I always said that if I were to travel abroad, I’d want to do it as an ambassador. Well, I got my wish, kind of.

This December I took the plunge (as in the Ambien) and went to the Land Down Under — Australia — to visit a friend and experience life in another hemisphere. The toilets do flush in reverse, but besides that, everything is just as it is at home, only nicer. Including living with arthritis, which isn’t so nice if you’re dealt that card.Seth Takes the Plunge ... Down Under!

I had the opportunity to meet a new friend, Ainslie, who runs the Arthritis Foundation Australia (read: Arthritis Australia), and we sat and talked for hours about the similarities and differences facing our two distant, but similar worlds. While it wasn’t exactly a sanctioned United Nations or State Department trip — and though I didn’t have chauffeured service in an armored car — I still felt somewhat responsible for representing Americans with arthritis.

What I found fascinating was learning about some of the cultural issues facing a country like Australia, which is the exact same for us in America, but not as seemingly obvious.

For example, the really strong Greek community in Australia needs educating badly. I hadn’t realized this was such a large demographic (I just assumed Australians liked Greek pastry shops), and could see how English-language materials might cause a problem.

And learning about the government and medical system here, with respect to all of the expensive drugs, has been fascinating. Everything I know about socialized medicine I learned from a pamphlet about Canada, so this was a good eye opener.

It has been exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I wake up every morning praying for the “all quiet on the western front” (no flares) and knock-on-wood.

So far, so good.

To listen to Seth’s chat with Arthritis Australia CEO Ainslie Cahill, click here.