Australia Chuckles

Job hunting Down Under

When we arrived in Aus I pictured myself popping along to a recruitment agency one morning and leaving half an hour later with an amazing, well-paid, career-enhancing job. Alas this was not the case.

Instead I found myself filling each day by applying for dozens of jobs, some of them questionable, and speaking to a multitude of recruitment agents (none of whom were Australian, which made me think that perhaps the answer was to become a recruitment agent myself).

Three job hunting experiences stand out in particular:

  1. UnSUITed
  2. Crazy advertising company
  3. Worst job in the world?

1. UnSUITed

This interview was for a big role at an interesting arts organisation. I did heaps and heaps of preparation beforehand and felt like I really knew my stuff. (Unfortunately I had discovered from their annual reports that they were in dire financial straits, but I was still excited about the opportunity!) I arrived completely drenched thanks to a torrential down-pour, but tried my best to sort myself out while I waited for my turn. The interview seemed to go ok-ish – I answered every question to the best of my ability while also realising they were looking for a candidate who probably did not exist. I don’t know many people who are experts in four very different disciplines – corporate fundraising, marketing, stakeholder relationship management and html! Anyway, I left feeling mentally exhausted (and still damp) and waited to hear back from the recruitment agent.

The next day I heard that they interviewers were impressed with how I’d interviewed, but that they weren’t giving the job to any of the candidates as they hadn’t been able to find the right person. This didn’t surprise me at all, but the next comment did. Apparently they didn’t think I was dressed ‘corporately enough’ for the interview. I was wearing a purple silk dress, dark tights, heels and a black jacket – quite possibly the smartest I have ever looked ever. I couldn’t help but think that I had dressed just right for an arts organisation interview, and I will continue to think that until the day I die. But in reality, if they wanted the successful candidate to wear power suits everyday for big meetings with corporate partners, it really wasn’t the right job for me anyway!

2. Crazy advertising company

I had applied for an internship at a new company (or a start-up, if you will) whose innovative idea was to place advertising on plastic water bottles. The bottles would be given out for free to young, trendy people at young, trendy places – paid for by the advertisers. First of all I had a trial day at their small shared office space in Fitzroy. I felt self-conscious as soon as I walked in the door, what with being a 30 year old intern and all. This was only compounded when I realised I had more work experience than the founders! I was surrounded by other interns who had been born in the 90s – the 90s! – and I felt completely out of place. The morning was slow to get started because the founder who would be managing us was running late. So I busied myself by spotting typos in the media kit.

We had lunch at an uber-cool bar on Brunswick Street, in a curiously decorated upstairs room (yellow swirls on the walls and patterned fabrics everywhere). One of the cool young interns commented “Its like tripping on acid”. All I could think was “I really wouldn’t know about that. I prefer to sit down of a evening with a cup of lemon and ginger tea.”. After that we went back to the office and listened to a cool internet radio station (playing music from bands I’d never heard of) while we worked. I was editing a press release, while at the same time emailing my press officer friend back in the UK to ask How do you write a press release? I went home at the end of the day feeling old and a strange mixture of Too Experienced and Not Experienced Enough. The start-up then moved offices so I couldn’t go in for my second trial day (sigh of relief), and in fact I never went back!

3. Worst job in the world?

I’d applied for the job of ‘Marketer’ at an organisation that was something to do with helping job-seekers back into employment. That seemed like a nice thing to do, I thought to myself. As I studied their website before the interview two things struck me: 1) I don’t actually really understand what this company does; and 2) I wonder if the job involves sorting out their website because this is a mess! The interview was at a hotel right by Melbourne airport, so after two trams and an expensive airport bus, I arrived. The interviewers were lovely – two bubbly women who made me feel totally at ease. It turned out the job was about helping job-seekers market themselves – teaching them how to sell themselves in applications and at interviews, and then driving around to local businesses to try to find them work. I think I managed a poker face when I found this out, but inside I was thinking “this is the worst job in the world and I would hate it!”

I left thinking how awkward it would be if they offered me the job. How do you say “I’m sorry but I had no idea what the job was about before the interview, and then when I found out I pretended it would be great for me and I’d love to do it, but in actual fact I can’t think of anything worse.” Luckily someone else got the job so I was spared that conversation!

Then finally, at long last, I had a good interview experience. It was for a job I actually wanted, working for an interesting, innovative company with interesting, innovative people. The interview was on a 40 degree day in December – not the best weather for trying to come across as calm, cool and collected! But it went really well and I start on Monday!

The job is part marketing (email and social media) and part graphic design, so it’s a chance to develop my existing skills while also trying something new. This is exactly what I was looking for in an Aussie job. Yay!



I hate running

One of my least favourite things in the world is running. I really hate doing it. I wish it had never been invented.

I only do it because it’s free exercise and without it I would be even curvier than I already am.

My guilty conscience is telling me that I need to go on a run today – it’s been a few days since I last exercised, and it’s going to be too hot later in the week (35 degrees!) to even contemplate any outdoor exertion. So it has to be today.

But it’s so hard to make myself go, because I know what will happen. Within minutes my face will be so red and sweaty that it’ll look like I’ve been stewed. My running style will be so bad that other runners will look at me with a mixture of pity and disgust. Members of the public will wonder why anyone ever goes running when I make it look so hard.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this selfie, taken just after my last run:

Emma after running
Emma after running

That run was only 3.5 miles (and was very slow because I can never run fast, even when I’m being chased) – yet my face is drenched in sweat, I’m red as a beetroot, and there’s a blister on my foot.

I know today’s run won’t be any better.

I’m really dreading going.

Maybe I just won’t go?

No one’s making me.

I’m not training for anything.

I could just not go 🙂



Believe it or not, I did actually go running after all that! First of all I put on my running clothes, then I wandered around a bit saying ‘I don’t want to go running’ and trying to decide if I had a sore throat and/or leg. But then, in the words of Nike (sort of), I ‘just did it’.

And miraculously, it wasn’t as bad as I dreaded it would be!

Australia Chuckles Review

I love Neighbours (and I’m not ashamed to admit it)

Scott and Charlene
Scott and Charlene

It’s a well-known fact that the Aussie soap Neighbours has always been more popular in the UK than in Australia. Scott and Charlene’s wedding was watched by more than 20 million viewers when it aired in the UK in 1988. In the same year the entire population of Australia was only about 16.5 million people. So there were more UK Neighbours fans than inhabitants of the country who made it!

It’s kind of similar to what I choose to call the Hasselhoff Dilemma – the people of Germany have nothing but love and admiration for actor and musician David Hasselhoff, while his fellow Americans just aren’t really that bothered.

25 years later the UK is still big on Neighbours. They show it no less than 6 times a day – twice on Channel 5, twice on 5* and twice on 5* +1. And nearly everyone I speak to has watched it at some point in their lives – usually as a teen or while at uni. Plus there’s a brilliant and hilarious ‘Art of Neighbours’ group on Facebook, made up of dedicated fans who love to post about each episode and poke fun at some of the dafter story lines.

In comparison, new episodes of the show are only on once a day (once!) in Aus, and they can’t even be bothered to merge all the episodes into one programme for the Sunday omnibus – so you get the viewing pleasure of 5 sets of opening and closing credits.

But Aussies don’t care that there aren’t many chances to catch Neighbours because hardly any of them actually watch it! It seems to be their embarrassing relation that no one talks about, and whenever I admit to watching it I get a look of pity and the hint of a suggestion that I should see myself as a pathetic loser.

But the truth is, I love Neighbours, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve been watching it for about 26 years, and I’m not planning on stopping! It’s entertaining, with some great characters, and some I love to hate. It can make me laugh, cry and shout at the tv, all in one episode. Plus I don’t smoke, take drugs, or drink much, so as far as vices go, this one is pretty harmless!

In fact seeing as I’m in Australia for a year at the moment, I might make it my mission to get more Aussies to appreciate this fantastic show that they’ve so kindly given to the world. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck…!

Australia Chuckles

Australia and the UK: an early comparison

We’ve been in Melbourne for a week now and it’s been awesome so far. We’ve explored St Kilda and checked out the CBD, and today we moved across the city to our new home in Brunswick.

A home away from home
A home away from home

Before we came here someone told us Melbourne is ‘the London of Australia’ – and judging by how quickly we’ve settled in they could be right. Everything is strangely familiar (including the street names!), and the tram system is so user-friendly that even I have managed to navigate around the city with ease!

I’ve already slipped into some of my UK bad habits – like planning to go for a run, and even laying out my running gear the night before so it’s all ready for me, yet somehow not actually going after all! I’ve also continued to watch Neighbours and managed to fit in a good few afternoon naps.

Alex is also much the same, except he’s chosen to eat soup twice, whereas UK Alex usually avoids soup altogether.

There are plenty of differences too – like the cost of internet packages, clothes and eating out. And it’s not just eating out – our first supermarket shop cost $75 (about £45) and we reckoned we could have bought the same stuff in Britain for closer to £30. And for some reason TV shows and films seem to start on the half hour, rather than on the hour – madness!

And last week we stumbled upon a real life house auction, which took place on the street right outside the house and involved last minute bids and all sorts of drama – just like on Neighbours! With all the auctions going on we could probably hit a new one every weekend. This is the sort of free entertainment you just don’t find in London!


So all in all we love this place. The people we’ve met have been incredibly friendly, the food has been delicious, and tonight we’re going to the theatre for free courtesy of our last Airbnb host! Plus the tram system really is excellent (and actually cheaper than Oyster prices in London), and they seem to sell pancakes and milkshakes everywhere. What more could you ask for?


The perils of having too much power

Just a quick blog post today, but I can’t resist sharing this!

On Saturday it was the annual Wood Street Village Show, a day of children’s races, a car boot sale, food and drink stalls, and most importantly, the judging of various food, drink and art exhibits.

My favourite comment from the judges was this one:

Read the rules!
Read the rules!

In case you can’t read the comment, it says:

The best marmalade on the table today but:

1st prize withheld because

– you have used a trade jar (see rules p 3)

– jar a little underfilled

– give full date of making (see rules p 3).

Fancy finding the best marmalade of the day but deciding to withhold 1st prize for such trivial reasons! Those are surely the words of someone with too much power!