always brought her 3 best friends around. They’d been tighter-than-ever since college, and I always expected that I would turn out the same. Other girls didn’t mention their many fairy godmothers, but I always had mine. My grandmothers were the opposite of one another – the hoarder, the cleaner, the fighter, the traditionalist. Both creative and strong in their opinions, I watched them both truly flourish living on their own, when their men were gone.
Perhaps that was why all my friends as a kid were girls – or maybe it was that I still thought they had cooties – most likely the reason was my beatles-esque haircut, which made me look like an actual boy… but I digress.
Later my passion shifted to dance, where I learned that it’s ok not to be the best one in the room. I also learned you could push yourself to get pretty damn close. I gained a tribe with passion, one that thrived on a shared love of expressing ourselves without having to speak or sing in front of the crowds. I saw similar groups forming in my music and photography circles. We were running on the same waves of energy – entering tired but ready to go, leaving exhausted and sometimes frustrated but hungry for more. My mom jokingly called it a “cult” because of our always matching outfits and insane practice hours (did I ever really get up at 5am every day?! This does not seem possible). Looking back, I miss dance more than I could ever love the snooze button.
The coaches I had along the way reminded us to soak it all in, and enjoy the ride. They also ensured that we wouldn’t crash – but isn’t that what all our coaches are for? We looked up to the older girls, who looked up to them – we set aside characteristics to save for later, watched their worlds grow, and let them into ours.
When I graduated, I was afraid I’d never be that close with a group of girls again. I went into greek life with major doubts, my mom and grandmothers’ best friends from those worlds were the only convincing I had. It was hard at first, I’d grown up going to school with people I’d known for 13 years. These ladies were brand new.
They were different from me, they came from different places, different backgrounds, different experiences (some of their parents let them have cable, ugh). Unlike my dancing friends, these girls helped me explore new loves, different fields of study, expressions of creativity, languages, and in some cases – food (Thank you Lauren, for Sushi).
I’d never lived with anyone but my parents (and one tragically horrific pot-luck roommate, not all girls are awesome), and these girls took me in, let me sleep on their assortment of foutons, edited my papers, listened to my stories of a haphazard love life, drove me across the country, and saved my ass on more than one occasion. I’ve now lived with all girls, all guys, a mix – and they all have their drawbacks (assorted types of hair in the bathroom included), but as crazy as it sounds: I would live with those 75 girls again today.
I also somehow forced the girls at Sellards, a scholarship hall on campus – to let me join their exclusive parties and summer shenanigans. We were our very own lioness pride, always on the hunt for something new – always providing (beer and pizza) for the boys. They are some of the most brilliant women I’ve ever met and I’m honored they let me squeeze in.
I never considered studying or living abroad until I watched multiple girls from KU do it. They came back with stories and more than that, a glow about them. They had a new light ready to beam all over the world (some in a strobe pattern – I’m looking at you, Raging Rachel). It was my inspiring girlfriends who explored and lived in places like Nicaragua, Argentina, Ireland, England and more – who inspired me to try a new hemisphere.
My down under women took a little longer to assemble. Meeting new chicks in a new city is hard, especially when you’re not living with 75 of them. However, I can confidently say that the garlic-loving, man-protesting, business smashing group out here is well worth the wait. We stand up for each other when we’re far from home, we travel the world together, and we teach each other things every day.
I love all my girl gangs for different reasons, and they’re all full of brave, incredible women. They’ve pushed and pulled and hugged me into the woman I am today. So here’s to you, Girl Gangs- may we always be a part of each other.
Concrete Timelines & Why I Don’t Need Them
Posted on June 13, 2016 1 Comment
“When are you coming home?”
My favorite question, hurled at me with only the best intentions, no less than 4 times a day every time I visit my hometown. The people who ask this question are not doing it to question my motives, or insult the lifestyle I’ve chosen. It’s often accompanied with a mystified look or purely confused inflection in their tone.
The question for me comes with expectations garnered from years of tradition. You can take a vacation, sure. Study abroad for a semester, maybe. Are you moving for a job, or a partner? All acceptable but not encouraged.
But to live in a world with no solidified timelines? It’s a concept completely foreign in all senses of the word. The expectation that your return “home” is imminent, and the idea that you may have formed a new kind of home somewhere else will flip minds, tables, people – all over the place.
To be settled and have a partner, and your dream job, and the mortgage – these are all accomplishments not to be belittled. However, we have to start assigning this same amount of pride and achievement to those who don’t have their timelines set in stone. I could move back in 6 months, or it could be 6 years. But until then, this is home. These people are home, this sunset and these completely different constellations mark where I feel like I belong.
To answer your question, “I don’t know when I’m coming back.” But I also won’t feel guilty about not having a timeline.
Second Aussieversary: Peanut Butter not Provided
Posted on September 8, 2015 Leave a Comment
My life in Sydney is now officially a toddler. No more counting my time in Oz in Months – I’ve reached the big time.
Compared to the 6 month mark and 1 year milestones, this one seems a bit more grown up. It’s been less about finding myself and more about keeping that persona alive. Before I said I was “just hitting my stride,” and now I’m working to keep up with the (sometimes) manic pace I set for myself.
More than anything, this year was about learning. Living entirely on my own means there’s no Peanut Butter provided. Even the basics need to be figured out. Unlike living in The Brick House, 1600 Oxford, or my Host Family’s houses, there aren’t any leftovers there to start with. Pens, Cotton Balls, Maple Syrup, Band-aids (“plasters”) all of it has to be brought in on your own. I’ve learned that Sydney Winter does not make for a motivated Katie. It involves a lot of time inside trying to time your laundry so it can dry on days it isn’t raining. I learned that some hangovers take 2 days to get over, that avocados go bad at exactly the wrong time, that stamps are expensive, and online shopping is an epidemic.
Recently a friend sent me a message asking about following your dreams and “making the big leap.” This was my response:
You know, it’s hard to explain the dichotomy between being at home and living at home. Kansas has a way about making you feel like you’re in an episode of Cheers or something, “where everybody knows your name,” but it also means that nothing is truly “new” for you. Everything has a history, and I often found myself working so hard to find out how not to repeat it-or how to keep it going- that I wasn’t making decisions that were truly right for me. That’s why, for me, moving somewhere completely new, completely mine, completely fresh was important.
You can change your life if you want. It might not be exactly what your parents had in mind, and it will definitely be hard- but at least you can say you tried. I’ll never wonder woulda-coulda-shoulda, because I know.
I know, because my 2015 was better than I ever could have expected:
It started with a bang, moving in with the best housemates I could have asked for, Luke & Sim. They’ve both been so much more than I could have ever expected. BFFs on their own, they could have easily done their own thing and said hello when we crossed paths. Instead, they introduced me to their soccer team, connected me with job opportunities, and made my birthday special and full of serenades. I will forever be grateful to these two for listening to my rambling about Boys, Baseball, and BBQ.
I spent this entire year working at my sponsored job, no more Au Pairing for me! I saw a big increase in paycheck size, immediately followed by all of that money draining out of my bank account for rent in the most expensive country in the world, health insurance, gym membership, a phone contract, and way too many Ubers. Still figuring out how not to wind up eating the “rice and eggs diet” starting around the 26th…
This year also brought not one, not two, but three beautiful friends out to visit me.
Hannah & Kristin flew out to see me in March, and I finally got to show off my world here to the people who shared my Lawrence world with me. We may have replaced Football tailgates with Rugby Games, and Lake Trips with Gordon’s Bay – but that BFF feeling remains the same. So much love to these girls for sacrificing their Spring Break/Vacation Days to come see me. One month later, Matt flew out (free of charge) and took me up on my offer for free beer. Even though it ended up being the week of the Sydney Storm and subsequent Umbrellapocalypse, we managed to fit in Beach Walks, A Cheeky Trip to Cairns, Horse Races, and an impressive amount of Jack Daniels. I’ve had a few more friends allude to a visit in the upcoming year – see Hannah, Kristin, and Matt for references!
So cheers to two years! I’ve been on Three Different Visas, survived a full-time job and house-hunt. I’ve been up to Cairns again
and down to Melbourne for the first time. I said goodbye to some of my best friends and brought some new ones into my life as well. This next year will be filled with more of the same: Trips to the races, 4 more weddings on the books already, some more trips up to Cairns, and too many Beach Days to count; what I’m really hoping for is a year full of even more “firsts.” Those are what keeps my life down under different, they’re the reason I’m still in love with Sydney.
Posted on May 21, 2015 Leave a Comment
10 Stretchy Headbands because there’s 10 Days left to Kansas
Big Kid Graduation
Posted on May 17, 2015 1 Comment
Two years out and the world is spinning exponentially quicker than when we walked down the hill.
Those little baby alphas who I taught about Derby Days and showed how to pour a Shark Attack? They’re graduating. They’re moving tassels from one side to another, finishing campaigns, and done with Jewel Degree.
My friends who moved away for Grad School, they’re finishing up and wearing different colored gowns – still Jayhawks at heart.
As i scrolled and swiped through the weekend of graduations, I noticed a difference from the cap-decoration spam last year. There was a shift from those completing their victory lap 5th year, to friends graduating from Law School, Pharmacy School, and Occupational Therapy degrees. My friends are becoming those adults who have post-nominal letters tacked on. They’re turning into Doctors, Lawyers, and contributing members of society. My friends have master’s degrees- MASTER’S.
I’m so proud of all my friends who finished their degrees and
accomplished exceeded their goals this weekend. So much of me wishes I could have been there to cheer each of them on. Trying to explain the graduation traditions at KU can be challenging at times, because the pictures never quite do it justice. “The walk down the hill is like the tunnel you ran through after your first-grade soccer games,” I told a friend. Everyone’s cheering you on – not just your own family, but everyone on the way down.
Rest assured that I love bragging on all of you to everyone over here. “My roommate Kay once memorized 200 drug names and uses,” I told my housemates. “Dylan graduated law school at 25. He’s going to make the best lawyer; one with a conscience.” I showed them the picture Kelly took as I walked down the hill arm in arm with my best friends in 2013. It’s my favorite picture from the whole weekend. “Kelly is graduating this weekend too, she’s so talented and has the biggest heart.” I try to keep the ADPi chat to a minimum because my male housemates are probably getting sick of it by now, but I pause at Kathleen & Jackie’s picture “These two are going to run the world one day, heaven help us all.” The list goes on “Lucy already got into KU Med, but she’s deferring for a year to go to Costa Rica because she’s a bad ass.” I point out Subha on my insta-feed as well “Everyone loves Subha- I know this because she has a snapchat score over 180,000.”
We’re in the big-kid world now, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. When I go home next month I’ll be watching not two, but four of my friends walk down the aisle. I’ll be celebrating Drew’s 21st (Godspeed), and visiting friends who I haven’t seen in two years but used to see every single day. We haven’t quite reached that period of christmas newsletters and school reunions, but we’re becoming more and more removed from our little LFK bubble.
So I’m raising a glass to each of you – those walking (or stumbling) down the Hill, those already in the real world and molding future Jayhawks (shout out to the OTown teaches), those finishing up grad school and people who like me are working their way through the first full-time job after “Uni” (see, I’m adapting to my surroundings).You did it! We did it! And none of us could have done it without the others. Rock Chalk my forever Jayhawks.
Monday Morning Bus Jam: Week of April 27, 2015
Posted on April 27, 2015 Leave a Comment
So precious! Gets cuter as it goes 🙂
Monday Morning Bus Jam: Week of March 30, 2015
Posted on March 29, 2015 Leave a Comment
“Katie you’re the reason”