Why I am voting YES in the upcoming SSM survey

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I had one of those moments this weekend – you know, where you see a cute guy walking down the street and all these images start racing through your mind – the wedding, the marriage, how our future kids will look like. Or thinking about my past relationships and how I’d fantasise about my future – married, raising beautiful brown children in a beautiful house in suburban Sydney. It has dawned on me that it is such a privilege to be in this position as a straight Australian woman, that I have the opportunity to have my (future) marriage legally recognized and socially accepted.

Unfortunately many friends, loved ones and thousands of other Australians are denied this right. For those outside of Australia – we are now subject to a nationwide debate on whether or not marriage between two people of the same sex should be recognized by law. The Australian government will be spending $122 million on a non-binding survey (i.e. even with a resounding YES outcome, changing the definition of legal marriage may still not be passed through parliament). We have the loud and proud YES voters, and an equally visible group of NO voters. What I am afraid of is this silent majority. We saw it with the election of Donald Trump and Brexit – and I am afraid that we will bear the same fate.

What does make me faithful is that I just came home from the biggest Marriage Equality Rally in Australia to date – with sources stating that up to 40,000 people marching in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters (and our other gender fluid friends), rallying for everyone to VOTE YES. I encourage everyone to participate in this survey (and vote yes) – and if you are on the fence or have decided that you don’t want to vote… or even if you are a no voter – I’d be more than happy for you to send me a message so we can have a chat.

As a summary – here’s why I’ll be voting YES in the upcoming Marriage Equality survey and some of the counter arguments of the ‘no’ campaign:

Separation of Church and State

Firstly, I think people need to understand that we are rallying to have same-sex marriage to be recognized in a legal sense. There is a clear difference between a religious marriage and civil marriage. As a secular country, we must understand this clear definition.

What would Jesus do…

I’ve been hearing a lot of Bible quoting, and disclaimer here – I am not well versed on the Bible or theology nor am I a particularly religious person. But what I do remember being raised in a Catholic home is that Jesus was cool af and he loved everyone, regardless! What happened to loving thy neighbor and not judging others? And all of the anti-gay rhetoric – doesn’t that all come from the Old Testament where they advocate for things like slavery and beating your wife if she disobeys you? (I apologise for not having quoted sources here – I would, but I don’t have enough time to trawl through Google)

**edit to above: should read that parts of the Old Testament have been used to justify actions such as wife-beating and slavery.

What is ‘traditional marriage’ anyway?

The concept of marriage is not owned by any religion. Marriage predates most major religions anyway! ‘Traditionally’ marriage was an economic exchange between families – where daughters were essentially being ‘sold’ to other families. Back in the day the age of consent for a woman to get married was 12 years old. And what about interracial marriage? That was ‘traditionally’ unacceptable and deemed unnatural. It was only in 1967 where interracial marriage was legalised in the United States. My point is – as a society, we have evolved our ideas on love, relationships and marriage have progressed and our laws should reflect this change.

Someone think of the children!

Sorry to break it to you – but regardless of the outcome of this survey. Gays and lesbians will still be having children. But what legalizing SSM does is redefine, accept and embrace what family means in the 21st Century. People argue that the family unit should have a mother and father to “raise children right”. Personally, coming from a family with divorced parents and witnessing friends coming from single parent homes, and considering that one-third of marriages in Australia will end in divorce anyway – I think it’s safe to say that allowing gay people to have families will not in any way have any negative affect on the children.

But the gays get to have their relationships recognized as defacto in Australia…

True, there is some legal recognition of same sex relationships. However there are some key legal differences between a defacto relationship and marriage in Australia. This involves children, property, barriers to access of government benefits in the instance of one partner passing away and partners being refused to see their partners in hospital, as they are not considered immediate family. (Trying to find a great source to link here – someone please send along!)

Next thing you know – we’ll be rallying to allow paedophilia and beastiality.

This one is a real facepalmer. HUGE difference between homosexuality, paedophilia and beastiality is that basic concept of ‘consent’. What you have in a same-sex relationship is two consenting adults agreeing to be a part of this relationship. I don’t think this question should further be dignified with an answer because equating homosexuality with paedophilia and beastiality makes me ill…

But I don’t believe in gay marriage?

Easy – don’t have a gay marriage. But why should your beliefs infringe on the rights of others who all they want to do is have their relationship recognized by the state?

What about this respectful debate?

What respectful debate can you have when it comes to human rights? What is happening is that allowing this survey is permitting hateful and judgmental rhetoric against our LGBT brothers and sisters. It’s like asking to have a respectful debate against allowing interracial couples to marry. We should not be ‘debating’ this issue, it is something that our government, democratically elected leaders of this country should have a free vote and pass through parliament.

How does this affect me?

For many people – this survey doesn’t affect you at all. But chances are, you know someone who identifies as bi or homosexual (and if you don’t they are staying in the closet in fear) – please do the right thing and stand up and VOTE YES. At the end of the day, it is a human rights issue – where people should be able to legally have their relationships recognized regardless of whether their partner is a man or a woman.

So I urge you – talk to your friends and family and let’s get this done together and say YES to Marriage Equality! #loveislove

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10 Reasons Why I’m Moving to Spain (for the third time)

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Just earlier this year I was adamant that I would be enjoying a maximum of 6 months in Madrid. Just enough time to soak up the Madrileño lifestyle, reinvigorate my Spanish skills, make some friends, travel and have some new experiences as an Auxiliar de Conversación. But guess what? I’m moving to Spain. Again. For the third time.

Gran Vía

Why, might you ask? Why not focus on my career or travel other parts of the globe (which trust me, I am CRAVING to do. But just not riiiiight now.) Inspired by a post I wrote 9 months ago, I thought I’d share some of the reasons why I am going back for España Parte III:

  1. Because travel bug. It will be my third time living in Europe. I truly believe that the more you travel, the more you realize how big the world is and the bucket list just keeps getting longer and longer. I’m glad that I am proving to my 21 year old self that world travel won’t end when you’re 25 (or 30 or 40+). Other destinations will come when the time is right.
  2. Because I’m still 25. Madrid was a great change of scenery. Quiero más!
  3. Because my Spanish has improved so much. Even after a 3 year hiatus. However my improved Spanish skills only proved to me just how much more I have to learn.
  4. Because I am extremely privileged. I am so grateful that by chance (and the hard work and sacrifices of my parents), I was born into a life of abundant opportunities. I understand that the lifestyle I choose to lead is one of privilege (and not entitlement). So thanks Mum, love you <3.
  5. Because I feel like the old “me” is back. When I was working full-time, living out of home, focusing on my career in Sydney, I did feel like the adventurous, spontaneous, whimsical little nomad in me was dying away. I am so glad that I took this opportunity to go back to Spain. The travel spark has been reignited once again.
  6. Because there are more skills that I can develop as an Auxiliar/Teacher.
  7. Because I’ve achieved more clarity on what career I want. I loved my previous marketing job and would like to go back into something similar. Just not right now.
  8. Because there will still be jobs, apartment, dance classes, friends and family waiting for me in Sydney.
  9. Because there’s still time for marriage, children and a mortgage.
  10. Because I’ve already started a great life and met some damn amazing people in Madrid. And it only feels right to be sharing this experience with them in the upcoming year and keep running with it.

To those in Sydney, hasta luego. And to those I’m seeing soon, nos vemos prontito!

Hilarious Shit Spanish Kids Say

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Learning a second language is a difficult task. There have been numerous times when I have committed language faux pas whilst trying to navigate myself through español. It’s interesting to note that this phenomenon goes both ways and after almost 4 months into my role as an Auxiliar de Conversación (English Assistant) I’ve witnessed some hilarious moments of kids being lost in translation.

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One of my favourites was when I showed my 1°ESO (Year 7) class a video about dangerous animals in Australia.

Me: “What animals did you see in the video?”
Student: “GRINGOS!”

Me: “Err… I think you mean Dingoes”

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Another thing I noticed that Spanish kids have a tendency to add ‘ation’ to the end of a Spanish word, in the hope that it will translate directly into English. Once again with 1°ESO:

  • Student: “I no entendation” (Yo no entiendo/I don’t understand)
  • Me: “What is Semana Santa (Holy Week) in English?”
    Student: “Semanation Santation
  • *point to an alarm clock*
    Me: “What is this in English?”
    Student: “Despertation!” (Despertador)

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Lastly, I work with a 4-year-old boy downstairs helping him with his pronunciation of letters and helping him write letters. Not having much experience working with kids, it was refreshing to see how blunt and carefree they can be.

During one of our sessions he stands up and announces to me “Voy a hacer caca” (I’m going to do a poo). Bless his soul.

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There are countless stories to tell and here are just some of my favourites from fellow Auxiliares:

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04

N.B. “molestar” in Spanish means “to annoy”

01 02 03

06 07 08

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No es fácil = It’s not easy

12 13 14 16

10 reasons why I’m leaving my job, apartment, family and friends

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1am, Boxing Day. I have finally finished up at work, moved back to mum’s house (temporarily) and the Christmas festivities are coming to an end. I’m slowly realizing that I’ll be hopping on a plane in 4 days, starting a new journey in Madrid.

If you’ve ever had a conversation with me for more than 5 minutes, you would know that in 2011, I spent a year on international exchange in Salamanca, Spain. Inspired by a blog post by a very good friend of mine, currently gallivanting around Venezuela, I thought I’d share a list of reasons why I’ve decided to halt my life in Sydney and go for Spain Part 2.

1. Because travel bug.
2. Because I’m 25. A restless mid-twenty-something in need of a change of scenery!
3. Because I need to get my Spanish in check. I miss being surrounded by that beautiful language and all that #crossculturalcommunication #comunicaciónintercultural
4. Because I promised myself at the end of my exchange that I would be back in Spain soon. And it’s been on my mind for three years.
5. Because you have to grab these amazing opportunities by the balls when they come your way.
6. Because the older you get, the more risk averse you become (common thread of advice from dear 30-something colleagues encouraging me to “go for my dreams”).
7. Because if I didn’t leave my amazing, comfortable job now – I don’t think I ever will.
8. Because there will still be jobs, houseshares, dance classes, friends and family at home when I get back.
9. Because I don’t have any children, a partner or a mortgage.
10. Because I have all the support in the world from my colleagues, friends and family.

I’ll be departing Sydney soon.
I’ll be arriving in Madrid just in time for New Years Eve.
I’ll be moving in to a new apartment with a friend first week of January.
I’ll be starting an English assistant teacher placement in a secondary high school.
The rest…. you’ll just have to wait and see!

Let the countdown begin.

Madrid

2013 – where did you go?

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Oh hello blog! After a one-year hiatus I am back. What? My last post was almost a year ago? Pretty sure I’m the biggest fail blogger ever. I’m either travelling and “too busy” to recount my experiences OR I’m homebound, not doing anything exciting enough to justify a blog post. But I digress…

For the last few years now, every December I do my little summary of highs, lows, life-lessons of the year and list what I hope to achieve in the New Year. So after my most low-key New Years Eve ever (at midnight I was on the road on my way home, then when I arrived my TV was broken so didn’t get to see the world famous Sydney fireworks). So, I find myself here in bed (hangover free, might I add!) on New Years Day reflecting upon the whirlwind year that passed.

  • I bludged last summer – drank lots of wine, went road tripping with a group of my closest friends.

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Echando de menos estos recuerdos!

  • I graduated with two university degrees after five years of study

Yay! I did it! 2 Bachelors!!!

  • I cried, wallowed and felt so dejected after not being able to find a graduate job for six months.
  • But I danced! And oh, how I fucking love to dance. 2013 reinvigourated my passion for dancing and performing.

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    Some of my fave performances for 2013

  • Then it all got busy, for five months I was completing an Events Internship (Monday & Tuesday), working as a Marketing Officer (Wednesday – Friday), waitressing (Sunday), taking dance classes on weeknights, performing when I can (usually on Saturdays – my only day off) and squeezing in quality time with my friends and family.
  • An ad-hoc, unplanned holiday to HAWAII and time away from the crazy Sydney routine allowed me to stop for the first time in a long time. The wanderlust hit me like a motherfucker – reignited that desire to travel, wander, soak in new places and meet new people.
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Amazing solo trip to Hawaii

Best of 2013

Fave moments with my fave people

2013 was full of milestones. Good friends got married, engaged, some graduated, got their first full-time job, left the country for their new sojourning adventures. It’s been such an honour to see everyone become their own person and live that journey we call life.

I am really excited for 2014 – with plans to move out, develop professionally, improve my dancing. But other than that I honestly have no idea what life will bring me? And I think I’m okay with that – just letting go and accepting whatever happens.

Travel, Life & Happiness

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So, 2013 has arrived and has brought with it the sunshine, the (scorching, scorching) heat and new beginnings. As you may have read in my last blog, the end of each year allows me to sit back and reflect on the year that has passed, what lessons I have learnt and how I can utilise these into my present/future.

Right now is a pretty daunting time. As much as I am enjoying the sunshine, lazing around after 5 years at university, a complete summer break in Australia since 2008 (which, by the way was before I even started my tertiary studies!) it’s the first time in my life where I truly do not know what lies ahead of me – no going back to class in March, no full-time job, no (near-future) travel plans.

All this spare time on my hands has prompted the question “What makes you happy?”

The verb “travelling” was my instant response. My most prominent joyous memories are predominantly experiences during travel, be it:

 

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The list could go on, really.

Why are these moments the most intense, powerful memories vividly etched in my mind, heart and soul? My good friend, Lonely Planet, shed some light on this phenomenon:

“Travel takes you to places in the world that are heart-stoppingly beautiful, exposes you to scenes of horrific deprivation and challenges you to accept and understand that the world is composed of both. When you travel to another country where everything is unfamiliar, your awareness is heightened, you notice every little detail because you are trying to understand and make sense of everything that is going on around you. The personal you are at home, in your own environment, becomes less important, less central to this new story, you are an observer and this sense of being an outsider intensifies your responses and emotions.” (Lonely Planet 2011, in the book ‘Happy’)

Whenever I go away, my mind, body and spirit are transported to a whole new realm, there’s this unexplainable sensation of sheer joy, freedom, openness, breathing in the air of somewhere foreign yet feeling the inter-connectedness of world.

But the highest of highs often comes in hand with the lowest of lows. Okay, so that might be a little dramatic, but I’ve noticed my own behavioural patterns: I’ll go away for a while; immerse myself in inter-cultural experiential learning; come back to routine, monotony, boredom; yearn for my next adventure; then go away again. And so the cycle continues.

I distinctly remember how sad and unwilling I was in the beginning of 2012. It took a one-month trip to South-East Asia to cure the Post-Erasmus Depression. Travel has been my form of escapism, how I learnt about the world and life, what makes me happy. As grateful as I am for such enriching, life changing experiences overseas, I realised how dangerous the dichotomy of “loving the unknown” and “hating home” can be.

To be frank, being unhappy or displaced at home is rather pathetic. Sydney is gorgeous, full of opportunities and at the core of it all, it is my home. It shouldn’t take a trip to the third world or sojourning in a non-English speaking country to make me realise how amazing Sydney is.

And thus, my resolution for 2013 (and hopefully for the rest of my life) is: to transform happiness from a simple emotion or fleeting moments of joy, pleasure, hedonism etc., into a more permanent state of well-being, whether it be it in Spain, the U.S., India, Antarctica or in my humble abode in the Western Suburbs in Sydney.

That’s not to say that I’ll stop travelling – I don’t think I could ever stop. But I want to be able to love life, feel that adventurous spirit no matter where I am in the world. Because at the end of the day – home is where the heart is and I love you, Sydney, Australia!

HOME

I

2012 in a nutshell

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Ahh… 2012. What an interesting year you have been. Looking back it’s probably been one of the more challenging years for me after 2011 – el año de puta madre. Nope, I didn’t travel 14 countries (only 6 this time around!) but nonetheless the ups, downs, twists and turns have been a great learning curve.

The most heart wrenching forms of self-torture would have been playing the “this time last year” game. For example – this time last year I would have been in Sierra Nevada with 3 other awesome Aussie/ICS Spain chicas, then New Years in Berlin and followed by five weeks of taking advantage of delicious tapas, cheap alcohol, crazy parties and good company in my beloved Salamanca.

"This time last year..."

“This time last year…”

 

At the end of all the Salamanca/Spain/Europe adventures, I talked myself into being ready to go home. My body was in dire need of recovery after I gave it a good trashing after an entire year of binge drinking, no exercise, excessive amounts of pork, carbs and oil and other general bad habits. But soon enough (about a week after returning home) – the dreaded Post-Erasmus depression crept up on me. I wasn’t the happiest little vegemite around. Not many people seemed to ‘get me’. I thought that shit was expensive. Commuting was shit. Parties were shit. People were shit. My overly-round figure of course made me feel like shit. I had a lot of trouble grasping this concept of ‘letting go’. Letting go of a lot of things – the past, toxic thoughts and things that really shouldn’t matter. Essentially, I had trouble adjusting the “new me” to my “old life” and I was constantly challenged by the paradox of everything changing and not changing at all.

Oh the plight of the first-world.

One of my biggest highlights of this year was my one-month trip to South-East Asia. And once again, I have to express my eternal gratitude to UTS: BUiLD for supporting my trip with Destiny Rescue in Cambodia and Thailand, and for sending me on the Social Entrepreneurship Program in Vietnam.

The month away really gave me the wakeup call I needed. Something reignited in me. I was confronted by the reality of the human trafficking, exploitation of children in sexual servitude and the sheer gravity of this burgeoning industry in both developing and developed nations. I probably experienced every single emotion possible on this trip from complete repulsion and fury directed at humanity; to a sense of hope – seeing  many people, organisations and enterprises making a valuable difference in the lives of the less fortunate. My time away pretty much reaffirmed that I love and care about society and sooking about my privileged life no way positively contributes to making this world a better place.

Cambodia, Thailand & Vietnam

Cambodia, Thailand & Vietnam

 

I came back to Sydney refreshed and with drive. I somehow ploughed through my final semester of uni, with three jobs, an internship, kept up with the gym and dancing and got smashed every Thirsty Thursday (Juebebes). It was probably my most fun semester ever – marked by bonding experiences with new kindred spirits, rekindling old friendships that I hope will never fade, good marks to finish off my degree and a positive attitude.

JUEBEBES! (Gracias a Noelia por la foto!)

JUEBEBES! (Gracias a Noelia por la foto!)

 

I was fortunate enough in the beginning of December to go down to Melbourne and explore one of the great cities in my home country, catch up with friends, have some good quality solitude time but the highlight was definitely being constantly surrounded by the most inspiring minds at the Global Shifts Social Entrepreneurship Conference. It was actually at this conference where my mind was completely blown away by the concept of ‘Happiness’ (coming soon in another blog post!) and that is what I am aiming for in 2013 – self-actualisation measured by the 9 domains of happiness: living standards, psychological well-being, health, time use, education, cultural diversity, good governance, community vitality and ecological diversity.

So, just to finish off for the year – thank you 2012 for everything, but my goodness I’m geared for what 2013 will bring!