About Me

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I'm Shannon and I am applying for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. I am an outgoing, self-motivated, funny girl who loves to travel. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in Theatre and English, I lived in Australia for one year. During that time I spent 6 months living in the Northern Territory; three months in the mining town of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpenteria, one month in Darwin and two months in Alice Springs. I did spend some time in Queensland, I LOVED Townsville and Rockhampton and Great Kepple Island. I had the opportunity to dive the Great Barrier Reef and I learned to surf. I sailed the Whitsunday Islands and am KEENLY aware of what I will be missing out on if I don't get to experience Hamilton Island for myself. On this blog I will be writing about me, my past travel experiences and hopefully showing everyone why I am the best candidate for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD! If you would like to email me you can reach me at shannontheislandgirl@rogers.com If it takes me some time to respond to your email, it's just because I'm busy packing my bags! See you on the island!

The Island Girl's Videos

Monday, June 1, 2009

For Fun


We get THIS

Thanks for the material Stamperoo!


Monday, March 2, 2009

This Phase is Over...On to the Next

So, it's official. I am not in the Top 50 Candidates for The Best Job in the World. I knew this a few days ago when I did not receive the email asking me to complete the online testing, but today the Top 50 were announced. You can see all of their videos HERE and vote for the candidate you like best.

There has been a lot of banter on the NING site about who would make the Top 50 and I have been shocked at some of the animosity that has come out. People were able to deduce, via NING silence and Twitter updates, who had received the email about testing. Everyone seemed very happy and supportive of the NING members who they thought may be a potential candidate, but they certainly lost no time turning on Tourism Queensland. There have been threats of class action law suits, anger that they seemed to be favouring candidates with media and journalistic experience, and outrage that all of the "potentials" were young and very attractive.

Although I have not had the chance to view all of the videos yet, I have seen some of them on the NING site. And, although I am not one who is choosing anger over this situation, (let's be honest when 34 000 people apply for a job your shots are always pretty slim), I believe that the people discussing the top 50 in the forums have a valid point. Tourism Queensland was slightly misleading on a number of fronts:

  • Did they want someone who is funny and can make them laugh or did they want someone with a well rounded knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef? None of the videos that I have watched on the short list have made me laugh, and none show a great understanding of the Great Barrier Reef, (unless listing facts you read on Wikipedia counts as a great understanding). Tourism Queensland seemed to put a very large emphasis on being charming and funny for most of the competition, then at the end they started focusing on the knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef. However none of the videos I have seen have either of those qualities.
  • There were many qualifications listed as necessary to land the job. Being able to swim, being able to clean the pool, speaking fluent English and, here's the tricky one, "one years relevant experience". What does that mean? One year cleaning pools? One year blogging? One year....one year doing what? There were many people who have more than one year doing exactly what Tourism Queensland is looking for the Island Caretaker to do, had better videos than some in the Top 50, and they did not even receive an invitation to do the online testing let alone be short listed.
  • Tourism Queensland has said many times that they are looking to fill an "actual job". Are they? There has been speculation that they are holding a beauty pageant. Look at the Top 50. What do you think?
I hope that I'm not sounding bitter or upset. I'm not. These things happen and now it's time to move on to other things. I am looking forward to watching this next phase of the competition to see who ends up in the Top 10. And I'm looking forward to doing new things myself. Joanne asked me if I would keep up the blog. My answer is yes. Last we spoke we were in South East Asia. I have many more stories to tell and tell them I will. Stay tuned. And let me know what you think about the rest of the Island Caretaker competition. I would love to hear what you think.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where do we go from here? (Sung in the tune of Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Tourism Queensland has posted THIS information about the shortlisting process. Apparently potential Top 50 applicants will receive an email on Thursday February 26 Queensland time, to undergo some kind of psychometric testing. It's almost 1am here in Toronto. That makes it....4pm in Queensland. By the time I wake up it won't be Thursday in Queensland any more. If I haven't heard anything at that time does that mean that I'm out? I'm not ready for this to be done. I will wake up in less than 9 hours. If I only have 9 hours left on this journey what does that mean? Should I stay awake all night? What will I do with myself? As they sang in Buffy, "Where do we go from here"? I have two things that give me hope:

1. As far as I can tell, no one on NING has yet to receive an email either. There are no forum discussions yet about actually having to do the test. Maybe they are not allowed to disclose, however, so far so quiet on the NING front.
2. I was mentioned in another article! The same site that garnered me my first comment on this blog has quoted me in an article. You can see it HERE

But really, where do we go from here? If we don't get the email, or if we do get the email and then don't end up as one of the top 50, what now? What will you do from here? Have you been inspired to move in a different direction in your life?


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

South East Asia - Part One

A few years ago my friend Andrew was embarking on a ‘round the world’ trip for one year. Sadly, I didn’t have a year of my life to dedicate at the time but I did have 7 weeks. So, for 7 weeks Andrew and I travelled through South East Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. I was nervous, to say the least, before I left on this trip. Although I was happy to be travelling in that part of the world, I was still nervous; nervous about the language barrier, nervous about being someplace so different to what I was used to; nervous about safety; nervous about not ever wanting to come back home. Nerves aside, I packed my bags and off I went.

I flew out of Toronto on New Years Eve day. The first thing I learned on this trip I learned before I even left my house; leaving on a big, long trip that soon after Christmas is not a good idea. In fact, it’s pretty stressful. But being on a plane over New Years was kind of fun. The employees on Japan Airlines did their best to keep everything festive. It’s impossible to know what time zone you’re in while in the air so at one point they handed out boxes with candies, New Year’s hats and noisemakers and that was New Years. I am not a New Years person so not having to worry about what I would be doing on that day was just fine by me.

The first stop on the trip was Bangkok. Andrew’s flight arrived just before mine so we were able to meet at the airport and try to find the hotel together. I had been doing some reading on the plane and was instantly terrified about arriving in Bangkok in the middle of the night. In one of my guide books I read that one of the scams that is often pulled at the airport is that an English speaking traveler will approach you to share a cab because you’re both going to the same hotel but they are just waiting to rob you. Before I had a chance to tell Andrew about this, (at this point I had emailed him enough about my fears and insecurities that he wouldn’t have been shocked at all that I had found something new to freak out about), this man who spoke English with a slight French Canadian accent was talking to us in the taxi line and, wouldn’t you know it, we were staying at the same hotel. Andrew agreed to the car share before he could see the look of terror on my face. I remember purposely bitting my nails in the cab for potential DNA testing if we went missing. (I had been watching too much CSI while packing. I couldn’t help myself). It wasn’t a scam. This man was in fact staying at the same hotel as us. He was lucky, his room was available. They had us booked for the next night and we were out of luck. Seeing as it was 3am this was not the best news in the world. We then had to try to find another guest house on the block that had room for us. After waking up two very tired looking women at two other guest houses we found a room, although we didn’t stay in that room long. The first thing I did when I got up in the morning was to break the faucet in the bathroom and get covered in freezing cold water gushing out the gaping hole in the wall. We changed rooms and I refused to turn on the tap after that.

My first day in Bangkok was glorious. It was everything I wanted and nothing I expected. Of course, because it was my first day in this new country, most of what I noticed manifested as lists of differences between my home, Toronto, and this new temporary home. The first thing that struck me was the smell of the city. I don’t notice that Toronto has a smell. I’m sure it does but it is not something that I am aware of. Bangkok was filled with smells, and it added such character to the city. It was wonderful and sometimes pungent all at the same time. The place I where I was most aware of scent was in the temples. The temples were probably my favourite part of South East Asia. It didn’t seem to matter which country I was in, the temples just blew me away. I’m not a religious person and so haven’t spent a great deal of time in churches, but who wouldn’t want to spend time in the temples of South East Asia? Everything about them is vibrant and detailed. The gilded Buddha’s of Thailand, the offerings of fruit and money to the ancestors in Vietnam, each temple offered new and wonderful experiences. Every temple was perfumed with incense. It was sweet, fragrant, and memorable. After I returned home to Toronto I heard about this exhibit of Buddha relics that was touring the world. There was a temple in Toronto that was hosting the exhibit. I went to see it in an effort to recapture Asia in my home city. And I did exactly that. As soon as I stepped through the doors and I breathed in the incense, I was instantly returned to Thailand. Had I not known any better I would have believed that I had been teleported half way around the world. I had never had such strong associations with scent before and even now, years after the trip, I can be back in a night market in Thailand by simply lighting the right kind of incense.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Meeting the Girls

Paris was everything I could have asked for and more.  On the flight from Rome I met a man who I will never forget.  We actually met in line for the bus to the airport and my biggest regret of 2008 is that I have no way of contacting him.  His name is Justin and he works for Proctor and Gamble.  He was a complete stranger who I spent 6 hours chatting with from downtown Rome all the way to Beauvais airport.  Justin, if you’re reading this send me an email.  I would love to hear from you. 

Joanne had arrived in Paris first and she met me at the bus from the airport. My bus got in late but we were both starved so we had a late dinner.  While having dinner two fantastic things happened. 

1.  The restaurant, Le Select, had a cat.  On the bar.  His name was Mickey.  That is what made me fall instantly in love with Paris.  

2.  There was a regular at this restaurant who is, apparently, famous for pestering pretty much everyone who eats there.  Especially if they are women.  We were no exception. Francois-Xavier, (self proclaimed Obnoxious, Friendly and Talkative Parisian), sat himself at our table and didn’t leave for half an hour.  Our food arrived….Francois-Xavier just kept on talking.  His food arrived, at his table and still he talked and talked and talked.  If you’re in Paris and you meet him tell him Shannon and Joanne said Hi!

Laura joined us the next morning, after Joanne and I did a bike tour of the city.  And we then spent the next few days gallivanting like fools around Paris, and eating our way through the best bakeries!  We went to a Jason Mraz concert and I fell in love with his music all over again.  (That happens pretty much every time I go to a Jason Mraz concert).


We took the Eurostar to London, and even though they were still dealing with the aftermath of the fire that had happened in one of the tunnels a few weeks before, we made it across faster and earlier than planned.  London on day one was a whirlwind.  Joanne only had the one day in London before she left so we did a whistle stop tour so she could see the highlights.  Then we went to the theatre.  I have been a theatre lover my entire life.  As far back as I can remember I have loved to go to the theatre.  But never have I loved it as much as when we saw Noel Coward’s Brief Encounters in London.  Everything about this production was perfect.  The cast was a talented ensemble, who were fully committed to their roles and the chemistry between them was palpable.  The set was innovative, using both traditional theatre tricks with video, and the audience was part of the show.  To say I loved it would be an understatement.  I was captivated the entire time.  And at intermission they were selling Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in individual containers.  Life really doesn’t get any better than spending time with your best friends, seeing amazing theatre and eating ice cream.  I was in heaven, and everyone spoke with a British dialect.  It was perfect.


Falling In Love With Rome

Rome was my last stop in Italy before flying off to Paris.  My stepfather, Dieter, had me more than a bit scared of Rome.  My guide book did not help to allay those fears.  Being a woman alone in Rome was starting to feel like the biggest mistake I had made since I decided to perm only my bangs in grade school.  (It’s true.  No other part of my hair was permed at the time.  Just my bangs.  Who knows what I was thinking).  But both the guide book and Dieter had me worried unnecessarily.  I wasn’t pestered by random Italian men on the subway.  For awhile I thought that it was because I seemed so Italian myself that they couldn’t tell I was a tourist.  Then I looked in the mirror.  My face was covered in mosquito bites that I had acquired in Venice on my last night that refused to disappear, (seriously, I had never been bitten by a bug on my face before, what’s with that?), and I was having issues with the shoes I had brought with me so I was forced to buy brand new runners, which were bright white.  So there I am walking around fashionable Rome covered in bug bites with bright white runners. 

Maybe that’s why everyone gave me a wide berth.


 After climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence I wasn’t ready to haul myself up the hundreds of steps at St Paul’s so I took the elevator to the top of the Vittariano or “the typewriter” as Italians call it to check out the views at sunset.  In this case, my guide book didn’t lie.  The views of Rome at sunset were beautiful.  I had fallen in love with the Coliseum earlier that day and was very happy I could see it from above.  Much like David, I could stare at the Coliseum for hours.  I was totally taken by it.


Rome was a great city, but it posed a bit of a problem for me.  Although I know that I didn’t do everything that Florence and Venice had to offer, I did feel content when I left those cities that I had done everything I wanted to do.  After my first hour in Rome I knew that I would not feel the same when I got on the plane to Paris.  Everything in Rome is something.  At every corner there is a ruin or an amazing church, or something that requires your attention.  There is no way to do it all in one go.  And I really had to wrap my head around that.  Rome is a beautiful mixture of the ancient, very old, old and new.  I took a subway to the Coliseum and while looking at that amazingly ancient and well preserved building you I could hear cars on the highway.  It’s a wild juxtaposition.  I would go back to Rome tomorrow if I could.  


On to Florence

Early in the morning of day three I was on a train to Florence.  Florence is many things, but quiet is not one of them.  After the peacefulness of Venice where there are no cars and every corner is a quiet little alley, Florence was a bit of a shock!  It is beautiful and the view from the top of my hotel was amazing...the Duomo was so close it seemed like you could reach out and touch it.  I had booked myself in to a B&B in Florence before I left.  It was a bit more than I probably should have spent on accommodations, but the experience of staying there was worth every penny.  When I arrived this extremely energetic woman who spoke as much English as I did Italian did her best using gestures and sign language to show me around the hotel, all the important stuff, where the roof top patio was, where breakfast was, how to use the 700 keys to get in to the building.  She then handed me a cork screw, a plastic glass, and a bottle of wine.  No translation required on that one.  I threw my bags in my room and made my way to the roof and toasted the city and the view.  Who cares if it was 10 in the morning!   


I preferred Florence from my roof top than from the streets below.  When you venture in to the city itself you instantly become aware that there seem to be more Americas in Florence than there are Italians.  To all of my American friends and readers, please do not take offence.  It’s just that I was in Italy.  I had hoped to meet some Italians.  That’s all.  Also, people who travel on cruise ships, (and many of them are American) are a nightmare scenario for me.  They travel in packs, never just one or two, ten seems to be the smallest number they will move in, they yell and throw fits when people don't speak English, (it never seems to occur to them that the world is not here to cater to them), and it rained while I was in Florence, so they were all in giant groups armed with umbrellas.  I almost lost an eye.  No joke.   

When you get away from the crazy packs of people swarming the Duomo, Florence is lovely.  I ate the most amazing food ever.  I had tiramisu at least once a day, (usually twice), and although I was turned away from the one restaurant I really wanted to eat at because I was by myself, I did have a great time.  There always seems to be a full band playing outside, no matter where in the city you are, and Florence is home to the David.  I hesitate to write about the David because really all I can do is gush.  I had seen pictures of the David and knew what it was but I had no idea how absolutely, unbelievably, beautiful it is.  I spent 45 minutes just looking at it and could have spent hours more.  The pictures do not do it justice.  If you are in Florence you must see the David.  And not just for the David.  Lining the hallway that leads you to David there are unfinished Michelangelo sculptures.  This is when I fell in love with Michelangelo and decided I want to have his babies.  (Too bad I’m far too late!).  These unfinished sculptures look like they will come alive and break free of the stone any second.  I’ve never seen anything so compelling, ever.  I bought post cards of both David and the unfinished works, but they just can’t capture the aliveness of the work.  It is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.


Next Stop - Venice

Italy marked a few firsts for me. It was the first time I had ever been in a European country and the first time I had ever traveled by myself in a country where I did not speak the language. While preparing for the trip and working at the film festival I kind of forgot that I don’t speak Italian. I work at an Italian restaurant so I knew all the words for food, but something told me that would not come in handy when I would, invariably, get lost. (I am the girl who got lost in the town of Coober Pedy, and it’s the size of a drive in movie theatre, and everyone lives underground so you always have a clear view of where you are going and where you have been). The day before I left I bought the Frommer's Pocket Italian Phrase book and I have never been happier to spend $9.99. From my first moments on Lido Island when I couldn’t find my hotel, to my last day in Rome when I was having trouble ordering dinner, that little book came in extremely handy.
Venice proved to be the perfect place for me. Lido was fantastic because there were very few tourists there, and I love that. I love being where the people actually live when I am travelling. I don’t just want to see the ‘sights’, I want to see it all. My first breakfast was in a coffee bar filled with Italian Nona’s who got a real kick out of me and my phrase book. I ordered exactly what the woman in front of me did, (it looked good!), and although I thought I was ordering a honey croissant, (my French ear tells me that mele is honey. My French ear was wrong. In Italian it means apple. It was the first of many times when my French would lead me astray in Italian. I like apples so it didn’t much matter), and I learned to say my first Italian sentence. “May I have the bill please.” The Nona’s were very proud of me.
After breakfast it was on to Venice proper. I live in Toronto and I never really noticed that it was a noisy place. But compared to the quite that is Venice, Toronto is an assault on the ears. I loved how there were no cars, only the taping of stilettos on the street. (I can’t walk in stilettos on normal pavement. How these women manage it on cobblestones is beyond me). As someone who gets lost vey easily I was initially afraid of the twist and turns of Venice. It occurred to me that it was entirely possible that I would never find my way back to Lido. But being lost in Venice was fantastic. I loved that the map in front of me bore absolutely no resemblance to what was unfolding beneath my feet. I did all the ‘must dos” of Venice. St Marco’s, the Doge’s Palace, the Ponte Rialto, they all had my attention for a few fleeting minutes, and then the cruise ship patrons drove me back in to the alleys, or on to a boat.
The islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello were must sees for me. On Torcello I was expecting a deserted island with the remains of the first settlement in Venice. What I got was a boring church and vendors selling the same tourist crap they were selling all over Venice. Not exactly what I was looking for. Burano and Murano did not disappoint. Burano was my favourite part of Venice. I have always wanted to live in a house painted in bright bubblegum colours and on Burano that is the only kind of house there is. Pink, purple, yellow, blue, you name it and it’s there. The brighter the better it seems. And I couldn’t agree more.