Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Geelong and Melbourne and Teaching!

It’s already the middle of June? That means my monthly anniversary of my arrival has come and gone once again, and I’ve now moved well into my seventh month in Australia.  My transition into life in Geelong (about an hour outside of Melbourne) went very well, and I’m already into another temporary place!  I was house sitting for a long time friend Kristen Chapple (now Bainbridge) and her family while they were in Canada visiting Kristen’s family and friends.  They came home on June 3, and I picked them up from the airport that morning.

I want to try and punch out some highlights and note-worthies from the past month, which has only proved to me that life can truly fly.  No matter how many times I have promised myself, “okay, tonight I will sit down and write a blog!” – it doesn’t always turn out that way. Especially now with teaching. Here we go.

My last entry encompassed the idea of a new chapter – one drastically different than the last.  Leaving the cattle station really split my heart, but I was excited about the new experiences and new friends and faces. 

I got to the Melbourne airport late evening on the Thursday night, and caught a bus to Geelong where Kristen’s husband picked me up.  James’ Mom, Heather, called me while I was on the bus and delivered some tragic news.  The manager at Strathalbyn (my bosses’ other station) had died that morning in a tragic accident.  I was beside myself, devastated by the news and realization that his family had just lost a son, brother, uncle, husband, and Dad – his wife is also due in October.  He was such an incredible man, friend, and father.  His smile lit up a room, and his laugh was so contagious.  He put his family above all else, and was so dedicated to them and his job as the manager at Strathalbyn.  I knew Greg Hoare well enough to know that he could make me laugh from miles away with a silly text message, or have me howling with a crowd when we were all together.  Watching him with his two young boys made your heart melt, as he played along with their games and inspired their imaginations.  He was a very best mate to James, and that also ripped my heart apart, because James was now up at Strathalbyn without Greg or any of his closest friends nearby, and I wanted to be there for him more than anything in the world.  I’ll never forget Greg, or how he could tell a story about nothing but how hilarious he could make it.  I’ll never forget some of the phrases he would use or adjectives he would throw into a sentence that would have you laughing so hard your face would hurt.  I’ll never forget how the first time I saw him drinking a Coke Zero in one hand and a coffee in the other, he looked at me and said, “what, don’t they do this in Canada?”  REST IN PEACE GREGORY! Xx

My 25th came and went without much excitement.  Can’t say it was easy to put a smile on my face after the news the previous evening, but I went out for dinner with my friend Ange and had a big cheers to Greg and my “half way to fifty!”  It was a quiet day, but I wasn’t keen on a big night out.  I called home and spoke to my parents and Mama and Papa, and spoke to Grandpa Barry and Granny Carol and even my Aunt Carla and Uncle Steven were available for a fantastic Skype date!  

Arriving into the city life, surrounded by loud crowds of people and cell phones and banging and beeping was a little overwhelming straight from the quiet and less hectic outback surrounds. Quite frankly, I found myself agitated and frustrated with how glued to technology and unfriendly people were, with their heads down, and their fingers or thumbs bouncing all over their cell phones or tablets.  I was easily angered by how slowly and without direction people walked in the streets, going no where it seemed, without purpose.  I was so used to getting things done in a timely fashion, that walking slowly just didn’t cut it.  I had somewhere I needed to be, so get the hell out of my way.  But it wasn’t that simple.  You’d move to the left, and have to move back to the right to avoid bumping into the oncoming people traffic.  Fortunately, just over a month later, I can say that I made the transition quite quickly into a city slicker, and now I just try and ignore the unhappy and antisocial faces, and understand that the majority of them are just enjoying their own down time before or after work – simply in a different way than I do.  I’ve actually really learned to enjoy having my earbuds in walking to and from the train station, and find it allows me to put music and songs to the city, allowing me to enjoy the sights of it without hearing the sounds.  Sometimes I take them out and listen in on Melbourne being Melbourne, but most times if I’m alone, I like the way I can get lost in a few songs while walking somewhere and then hey! I’ve reached my destination!

On May 13th, I had my meet and greet with my anzuk* rep named Sarah, and she got me organized to start teaching. So, now I have some details and solid insight as to how this teaching thing works here. You call in around 4pm if you’re available to work the next day.  Then you wait for a call back.  If you don’t get one, you get up the next day as if you have, and prepare yourself for the day.  You pack a lunch and get yourself ready to walk out the door by 7:30am at the latest.  Around 7am, you call anzuk* again, and tell them you’re available.  They may or may not call you back depending on if there with work available.  This can get VERY discouraging. But I have been pretty lucky thus far, with three days that first week, two days the second week, five the third, four the fourth, and so far three this week, my fifth week teaching.  I’d say it’s going well so far.  My second week though, the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were horrendous, waking up at 6am to shower, get ready, pack a lunch, call… and wait. And wait… aaaaaaand, get nothing.  But things came around, and hopefully will stay consistent for me.  Once you get acquainted with a school and the staff there, they’ll often request you back for future work.  That’s a good foot in the door! 

For my time in Geelong, I had the use of Kristen’s vehicle, which was fantastic.  It allowed me to drive to jobs that would have taken me hours to get to via city transit.  It was lovely to have a house to myself, and the pets were a treat.  The cats love the tub!  Jet and Mavervick.  I didn't get a decent picture of the dog, Poppy.  I took advantage of a monthly pass of unlimited hot yoga and went 14 times in 16 days before Kristen and her family got home!  I wish I could have maintained that routine, but life happens.  I’ll find myself in another hot yoga studio again soon I’m sure.  I really enjoyed it, and after one class, an instructor asked if anyone was interested in writing up a testimonial.  Mine was “published” in their new letter, on their website, and on their facebook page, so that was pretty neat. (

I’ve done most of my teaching between two schools, one funnily enough called “Alamanda!”  It’s a lovely, very new school, with a young and cohesive staff, and a very determined and structured principal.  I love going there, although it generally means getting up between 5-5:30am to get there for 8am! It’s totally worth it though. The other school I’ve done the majority of my work at is a very high needs school called Warringa Park School.  I’ve spent most of my time there in a nonverbal class of seven, with two aids that are amazing.  It’s so different from anything I’ve ever experience in the teaching world, but I am learning heaps about behaviour management, individual learning potentials, and facilitating learning for different ability levels.  When I say “high needs school,” this school contains a ratio of nearly 3:1 students to staff.  There are students in wheelchairs who are verbal, others not.  There are students from the entire spectrum of Autism, high and low functioning students, Downs Syndrome and everything in between.  There are severe behavioural issues, including children as young as six with anger management issues that require extreme management and patience.  I’ve never heard such vulgar language come out of such young souls, but they’re in a good place at Warringa. I’ve learned to embrace the good days and shrug off the bad.  Even on the days where you get told to “fuck off you fucking cunt!” by a nine year old, you manage to just let it slide and not retaliate in the way your brain would expect you to. 

I’ve made some great friends here too.  I don’t see them all very often, but have been out a few times now with them and really enjoy their company!  There is one story that is wild though… about a month ago, a girl named Katie had messaged me asking if I wanted to meet up for a coffee.  I agreed, and we met up and within ten minutes of some lovely conversation, stumbled into this:
K: “So where are you from originally?”
A: “Minden… near Haliburton…?”
K: “Ah, okay. But you were living in London?”
A: “Yea, moved down there with my boyfriend, and stayed there after we broke up.”
K: “Where were you living in London?”
A: “Just near the brewery.  You?”
K: “Really close to there, actually.  Like right at Carfrae and Carfrae.”
A: “Uhhhhmmmm, me too?! I was living at Beechwood Place!”
K: “High rise, or low rise??”
A: “The high rise!”
K: “ME TOO!! So you know Gail??”
A: “I lived with her after Matt and I broke up!”
Needless to say, we were in the same building, a floor apart, and had been for nine months!  We knew each other’s cars at the mention of them, and funny little oddities about life at Beechwood Place.  We just had to meet on the other side of the world, that’s all!  So we totally hit it off, and have been great friends since.  I’m actually currently living in a room in her apartment with another couple, subletting a room from a fella who is working in Brisbane for now.  (The bunny is Ralphy, another roommie!)  Works out perfectly between my house sitting stint in Geelong and the school holidays when I’ll hopefully be making a trip up to Toowoomba to visit the Girdler family!!  Maybe I’ll even swing by Wentworth!  Then when the school holidays are over, I’ll be staying in another house to house sit again, and occupy some space while a sister of a family friend travels home with her partner to Minden for some holidays!  My third house sitting stint on the other side of the world… Connections, connections!

Katie has a friend here in Melbourne that works in promotions and marketing, and has given her four footy tickets – TWICE now!  So she has invited me along to the games, with some other girls, and what a time we have had.  What an experience going to these games, listening to the crowds yell and scream as most passionate sports fans do!  The first game we went to was Geelong vs Collingwood.  We barracked for Geelong since that’s where I was living – but also because they’re the team to beat!  All other teams in the AFL just hate Collingwood, so we figured Geelong was a safe bet.  In the picture, it’s myself, then Katie, then Jamie the Niki, all Canadians!  Jamie is an accountant, and Jamie is here teaching with anzuk* as well.

Last weekend was a long weekend, and on Sunday, the four of us plus an additional Canadian named Mallory went to the Mornington Peninsula hot springs!  I didn’t take either of the pictures I have here, because it wasn’t convenient to carry things around from pool to pool.  The pools range from 36 to 38 degrees Celsius, and others are from 38 to 41 degrees Celsius.  What a great day!  I moved into Katie’s apartment on the Sunday morning, training into Melbourne from Geelong.  It was an early start!  Brought my stuff up and met the roommates, then we headed to Jamie and Niki’s before heading to the Queen Vic markets to be picked up my Mallory.  The drive was about an hour and a half, then we found ourselves relaxed and chatting between the five of us amongst other people (kids and adults!) in these pools.  We spent nearly two hours between warm and hot pools, and in saunas.  On our way out, we stopped in at a lovely golf club for some incredibly tasty sandwiches before heading back into the city.  I didn’t drink enough water, even though I thought I had consumed adequate amounts… I totally dehydrated myself.  That evening, we all went out, and over the course of the entire night, I had five drinks – that’s it.  I was so dehydrated from the hot springs, plus the five drinks, (and Macca’s before going home! Haha!) that I was sick all day Monday, and didn’t feel human until late Tuesday afternoon!  My leg muscles were cramped and my lips were cracked.  I have never ever been in such a state!  I’ve made great friends with a water bottle since, and will be maintaining that friendship.  I’ve never been much of a water drinker, but I do realize – now first hand – it’s importance.

When Kristen came home, she brought with her a package from my Mom, filled with little birthday surprises!  I got letters and a book and some jewelry!  I got three new charms for my Pandora - a Wanderlust charm from one of my best friends, Heather Ludlow.  She nailed it!  I got a ribbons of hope from Mama, and another lovely Strength charm from my Mom!  Only my mother would soak cotton balls in her perfume and put them in a baggy so my package from home would smell like a Mom hug when it took off the lid!  LOVE YOU MOM! 

I am sure there is more to add, but I can’t keep holding off on a post!  I will do my very best to write again soon!


SHOUT OUT TO KINLEY!  She’s a happy little water baby and is pulling herself up to stand now!  I love you! 

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