Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Working...of a different sort

As you know, I really wanted to do something in my summer here that was purposeful. But as my internship experience fell through I have something else to really put my energy into and that is my health and fitness.

My dad back in Australia is really into exercising and eating well and before I left for the US he said to me, "Don't come back fat!". I pretty much laughed it off as I highly doubted I would gain weight as I'm pretty fussy with my food anyway and I don't like lots of condiments/grease/sugar/etc. If anything I thought I'd lose weight! How naive I was. A big change when I arrived in the US was that I wasn't used to having so much control over the amount I ate. My host parents encouraged me to eat more and didn't tell me to stop eating certain foods(like my mum would "That's enough now.") and I pretty much took full advantage of that. I became addicted to tortilla chips and at my old host family's house we didn't have a lot of pantry space so the extra-large packet of chips would be left out on the counter and I would just keep snacking at them way beyond the point where I became full. I'd almost lost sight of what 'being full' even meant. And then I was invited to various parties/gatherings which is not something I normally would do in Australia so I'd have free reign of waaaaay too much food- tortilla chips galore! Then as things started to go downhill with my old host family, my foreign exchange sister, Hannah and I would be left at home on the weekends we would pig out and spend our days eating food and watching Desperate Housewives. I think I really suffered from emotional eating at that point. Of course, when I went to New York with the exchange students I wasn't depressed or anything; I was eager to take full advantage of the delicious food NYC had to offer! Such as the amazing Hale and Hearty Soups stores which sold delectable deli sandwiches and salads and of course plenty of amazing healthy soups. [Such a brilliant idea for New York where a soup is just what one needs in the cold weather!] I even went to my first Indian restaurant(since being in the US, I mean) there as well as an Italian restaurant which I thought was amazing but the Italian exchange student didn't think it was anything fancy, go figure!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. So basically I'd gained 20 pounds in the US. It sounds so much more when it's in pounds than in kilos. Moving to a new host family really gave me a fresh look at things and an opportunity to start afresh. I love america's teen magazine, Seventeen and recently they came out with a new exclusively health and fitness issue. I knew I needed to change up my exercise routine as I was just doing strength exercises and I just wasn't seeing many results. So as I have lots of free time this summer I've taken up their 4 week 'Best Beach Body' plan. This is my third week on the plan and it is really working for me. I'm feeling fitter and I can no longer do my 'pregnant stomach'. Actually my stomach is looking lovely and flat at the moment, if I may say so. Basically a typical workout according to the plan starts with 5 mins of skipping. Then I do one of the cardio dance moves for one whole song. I alternate with my own dance moves because it is very tiring doing two side-lunges, a spin and then a squat; continuously for a whole song. You're supposed to do 6 songs in total but doing three is plenty enough for me. I would like to at least work up to four but if I'm sweaty and red in the face after three I think I'm good. Next is usually a strength workout for a different area of the body. There are different ones for butt, legs, arms and abs. Then as a cool down I do some of the yoga moves in the magazine, which are hard! I've definitely become more flexible now though.  I do this in the morning, usually after breakfast as the workout is so much harder on an empty stomach and then in the evening I got for a 'speed-walk' round the block a couple times. I've been trying to do a jog around the park nearby too but I keep getting shin splints which makes it difficult.

Of course, food is a big part of my new body overhaul so I'll let you know what I'm up to in that regard in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Internship [part 3]

I was equally as nervous on day 2 as I was on day 1, so much so that I just wanted to run away and not turn up but my hostbrother dropped me off and there was no way I was turning back. Shaking in my boots I asked for Arturo at the newdesk and soon enough he came through and told me I could watch whilst one of the newsreaders, Katie Marzullo, did the 'Pound Puppy' segment. I watched as Katie held a little Jack Russel puppy and ran through the whole segment first time without a single mistake. As soon as she was done she rushed off to her next engagement. I stayed behind and spoke to the women from the dog shelter who'd brought the pup. I was telling her how I had a Jack Russel myself but that she didn't look like "Milo" who was white with brown and black patches but instead is tan with white socks on her feet. The shelter worker told me that was exactly how Milo's brothers and sisters looked too but they didn't pick them for the segment as it was thought they wouldn't 'sell' as well. That's kind of sad really as they're all puppies and are no doubt adorable but I guess the world revolves around aesthetics and there's no escaping that.

I spent the rest of the time working the teleprompter and I was feeling pretty comfortable with it considering it was only my second time working it but then my worst nightmare happened...the teleprompter screen kept rolling backwards and as much as I tried to turn it the other way it was just doing its own thing. I felt sick to my stomach as I thought it was something I was doing wrong and would be in huge trouble as this was being aired live and could haven potentially been a major embarrassment for the news station. Luckily one of the newsroom operators told me it was just a technical issue and not caused by my rookie teleprompter skills. At this point Arturo was doing the news segment and he just had to ad-lib which I was super impressed with. I'm sure many people assume that being a news reader isn't difficult as you're just spoon fed everything like a robot but these anchors know exactly what they're saying and are capable of speaking without the teleprompter if the need arises. I even discovered that at times the newsreaders will diverge from the script and use their own lines so the segment appears more authentic.

Thinking the technical errors were over I started to relax again but then someone shouted that old scripts were coming up on the teleprompter which the newsanchor was reading off of. To make matters worse the footage on  the screen was from a current story so all of a sudden the technical operators deleted all of the scripts from the teleprompter which completely confused the newsanchor who was mid-way through a sentence. Thankfully they put on some pre-recorded footage for a couple minutes while they transferred the new scripts to the teleprompter. Live television may be fun to watch but for the people behind the scenes it's hard work, stressful and involves a lot of risk as so much can go wrong and every mistake is broadcast to thousands of tv sets in the community.

When it was time for me to go home I went to collect my things from the desk where Tom worked and I found a big poster rolled up with a post-it note attached reading "Welcome to America - This is for you!". It turned out to be a promo poster for some new tv show(some drama about dinosaurs that I'm quite sure never made it past the first season). I couldn't have been more grateful and was extremely grateful that my existence there was even acknowledged.

I was due to come back the following week and I had every intention but didn't have any transport from my host family so I had to get there on foot. It turned out to be a very long walk and I wasn't really sure where I was going, I just had to go off memory from when we'd driven to the news station so I kept walking along this street and there was no news station in sight but all these buildings I didn't recognise at all and there weren't even proper paths to walk on any more. I started to get scared too as it didn't seem like the safest part of town and I kept seeing all these creepy men. It was getting super close to the time I had to be there at so I decided to head back thinking I must have completely got the roads mixed up. I knew then though I wouldn't be returning, they wouldn't want someone who didn't show up and I didn't have Arturo's number to call him and apologise. They needed someone they could rely on and I knew I couldn't walk back in there again knowing I'd let people down as they would have been assuming I was coming in to work the teleprompter for them.

Secretly I was glad to have an excuse not to go back there again. On the bright side I was extremely grateful to have had the two day experience and thinking about it I would have been really nervous if I had to go back each week as there weren't that many people to talk to me as everyone seemed too busy so awkwardness would have been aplenty. I really hate awkwardness. Another reason I was glad it ended so soon was that I didn't really want to have to walk such a long distance on my own in the unsavoury part of the city, two days a week.

 Had I done the internship at a later stage in my life I think things would have gone better- I would have been more confident in my self and not been so afraid of making mistakes and upsetting people. I knew I probably upset Arturo as he went out of his way to get me the internship and then I bailed on him. I did try to make amends by sending an email of apology but it never received a reply....

 You live and you learn.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Internship [part 2]

I was so nervous to begin my little interning experience at the local news station. I was greeted by the news anchor Arturo Santiago who showed me the broadcasting room where he said I would later use the teleprompter(you know, the little box the news anchors read their scripts off). I was quickly shown how to use this little dial that makes the words keep moving forward(or backwards if you go too fast!) and then told I wouldn't be needed until 5pm when the first evening news show started. I had organised with Arturo to come in every Thursday and Friday during summer at 4pm. I wondered what I would do until 5pm and wandered round til I found the main newsroom but I couldn't find Arturo at first and I just stood there super awkwardly whilst everyone else took phone calls, discussed news stories and worked at their computers. Luckily I found Arturo who said I could just sit at the assignment desk with this young guy, Tom. The assignment desk was a raised 'work station' at the back of the room and is where they had all these police radios. Tom was super friendly to me, even though he looked really stressed out. He received the breaking news first and was to assign new stories to different people at the studio. He took phone calls, listened to the radios(which were constantly rabbiting on; half the time I could barely understand what was said although I did catch an alert of a possible suicide attempt which was rather intriguing), alerted everyone else in the room of breaking news updates and wrote articles for KCOY's website. He was telling me you basically have to be A.D.D. to do his job which was very true. You have to be able to divide your focus between various tasks, something I didn't envy. I just sat next to him for most of the time whilst reading the latest articles on the website and he asked me various questions about my exchange in the US. He told me he was from Philadelphia and that the people over there are really friendly but he didn't want to move back there as vacationing there made it that much more special. I wanted to ask him more about why he moved to California but he was in the middle of writing articles and such. I mean I wanted to be more social but I didn't want to disturb him either. Then at 5pm, it was the first evening news show of the night and Arturo was like 'Are you ready, Shivi?' and told me to go back to the broadcasting room. I didn't really think I would be using the teleprompter as I was barely shown how to use it but that's exactly what they wanted me to do. My heart was beating so fast. I mean, it was live television and the teleprompter is what the anchors rely on. At the beginning it was really hard to control it but after a while I got used to each anchor's speed at which they speak. Each time it was a commercial break I had to stretch my hand and roll my eyes as I had to be so focused and still during the half hour which went by so quickly. Then in my break before the next show I went back up to the assignment desk and this blonde-haired girl came up to me and asked if I was interning. Turns out she's a foreign exchange student too but on a college program and she's from Germany. She even knew one of the German exchange student from my group too! She was so friendly and was telling me that she's interning 6 days a week during the summer and this was her second week at KCOY. I told her I was doing the teleprompting and I think she was a tad jealous as she said she'd never got to do it before so she came and watched me for the 6pm show. I found out I was to do 3 shows each day so I finished up at 7:30pm. I felt really empowered by the end of the day as I really had to come out of my shell and interact with all these adults. I was telling my host sister that during my last year of high school back in Australia I didn't have many opportunities for meeting new people or speaking to adults so I was really proud I was able to cope.

I'll let you know how the second and last day of my internship went in my next post; Internship [part 3].

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Internship [part 1]

Let me tell you about an event in my life recently that has passed much sooner than I had hoped.

I wanted to do something this summer that was some form of work, that would get me out of the house. Ideally I wanted to get a job to earn some extra cash but because of my visa I can't do any paid work. I can do 'cash-in-hand' jobs such as babysitting but it's pretty unlikely to find work in that area. Believe me I tried, I stuck up flyers all around where my old host family lived and nothing came of it.

I was reading online about how many ex-seniors do summer internships in their summer break before starting college to get some extra experience to help them with college and getting jobs later on in life. Usually with internships you work for free or sometimes you may get paid a very small wage. So I thought that would be perfect to do in my summer holidays as I needed some sort of work I could do because I didn't want to feel purposeless or bored. Plus I thought it would be great to experience a real work environment as when I got back to Australia I'm going to have to apply for a part-time job.

My previous host sister actually works as a news anchor on the local morning news show as part of the KCOY news station and my old host mom had suggested maybe I could  do an internship there during the summer and although we talked to my host sister about it nothing ever came of it. Then after moving to my current host family and when I revisited the idea of interning I decided that just because I no longer had a contact within the company didn't mean I couldn't try to look into it myself. So I found the KCOY website and sent a message to one of the contact emails listed on the site. Honestly, I doubted I would get a response but I did. I had a reply from the evening news anchor! We arranged a meeting where he told me I would be job shadowing. Basically it's just a simpler version of an internship. Apparently I had missed the deadline to apply for internships so I was fortunate that they were still trying to accommodate me. I think perhaps with an internship there you would have been paid. The news anchor, Arturo told me that I would be helping with various things such as editing, writing news articles, working the cameras and the teleprompter.

I'll let you know how it all went down once I started working there in my next post- Internship [part 2].