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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Today's the Day!

Yes, that's right. It's flying day. Moving day. Goodbye Canada day.

It's ridiculous to think that in less than 12 hours, I'll be taking off from the Toronto Airport. How can it be so close, and yet still not seem real?

I think the biggest thing is that I don't know what to expect. I've never been to Australia. I've never been on a 15 hour flight. I've never moved to the other side of the world. There are so many I've nevers. So how is it even possible to imagine expecting what it will be like?

Yesterday, Becca and I were talking about how we keep getting asked if we're excited or nervous. Of course, we're both, but neither of these emotions is really showing outwardly. The explanation I came up with is something like this: Excitement is a high feeling, a positive feeling, whereas nervousness has more of a negative, low feeling, more reserved. Pair these two together, and they kind of cancel each other out. We've just kind of platformed in the middle near a feeling of numbness.

So I'm not uninterested or bored with the fact that today is THE DAY. I'm terrified and ecstatic, nervous and excited, and somehow still feeling unprepared. But the one thing I know I am for sure:

I'm ready.