Sunday, December 9, 2012

From Casual Relief Teacher to...?

It's weird how I'll go these long stretches where I think about my blog and how I should post something, but can't think of anything to post because all I've been doing is working and doing laundry and buying groceries. And then something BIG happens in my life and I don't think about my blog at all because my life is in a whirlwind.

That's basically my entire history with this blog summed up. And boy, do I have things to tell you now.

Where did I leave you last...? Oh right, that offer from Warringa Park. Well things kind of got crazy with that in the following weeks. I took a couple weeks to get a better feel for the school. I did more CRT (casual relief teacher) work there, I talked with some teachers about the work and the students, and I really started to feel like I could be a part of the school. I started to feel like I could belong there. And then road block #1 came.

Two weeks after our initial talk, I spoke to the principal again to tell him I was interested in the position we spoke about. Unfortunately, for some reason he thought that I'd told him I wasn't interested. And just before we'd spoken, he'd been in a meeting with a bunch of other CRTs and offered them all jobs. But he said he might still have something for me and to just hang tight and keep coming back to the school.

I went home that night confused and upset and a bit embarrassed. I felt like I'd done something or said something wrong. I wasn't expecting to have the job handed to me if I wanted it, but I also didn't expect it to disappear. I spent the weekend confused and trying to sort out my thoughts through talks with my friends and parents. I decided to speak with the principal again the next week, if I was back at the school, and ask him to clear a few things up for me.

It took a few days for us to connect, but I finally had a quick moment to talk to the principal on the following Friday. (There's something about Fridays it seems.) What he told me was this: He couldn't promise me anything. He told me he was trying to see if they could get me on contract as a full time CRT for the new year, but that he still had to talk to these people and those people and stuff about the budget, etc. It wasn't how I'd pictured the conversation going (in part because we spoke at the door of the sick bay as he mopped up a mess). I was hoping for clarification, not what seemed at this point like empty offers.

Afterwards, I wasn't holding out any kind of hope. I saw my chances of getting contract work for the new year as slim to none. And I was okay with that. That's how I'd started this whole mess, it made sense that I was reverting back. I'd accepted that I'd be coming back to Australia in January to find a part-time job and sit tight until teaching work picked up around April. I'd accepted that I wasn't getting a contract.

And then last week came along. I was booked for the week at Warringa in an early years classroom (I'd been placed in these age groups more often in the previous couple weeks). The assistant principal for early years, the one who oversees everything, is a woman named Ashwini and she had spoken to me on Monday, asking how I liked working in the early years classrooms. Then she mentioned that she might have a position for me for next year, but, to use the principal's words, "couldn't promise me anything." Part of me dared to hope, while another part laughed at the irony. Well guess what happened around midday on Tuesday....?

I got offered a contract position as a classroom teacher in the early years for 2013! And I accepted!

My world sort of blew up on Tuesday and continued to blow for the next two days. I was being shown student profiles and introduced to planning templates and assessment files. I was in new classrooms observing students that I'll be teaching next year. I was meeting with so many helpful and supportive people. And my brain was exploding with information.

And so, my friends and family, starting in January, I'll be teaching 10 special needs students. I'll be setting up my classroom. I'll have two aides. I'll be planning and doing paperwork and working harder than I've ever worked in my entire life.

Good heavens, I am terrified.

And excited.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

A couple weeks ago, on a Friday morning, I got a call for work at Warringa Park Special School. I'd been there a couple times before, so it was no big deal. What caught me off-guard was when the ANZUK woman calling me said something about the principal at Warringa wanting to talk to me about a contract position for next year.

Now before anyone gets carried away, let me get you into my mind-frame. Less than a week before that, I had been talking to my mom about how I was happy doing CRT work (Casual Relief Teacher, a.k.a. supply work) and wasn't intending to look for any contract positions for next year. I didn't feel ready. I said, maybe in the new year I'll feel more prepared and I can apply for jobs for Terms 2 or 3. But not for Term 1.

And next thing I know, it's Friday afternoon and I'm sitting in with the principal, two assistant principals, and the group leader for middle classes, talking about a contract position for next year. Colour me overwhelmed. They're talking about committing to a full year, applying online and winning the contract, assistance in doing so, and so on. If that wasn't one of the most terrifying conversations of my life, I don't know what was. It ended with the principal asking me to take a week or two to think about it, to have more work in the school to help me make my decision. He said I need to be sure I can commit to the year, because they'd been burned by Canadian teachers promising to stay for the year and bailing at the end of a 6-month contract.

Needless to say, I spent all weekend thinking about it and talking about it and trying to sort out my thoughts. I had no idea if I could do it. Yes, I was prepared to commit to being in Australia for the full year, but could I run my own classroom, all the paperwork, the Educational Aides, the students?

I spoke with a teacher in one of the high support classes to get her perspective on things, and that was really helpful. I spent a few days in her classroom and started to feel comfortable there. After 4 days of work at Warringa, I was feeling confident that I could work with these kids, teach them. I was put in a different class, too, and although I was only there for 2 days, it hardly took that long to feel a connection to the kids, to see that I could teach in that environment and we could all thrive.

The thought of all the paperwork and the responsibility and the grown-up-ness that goes along with contract work, I'm feeling more like it's something I can do. Especially since I've had the time to think about it and explore it as an idea, rather than being so caught off guard.

I'll let you know what comes of it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Boring Life

Apologies, again, for going so long without an update. I suppose it's just not something I think about when my day-to-day life seems so regular.

I feel like it's been so long since I've written, that it's not even worth it to play catch-up. Especially because I haven't been doing much.

Now, I know what everyone must be thinking: You're living in Australia, how can you be doing nothing?! Well the answer is simple enough: money. The world revolves around money and I need to make sure I have enough of it to live for the next 2.5 months. Especially because for 6 weeks of that time I won't be working. Yay for summer holidays.

So basically, we can't take a weekend and jet up to the Gold Coast to surf or down to Tasmania to hike. I wish. That would be fantastic. But we need to be smart about money and right now that means saving rather than traveling. I know for a fact that traveling will occur in the new year, though. I have too much I want to see for us not to.

What have I been doing, then, you ask? Well here's a quick list of what I've been occupying my time with over the last few weeks:
  • Work, but I suppose that's a given. I've been pretty lucky and have gotten 4 days of work almost every week for the last 4 weeks.
  • Knitting! Becca taught me to knit. I'm a fast learner, and I utilized YouTube to learn new knits. So I've kept busy by knitting some Christmas gifts.
  • Regular, day-to-day necessities. Laundry, groceries, cooking, bill paying.
  • Exploring the city. I've been trying to do this more often, just getting into the city to explore and walk around.
  • Movie watching. Looper is a fantastic film, see it!
  • Coughing. We're going into summer and I've caught a cold. Fantastic.

Welcome to my boring life.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Starting Term 4 Right

Week 2 of Term 4 is now over!

The good news is Becca and I both got 2 days of work this week, which means money in the bank! It's so relieving to be back at work and making money again, and so fun to be teaching again.

Monday and Tuesday we didn't work, so Becca decided that we should start a workout routine. I think it stemmed from me mentioning that I'd been entertaining the idea of going running. "Entertaining the idea" being the key words, in my opinion. But, we are going into summer, so maybe we'll lose some weight, get a tan, and make everyone jealous when we come home looking fabulous.

And so, on Tuesday, we went for a run. Now, I do need to put it out there that I'm not a runner. I've never been a runner. The running that I do consists of spurts of energy on the soccer field. But we were running. Since we're just starting out, we alternate walking and running, but at least it's somewhere to begin. We're only 4 days into the routine, but we'll be doing our best to keep it up.

Wednesday was our first day back to work. We were at one of the special schools, so it wasn't traditional teaching. It kind of felt like we were easing back into teaching. On Thursday, we were at separate schools. The school I was at was really cute and small. I was in a Prep class of only 15 kids, and it was a fairly good day. Friday we didn't have work, but I think that was mostly because a lot of teachers/schools were striking again. I won't pretend I understand how they strike here, because I sure as heck don't. But on Friday was a half-day strike where school was closed in the morning and then reopened around 12:30. At least that's what the school I was at on Thursday was doing. And it makes no sense to me. So, I'll be moving away from that topic...

I suppose there's nothing else to really say. We didn't do much else this week. We went down to the bank, I went to the QVM yesterday to get some fresh produce... yup that's about it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our Geeky Sunday

**WARNING: This post includes much fan-girling and general geeky behaviour. The majority of you won't understand what's going on.

Although my week sucked, I can't really say the same for the weekend. Saturday wasn't exciting; we mostly cleaned. But Sunday is a whole different story...

Early last week, I discovered something called ArmageddonExpo, which is basically a geek convention. It's like ComicCon, FanExpo, and so on. So I was checking out the website and what special guests were going to be there (actors mostly), and discovered something amazing.


And I'm sure no one who reads this blog will recognize this beautiful man, but he's an actor from this show we watch called Leverage. And in our fantastical geek world, he's also Becca's husband. So needless to say, she almost died of a heart attack when I told her. From that moment, we were committed to going.

There were a few other actors who were going that we were interested in seeing, too.

Karl Urban
Lord of the Rings, Star Trek

So as soon as we were 100% sure that Aldis was going to be there, thanks to Twitter, we bought our tickets. And we had a fantastic day!

First thing when we got there, we bought a ticket to get a photo taken with Aldis Hodge. That's the scam with these things: paying for an autograph, paying for a photo. It was $40 for a picture with him, and $35 for his autograph. The stupid thing is that they can do it because people will pay for it. We did. And so did a lot of other people. But I digress...

Once we bought our ticket, we were wandering and found the autograph area, and there were a bunch of people signing already, including Aldis. We had our fan-girl moment and freaked out a bit... a lot. And then we were creepy stalker chicks and stood there for way too long, just looking and watching, but trying to act like we weren't staring. I don't think we're that stealth, though. I tried to convince Becca to just go over and talk to him, but she was all like "I don't think I could. What would I say??"

Eventually we pulled ourselves away from being creepers and made our way over to the Main Stage where Mark Pellegrino was doing a panel.

He's been in a lot of TV shows, most notably as Jacob in Lost, as Lucifer in Supernatural, and as Bishop in Being Human. I've only seen Lost, but the other two are popular shows. Most recently, he's in the new show Revolution that Becca and I have been watching. He was really awesome to see talk. He was funny and laid back. I think my favourite part was hearing him talk about Lost and his character of Jacob. It was interesting to hear him talk about how he interpreted Jacob as a character, and how it changed as he got more scripts and learned more about him.

After that panel, we saw part of a panel that Christopher Heyerdahl did. I don't really know him from anything, but he's been in shows like Supernatural, Sanctuary, Stargate Atlantis, and True Blood. Becca's a fan of him, and he was fun to see as well. But we had to duck out early because we had to go get in line for a picture with Aldis. And this is what came of that:

He was so awesome to meet. And as soon as he saw Becca's t-shirt, he started singing the Batman song "Na na na na na na na na..." I think he liked her shirt! Ha ha. It was really just a pose-shoot-leave kind of situation, so that sucked, but after he was done he was doing a panel, so we saw him later.

We didn't have anything else to see, so we got ourselves set up in the room where Aldis was speaking and listened to Terry Malloy speak. Very few people will know what I'm talking about, but he played the Dalek Davros in Classic Doctor Who. So it was neat to hear him talk about playing that part.

And then it was Aldis' turn. He's actually such a sweetheart. He was asked which superpower he'd love to have and he said it'd be a tie between three: 1. to fly, because the flight from LA to Sydney was brutal; 2. to be able to heal, and use his DNA to create cures for diseases; and 3. to make money out of thin air, because there's too much poverty and he'd like to see that fixed.

Honestly, my heart melted when he said this. WHY ARE ALL PEOPLE NOT AS GOOD AND GENUINE LIKE ALDIS HODGE?!? For those who don't know much about him (i.e. 99.9% of you), he's a genius. He's 25 years old, he skipped high school because he's brilliant, he designs watches and started his own company, etc. I feel like I'm glorifying him, but did you see his answers?!?!?

But I'll move on... mostly he talked about Leverage and his character, Alec Hardison. And I discovered, he's SO MUCH like Hardison. So many of his little quirks and his humour is in Hardison, too. It's awesome how he's managed to impart some of himself into the character. A lot of his answers had to be censored, because people didn't want to hear any season 5 spoilers. But things like his favourite episode and his favourite Parker/Hardison moments came from 5x09, so he wasn't even really able to talk about it. Either way, it was a lot of fun and I'm so excited that we got to go and meet him and listen to him talk about Leverage and himself.

Basically, nothing could top Aldis's talk (Ha ha! But really), so we decided to head out afterwards. It was such an awesome day. I'm so happy that I found out about Armageddon Expo and that we were able to go! Definitely a day I'll remember.

The Sucky Week that Sucked

These are the words I use to describe last week.

Last week was the first week of Term 4, first week back to work. As it were, I wasn't really expecting much work. I'm sure most teachers are fully rested from their holidays, and they all probably want to get the next term all set up and going. As a teacher, I understand that. But I was hoping and praying for at least one day... at least!

But it wasn't to be. So everyday, we woke up before the sun, showered, had breakfast, etc. You know, did all the morning routine things. And then sat there for an hour while we waited for work that never came. It sucked. On Monday we both went back to bed, but I made a point of not napping anymore throughout the week because I knew I had to try and reset my sleeping schedule. That's not to say that I didn't climb into bed and watch TV, but I didn't sleep!

There was another thing that messed up my internal clock: the time change. The worst part was that we weren't expecting it, so it was so confusing when we woke up last Sunday and our electronic devices were a different time from our watches and microwave. So we had to Google it and realized that, as it's Spring, we had "sprung forward" and it was an hour later. So not only had we gotten used to staying up later and sleeping in, we now had to factor in the time change.

The time change also messes with my knowledge of the time at home. Before it was easy, being 14 hours apart. I just had to subtract 2 hours from my time and switch the AM and PM. But now I have to subtract 3 hours and apparently that's confusing. Especially since I'm so used to subtracting 2. To make matters even more messed up, when North America "falls back" in a couple weeks, and turns the time back an hour, we'll be 16 HOURS APART. And not only is that semi-confusing mathematically, but it complicates things in terms of chatting with those at home. Why is this not something I thought of beforehand?!? Ah well, we'll make it work.

Back to the fact that the week was sucky, we really didn't do much. It was like we had this extra week of holidays that we didn't know what to do with. We did some walking around downtown and did some groceries. But there was also a day that we literally didn't leave the house and it was fabulous.

So needless to say, I don't have much else to report from the week. It was boring and sucky and I'm not getting any money again next pay day. That basically sums it up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

End of the Holidays

The end of our holidays wasn't too exciting, so I'll quickly go over it here.

On our last day of the road trip, we spent the early morning on the coast again. We made a few stops at places like London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, and The 12 Apostles again.

London Bridge fell down in 2005
Loch Ard Gorge
5 of the 12 Apostles - there's 8 left standing

The rest of the day was unexciting - driving. We took the highway to the start of the Great Ocean Road and then found a souvenir shop for some last minute shopping. We relaxed a bit at home before making another trip to Costco. We had a few things that we wanted to get, and having a car to get said things home was very convenient. Becca and I also signed up for a Costco membership!

Thursday was a long day. We brought the car back and then did some wandering around the QVM. We picked up a couple things for lunch and then headed home to pack a mini-picnic. Once we had everything gathered, we went down to Brighton Beach. It was a beautiful day! We hit at least 28 degrees. And although the wind was blowing, it was fairly warm.

The rest of the week with Juanita consisted mostly of enjoying each others' company. We went to the mall, hung around home, did some crafting. Like I said, nothing exciting. On Saturday morning, we went to Pancake Parlour for breakfast. I got this wonderful picture there, from the menu. Pretty sure my favourite part about this is that it's imported from "the North American-Canadian region." I actually laughed upon seeing this and my first thought was: "Oh, they're not sure. It's just that general area over there." HAHAHAHA! I had to snap a picture to share. Also, it's expensive! That's $5 for a serving!

Juanita left before the crack-of-dawn on Sunday morning. We mostly cleaned the house and relaxed, since it was our last day before going "back to work." I put it in quotes because it's now Wednesday and we haven't worked yet. Not that I'm surprised. I"m expecting maybe one day of work this week. It's the first week of Term so I'm sure most teachers want to be at school to set up the rest of the year. Hopefully it picks up by next week!

The only exciting thing that's happened this week, is that I finally found the chain bookstore in Austrlia! It's called Dymocks and it's right downtown. The only reason we hadn't found it yet is that it's on a street that we've never walked down before. I'm pretty sure we've walked down every street except that one. So of course it's the one with the bookstore! It also has the craft store that we usually go to at the mall (which is much farther away). So we made a small trip down there on Monday. And as if the fact that it's a bookstore doesn't make it cool enough, but they're also selling a TARDIS teapot.

Now things are kind of weird. It feels like we're still on holidays, except we have to be up early everyday and ready for work. So, are we or aren't we on holidays?!? I think we're wrestling a bit with how to spend our time... we'll just have to see!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 2 on the Great Ocean Road

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Day two of our road trip was a success! Today was Becca's driving day, so we hopped in the car and headed over to Otway Fly Treetop Walk. The drive there was quite an adventure in itself. The road we took was through the trees and windy and narrow..... And kinda scary! But Becca drove like a pro and got us to the Treetop Walk safe and sound.

We were thinking of going zip-lining, but at $115 a person, we decided against it. We were still able to go on the treetop walk and it was really fun! At the highest point, at the top of the observation tower, we were 47 metres in the air. That's over 150 feet! There were a few times that I was feeling a bit shaky on my feet, but I had a really good time. We were there for almost 2 hours, taking our time as we walked and took pictures.
Looking down from the top of the Observation Tower

Our second stop was at the Great Ocean Road Wildlife Centre. It's a little place just off the Great Ocean Road, and they have a few different animals for people to see and feed and pet. It wasn't very busy, but it was very muddy. We still made our way
Becca and I named her Tamara
through and saw lots of animals. They have guinea pigs, chickens, emus, kangaroos,
red deer, wallabies, dingo puppies, deer, donkeys, ponies, peacocks, and lots of different kinds of birds flying around. I loved that we got to feed and pet some animals. The BEST part was that we were able to go into the kangaroo pen and pet and feed the kangaroos!!! It was sooooo amazing to be right up there with the kangaroos, having them hang onto my hand with their front paws and eat out of my palm. Seriously, it was fantastic. Such an awesome experience. We also were able to go into the wallaby pen and feed them, and feed the deer, emus, ponies, and donkeys. Although we were walking through yucky, wet mud, it was a fun time.

As we headed to our destination for the night, Port Campbell, we were passing right by the 12 Apostles, so we stopped to see them. It was really nice because the sun was just going down. We weren't really able to take many good pictures, especially pictures of us, because of the setting sun, so we'll go back tomorrow when we pass by on our way home.

We made it to Port Campbell for the night, but we had a really hard time finding a room! We tried 4 hotels that had no vacancy or rooms that were too small, before finding a nice place to stay. Tomorrow we'll see a few more tourist attractions, before driving home.

Favourites of the day:
Juanita - Seeing the 12 Apostles.
Becca - Watching Juanita and I "freak out" at the top of the observation tower and on the cantilever
Me - Feeding and petting the kangaroo and having her hold onto my hand while I fed her.

Let the Road Trip Begin!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

First things first, we were woken up at 7:45 this morning by our apartment fire alarm going off..... Again. This is the third time within the last 2 weeks or so. I think this morning was due to something the construction workers did to set it off. They let us in shortly after we got outside. No fire trucks this time.

We were soon on the road in our little white car. Thankfully there were no surprises on the way out of the city. When we got to the Great Ocean Road, we just began stopping at a bunch of different lookouts. It's amazing just to stop and stare at the water because it's soooo blue!

Our first moment of excitement came at the first lookout, when we saw a seal! It was so cute to see it just hanging out in the water, rolling around and throwing its flippers in the air. Sometimes it would just stop and lay on its back on the surface of the water. Adorable!

After a few stops, we just drove on the winding roads around the coast. Some of it was kinda scary to drive on, but it was a beautiful drive! We made it to Apollo Bay, our destination for the day, around mid-afternoon so we stopped at the information kiosk to see what we could do or see near town. Since we'd been sitting in the car all day, we found a walking trail and drove out to it. It was a walk in the rainforest! Who would've thought that we'd go on a walk through the rainforest in Australia?! It was so neat, the trees were HUGE!

Afterwards we drove out to Cape Otway in hopes of finding another lookout where we could keep our eyes out for whales. On the way there, we were driving along another windy trail, and then Becca said: "What's that over there?" She'd seen kangaroos! So I stopped the car and we took a couple pictures of them in the distance. Once we started driving again, we came upon a car stopped on the side of the road, and there were people looking up into the trees. And then Juanita said the magic word: KOALAS. They were all over the trees! We counted around 10 koalas from that one stopping point. Then we got back in the car and drove another 30 seconds, and we stopped again and saw another 15 in another spot! There were two that were fighting, one of which had a baby hanging off of it! As we continued driving, there were tons of other spots where people had stopped to take pictures of koalas, and we could even just see them from the road as we drove. I tried calculating it best as I could, and I'm positive we saw at least 50 koalas today. WILD koalas. It was really hard to count them all, there were so many! It was so amazing, I never imagined we'd see so many of them in the wild, if any at all!
How many koalas can you find? (Click picture to see it larger)

That really was our big exciting adventure of the day. We didn't find a lookout so we couldn't do any whale watching. But after the excitement of the koalas, I think we were pretty happy. We just headed back to Apollo Bay and found a place to rest our heads for the night, and somewhere with a bite to eat.

After such an exciting day, we're all pretty tired, and so we spent the night playing cards and relaxing in our motel room. Tomorrow we'll be going to a wildlife park and on a treetop walk! Hopefully it'll be just as exciting as today was!

Juanita's highlight: baby koala!
Favourites of the day:
Juanita - On our way back to Apollo Bay, we saw a little baby koala in a tree right next to the road. It was adorable, and Juanita said this was her favourite part of the day.
Rebecca - She said that the road trip as a whole was her favourite part.
Me - I loved the seal that was rolling around in the water at the first lookout we went to.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

End of Week One

On Wednesday, it was beautiful out. The sun was shining and it was warm. We were really glad we'd reserved that day for relaxing time at the beach. And so, on Wednesday afternoon, we packed up some snacks, a blanket, and our books, and were off to Brighton Beach.

When we got to the beach, we laid out the blanket, and then the hard work began: lying in the sun and reading. *Sigh* It's a hard life. We read, we snacked, we soaked up the sun. We must've been at the beach for at least 3 hours before the wind started picking up and it was getting a little bit chilly. Also, as it's school holidays, this was about the time that all the high-schoolers started crowding the beach. So, we headed home and continued our laid-back, relaxing day by doing nothing. It was such a good day.

On Thursday, we went down to Scienceworks, a science and technology museum. There were a lot of little kiddlies running around, mostly kids in day camps. We still had fun wandering around and trying out some of the little activities they had. Then we
Southern Cross
saw a show about black holes at the Planetarium. Neither of us had ever been to a planetarium before, so it was pretty exciting. And after the show about black holes, they showed us some of the stars and constellations that we can see here. I know a few of them at home, but as we're in a different hemisphere, all the stars are different. No big dipper or north star around here. We have the southern cross to help you find the south pole. The only constellation I recognized was Orion, and that one you can barely see here.

Friday was pouring rain out all day, but we picked ourselves out of bed and were off to the last stop for the week: The Melbourne Museum. They currently have an exhibit on The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia that Becca and I were both interested in seeing before it finishes next weekend. The exhibit was divided into 3 parts, which were the 3 great centres of ancient Mesopotamian civilization: Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon. It was really interesting, and I'm glad we had the chance to go see it. We spent the rest of the day exploring a few of the permanent exhibits at the museum, but didn't have a chance to see everything. There are a lot of exhibits! But we got year passes, so we can go again any other time, and entry is free. We'll definitely have to go back and see more.

Saturday was cleaning day, again. Becca's mom, Juanita, was due to arrive in Melbourne around 1:30pm, so we spent all morning cleaning the apartment and doing laundry. The Melbourne Airport is really weird. Even though we weren't boarding a plane ourselves, we had to go through security and went all the way into the terminal, right to the gate! It was really weird. They only checked boarding passes at the gate to the plane. It was nice to be right there to meet Juanita when she got off the plane, though.

Although it was only mid-afternoon when we got home, Juanita was already really tired from her trip. However, we didn't want her to be up in the middle of the night, so it was our mission to keep her up and about until a decent bed-time. Becca and Juanita went for a walk, we had dinner, and then we took the tram up to Kmart. By the time we got home, it was 8:30, so we decided it was acceptable for her to go to bed.

We didn't have anything big planned for today, Sunday. Becca and I have been dying to go to Costco, especially because we see it from North Melbourne Train Station all the time. WELL, Juanita has a Costco card, and after some research, we discovered that you can use your Costco card at ANY Costco WORLDWIDE.

So, guess what we did today?? Oh yes, COSTCO.

It may sound sad to you, but visiting Costco is a favourite pastime of mine and Becca's. So we were so happy to be in one today. And we didn't buy too much stuff, which is good because we don't have a car so we had to lug our purchases home on the trams. We had fun.

Tomorrow begins our newest adventure: road trip down the Great Ocean Road!
Click to see larger

I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to share when we get home!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Happens When We Have Holidays

Monday was our first official day of holidays, in my opinion. It was our first day of planned holiday fun-times, at least.

We started the holiday by sleeping in a on Monday, of course. No need to get up at 6am! By the time we pulled ourselves out of bed, we started on adventure #1: The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), and the Napoleon Bonaparte exhibit.

We toured around the exhibit for a couple hours and then walked back to downtown for lunch. There's this meat pie place here called Pie Face, and they're EVERYWHERE.

See?? That's 9 in the Central Business District! And I don't even know if Google Maps got them all. So we decided to try it for lunch, and they were really good! They're all baked fresh in-store daily, and they have lot of different kinds, like steak and peppercorn, mince beef, and thai chicken curry. (I tried a steak injected with cheese, and Becca had the steak and peppercorn). Yum!

After our yummy lunch, we headed back over to the NGV to see the other exhibits. The gallery is free, except for the special exhibits, like the Napoleon one right now. We spent another couple hours wandering around the galleries. We mostly saw European art from the 14th century to the mid-20th century. There's also an Asian art gallery (can't remember which centuries), but it's currently closed. So we'll have to go back another time to see it, I suppose.

This was my favourite room in the gallery, in (bad quality) panoramic view. Both sides of the hall were full of paintings displayed this way. It was reminiscent of the way paintings were once hung (can't remember the time period, though).


Hello, Tuesday! Tuesday was Zoo day. The best part about it, was that it is only one train stop away, so it literally takes us no more than 10 minutes to get there.

We chose a really good day to go to the Zoo. It was sunny, but not too warm, so we were able to see almost all the animals, since they weren't hiding in the shade. I think one of the best things we saw all day was the lions roaring. We were looking at the animals in the cage across from the lions, and all of a sudden we heard this booming noise coming from behind us. I honestly didn't know what it was at first, until I peeked around a bush and saw these two male lions throwing their heads back and roaring! It was amazing! Becca got a video, so we'll have to check later how that worked out. I got this amazing picture:

A couple weeks ago, when Sarah was here, I mentioned the Mali elephants that were stationed around town in celebration of the Zoo being 150 years old, and how Becca was on a mission to find and photograph them all. Well, we were sad to see one day that the elephants were gone from town because we hadn't had a chance to find them. However, they Mali elephants had just been moved to the Zoo for the next month before being auctioned off. So we were able to get pictures of ALL of the 50 elephants.

Becca's squee-ing inside as she takes pictures of all the elephants.

We had a really good day, saw lots of animals and went home tired. I promise I will put up pictures on Facebook soon, but here's a few from the day to tide you over.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Busiest Week Yet!

Good news, friends and family......


Ok so it's good news for us. And maybe you in the long run, because I'll have LOTS to say in the coming weeks. However, first I have to recap the week we just had!

Since it was the last week of term, I wasn't expecting more than one day of work. I figured most teachers would be in school to tie up loose ends before sending the kids away for holiday. Becca had a job set up for Wednesday as of the Friday before, so at least she was guaranteed one day, if nothing else.

Well Monday came and I got a call for an Teaching Assistant position. Basically, that means I wasn't teaching, but I also wasn't getting paid as a teacher. But money is money. And we knew that two weeks of no work means two weeks of no incoming money, so of course I took the job. It was fun, I was working at a special school, Jackson, with students diagnosed with Autism and various behaviour problems. And I suppose they liked me, because they asked me to come back the next day, too! I was really happy to get called back, even though it was for less pay than teaching, because I wasn't expecting any other work. Also, I really like the school. I've been to another special school and it didn't seem as organized and devoted to academics. I hope I go back to Jackson, maybe as a teacher next time.

I got a call on Tuesday afternoon to teach 3/4 at Sydenham-Hillside, the school where I taught Gym a couple weeks ago. Back-to-back in-advance jobs AND it's the last week of term?!? Heck yeah! And then I had a really good day at S-H. Of course there were some difficult times, but the class was fairly good overall. It was nice that the kids knew me already from the last time I was there (I was in their class for one hour as a time-release). I think 3/4s are the best groups to teach around here. I've only had a few days in 3/4 classes, but they've been my best.

On Thursday, Becca and I worked at a more difficult school. The ANZUK rep that called me said it was more difficult, and then the principal introduced us to the school-wide behaviour management program, and these two things combined put a knot in my stomach. It may have been one of those moments where I was expecting it to be not-so-great, so it wasn't, but I really did my best to keep an open mind, as always. But it wasn't my favourite day. I was in a 1/2 class, and I had to send a kid down to the office (as per the behaviour management program). I hate doing it but I couldn't manage him anymore. The part that really ticked me off was when he came back about 30 minutes later and there was no change in his behaviour at all. I mean, what's the point of this program if half an hour in the office doesn't change anything? I feel like someone should've come to my class or at least spoken with me afterwards. They knew I was an emergency teacher, so where's the support? Oh well, it was the end of the day, and we figured it was our last day of work for the term. (It was.)

The week didn't end in a very exciting way. After the bad last day teaching, we spent Friday doing groceries and picking up random odds and ends that we had on our shopping list. Saturday was a bit more fun because we went down the the QVM and also went to the mall. It was a mini shopping-spree kind of day. (Very mini.) It's spring-time, so there's a lot of nice clothing on SALE. Today (Sunday) was laundry day and crafting day. So it was not fun, but also kind of fun. A weird mix.

Tomorrow officially starts our holiday, in my opinion. We're spending the week visiting various attractions around town that we haven't had the time to see yet. But I'm not telling you in advance where we're going, but be assured that it's all planned out and on the calendar. I recommend you check back, because I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to share, and probably a few pictures, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sarah's Visit: Part 2

Welcome to Saturday!

We had planned to go on a road trip down to Phillip Island this day. Sarah also wanted to visit a couple National Parks while we were down that way. Unfortunately, one was pretty far away so we didn't get to it, but the other was closer and we were able to fit it into our schedule.

We were out of the house before 9am to head down to the QVM again to get pictures of some Mali elephants we'd missed the day before. Then we walked down to East Coast Rentals to pick up the car we'd hired for the day (hire = rent). There were a few people ahead of us, so we had to wait a while before actually getting our car and heading out.

And then I had my first experience driving from the right side of the car, and on the left side of the road. By the way, I'M A PRO. It wasn't that hard. I think, because we've been in the city for a month and a half already, I'm pretty used to the change. The part that I had some issues with was just staying within the lines. I tended to crowd the left-hand side because I was in a new vantage point. But other than that, I felt really comfortable, never forgot to stay on the left side, and never forgot to get in on the right. Like I said, I'm a pro.

Then we were on the road. Google Maps came through for us, and the directions I'd printed got us out of the city and all the way down to Mornington Peninsula National Park, one of the places Sarah wanted to visit. We walked around the paths and down to the water's edge. The boardwalk down to the water consisted of over 200 steps! TWO HUNDRED! And we walked all the way down, around the rocks at the bottom for a while, and then all the way back up! And that was just the beginning of the day.

We followed our Google Maps directions around Western Port, stopping briefly for lunch, all the way to Phillip Island! Oh hello beautiful island, how I missed you. Our first stop was to the Koala Conservation Centre, and you will never guess what we saw there. A BABY KOALA. It was so cute! It was just hanging onto Momma, and they were both grabbing a snack from the tree. Adorable. We saw quite a few koalas, some wallabies again, but this time we also saw a Kookaburra! They're big birds.

Next we were off to The Nobbies and Seal Rock. (This was when Becca practiced her Australian driving.) I was super excited to see seals! Unfortunately, Seal Rock is far enough away that you can't see much, even though it is Australia's largest colony of fur seals. We paid to use one of those coin binocular/telescope things, and were actually able to see a few seals on the rocks. If it was sunnier out, I think they would've been easier to see.

The Nobbies and Seal Rock in the background

Last stop was to the penguins! Thankfully, it was much warmer this time that it was when we first went. Although, of course this time we were much more prepared. This time we had layers of clothing: shirts, sweaters, jackets, and we had a blanket, too! The penguins were as cute as ever. There was a lot of beach for them to waddle across, unlike our first time when they had to emerge almost right on the rocks. The downside was that there was a congregation of seagulls scattered all over the beach, so it was heart-pounding and nerve-racking to watch these little rafts of penguins (around a foot tall), huddle together and make their way from the water to the safety of the rocks and their burrows. The worst was the first two brave souls that didn't have the safety of the raft while making their way across the beach. I thought Becca was going to cry or run out on the beach and chase the seagulls away! On our way out, we noticed at the information booth that you could buy return tickets for only $6, almost 1/4 of the regular price. So we got 3, and maybe we'll go again when Juanita is here.

Lastly, came the drive home. I'm a genius and forgot to print directions home (back to our apartment), so we stopped for dinner/a snack at McDonald's, and I utilized their free wifi to chart a route home. Sarah slept the whole way, and I drove. Becca stayed awake with me and we sang to stay awake. It was fun to get to our parking spot. I forgot to take a picture, but I'll have to do that at some point because it's awesome. We literally have the absolute last spot in the garage. You can't go anywhere else but to our parking spot. The best part was having to drive in circles for 7 floors until we finally got there. (Oh yes, the first 7 floors are all parking.) By the time we got up the apartment, it was at least 11pm, and we basically fell into bed.

Morning came too soon, since we had to get up and drive Sarah to the airport for 8am. And my goodness, who knew there would be traffic going into the airport at 8am on a Sunday? WHO KNEW?? Afterwards, we almost got lost driving around looking for a gas station, and then returned the car. We did some fresh foods shopping at the Queen Victoria Market, and then went home and just veg-ed for the whole day. We needed to catch up on our rest, and boy did we ever.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sarah's Visit: Part 1

Sarah has now come and gone, and I don't even know how to recap everything that we did. We had an exhausting couple of days, but we also had so much fun.

She flew in on Wednesday, and neither Becca nor I were working, so we took a shuttle bus down to the airport to pick her up. She was surprised and happy to see us, I think! After taking the bus back to downtown Melbourne, we just hopped on the train back home. By the time we had dinner it was too late, and we were too tired, to go out and do anything. So we hung out and chatted for a bit before heading to bed. Becca and I had to work on Thursday, so we still had to be in bed at a decent time, and Sarah was tired from travelling.

Thursday wasn't too exciting. Becca and I worked at the same school, and we ended up staying really late (like an extra hour) because I had to do some marking for the class I was in. Sarah had a good day touring around the city on her own, and although she went for a nap when we got home, she made us dinner.

Friday was our first big day. We didn't get any work, so we took the opportunity to show Sarah around and do some touristy things. While Sarah was out on Thursday, she took a picture of the decorated Mali elephant statue outside the Queen Victoria Market. We made it our goal for the day to photograph as many as we could find (there are 50 throughout Melbourne in celebration of the Zoo's 150th year). We started at the QVM and basically walked all around downtown. We visited the hostel where Becca and I stayed then walked over to the State Library of Victoria, although it was closed. We headed down to Federation Square, then walked along the Yarra River to the Melbourne Aquarium, and spent some time in there. And we did this all before lunchtime!

Even though it wasn't the nicest or warmest day, our afternoon was full of beaches. We started further south at Brighton Beach, where Becca and I visited last weekend. It was a lot less busy, considering it was during the day and not as nice out. But we walked in the sand in our bare feet, collected some shells, and took lots of pictures in front of the beach huts. Next, we hopped back on the train and then on the tram and made our way down to St. Kilda Beach. We got some beverages and walked out on the pier. And you will never guess what we found out there......


You can bet your blue bonnet that Becca just about had a conniption fit. We could hear them in the bushes along the rocks and Becca and I just stopped. We were like dogs listening to a high pitched sound, both standing there with our heads cocked. Then our eyes widened then she said: "I KNOW THAT SOUND." There were already people taking some pictures, so we hopped right in. It was so exciting to see them when we weren't expecting it. And to have the opportunity to take pictures was amazing! Especially since we can't take pictures of them at Phillip Island.

Needless to say, it was an extra special way to end a very long, but fun, day of touring Melbourne.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sunny, Sandy Day!

Sunday was a fun day. We did get a bit of a late start because we had to do things around the house, but we got out to the beach like we wanted!

Brighton Beach is on the Bay side of Melbourne and easily accessible by the public train system here. Thank goodness! So we took the train down and walked the 5 minutes to the beach. It was really nice to take off our shoes and walk in the sand. We put our feet in the water, too, and it was cold! Definitely not swimming water yet, although some people were crazy enough to be in already. We walked along the beach and picked up a collection of shells.

It was a further walk down to get to the tourist spot: the brightly painted sheds along the beach.

I love how you can see the Melbourne skyline in the background. It's really a beautiful view. And of course, anything you can do for free is fantastic.

We walked along the beach and enjoyed the sun for a little while. We stopped at some of the huts for pictures, as well:

Hut #37 - it was our 37th day in Melbourne, so we took a picture to celebrate.

Hut #24 - Becca's age.

Hut #23 - My age.
I like my hut. It's GREEN! And red. But, GREEN!

And we both decided that we were glad we weren't 22 anymore, because that hut was old and looked like it was starting to fall apart......

Other exciting things we saw while at the beach:

A sun-bathing bird.

And a war memorial.

The memorial was erected after WWI, but there were also plaques that listed the names of all those from the area who had died in every war.

And then we headed back home! It was a nice afternoon. I hope we get back down there at some point. I think we may take Sarah if one of us is off and it's a nice day.

Speaking of Sarah, she's coming today!! She lands in about 4 and a half hours. Neither Becca nor I are working today, so we're going to meet her at the airport. I think it'll be nice to have us there waiting for her after such a long journey. I already mentioned our plans for the week with her. So be ready for lots of stories! Not sure if I'll have the chance to write them this week, but I promise you'll get them all, along with lots of pictures!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Three Week Recap

This is why I need to update more often.........

August 19 - August 26
Our first week in the new apartment!

Let's see what I remember..... This was our first week in the apartment and the first week we were fully available to teach. I got two and a half days of work. One day I actually went back to the school I was at on the previous Friday, which was my first day. It was an easy day: excursion to swimming and an assembly. I really like that school; the kids are good and the staff is awesome.

On the two days I had off, I was still doing running around, picking up little things we still needed for the apartment. By the time the weekend came, we were pretty tired, and Becca had picked up a cold. We weren't in any shape to go out and do tourist-y stuff, so we stayed in and relaxed. I know we're in a new place and should be out exploring, but it was really nice to have a weekend where we could relax and sit around in our own place after living out of suitcases for two weeks.

August 27 - September 2nd
Weird and bad week!

This week started off weird. I thought I wasn't going to get any work, and then they called asking if I'd be willing to go to an administrative position for the day. You know, answering phones, helping people in the office, etc. To be honest, I never thought I'd be given that kind of work while I was here. But there was no way I was going to turn down work. The office administrator was able to find some work for me in the morning, but I basically spent the afternoon waiting for the phone to ring while perusing Google News. The phone barely rang and I'm not a news reader, so needless to say, I was pretty bored. But hey, it's money in the bank.

The rest of the week sucked. I had two grade 5 classes back-to-back (Wednesday and Thursday) and they were both just bad days. The first class was terrible. There were so many kids that were disruptive, had behavioural issues, were rude, and completely disrespectful of me as a teacher. It took all day - literally 6 hours - to actually get them to settle down and listen to what I had to say, which happened to be after I sent a couple kids to the office because I couldn't handle them. And so, we spent the last 15 minutes of the day having a conversation about respect. I want to be open to work and flexible and rise above, but if I'm offered to go to a Grade 5 class at that school, I will refuse. It was a terrible day and if I didn't have Becca to talk to and hug me when I got home, I would've climbed in bed and cried.

The next day I was in Grade 5 again, at a different school. The class as a whole was better, but there was one student that was rude, disrespectful, and didn't listen any instruction I gave. When I tried to speak with him about it, he literally turned his back on me and walked away, and continued to walk as I called him back. I was so upset I went to talk to the principal, who was out for the day. But I was able to talk to another teacher, and I ended up crying. I was so embarrassed. But they helped me out a lot and took the student out of the class for the next couple hours. When he came back for the last hour of class, he still tried to fight me on some instruction, but it was better. Still, overall it wasn't the best day. When I got home, Becca had bought me a hot chocolate and a cupcake to make me feel better. I have the best friend ever.

On Friday night, we finally met up with Mel, a girl that we went to school in North Bay with. It was nice to see a familiar face and catch up. Saturday and Sunday were chores days. We spent Saturday down at the Laundrette. It is so expensive here! For a wash it's $4, and for a dry it's $1 for 8 minutes (which is nothing, so it really costs like $5-$6 a dry). Thank goodness the dryers are huge. Sunday was groceries, and a crafting day. After all, it was Father's Day on the 2nd.....

September 3 - September 8
I can teach gym!

I started the week as a gym teacher and ended it as a special education teacher. That's me, flexible and multi-talented! I actually had two days of gym teaching. It was fun! The first day I worked with another teacher most of the day. We played T-Ball with the little ones, and then I did Golf with the Grade 5s and Rounders with the 3s (which is like T-Ball except you have a bowler who lobs the ball and the runner hits the ball with a one handed cricket-like bat). It was nice to work with the other teacher so I was able to learn the routines and some of the warm-up games they're familiar with. The second day was just me, and I also did some time release teaching. It was a big school, but really nice, too. I liked it.

And then came the two days of no work. We mailed some things, did some shopping for essentials (extra sheets and the like), and bought some crafting things. On our second day off, we decided to finally check out the Queen Victoria Market. It's a really huge, permanent flea market downtown. They have everything: bread, meat, fruits and veggies, dairy, deli meat, retail, restaurants, etc. It was nice to walk around, buy some fresh fruits and veggies, look at some of the shops. We'll definitely be going back again.

Friday we were working at a special needs school. Becca had worked there before, but it was my first time. I was in a junior class, that had 8 students aged from 7-10. They had a variety of developmental issues such as cerebral palsy, autism, Down's syndrome, and others I've never heard of. It was an experience, that's for sure. I didn't do any teaching that day. It was a Friday and the teacher had said to just have an easy day: iPads and movies. So that's what we did.

Saturday we spent the day at home, since it was yucky and rainy and cold all day. But we got out last night! We were invited to a party by another ANZUK teacher. We met a LOT of Canadian teachers there. It makes sense: you meet at school, you talk, you exchange numbers, and everyone shows up to the same party. Okay, well not ALL, but a lot. We did see a few girls that we had worked with before, but also met a lot of new people. And although it's not our usual scene, we did have a good time.

As for today, who knows what it brings? I want to go to Brighton Beach. It's supposed to be alright weather-wise today. Hopefully going up to 18 degrees! Woo! Spring is here!

In other news: SARAH IS COMING THIS WEEK!!! She's flying in on Wednesday and staying until Sunday. The highlight of the visit (hopefully) will be on Saturday when we go down to Phillip Island! We'll be renting a car and driving down. Oh yes, driving. I'm so darn excited. Other activities may include: Federation Square, Melbourne Zoo, and maybe a museum or two. If we're not working on Wednesday, we'll be picking Sarah up at the airport as well. Should be an exciting week with a lot to report! And probably some pictures, too.

A Reminder to Me

I need to apologize to you all. I know it's been almost 3 weeks since I've really updated anything on here. Yes, I gave you some pictures, but I haven't told you much about what I've really been doing. My excuse is always that nothing exciting is happening. But I was thinking today, and I remembered the true purpose of this blog. Of course, I want to keep everyone at home updated on my (not very exciting) life in Australia, but originally I wanted it to be a sort of travel journal. And I've been failing in making it just that.

And so I will make a promise to you, to Letters Home, and to myself. Whether I have the most exciting day of my life or I laze around on the couch, I will try to write something on the blog at least twice a week. Because the purpose isn't to record when I've done something exciting; the purpose is just to write and to remember.

So please call me out on it if I neglect my blog! Poke me virtually on Facebook, bombard me with emails, comment on my posts ten times a day, whatever it takes! Don't let me neglect my blog again!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Smile for the Camera ^_^

I'm sorry for not posting anything recently, but since we've been settled into our place and started working, nothing exciting seems to be happening. Basically what's happened in the last week is:
- I worked 2 and a half days;
- We found the nearest grocery store and went twice;
- I built two bookshelves;
- We finished season 1 of Angel; and
- I got my first paycheck.
Okay, that last one is pretty exciting! Yay for getting paid!

Since nothing much has happened, I've been trying to think of what to write to you all at home. Then I realized I hadn't put any pictures up, yet! And so here are a few pictures of what we've seen so far. Most pictures were taken during our road trip down the coast.

Fair warning, there are quite a few pictures, so remember that they may take a little while to load. Just click "Read More" to see them. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Transition Time!

Today is a cold, cloudy, rainy day in Melbourne and I'm so happy! Let me catch you up on what's happened the last few days.

Wednesday was disappointing, when Becca and I were both up and ready for work and never got a call. We were at a loss for how to spend our day. We'd done our furniture shopping the day before, we didn't get our keys until the next day, and we didn't want to buy too much stuff because we'd still have to lug it over to the apartment the next day. So we discovered the train and tram routes to the apartment, where they'd get us, how often they came, etc. We walked around a lot downtown, went to the bank, window shopped, and so on. Basically, nothing consequential happened on Wednesday.

Thursday, we didn't get calls again, but this time we also didn't call ANZUK to tell them we were available. It was going to be such a full and busy day, that it was best for us not to be working. We were on our way by 8:30, heading to the rental agency to get the keys so we'd be at the apartment by the time the Ikea delivery came. Well, we were almost at the train stop near the agency when we realized we'd forgotten all the paperwork we needed in order to get the keys. Oopsies. So Becca went ahead to the apartment to wait for the delivery guys, while I ran back to the hostel for the paperwork and then back to the agency. I was hoping to make it to the apartment in time, but I was about 20 minutes later than the delivery, so they left it in the loading dock with Becca. All that meant was that we had to test our super-awesome muscles and lug everything to our apartment. Luckily, our front door is about 10 steps from the elevator. We got it all here, including 2 metal sofa-bed frames and a fridge! Talk about superwomen!

That's when the fun began: building time. I love building Ikea stuff! It makes me feel so competent and it's great seeing your furniture and thinking "Yeah, I built that!" We put together a couple things, then decided it was time to start the procession of luggage from the hostel to the apartment. Thankfully it's just one 10 minute tram ride (almost) from door-to-door. We did three trips before hunkering down for more building. We didn't have electricity or gas hooked up, yet, so we wanted to get as much building done while we still had daylight. We managed to finish everything, except Becca's bed because we needed a screwdriver for that. Then we had one last trip from the hostel with luggage. By the time we got to the apartment, it was dark, so we had to use the light from our phones to see. Our last trip was back to the hostel, after picking up supper, for our final stay there.

On Friday morning, I wasn't too hopeful that we'd get work. Two days of nothing had put me a bit down. But we called in, said we were available, and within five minutes, I got a call saying there was work for me! HECK YEAH! I had to go pretty far, so I packed up all my stuff and left Becca to check us out of the hostel. I was freaking out the whole way there, sprint walking and being so nervous and unsure of myself. By the time I got off the train, I got turned around and started walking the wrong way! So I ended up getting there a bit late, but the VP didn't seem to mind. He said these things happen and was really laid back about it. Thank goodness! So the morning was a bit of a whirlwind because I didn't have much prep time, but it worked out alright.

I had such a wonderful day. I don't think I've ever felt as confident teaching as I did yesterday. It was so different knowing that I was in charge, that I was the one responsible for the kids, that I didn't have anyone looking over my shoulder (like an AT). And the kids were FABULOUS. I've never had such a well-behaved class before. I hope my expectations aren't too high now. I just have so many stories about yesterday. Bottom line, though, is that I had an amazing day and I'm so excited to teach again!

At the end of the day, it was fantastic to come home to, well, home. Not a hotel or a hostel or a temporary living area. A place that is ours, that furniture we built and a place to cook our meals. It was a great feeling. We took the tram back into town for more shopping (Becca had already picked up a few things during the day), and grab dinner. And then it was back to the apartment for more unpacking. It's crazy how much garbage there is when you move. And the night ended, of course, with our first stay in our new apartment, in our new beds.

Hello, new life!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Momma, I'm a Big Girl Now!

I feel like I start each blog post with a long exhalation of breath. Not that I have to steel myself to write the post, but it's as if I'm just relieved to make it to another. And I have to prepare myself to relay everything that's happened. It's crazy that so much can happen in two days......

Yesterday (Monday), we both woke up feeling kind of alone and terrified. No more parents to take care of us, no more car to drive around in. Just us, the public transit, the bags we've packed, and a hostel.

But things turned around pretty quickly. Before we even had the chance to check out of the hotel, I got a call from a rental agency, the one we'd applied to the night before, asking for more information from us and saying our application checked out. All they had to do was call the landlord and call us back to set everything up to sign the lease. Yes, that's right people, WE HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE! By late afternoon, we were at the rental agency, handing over first month's rent, and signing our lives away. But, oh man, were we ever ecstatic!

We have a place to live!
It's the place we wanted!
We negotiated a great rent rate!
We move in on Thursday!!

After smiling so much our faces hurt and doing a lot of laughing and squealing, we came back to the hostel and just fell on the bed. It'd been a long day of discovering the public transportation, walking around the city, and being really excited. We watched a movie, did some internet surfing in the common area, then went back up to the room to watch another movie before bed. We were tucked in with the lights out before 10pm!

I didn't think today could be any more expensive or exhausting. Boy, was I wrong! We took a trip to Ikea, to check out the furniture we saw online. We ended up spending almost 4 hours there! And spending a lot of money, too. But considering what we bought, we actually made do quite well

We ran into a complication at the home delivery counter. After buying everything, we were informed that Ikea only does next day delivery. We don't have the place until Thursday...... Whoops. Thankfully, the man at the refunds counter (because that was our only option) was able to work it out for us and set it up for our things to be delivered on Thursday. Only problem with that is that we can only get the keys at 9am, and the earliest that the delivery truck will be there is 9am. So hopefully the delivery doesn't come until later in the day, so that whoever gets the keys has time to get to the apartment before them. Sucky part also, is that one of us will have to take the day off to do all of this, as well. Boo.

While we were out, I was also on the phone several times with the people who have to connect our water, gas and electricity. We have that more-or-less worked out, so we'll have those things by the time we move in, which is good.

When we got back to the hostel, we started rifling through paperwork for internet, phone, rent deposit procedures, and so on. It's exhausting getting a new place. Bec and I both fell on the bed (once again), feeling overwhelmed with everything. I even found myself wishing I was back in school. Life was easier back then......

But, no. We're big girls now. We have a place to live. We have furniture to put in it.

And we have big girl jobs. Which start tomorrow. Yikes!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Apartment Searching and Phillip Island

Phew! Yesterday was a busy, busy day.

Here in Australia, if you want to rent an apartment you have to go inspect the apartment with the agent first, and then fill out your application and submit it to the rental agency. Well, Saturdays are big days to have open inspections. We had planned in advance to visit 8 apartments, and timed out the day so we could get to them all. We ended up seeing over 10 apartments, because some agents were showing various apartments within the building, and other agencies we hadn’t known of beforehand were there. We literally traveled around and looked at apartments from 9 am until 1pm. Once we’d seen everything, we had to figure out which ones we liked best (from checking our notes and rating them on a scale of 5), and narrow it down. Which was hard.

After we’d finished our apartment adventures, we headed on down to Phillip Island. If you don’t know about Phillip Island, I have a few words for you: koalas and fairy penguins. Oh yes. KOALAS AND PENGUINS. If we’d had a full day, we could’ve also seen the seals. Next time!

We stopped first at the Koala Conservation. We got to walk on boardwalks in the trees to get closer to the koalas! They tend to stay really high up in the eucalyptus trees, so getting even a dozen feet off the ground got us closer. And they were fluffy! Hard to believe that they’re actually vicious animals, but I’d rather not test the theory. There’s actually rangers that hang around in case the koalas get too close to people, so that they can protect the people from koalas! We also saw a lot of wallabies on the ground, just eating the greenery. They were really cute, too. They basically look like small kangaroos.

We had to head over to the Penguin Parade fairly early. The penguins don’t usually show up until around 6pm this time of year, but we got there before 5 because it’s such a big attraction. Even as early as we were, there were still people who were there, choosing their seats. We were sitting and waiting from at least 5pm. And it was COLD. After sitting there for so long, with the wind, and the ocean spray, we were all chilled to the bone.

But when the penguins finally came around 6:15, it was all so worth it. There wasn’t much beach for them to waddle along, since the tide was high, but we still saw well enough. They just swam up on the surface of the water, to the rocky edge, and then hopped their way to the grass! The ranger said their burrows can be as far as 1km from the water! That's why they tell you to check under your car for penguins before leaving. But I don’t think we realized they would be as cute as they were. I know I didn’t think they could be as small as they were! Becca and I couldn’t stop laughing! I think we were just so awed and excited that it just came out as laughter. It was so much fun!

By the time we got back to the car, we were all people-sicles, and crazy tired. But, oh my goodness, was it ever worth it. The penguins were amazing. I highly recommend anyone going to Australia to go see some fairy penguins, whether on Phillip Island or elsewhere. It’s an amazing experience. I know we’ll be going again. Hopefully we’ll be more prepared for the weather next time, but I think next time we’ll be going in the summer!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A New Life in Melbourne

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Things are starting to get more settled here. Yesterday (Tuesday) we picked up our bank cards and started looking at apartments and cell phones. We found out that we can’t use our iPhones from Canada since they are locked into our Canadian providers. There is a place here that can unlock them, but it would cost $160 to unlock mine, and $220 to unlock Becca’s. So that’s totally not happening. Cell phones makes so much more sense here. The providers can unlock them, you can buy SIM cards pretty much anywhere for $2, you don’t get charged for incoming calls or texts (including international!), and the plans are cheaper, too.

Today, we went to get phones. It feels like an official step towards a semi-permanent life in Melbourne. The part that sucks is having to get used to a new phone. It’s not a bad phone, but I know I’ll be missing my iPhone. I like that I won’t have to pay for incoming calls. So to my family and friends that want to call and talk to me and pay for international charges, ask for my number! Hahaha.

We also had our interview with ANZUK today. Now THAT’S an official step for sure. We finished all the registration, signed the papers, gave our start dates (available as of Monday), and can now teach in Melbourne schools! We even have ID cards on lanyards that we have to wear at schools. It says “Teacher.” That’s me. I’m a teacher, and very very soon, I’ll be getting paid to do just that. Crazy.

Now the biggest thing on to-do list is to get an apartment. Ugh. Of course the hard part. We have a couple inspections set up for tomorrow (Thursday), so I’m hoping one of those is our new home. If not, there’s about 3 or 4 open inspection times on Saturday that we’ll go to. We’ll have a pretty big problem if we don’t have a place by the time Becca’s parents leave. We’ll probably stay at a hostel, but we have a lot of stuff... so it’ll be pretty difficult to transport it all to a new place when we do get one. So we’re crossing our fingers to find a place soon.

In other Melbourne news, it’s rainy. It’s windy. It’s cold. And it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Apparently winter in Melbourne means rain and wind. So... yay. It doesn’t seem like we’ll have to right weather for it, but we’re planning on going to Phillip Island and see the penguins. Hopefully we’ll also go to the Koala Conservation. No other big plans yet. Just find a place, get set up, and get working. Hopefully it happens soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kangaroos and Dolphins and Whales, oh my!

This is another post that I wrote on my iPhone for later publishing. I wrote about our first day in Australia, and what an exciting day it was.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Today was a lot of fun. I love road trips. I’m sad that I’m not doing it with my family, but Becca’s family is a close second. This morning we were all up really early. Probably because we’re still a bit jet lagged... Or because Bec and I went to bed at 8pm. It just meant we got a pretty good start to the day. Before leaving Bateman’s Bay, we caught a flea market in town. It was cute, so we just wandered a bit and bought some sourdough bread for the road.

We didn’t have many big stops, until we got to the town of Eden. It was a place full of wildlife! On the way into town, we saw a whole pack (herd? Tribe? Gathering??) of kangaroos hanging out on a golf course. A golf course! And they were just lying around, having naps and the like. It was so weird, but so awesome. We also met a great couple from Adelaide at a lookout, who showed us some whales they were watching! We couldn’t see the whales very well because they were far away, but every now and then we could see them
come out of the water a bit, or see its fin. It was neat. And then we saw dolphins!!!!! It was my first time seeing dolphins so I was really excited. They were passing by the outcropping of rocks where the lookout was. There was to have been at least 10 or 15 dolphins, including a little baby! It was awesome.

Our next crazy adventure came while we were looking for a gas station. Following the signs brought us down this suicide track of a road. I was actually fearing for my life going down this road. It ended at a nice little town by the water with, of course, a gas station. But then we had to go back up the same road to get back to the highway. It wasn’t as bad on the way out, and we saw a kangaroo on the road. People really weren’t kidding when they said kangaroos are like our deer around here.

It got dark shortly after that adventure, so there wasn’t much else to see (although most of what we were seeing was trees anyway, and lots of them). When the trees did disperse, we got an amazing view of the stars. I don’t think I’ve ever see so many stars. It was so beautiful. But then the stars went away and the rain started, so we found a place for dinner, and then a place to stay in Lakes Entrance, Victoria.

I’m really nervous for tomorrow... You know, getting to the city where we’re going to be living for who know how long. I think right now it feels like a vacation, a fun road trip, and that tomorrow things will start to sink in a bit more. We’ll see. I think tomorrow will be as fun a day as today. So although it’s only 9:30, it’s time to bed. (At least it’s later than last night!) Goodnight!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Happens When I Sit on a Plane for Too Long

While I was on the plane, I wrote a couple things down on my iPhone to publish here later on. Here's the ramblings I put down "on paper."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

1.5 hours prior to landing in Sydney (8am AEST)

Holy longest day of my life. I mean, I knew it was going to be long, but you can’t actually understand what a 15 hour flight means until you’ve experience it. I feel like I have clown’s feet. And I think my ears are blocked forevermore. I sure as heck am low on sleep.

The awesome part is that we time-traveled! We left Toronto at 10pm EST on Thursday and will get to Sydney at 9:30am AEST Saturday. It basically feels like we totally skipped over Friday. It is still a really long journey though.

30 minutes from landing in Sydney

I can’t believe what we’ve done. We’re crazy! We picked up and moved to Australia. It’s actually so far away. I now have the full realization of how far it is and what that means. I feel like I should apologize to my parents for what I’ve put them through. Leaving like that and going so far away.

But this is something I had to do; have to do. It’s going to be amazing, eye-opening, and almost definitely will change me in some way. So whether it’s crazy or not, I’m not going to regret a single moment. I won’t allow myself to. Because this is me, living my dream.