Wednesday, 31 March 2010

how real do we want to be online?

Yesterday I decided to make a video of myself talking about why I liked playing foursquare. I was inspired by a fellow over in the States, who had recently made a video talking about foursquare day and I thought it was cool. I am interested in making videos and thought it would be something fun to do. 
So I made one.
It was just me talking about why I liked playing foursquare and the idea behind this blog. I felt pretty good about the video and then I watched it. I stopped for a second and thought to myself how is this going to come across to people? Am I going to look stupid?
It's one thing to author a blog, I don't every really feel self conscious about what I write. Sure. people can see photos of me online if they want, but there was just something about seeing myself on video that made me wonder if I should post it or not. I decided to go ahead and post it on You Tube, but I didn't post it on here and I later took it down. 
It made me feel really vulnerable. 
In video I was talking about an article that I read online about the etiquette of adding friends on foursquare. The author of the article was saying that you should only really invite people that you are actually friends with. Now at some level I agree with that. I could add my entire address book of people, but unless I have relationships with them all I am really doing is cluttering up their inboxes and being a pest.
I will of course follow people that I've never met on Twitter, but I only friend people on Facebook that I have either met in real life or if we've had some kind of email correspondence. I don't just blind friend people, that's just annoying.
I mentioned in the video that I only had about 3 friends here in London and that I've been adding people that I "knew" through Twitter or Facebook to make playing the game more interesting. 
When I watched the video and heard myself saying that I only had three friends in London I worried that it might sound really sad. I wondered if people would think that I was some kind of loser?
But, it's true.
I have 3 really good friends here in London. Mary, Ali and Becky. That's my core group. Mary was my study abroad coordinator when I was at LCC. We were never friends then, but she followed my blog and eventually we met up. Ali and Becky are friends of my husband (Matthew), but we get on like a house on fire. 
I've got a small handful of other people, so more than three. Not many of them are on foursquare, although I've tried to convince them to get on there.
I don't think it's sad at all. First of all it is the truth and secondly does having a large number of friends make me a better person? I've come over to London and had to start over, friends wise and I think I've done pretty well. 
I am building up a network of friends and that takes time. It takes time because I want good friends.
So anyway.
I just wanted to add my two bits about that. There's sometimes a struggle between wanting to be completely honest and then worrying if I am sharing too much and how it might come across to people.
I am definitely on the side of honesty. I know that posts on this blog have been useful to people. I think people want to connect with people who are willing to let their human side show. I wrote posts about when times were hard adjusting to London and what it was like looking for a new job. I didn't just write about the good things, because that's not how life is. 
I am going to continue to take risks and to just be honest. It's the best policy.
A big cheers to the people who don't know me who have accepted my friend request on foursquare! You're good people!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Do you need somebody to love?

I love talking to my friend Taylor on Skype. He's over in Japan teaching English and he's always got a funny story to tell, but I think he's a bit lonely. It's been a bit tricky for him finding fun ladies to hang out with. He's in a small farm town called Nitta. I told him that he's got to be in Tokyo, that's where the action is. I am sure he'd find some fun gals over there. 

I suggested that he try online dating. I am sure there are loads of ladies out there posting on Craigslist looking for a fun American guy to spend time with. Being the good friend that I am I went and had a look a myself. If you've got some time on your hands and enjoy reading funny personal ads on Craigslist this link is for you. Here were a few gems.

seek a funny, smiling, talkative man - 29

I lack excitement recently. I seek a man who stimulates and arouses me. only a man who can email and meet me constantly. I don’t like a freakish and whimsical man.
I look forward to talking with you! I am a 29year old, funny, smiling woman. 

Please be my friend (Tokyo)


The weather is not good here recently but if we have the sun in our heart, we will always be ok.
Could you be my sunshine?

I am SJF, in her early 40s, sincere, sweet, down-to-earth.
Looking for my best friend in Tokyo. If he were around my age and having a good heart as well as I do, it would be great.
I am not looking for any casual dating.

I am looking for someone I can talk to when I feel lonely and grow up together.
If we click, it would be great and fun to see where it takes us.

Serious reply only please.

Thanks for reading. Have a good day! 

Muse searching for a writer - 30 (Tokyo and the universe)

It is usually a writer searching for the source of inspiration but we don’t like stereotypes, do we?

So I would like to offer myself to be your muse for written forms, (for now being in a love-hate relationship with my job, as a part-time volunteer occupation but we can discuss possibility of full-time employment in the future).

I am not going to pose for a painting, too boring.

I can inspire several types of a literary work: we could date together into a screenplay for ‘Annie Hall’ – type of movie, do research for reportage on dealing with bore-out syndrom, or I could seduce you into a dense erotic poem. I even could inspire a self-help book but given my uniqueness, it wouldn’t sell to the ordinary audience. I am open for family saga, not too Strindbergesque though, or fairy tails but let’s not rush with writing a pre-nap, there is still a chance for a blind date horror. 

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I've been playing foursquare for the past month now and I am loving it. Why do I love it? Because it's fun. I think it's a great way to explore the city and discover new things. I feel like I am playing a game and I like that.

When I went to the event for Social Media week a month ago one of the presenters was talking about foursquare. I have some friends back home who play it, but I was curious about what it would be like over here in London. The big question playing on my mind at the moment is whether or not people actually interact with each other off the back of it. 

While I was sitting in the room waiting for the talk to begin there were loads of people tweeting away and following people who were in the room. I wanted to know if they would ever speak in person. Would someone go over and say hi to the person that they just followed or were they happy to hide behind "social" media?

So I am going to do some research. I want to know if people in London would interact with another player in a real space. At the moment I am sitting at the Diner off of Carnaby Street. I've checked in and at the moment I am the only player here. If there were more people here would we talk to each other? Would someone come over and say hi Rhea! Or would I do the same? 

In London, for the most part strangers don't speak to each other. There have been rare occasions were I've sparked up conversation with a stranger without them thinking I was totally mental; it's just not the norm. I've decided that I will say hi to any other foursquare player if we're both in the same place. Why not? I am up for taking a risk and seeing what will happen. 

I've also decided to take people up on the offers that they've tweeted. For example, I was at a coffee shop the other day and after checking into foursquare a message popped up that a nearby agency had a free desk going if anyone wanted to come in and use it.  Had I not been going to an interview there in 20 minutes I would have totally taken them up on it. 

The question I keep asking myself is if foursquare is supposed to be social? I wonder what would happen if I tried to swing by and say hello to my foursquare friend who had just checked in at say Saatchi and Saatchi. Do they want people to come find them? Or are they just trying to show off where they are? 

Which leads me to wonder about the integrity of the foursquare players. I am going to say this without any research to back me up that I think most people are honest about their whereabouts. 

You could check into a place and pretend to be there. I hope that people don't do this. The other day I was out walking around in Holland Park and I saw that a friend had checked into a place that was nearby. I thought, why don't I go there and say hello? 

I turned up about 20 minutes later and they were gone. That could totally be legitimate. They popped in for a coffee, signed in while waiting in the queue and then left. Perhaps it was just a take away coffee, but there was a split second when I wondered if they had been there at all...but I can sometimes be a little bit cynical. 

What do I like about playing foursquare? Well, it does make the city feel like a playground. I can be in one location and read some tips and go somewhere I've never been before. That's fun. 

I am going to do some research with my friends in Minneapolis and in London. I have to say that my foursquare friends here in London are a lot of people that I've never met in the first place. I've gone out on a limb and friended some people that seemed interesting and people have been nice enough to accept my request.

I put this question out on my FB wall: 

Here's a question for all you out there playing foursquare, do you ever interact with other people? If you're at say Starbucks and there are other people there who have checked in, do you say hello?

Here are some responses from my lovely friends

that's a dream of mine, hopefully someday, but i can never recognize people from their tiny pictures

I've sent a DM to "friend" someone I've actually met, but doubt they remember me to ask him the same. We shall see.

I have - yes. The only time it was someone I didn't know - it was because the guy was sitting next to me at the bar and laughed when I checked in.

Until then I am going to continue to play and try to interact with some real people :)

P.S.  I am friends with a guy who works at the agency where I had my interview today. While I was waiting in reception he walked through and said hello to me and called me by name. I've never met him before in real life. 

At the moment I am at a place called the Diner writing this post. I went and had a look at my foursquare account and noticed what this guy was up to. I noticed that you have the options to contact him by several different methods; twitter, FB, email, mobile or text. I decided to send him a text to his mobile saying that it was nice meeting him.

Now I don't know if this is a crazy thing to do, but if he's got his mobile number on there then it must mean he's open to being contacted. 

Has anyone else done this? I am out there all alone with my social experiments? Please leave comments and let me know how you interact with foursquare. 


Sunday, 14 March 2010

I owe you one Mary

It's going on 10:30 p.m. and I've been thinking about writing one more post before I hit the hay. Turns out that my fabulously clever writer friend Mary has done it for me. Now I don't know if this breaks the unwritten rules of blogging, paraphrasing another's post in its entirity, but I am going to go for it. Mary I owe you! 

Mary's a much better writer than I am. If you want a good read check out her blog.

Networking as originally posted on the Humble Postbox
"So last night I met Rhea for a catch-up in Farringdon. Rhea had been in town for an interview with a recruitment agency. As we were half-way through our drink the two guys beside us got up to leave and then Rhea did something that really impressed me; she got up to politely introduced herself to one of the men and got his email address.

That’s right, Rhea was networking. Turns out that before I arrived she had overheard the two men mention the industry they work in and she took that as her cue to let them know that she was a young professional looking for her next opportunity in London. That took some balls. Balls I wish I had. I would never think to do that but I can see how it just might land someone a job. I am a terrible networker. Working up the courage to talk to new people takes it out of me. I remember starting at work and attending all the compulsory training sessions where the facilitator goes round the table and asks you to say something interesting about yourself. Hideous. Hideous, but at least it is prompted.

Not to say I am a shrinking violet. I can get it together to talk when I need to. It’s a bit of a train wreck but my mouth opens and sounds come out."

I have to say that I don't agree with the last part and that's not just me kissing Mary's bum. Mary is definitely not a shrinking violet and everything that comes out of her mouth is poetry.

A very lovely week indeed

As of yesterday I've been home for exactly one week since our holiday. It was such a good holiday. It's also good to be back in London. I would say that it was a pretty good week and very social.

In between job hunting and interviews I went for lunch with an old colleague from Candy Space. I met him over in Chiswick for a pizza at Franco Manca. The pizza and company was lovely. After my interview with the recruiter I met up with Mary, for wine time at the Castle. I hadn't seen Miss Mary for what had seen like ages. It was great to catch up with her.

I also met up with two American gals who are living over here. I went for coffee with Natasha over near Euston station. Natasha's from the Twin Cities and has been living up in Liverpool for the past six years. We've been Facebook friends for some time now and every so often she's down in London on business.

I also met up with another American expat, Audrey, on Friday. We went for lunch and a chat at Cafe Boheme. She's been here in London for the past six months and is also looking for a job. I felt like I was talking a mile a minute and I hope I didn't talk her ear off.

I have to say that I really like meeting expats off the internet. It's interesting to hear about other people's experiences of coming over and what it's like for them living in London. It's nice to have a chat and be able to speak American. I am looking forward to seeing both Natasha and Audrey again soon.

It was a nice weekend as well. Matthew and I went down to Bognor for his sister Charlotte's birthday lunch. We hadn't seen most of the family since before the holidays. I was feeling a bit under the weather, but it was good to catch up with everyone.

Today we went over to the Book Club in the East End and worked on our laptops together. I am trying to get my website finished and Matthew had some course work to do. It was a nice quiet weekend.

I am looking forward to this week. I've got one interview in particular that I am really looking forward to. Wish me luck.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Interview #2 Harvest Digital

I  just got a call from the woman that I was supposed to be interviewed by this morning letting me know that they already found someone for the role. It's a bit of a bummer, but these things happen. She was very nice about it on the phone. It was a role that I was really interested in, but all things happen for a reason.

On the upside, I spent a great deal of time preparing for this interview. That will serve me well for the three interviews I have next week. You can never spend too much time preparing as I like to say.

I found out about this job through the She Says Facebook group. A current Harvester was advertising a job, which led me their website where I discovered the role that sounded perfect for me. They still have a few roles going for anyone interested have a look here.

Also it's Friday and I've got the entire day ahead of me. I will be meeting up with a fellow American for a coffee this afternoon. I am excited about that. Audrey found me on Facebook through an Expat group a few months back and now we're going to meet.

To all those out there looking for their next job best of luck.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Getting ready for interviews

I am just taking a wee break from getting for my interview tomorrow. I will write more about looking for a job soon. Although I want to write about it and share my experiences, I am a bit hesitant. I want to repsect people's privacy. Which is why I never wrote about what it was like working at Rechord. 

At first this started out to be a blog about looking for work and then I thought it would morph into a blog about what it's like to work in the UK. However, I didn't feel right about it doing. 

Ok, I should get back to work. Just thought I would share with you a photo of where I usualy sit at home whilst working. 


Interview #1 Futureheads Recruitment

I've been putting off writing about this interview because it went pear shaped. You know when you meet someone and you just know that you're not going to get on? You feel a vibe, well I felt a vibe and lost my nerve. 

Before I go into interviews I like to sit down and prepare a list of objectives for the meeting. Key points to highlight, questions to ask the interviewer and I make a list to describe how I want to come across. On my list were the following words: capable, secure, confident, calm and enthusiastic. I probably didn't hit any of those on the list. 

I probably came across as incoherent and unfocused. Two things you don't want to project in an interview. The good thing was that it was an interview with a recruiter, so it was good practice. How likely is that recruiter going to want to find me a job? Not very, but there are loads of recruiters our there. 

The person was kind enough to give me some valuable feedback and I took all that they said on board. I went home and started writing out in a standard format the projects that I worked on. I've also been using a voice recorder on my iphone so I can practice answering questions. It's works really well.  I used to just talk in front of a mirror, but you can forget what you've said. Once you've recorded it to a standard that you like you can just listen to it. Trust me, I am taking steps to make sure there isn't a repeat performance. 

My digital pm mentor was super nice and sent me an email asking how it went and offered her words of wisdom after I told her. I am pretty darn lucky to have such a great mentor.

What can you do except learn from the situation and do better next time.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Egg bacon chips and beans

The other day I got a FB message from one of my old professors at MCAD. A swell chap called Phil Anderson. I have to say that MCAD is a very special place and it means a lot to me that my professors still keep in contact. 

So, in the email Phil alerts me to a blog dedicated to the English fry up. How great is that? Have a look at it and see for yourself the wonders of what the English like to eat for breakfast. I will admit I do fancy a good fry up now and then, but my heart will stay forever true to the Sunny Side and the Triple Rock. 

On a side note if anyone is ever in Shepherds Bush there's a great cafe on the Uxbridge Road called the Harp. Real old school. Run by the poshest man you'll ever meet. I think I'll treat myself to a fry up this week and I'll post up a photo.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Blogging about blogging

At the moment I am having a bit of a blogging dilemma. As you know I am looking for a job. I am digital project manager with a social media specialism. My dilemma is about whether or not I should blog about these topics. Everywhere I look these days people are blogging about social media, technology trends, and the latest advertising campaigns.

I remember last year when I was looking for a job several people advised me that if I wanted to work in advertising that I should start blogging about my favourite adverts and campaigns.

This would tell people how switched on I am to what's going on and show how keen I was to work in the industry. The idea just didn't appeal to me. There are so many well written blogs on the subject out there at the moment; does the world really need another blog that's written for the soul purpose of impressing a future boss?

I didn't really want to blog about my favourite adverts or how much I loved x, y, and z brands. At first this worried me. If I didn't want to blog about advertising did that mean I had no business working in the industry? Didn't I want to put across that I was passionate and in the know?

So now this time around I am finding that more often than not when I am researching people at agencies where I'd like to work that they have blogs about industry related topics. So again, I wonder if that's what I should be doing? I mean I don't want to get left behind in the dust do I?

The thing is that as much as I love social media and advertising I don't want to blog about it in my personal time with the caveat that I'd be more than happy to write about if I were being paid.
I think that's important to have interests and hobbies that are outside of what you do professionally. If you don't I think you can just get very myopic view of things. 

You've got to mix it up, get out there and experience new things. It reminds me of my wonderful professor at MCAD, the great Jerry Allan's Creative and Critical Thinking class. Jerry was big on learning and doing things that were outside your comfort zone. He taught us the importance of finding inspiration in unexpected places.

So that's my two pence (cents) worth. I am just going to continue with writing about what I love. Being an expat in London.
And cheers to all the people who write the blogs that I love reading about professional topics and otherwise!

Ski Holiday

Holiday photos can be found here.

Friday the 26th was my last day of work and the very next day we took off for a week of skiing in Austria. There's nothing like ending a job and then heading off on holiday.

Matthew had wanted to go on a ski holiday for some time and had been poking around looking for deals on the internet. I have to say that at first I wasn't all that bothered about going skiing. I had been skiing about 6 times in my life. The last time being when I was about 16. While Matthew wanted to go skiing I was dreaming of a beach holiday.

He found a great deal on It was 299 pounds per person for flights, airport transfers, accommodation and breakfast and dinner. I couldn't believe it! Such a great deal, so we booked the trip. We went to Niederau , Austria. Which apparently was good for beginner skiers. I was a tiny bit nervous about falling down the side of a mountain and ending up with both my legs in casts, but threw caution to the wind and decided to go for it.

We stayed in a place called the Hotel Harfenwirt. The reviews on Trip Advisor were mixed. Some loved it and some hated it. The owner of the hotel, Herbert, was described as  mean and dour. On the upside he did play the harp for his guests. The hotel did have a harp theme to it and yes Herbert might have been a bit dour. All this didn't really matter. The trip was only 299 pounds! You can't really expect all that much. Plus the lift ticket was very reasonable and the slopes were right across the street.

I thought Niederau was lovely and it was great to be somewhere with snow. Our first two days of skiing were bright, sunny and very mild. You could sit in the sun on the patio in a t-shirt. There were five of us all together on the trip, Matthew, brother in law Thomas, Becky, Ali and me. It was a good sized group and everyone got on well, dispite some shocking behaviour from Thomas ;).

Becky had never been skiing before so she decided to go to ski school for the week. Matthew was snowboarding and the rest of us had decent skiing ability. We started out on the nursery slope to warm up and to see if it would all come back to us. I was doing ok until I tried to turn and ended up going straight down the hill at top speed! It was crazy! 

The hill wasn't very steep at all and there was lots of room to stop at the bottom, but you feel like you're going 300 miles per hour. There was a moment where I panicked and thought that I would fall and never ski again, but I remained calm and tried to stay relaxed in my body. I made it to the bottom and didn't fall! My legs were literally shaking in their boots.

I felt my skiing improve as the week wore on and I felt more adventurous to try new runs. I ended up going down a run that I had no business being on. I thought I was going down a nice gentle red run, but ended up going down a very steep red run that we had seen when we rode up the gondola. At first it was ok, but then I realised where I was headed. It was that super steep red!

There was nothing I could do, but go down. I took it very slow and just worked my way down the run. I fell about 3 times, nothing major, but was able to get up and keep going. I was literally talking to myself "Ok, Rhea... now to the left, nice and easy.... and now to the right." It worked and I made it down. I was super sore the next day, but I made it. I felt very proud. As I was trying to make it down in one pieced there would be other skiers zipping down like it was the easiest thing in the world. Maybe that will be me next year.

After that I was fine. Skiing is just like riding a bike; expect if you're out of shape a lot more painful. I have to say that I was so tired at the end of the day. We'd get up and have breakfast and be on the slopes around 10 a.m. and ski until 4 p.m. We usually ended up having lunch on the top of the mountain and few mugs of the old glühwein. We strictly followed the tradition of après ski and then had dinner. Most nights I was in bed before 9 p.m. I was so exhausted, but in a good way. It was great to be out in the fresh air doing something physically challenging.

One night we went for a wine tasting. That was lovely. We got to sample Austrian wines in an 11th century monastery. Another night we went out for a meat fondue. We made it down to the Irish pub, O’Malley’s for some live music. It was a great time, plenty to do if you could stay awake for it.

I enjoyed the trip, more than I thought I was going to. I've discovered that I really like to ski. Next year I am going to take a few lessons to polish my technique. I loved the skiing, the snow, the days when we had sunshine, the cheesy Austrian music, the food, the glühwein and of course the company.

Coming back to London I felt like a huge weight had been lifted and I just felt better than I had in a long time. I am looking forward to next year's trip for sure!

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