Tuesday, April 5, 2011

“Take every chance to RELAX, to HOPE, to HEAL, to DREAM, to PLAY, to GIVE, to RECEIVE, to LOVE!”

On Sunday we had a nice barbeque outside and Cheryl (Lynn and Dave’s oldest daughter) and her boyfriend (actually her “partner,” that is how they refer to a boyfriend you are serious with or live with-because it is closer than being just a boyfriend/girlfriend couple, but they are not married) joined us. It was our first time meeting them and it was a wonderful evening! We got pedicures on Tuesday…well deserved if I may say so myself J Wednesday was a LONG day! The students were bouncing off the walls from the moment they walked into the door until the moment they left in the afternoon! I think it was the fact that it was about to rain (which it did end up bucketing down  all afternoon). You would have thought that I had taken a dip in the ocean on my way home because I was SOAKED after my bike ride! But at the same time it was nice to take a warm shower and then throw on a hoodie, just like I would be doing if I was home in the cool Fall weather J On our run that afternoon (the rain let up) we saw A LOT of snails making their way across the sidewalks J There were big ones and small ones and they really were EVERYWHERE! It was neat to see them all out and on the move…slow move…but move nonetheless!!
NOVEMBER 11-13: It was Lauren’s 23rd birthday on Thursday so we went to Leederville and had a wonderful dinner there with the whole family! It was a wonderful Italian restaurant and Lynne and Dave paid for our meals-so sweet-they consider us a part of the family J We then had a delicious cake for her birthday-it was so pretty too! Saturday I talked with Ben for most of the morning on Skype and then went down to the beach with Amanda for an hour of wonderful relaxing sun! The ducks in the pond across the street now have lots of little baby ducks trailing behind!!! SO CUTE!!! They would fit in the palm of my hand J

New Home!

 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31: Today was moving day! We are now living with a host FAMILY! They live in a really nice area and they have a large house, across the street from the park…there is a beautiful view overlooking the pond! The house also has a security alarm system so we don’t have bars over all of the windows, which is REALLY nice! And the house has a small pool, bar/game room, and a home theatre. We are also a few minutes walk from the beach and closer to our schools…so I should be able to bike to school no problem! We each get our own room and we get to share a bathroom in the house between just the two of us. The couple is from the UK so we are getting used to some new accents : ) They have 3 daughters…2 still live at home and are our same age! Most importantly we feel VERY welcomed here and are soo much happier! The youngest girl, Ashley, invited Amanda and I to come along to the beach with a few of her friends right after we moved our bags in so we quickly changed and went to hang out on the beach! It was a beautiful day for it too! We then came back and had a sausage sizzle in the early afternoon with the girls! Then Amanda and I worked on lesson plans until dinner. Lynne (the mom, Dave is the dad, their last name is Fisher) makes a traditional English roast on Sunday evenings and we got to try Yorkshire Pudding-a traditional English food. Tonight was Halloween so we got to see some trick-or-treaters and their cute or scary little costumes when we handed out candy! I love this neighborhood because people are actually out and about! The family also has two small dogs…named Rosie and Snoop (as in Snoop-Dog J)-apparently they got the dog when the girls were going through a rapper stage J.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1: I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen and Dave asked if I wanted some brekee (breakfast in UK lingo J). I also noticed that a lot of people here say “far out” to mean like “crazy” or “odd.” The bush flies are getting much worse and will only get worse, but I am getting used to flailing my arms about J I biked to school today and it only took 15 minutes, so I am thinking this will be my regular routine. After school we went on a run and could see the ocean after a 1 minute walk and the shops are only a 6-7 minute run down the main road! Dinner was delicious and really fun…I laughed so hard! Dave loves electronics so he pulled out his ipad and we google-earthed where Amanda and I live and the area to give them an idea of where we come from and then he showed us this app he has called laughing cat-you would have to have been there to know how funny it is, but basically it repeats everything you say and it sounds hilarious! This family is so nice and it really does show that the people in a house can make a house a home!
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2: Cannot believe it is already November! Things at school are starting to run more smoothly now that this is into my second week of teaching full time and I feel that I am getting into the swing of things and am getting ahead in planning and can chillax a little bit! We went for a run after school and thought we would run to the beach (because we heard it was fairly close). We did not realize HOW close though! It took LITERALLY 2 minutes of running to be on the edge of the ocean water!!! So we ran on the sand along the water and then went for a walk on the beach!
Lynn made jelly for dessert…which is what we call jello J
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3: I got evaluated today…all positive comments! Ashleigh and Amanda went out to the bars tonight, but I didn’t want to go since it was a school night so I hung out with Lynn and Dave at home. They know I like dancing so they showed me the show that they like to watch called Strictly Come Dancing, which is the UK’s version of Dancing With the Stars. They download it every week so they can watch it…now they wait to watch it until I can watch it with them : ) I also went with them to walk the dogs in the park across the street. It was a really pretty evening and you can see the stars really well and the pond is a lot bigger than I thought! The two of them (Lynn and Dave) are just so wonderful! They are hilarious and it is also really obvious that they are still so in love and have a lot of fun together-I love seeing older couples like that!! They met when they were 15 and have been together ever since! Cute huh?!
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4: One of the boys in my class today came over and looked at me real quizzically and said, “Ms. Dallas, do you have boys in America?” J I told him that yes there were boys in America just like there are boys here.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5: Went to Outback Jack’s for dinner and tried some kangaroo and crocodile…I felt really bad eating the kangaroo so it wasn’t a great experience, but I had to try it while I was here!! We also tried a dessert called pavlova because we had never heard of it before, apparently it is really popular here.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6: I went for a run in the park across the street this morning and saw two cockatoos (some really pretty white birds)! Then Amanda, Ashleigh, and I walked to Hillary’s Boat Harbour and ate a delicious lunch at Dôme and did some window shopping. On our walk back home I saw my first blue-tongued lizard!!! He was crawling across the pathway and I started jumping up and down and clapping…I get really excited to see the new animals and I had not seen this one yet J ….although he (or she) would not show me their blue tongue : ( But I did not want to get too close because they pack a painful bite. Then I went with Amanda to Whitfords shopping centre, which is a 4 minute bike ride away, and Amanda found a few dresses and a necklace. We then rushed home for tea (dinner…it’s and English thing…Lynn always says, “Time for tea” or “Tea’s Ready”).

Getting ready to move!

 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24: We went to Cottesloe beach today!! It was REALLY windy! I learned that Perth is the 2nd windiest city (Chicago is the 1st) J We ate at a Fish and Chips joint for lunch and found the restaurant where Heath Ledger had his funeral (because it was his favorite place to eat-he is from this area)-our plan is to go to that restaurant the next time we go to Cottesloe. On the train ride back into the city 4 guys got on and they were all dressed in khaki shorts, a white button up shirt, red suspenders, red and white striped knee socks, and a artsy lookin’ hat…they were on their way to Octoberfest in Northbridge…we thought about going but you had to pay $65 to get in and it was basically like a big block party…but we decided to have a more relaxing day instead-which is more my cup of tea J
MONDAY, OCTOBER 25:  At school today I learned that a “fete” (you say it like fate) is like a charitable fair that schools or churches put on to make money. I also learned that I have been saying Warwick (the train station I use) and Perth the wrong way. If you are Australian you say “Warick” and “Puhth” instead of Perth (they don’t really pronounce their “r’s”. Denyer was telling us some more about the school system and their way of grading. Apparently every department (in high school) has a different grading scale and that 85 and higher is considered an A. However, if when you grade the test too many people got A’s or E’s (E is the new F here apparently, so it doesn’t make the kids feel as bad…they also can’t use red ink to grade for the same reason) then the teacher curves the grade to make sure no more than a handful of students get A’s, etc. Also, at the end of year 12 students get 2 weeks off to study for exams (university entry exams) each test area takes like 2 hours to test for and you can test for up to a certain number of areas (like 5 I think). This could be English, physics, chemistry, etc. And some of the harder subjects are weighted higher than others and you have to test for some subjects in order to get into certain universities. I also asked her about some good Australian authors and her suggestions of some book reads. She said Morris Gleitzman and Tim Winton are good authors and she gave me one of each of their books to read while I am here and she gave us an Australian phrase book to look through. Also people here don’t really say Australia like we do…they say “Aurstralia.” Some people say “ankle-biter” when talking about a child (I guess because they are small and low to the ground???). Saying that you are going to hang out with your “mates” instead of your friends. They say “Mum” not “Mom.” And you don’t “try” something…you “give it a go.” Oh and I don’t wear a “jacket”…I wear a “jumper” when it is cold.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26: Today I taught the students a little bit about the aboriginal culture. Some facts that stuck out as most interesting to me: each clan has a sacred animal and they are not allowed to hunt that animal, they don’t write using words-they use symbols and they believe that spirits came and created the earth and everything in it and these spirits come back during dreamtime…so they tell dreamtime stories a lot. Mrs. Harvey is really interested in the aboriginal people and she was telling me about some tours she went on…on one of them she ate part of a honey ant…apparently these ants take some honey from the beehives and march it back to their ant hills by eating it and you can see their behinds all full of honey as they go back to their hill. She said on the tour the guide puts some of the ants in the refrigerator (the ants that are already full of honey) and after talking about the ants he brings them out and asks if anyone wants a taste!! She said she reluctantly tried one…you hold the head pinchers tight between your fingers and then you put the rear end of the ant in your mouth and push down with your tongue and out pops the honey into your mouth! Unfortunately the ant dies but she said she figured it would die any way since it had been refrigerated…She told this story to the students and they just LOVED it! She also brought in some rhythm sticks that they use during celebrations and a didgeridoo…which I learned is only supposed to be played by a male-in aboriginal culture it is disrespectful/dishonorable for a female to play the instrument. Also, I saw some of the brightest, most beautiful parrots (like 7 of them) in a tree outside of the school this afternoon! I am going to miss seeing all of these exotic birds just out and about! Oh and I have started to notice that things are not all spelled the same here…it is “centre” not “center” and “colour” not “color” and “flavour” not “flavor,” etc….
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER  27: This next part might be gross…but oh well J A girl in my class said that every time she flies it makes her “spew” (kids share EVERYTHING J), but her saying that reminded me that they don’t really say “throw up” or “vomit” here, they say “spew” instead…I finally now kind of know what the game cricket is…people told me that this was the big sport this time of year and in my head I guess I was thinking croquet was cricket and I was confused at why soooo many people packed the stands to see it J But we were watching the news tonight and I saw a clip of cricket being played and just started laughing because I have thought it was something different the whole timeJ We went for a run in the rain today!! It felt like we were really in the Fall season back home and it made me smile and my soul sing!!! And the rain smells the same here as it does back home so it was really fun to run in!!! New favorite show…Big Bang Theory!! I know they have it back home but I had never seen it before…it is HILARIOUS!!! J Oh and today when one of the students’ parents came to pick them up from school they told Ms. Seal that the first night I taught their child came home and said that he has a new teacher who is really fun and has really nice, shiny white teeth…kids notice the most interesting things J
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28: We bought a pumpkin after school today! (They were $26 a piece so we split the cost)…our pumpkin patch was more of a bin of pumpkins in the grocery store…but it was still fun and we went home and got our hands all slimy fishing for the pumpkin seeds inside and cleaning out the goop and then we baked the seeds with garlic salt and carved a face on our pumpkin…It was nice to keep the tradition from back home alive J
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29: Got the planning done for 3 weeks from now and am setting up when I will get evaluated next week (my coordinator here-John-will come and observe/grade me). We went to dinner with John and Hazel and met their daughter Renee and some family friends of theirs who were really nice and apparently go to Bali a lot and Amanda and I mentioned that we would love to go because we keep hearing about it (pretty much everyone here has been to Bali because it is only a 3 hour flight and it is cheaper to fly there for holiday than anywhere else in Australia-because Perth is so isolated from the rest of the country). SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30: So, John picked us up to give us a ride to Hillary’s Boat Harbour (that is how they spell harbor here) for our whale watching tour! On the car ride we talked with him about the tense home environment and how Denyer is just having a really rough time in her life right now (with the marriage not working out, etc.). He agreed that this was not a good environment to be living in because he said we are far away from home and our families and we need to live in a happy home with people who genuinely want us there…so he said he would talk to some contacts he had today and see if he could find us a new living accommodation where we could still live in the same house. Then we arrived at the harbour and I finally found a pair of sunglasses that are polarized and do not fall off of my face all the time!!! Oh and we went to this cute little chocolate café thing and ordered some churros (not sure how to spell that…) with some white chocolate and milk chocolate sauces, and ice cream to dip them in…it tasted DIVINE!! Our boat tour vessel arrived at 12:30 on the dock and we set off into the Indian Ocean (not really that far off shore) to see some humpback whales! The skipper on the boat said that these whales travel from the Antarctic region and come into this area to rest before setting off on more of their journey. Some of the whales came up really close to the boat and we got to see quite a few!!! I have never experienced this before so it was REALLY exciting! I had my camera out and ready the whole time so I could snap photos when they came up to the surface! When we were heading back into the city on the train we got a text message from John saying that he had found us a new living accommodation with a couple who are friends of theirs and they live REALLY close to the beach! We were ELATED to say the least and I felt as if 100 lbs. had been lifted off of my shoulders and I was TRULY happy for the first time in awhile!!! We then went to King’s Park in the city for a few hours…it is BREATHTAKING and we are FOR SURE going back again (if not many times more!! J). It has beautiful lookout views over the city and the Swan River and the atmosphere is so calming and grandeur!!! When we got back to the train station John picked us up and drove us by our new home (which we are moving into tomorrow J!!!!) and it is big and BEAUTIFUL and is in a really nice area!! We were so excited to see that the windows don’t have bars over them and that there is a park right across the street and we are really close to the beach, a nice shopping centre, and a bus stop!!! We are SOOO happy to be moving and John said that the couple is elated to have us!

More fun!

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18: This morning Amanda and I went on a two mile run to Kingsway Shopping Center to see if they had a wi-fi spot…and they do! The McDonald’s is open 24 hours and does have wi-fi! I think this may be the closest spot to where we live so biking there will be great! And OH MY GOODNESS…right as I started to feel like the spiders don’t like my room, since I had not seen one in there yet…GUESS WHAT HAPPENED!!! I was packing my bag for the beach and I saw a movement on my black bed spread out of the corner of my eye…I looked over and here was this FREAKY lookin’ spider with a HUGE black butt! I started screaming and jumping around and Amanda came in and we both grabbed our cameras and took some pictures before I killed it …although the pictures don’t do it justice…I had goosebumps for the next hour…trying to go to sleep tonight is going to be REAL fun, NOT! J (I know it is not nice to kill the spiders, but they should know not to be crawling around on my bed, towels, or in the kitchen sink J) We asked John today if we could use his extra bike so he brought it to the house when he picked us up from the boat harbor. Amanda and I spent a WONDERFUL, and SUNNY day on the beach today!! I am really going to miss just being a short distance (about a 1 hour bike ride) from the beach! We also ate at a restaurant called “Grill.” It was our first sit down restaurant meal since we have been here…it was a little pricey but the food was DELICOUS! I had some really good brushchetta (not sure how to spell that J) and she had some yummy linguini! Ben stayed up till the wee hours of the morning watching a show so he called me at like 5 this evening, which really surprised me! We got to talk for 40 minutes which was really nice! Denyer sat down with Amanda and I tonight and gave each of us a three page document explaining the house rules which kind of cleared the air a bit, apparently it bothered her that Amanda and I would hang out in the main part of the house at night so she has asked us that when she is home and it is not dinner time that we stay on our side of the house so she can unwind and such…the air here feels a little weird right now if you know what I mean…Amanda and I feel like we have to walk on egg shells…it will just take some getting used to because Amanda and I were kind of hoping that it would be more like we were all roommates instead of just boarders, but that is not the case so oh well…I am just REALLY glad that I have Amanda and she feels the same way because it would be REALLY lonely around here if it was just me.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 18: I taught the entire morning today! I feel much better about my placement now that I am starting to run things. I do have a nice cooperating teacher and today she said that she can tell that the students are really responding to me and that my classroom management and discipline is good (I am no softy during these first few weeks-then they realize that I mean business and there are usually no more problems after the first two weeks J). I am really trying to get ahead in my planning so that the rest of the semester I will be able to breathe a little easier. Mrs. Harvey had to stop at the grocery store to buy some milk before dropping me at the train station and she treated me to a Turkish Delight candy bar as well! It was like a gummy candy on the inside and chocolate covered on the outside-quite delicious and so sweet of her!! She dropped me off at the bus stop just as it was pulling away…so forty minutes later I caught the bus and then Amanda and I rode our bikes to the McDonalds with wi-fi…it took awhile to cross Hepburn which is a busy street that time of evening, but the internet came up just fine and I bought a little McD’s cone which was yummy…and I broke down and bought some fries…J They were also yummy! Riding there was the easy part, riding home-uphill-fighting nightfall-was the hard part but we survived J We had lamb tacos tonight which were REALLY good. This weekend when I was telling John about the huge spider that had been crawling on my bed he had also warned Amanda and I about the red-diamond back spider which is in western Australia, but he and Hazel assured us that you never see them inside…well guess what…J Denyer told us at dinner that she found one spinning webs in her closet this morning so she sprayed it and had saved it to show us tonight so we knew what to look out for…yup! Very venomous spider in the house…LOVELY J But she reassured us that they are usually only deadly to young children or people with heart problems…everyone else is just in a lot of pain, vomiting, and sick for days…. J
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19: I killed 2 spiders and a cockroach before leaving for the bus at 6:20 this morning…all in a days work J There was a very light misting in the air as I walked and it was very refreshing! Also, one of the bus drivers I had this morning was very charming and kind and it was a great start to a very beautiful day! Teaching went even better today and I am slowly starting to really feel like a part of the classroom. One of my students raised his hand today and reminded me that I say things differently than they do and I explained that we both spoke English but that we have different ways of saying things-I have an American accent and he has an Australian accent-he then asked me if I could understand what he was saying…and I again told him yes because we both speak English J Also, one of my students was apparently very confused at how I got here so early every morning…she knew that I was from America…Ms. Seal told me that the student thought that I had to fly home to America every night and then fly back to school each morning…cute huh?! J While riding with Ms. Seal after school today I noticed that the speed limit along one of the roads we took was 100 (the speed limit signs here are white, no words, just the number with a big red circle around it) and I thought WOW!...that is REALLY fast. But then I remembered that 100 km/hour is not the same as 100 miles/hour J
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20: Today was fun…to start with my bus driver had been talking to me and then asked me if I was Irish or Swedish before I got off the bus-I told him neither and he seemed amazed because he could of sworn that I sounded Irish…never been told that one before J Also, today I had some more word mix-ups in the classroom. I told a student that it was their turn and they needed to go use the “restroom” and I got the most quizzical look in return and so I repeated myself thinking maybe she was just not listening the first time…she then gave me the same look and very sweetly said, “Pardon” which is what people say here if they are confused about what you said (it seems so politeJ)…and then it dawned on me and I smiled and started giggling and rephrased and then said “toilet” instead of “restroom” J It is so interesting working with the young age group because they have not heard enough to know the different words for things so if you do not say the exact words they are used to they are usually lost…another example today was that I asked a student to help me put out the book bins…which I guess to them was like me asking them to put out the book trashcans since they use the word bin in place of the word trashcan….anyway they were really confused and I had another giggle and corrected myself…the students think it’s funny too so it’s all in good humor J I was able to spend 5 hours working on lesson plans tonight and am almost done with all of my lesson plans for next week I just have to make some final touches on one of them tomorrow during my lunch period. Thankfully after I do my unit plan and turn it into Livetext for evaluation I will not have to do the really long lesson plans for each lesson, but can do a more modified and shortened version for the rest of term. After dinner we heard some knocking and a voice at the front door and Denyer told us not to answer because it was Matt (her ex-fiancé). Apparently he has been bothering her dad for the past 3 weeks since she changed her phone number-trying to get her new information and then he called her at work this Monday and she just hung up on him and now I guess he has resorted to coming by the house. She told us not to worry because he is not dangerous or anything but she did call the cops and put in a report in case she has to file for a restraining order later. I cannot but help feel a little nervous that he is coming by the house now…maybe he is capable of breaking and entering as well…let’s hope not….for her sake and Amanda and I. Oh yeah…and I killed another spider this morning…he looked like a deep red colored daddy long leg thing…he was up above the door so I had to get him with the end of the broom…my aim and fire is getting really accurate with all this practiceJ Oh and it rained today…people were REALLY happy since they have just come off of the second driest winter recorded here. The clouds were rolling in all morning and then around mid morning it just let loose-it was like a monsoon out there!!
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21: I happily received a surprising phone call from Benjamin this morning at 5:50! I had just woken up and was franticly running around the house trying to get ready before I left at 6:20 to catch the bus…so unfortunately I had to ask him to call back later…I felt bad because I know it costs money every time someone tries to call :( I will make sure to get up earlier from now on so I am not so rushed! On my walk to the bus stop I got dive bombed by another magpie…they must have just laid eggs in a tree there because I walk that way through the park everyday and this was the first time I got the terrifying warning that I was too close to their nest! Today on the second bus (bus 444 seems to always have talkative and personable bus drivers…) the older bus driver started talking to me and asked me where I was from because he said I have a tricky accent that is hard to pin down…when I told him he lit up and said that his son is going to be traveling around the U.S. for the next four months with some friends from the U.S. and Europe-they are going to buy an inexpensive car and drive around! Sounded like an adventure to me!
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22: We went to dinner again with John and Hazel and the family we met last week. Their children, James and Marnie were there again and Elliot (the one studying law) got to come tonight too! We exchanged phone numbers so we can all get together some more…they seem really fun and they are our age. James kind of seems like a brother so it will be fun to hang out. They taught us some more Australian stuff at dinner J They don’t allow high fructose corn syrup to be put in food here and they put a higher tax on foods that have over a certain amount of sugar (so candy is more expensive). A “tit” here is kind of like a rude-goof off. A “wowzer” is kind of like a party pooper. They don’t have root beer here-they have ginger beer. They also don’t really have Dr. Pepper, they don’t have egg nog or twinkies (Elliot says that he LOVES twinkies and asks his mom to bring back a big case when she goes to the States).
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23: Another fun fact I realized today…the moon is upside down here (from what it looks like back home)…and its REALLY bright! Today we woke up to the handyman bangin’ around with his hammer on the door putting in the remainder of the security screens…and Denyer did take off work yesterday and went to the courts to get a restraining order against Matt (her ex). Today Amanda and I went to Freemantle and ate at Ciscerellos for lunch-which is a famous fish and chips place and is apparently where the ACDC guy named Bon Scott loved to eat-they have a statue of him outside the restaurant. We then went to the Freemantle Prison and went on the underground tunnel tour…it was REALLY interesting and FUN-we got to wear a cool little outifit and climb a ladder down 20 meters to the underground!! We walked through the small tunnels and then got to get into row boats and row through the underground water channels. We learned that back in the day the people living in this area in Australia started to struggle with being able to get water and building their infrastructure so they asked Britian if they could send convicts to come and build…their first task was to build the prison in which they would be staying, they then helped build the city and dug wells beneath the prison (which was built on a fresh water source). We then ate a DELICIOUS dinner at a restaurant called Sandrino. On the train ride back to Perth a group of about 20 guys got on and were pretty entertaining…they were on their way to the Metallica concert in Perth and were singing and carrying on which was fun to watch J We then had to wait 40 minutes and catch the bus from Perth to the shopping center near our house…when we got off the bus we had a 10 minute walk home…in the dark…we probably should have taken the longer way and stayed on the main road instead of taking the short cut through the deserted roads and park…but oh well-we made it!

Week 1 of Student Teaching!

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10: It is 10-10-10 today!! How cool huh!! We are trying to find a church in the area but have not found one yet. I am going to ask around at school tomorrow and see if I can find a location of one when I have internet access tomorrow. Today was also VERY windy, rainy, and cold! It was even colder than when I left Chicago I believe! AANNDD apparently the bus for our area does not run on Sundays so Amanda and I called a taxi to take us to the train station (which is only like 5 miles away) and that cost us $20! Crazy expensive, but it was better than sitting at home all day. We went around to some different shops and ate at a cute sushi place for a late lunch…it had a neat set up. The seating was in one big oval and you pulled up a seat and the cooks were hard at work in the middle and all of the food selections came around on the conveyer belt that was constantly going around the oval seating area…so you just took a look at the selections and picked your plate (or plates) and then ate! They know how much to charge you depending on what color your plate is, so once you are done eating you wave somebody down that works there and they look at your plate color, write you a receipt and you pay at the counter, pretty quick in-and-out and VERY delicious! I have never had sushi before and this was a good first experience!...although I must admit that I did not eat any raw fish…but baby steps are good right?! J I found this cute little candy shop that is based out of Perth and makes ROC candy (actually here they are called “lolly” shops and you don’t buy candies, you buy “lollies”) and I am hoping to stop back by there before I come home so I can bring some back with me! John was a sweetheart and picked Amanda and I up from the train station so we did not have to call a cab again to get home and he is going to take us to our schools for our first day tomorrow…I am still in vacation mode so I need to get focused because it is time to get down to business! Amanda and I watched our first movie here this evening, we picked from one of Denyer’s large selection of movies and settled on a 1992 film called “Far and Away” that neither of us had seen before, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. It was really a cute movie but made me think of home and miss my family…but then I remind myself how quickly the first week has flown by and that I only have 10 more, so I need to stay present and live in the moment and enjoy this experience and learn a lot more about myself and the wonderful people and places around me!
MONDAY, OCTOBER 11: This morning I was able to get up early and get a load of clothes through the wash and hang it on the clothes line so it would be dry by tonight…I am still getting used to not having a dryer but its not that bad. John dropped me off at school this morning and a volunteer walked me to the classroom where I could meet my teacher and the classroom assistant. I was overwhelmed from the moment I walked in…I start feeling stressed in an unorganized environment and this classroom, although big, seems to have things thrown around everywhere in odd places. I know it is an organized mess though because both of them seemed to know where everything was at and where to dig for different things. They both do seem really nice. After I was introduced we had to rush over to the library for meetings and faculty development all morning, where I was able to meet the rest of the teaching staff at the school. Everyone did seemed really friendly, warm, and welcoming and one of the teachers made a lasagna, cake, and salad for the staff to eat for lunch (considering our staff is rather small because it is a small school). It is odd because they are almost done with their school year and are already making curriculum plans and goals for the next school year (January). Overall I know deep down that things are going to be fine but I really felt the effects of culture shock today and by the time I got home I was shaky and almost in tears, but thankfully Amanda got home at like the exact same time and we looked at each other and decided to go on a long run like RIGHT AWAY because she felt the same exact way I did and we needed to get the anxiety out of our system. It worked for the most part, plus some candy (actually lollies) and some cookies, and then I was fine J It is really nice living with someone who is going through the same exact thing and who deals with stress by working out just like I do J I felt much better after I made my list of things to get done tomorrow and had a look through all of the things my teacher gave me today. I will just take it one day at a time and I think getting up early enough to workout and eat breakfast will do wonders as well and help me feel ready for anything the day is going to throw at me. Denyer made a delicious pasta dish this evening and we put on Finding Nemo while I worked on school stuff. I did learn some more new facts today…apparently the government here pays for you to go to University and you don’t start paying them back until you get a job…AND the University sets you up with a job (like sends you to a school to work at) once you graduate. And I learned that they don’t put things in the “trunk” they put them in the “boot” and you don’t throw (rubbish) trash in the trashcan, you through it in the “bin”. Oh and there are Ravens like EVERYWHERE here and they kind of sound like ET J Also, sometimes they say “Ta” or “cheers” instead of “thank you” and they call “napkins” “serviettes”
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12: Denyer was able to drop me off at school this morning which was helpful and I helped set up the room before the students and their parents came in. I have a class of 22, but one of them is still on vacation in Bali for the week and won’t be back till next week (apparently a lot of Australians vacation there because it is inexpensive to fly to and really beautiful!). I have learned almost all of their names now and am excited to work with them for the rest of the term. And I felt a lot better today and was not anxious by the end of it. I will be taking over the entire morning next week and then the whole day the week after that. I figure it is better to just jump in with both feet and get started as soon as possible so I don’t get bored and can learn more and take more from the experience. I can see that classrooms are pretty much the same here and children are the same everywhere so I do not feel as isolated as I did yesterday. I am teaching pre-primary which is considered kindergarten back home. Here kindergarten is preschool (so students go to kindergarten, then pre-primary, and then year 1, etc.). I thought it was interesting that most classes have hooks located outside for their backpacks, which makes sense since they have nice weather all year round-helps save some space inside the buildings. Here they spell color “colour” and a sweater is called a “jumper” and they don’t say/spell “learned” they say “learnt” and every school that I have seen students from are wearing a uniform. At our school the students must where black bottoms and either their light blue South Padbury Primary School T-shirt, collared shirt, sweatshirt, zip-up, or a a plain light blue shirt. We had some delicious risotto for dinner that Denyer made and I got three papers written for my STG 4000 and 4001 class…while watching the rest of Finding Nemo and then Grease J
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13: Today I got to do a few more activities with my students (the theme is Knights, Dragons, and Castles) and got to lead part of the physical education lesson (we split the class into three groups and each worked on a different skill). I think it is unfortunate that they do not get P.E. instruction everyday but I do like that on days that they don’t have P.E. the teacher lets the students have recess for 50 minutes to give them time to play with the balls or hoops if they wish, run around, and use their imaginations and give them time to be kids! Today I had a funny incident-I asked for those with white tennishoes to stand up and they all looked at me and said “what?” and I said it again and they still did not understand, so I pointed to the shoes and asked them what they called them and they laughed and said “runners!” Also, I learned that although candies are called lollies here, they may also be called sweeties, which is a term the English use. The school bell that goes off for beginning of school, end of lunch recess, and end of school sounds like a fire siren and the first time I heard it I looked around trying to see what the fire procedures were but then realized that students were just lining up to go in from recess instead J I saw a beautiful pink cockatoo bird in the tree when the students were outside and it made me smile because I don’t get to see exotic birds like that just out and about at home. Apparently there are a lot of exotic birds that are native to Australia and people try to smuggle them out illegally to sell them in other parts of the world. I learned that the school was built in 1989, same year I was born! J And the school does not have a cafeteria, students just sit out either on the veranda (the pre-primary and other junior block students (like year 1-year3) or under the pavilion top (the senior block (year 4-year 7) students) and they sit on the ground. They say maths instead of math, I asked Denyer why and she said she didn’t know-maybe because of mathematics. Also, I heard a teacher asking a student if they were being a “dob” and I asked her later what that meant and she laughed and said that to “dob” is to tattle-so if someone is a “dobber” then they are a tattle-tale J It makes me think of like a dobber you would use at a bingo game or something J Amanda student teaches at a High School and they don’t have assemblies, homecoming, prom, or school sports here. They do have a Senior Ball that only seniors can attend and the sports teams are neighborhood leagues. The Commonwealth games are going on right now in Dalhi, India and so every time you are around a TV or radio you are hearing about the games. I talked to my teachers about how we call “rubbish” “trash” and they said “Yeah, don’t call it trash because people here only say trash when talking rudely about a type of person (like of low-economic status/white-trash) or if someone breaks into your house and trashes it. AND…Ben was finally able to get through to me via telephone/calling card…he said he has been trying for a few days but the number was not working for some reason…it was REALLY nice to hear a familiar voice from home!
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14: I really am starting to feel at home here. Everyone is warm and welcoming and our classroom assistant, Mrs. Harvey is kind of becoming my Australian Grandma for now J She is really sweet and gives me a ride to the train station after school and on the car rides and during breaks at school she tells me stories about her family and Australia, and asks me about home and life, etc….just a really sweet lady and makes me feel right at home J Also, the classroom is more organized now…apparently it was a mess before because things needed carried out to the shed but it really is a good learning environment and I am happy to say that my first impression has been replaced by a better one and a better feeling now. I had to write 12 lesson plans tonight! Not my favorite thing to do, but hopefully I will get some templates typed up tomorrow so it will save me a little bit of time in the weeks to come…we shall see! I heard a teacher talking about their “dot” period today and I asked them what that was and it stands for “duties other than teaching” which we call a planning period back home. Today my teacher asked a student to go and grab her a rubber and I could not help but smile and giggle inside…rubbers here are erasers J “Packaway” time is cleanup time. I saw one of those ravens walking on the school lawn today (the ones that sound like ET laughing J) and they are BIG! Its body is bigger my head! I also noticed an Australian flag flying at the school and when I glanced up at first I thought “that doesn’t look right” but then I remembered I am in Australia not America…the school setting seems a lot like back home other than the Australian accents and different words for things. Apparently Australia has very strong men and women’s hockey teams and both won gold in the commonwealth games! Apparently the women were playing New Zealand and New Zealand tied up the score with 40 seconds left in the game so they had a shoot out and Australia won! I keep hearing about it J One of my students had a birthday today and he brought candy for students to take home…and he gave one to me to eat…after it fell on the floor…but it didn’t seem to phase him J gotta love it! Denyer was telling us that if someone is Aboriginal or even part Aboriginal they get a lot of financial help/scholarships, etc. from the government. She said they have a really rough way about them but that is probably because up until as early as the 70’s aboriginal children (or even part aboriginal) were taken from their parents and put in government boarding schools to be taught the “white”/”English” way of doing things. 
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15: WOW! Today was my planning day (“dot” day) and I thought I would get a lot done and be feeling good….WRONG! NOT relaxing…and NOT as productive as I should have been. I definitely realized today that when things are not organized in my working environment it drives me CRAZY! I felt like there was not even enough room for my thoughts! We have to do our planning in the “wet room” which is a main room that connects all four classrooms in the pre-primary little building…and there is stuff stacked EVERYWHERE in there! I even got to school early thinking it would give me time to kind of find a place and get started before people started coming in…and I did and THAT was good! I mean the other girls here have like three weeks to observe the classes and get settled in…I had three days and by the third day was already expected to have an outline of plans for what I wanted to teach next week…whereas other people don’t even start partially taking over till week 3 or 4…although that is not really the issue…I know I can do it and start teaching next week no problem…when I left the school I decided to leave my stress there…and here because writing about it helps me feel better J OK! That was a lot of venting in my writing but I do feel much better!!! Dinner tonight was really fun! Amanda and I got to meet Caitrin, another student teacher here from Ohio, and John and Hazel took the three of us (Brittany, the student teacher from Georgia could not come because her class that she is teaching is on a field trip to Melbourne for a week…I know! I wish I could go on a field trip to another city in Australia with my class…but it would be hard with 5 and 6 year olds J) to an eatery/food court in Perth with lots of Asian food joints to choose from-I had a heaping plate of Chinese food (when I can’t run-I relieve stress by eating LOTS of carbs J). Some friends of John and Hazel met us there and it was nice to meet them. The dad (I forget his name) works at Curtin University (same place as John) and his son James and daughter Marnie are both taking classes in university right now. It was fun to talk to James and Marnie because they are around our age and when we all left dinner we decided that we would definitely have to do it again later this term-they are a really nice family!
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16: Today was a lot of fun! John was sweet enough to pick us up and take us to the train station and then we got off the train and walked to the pier along the Swan River to go on our Swan Valley Wine Tour! I like wine a lot more now that I have tried different kinds-the white fruity wines are my favorite! Our tour started with a 2 hour cruise on the Swan River and then we got off at Water’s Edge Vineyard (which was BEAutiful) and switched over to a coach for the remainder of the trip. We got to visit 4 vineyards, a brewery, and a chocolate factory! I had just a small sip of each wine because I did not want to get sick or anything, but I did make myself sip ALL of them…even the red wines that I knew I did not like…but I figured I paid a lot of money to go on this wine tour and I am trying to open my horizons to new experiences! AND I tried squid and raw salmon for lunch…the squid was not bad because it was fried and just tasted like any other fish…but a little chewier…and the raw salmon was not AWEFUL but I probably won’t be doing that again for awhile J We met three girls from Australia on the tour and we may be meeting up with them again next weekend at Octoberfest in the city. My favorite part of the whole tour was the chocolate factory! WOW!! There was TONS of chocolate and it all looked DELICIOUS!! I just tried the free samples…yes they had free tasting-cute huh?!...and I got to try one truffle for free…I picked the blueberry truffle and it was GREAT!! Apparently it won a gold medal last year too…so I am not the only one who loves it J And I could not help myself so I broke down and bought a scoop of mint-chocolate chip ice-cream!! I do not know what it is (especially since I used to hate mint flavored anything) but lately I have been really craving mint-chocolate cookies and ice-cream…and this ice-cream was worth the money…SOOOO good!!!!! MMMmmmmMMMmmm!! After all of my wining and dining today (not to mention the pizza and garlic bread Amanda and I ordered tonight) I am really going to have to work out more this next week-which won’t be a problem since I know I will want to de-stress after school everyday anyway…but enough talk about school…it is the weekend and I am NOT even going to go there right nowJ Anyway..I am filled to the brim with carbs (mainly from the loaf of garlic bread because their large pizza’s here are LITERALLY the same size-if not smaller-as a small pizza back home in the States…weird huh?! Either that or the people over the phone could tell we were foreigners so the just brought us a small and said it was a large…just kidding J I am sure that is not the case J) and am exhausted so I am going to sleep REALLY well tonight! OH yeah! I almost forgot…tonight after dinner I thought I would do some dishes…until I stuck my hand in the sink to find the biggest spider I have seen yet on this trip…YUCK!! It gave me the heebie-jeebies and we washed it down the sink and I decided against doing the dishes-at least until tomorrow J

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Adventure Begins!

FLIGHTS-First, I have to say that I heard a great quote on the airplane, “Traveling opens our eyes and enriches our soul!” Oh and on the plane to Australia I noticed that instead of asking me for my trash they asked me for my “rubbish.” This was like my mantra when I was leaving the country J I sat next to a sweet older couple on the flight from O’Hare to San Francisco, a divorce counselor from San Francisco to Sydney (she was going to Melbourne for a conference and she was a breath of fresh air to sit next to on that long flight. I was really nervous and about in tears when I got on the plane but seeing her smiling face and her warm and welcoming nature helped put me at ease almost instantly and the flight really did seem to fly by because I stayed awake for the first half (which meant till like 4 am IL time-ahhh! But it was worth it because I then slept for a good 7 hours, just getting up periodically to stretch at the rear of the aircraft. It also helped me to not be too jet lagged upon arrival in Perth later on Monday. Also, the other gentleman in our row offered us junior mints after each meal J), and a retired teacher, from San Francisco, on flight from Sydney to Perth, her husband has been living near Perth for the past year doing geology research so she was going to meet him because he was just finishing up and they are going to travel around the Perth area and then head back to the states. She said that when her children were in high school their family moved to Sydney for two years and that her children really loved it. She said that most people in Australia are very engaging and it is an inviting and nice place to live. Oh! And I got to see the big bridge and the Sydney Opera House as we took off from the airport! I’m glad I was sitting on the right side of the plane! It really helped put me at ease when right away people were being so very kind and offered to help me put my heavy book bag in the overhead bin (or locker as they call it here). Someone always offered right away to get it down for me at the end of the flight. We had a two hour delay once we got on the plane in Sydney…so instead of being on the plane for 4.5 hours we were on it for 6.5…nice surprise after 24 hours of travel already J It was due to the fact that their computer system was down in the airport so they had to start checking in passengers manually so we had to wait for the last 10 to get on our plane and then wait for someone to bring us a hard copy of the finalized boarding passenger list and for them to try and sort out what luggage goes where. It affected ALL of the Quantas flights leaving Sydney so there was a lot of confusion…which is probably why only like three people on our flight got their luggage when we landed. John and his wife, Hazel met me as I got of the plane in Perth. It was funny, I was walking off the plane and into the airport and an older gentleman says, “Are you Nicole?” I turn to see two smiling faces and they both greeted me with a hug J, which was very welcome after that long flight and missing my family. They walked me over to baggage claim and I was feeling VERY dizzy and about fainted. Hazel was very sweet and found me a chair and bought me a cold bottle of water. I then filled out the necessary documents to hopefully get my luggage back. They told me it should be delivered by tonight but it is now 11:40 in the evening and no word from the airport…maybe tomorrow!
MONDAY, OCTOBER 4: So far people really are easy to understand, but they have said some words and stuff that went right over my head…I will catch on soon I am sure. John and Hazel drove me (in their car with the steering wheel on the right…quite odd I must say and it made me smile because I got in at the right backseat door and looked over and my first thought was that their steering wheel was missing and then I had to giggle because I remembered that they drove on the other side of the road…which is going to take some getting used to.) from the airport to Irma Roberts’ home (Denyer’s mother, and my principal at South Padbury Primary School). I felt like I was about ready to pass out and I looked like a rag-a-muffin because I had not showered in over two days now because of travel and according to my internal clock it was past midnight which was quite the contrast to all of them because they were dressed to the nines and looked great. However, I put on a smiling face and their whole family was really very sweet to me. They were getting family pictures taken so I lay down on the lounge chair for a little bit to try and settle my spinning head. I then went with them to Hyde Park where they got more photos, while I wandered around the park taking pictures of the scenery. I realized that I was walking on the wrong side of the walking path right away J I will get used to it soon I am sure! They let me eat with them at dinner (Denyer, her sister, and her husband, and their 9 week old little girl, and Mr. and Mrs. Roberts). Mr. Roberts let me use his laptop and I was able to briefly email some people back home, but to my dismay I was not able to talk to Ben on Skype. I about broke down and started crying right then and there when I realized that it is going to be very difficult to do Skype, but I pray that the Lord will keep me strong. They then let me go to the couch upstairs and lie down while Denyer had to go out to meet up with a friend. They said that on TV tonight there is a back-to-back showing of Crocodile Dundee, and Mr. Roberts laughed a hearty laugh and said then I could see everything that Australia is NOT J. I tried to stay awake but I cried myself to sleep almost instantly…I did not realize how tired I was. My emotions are going in waves right now I am either very happy and interested, very sleepy, or almost panicked and bursting into tears…you would think I had the hormones of a pregnant woman or something! Denyer then came back to her mother’s house and picked me up and we went home to Marangaroo, which is the neighborhood where she lives. She gave me a tour of the house and let me pick my room (I had the choice between a bigger room or cozier room-both with a twin bed, desk, and closet). I chose the cozier one and I think it will suit me perfectly. I threw my clothes into the wash so I can wear them again tomorrow until my luggage hopefully arrives and Denyer let me borrow some pj’s. There is no dryer so I think we just hang dry everything. She gave me a hot pad to put in my bed in case it got cool tonight…which it did and this hot pad (which looks like a whoopee cushion filled with really hot water) is AMAZING! And of course, knowing me, I checked high and low to make sure no spiders were hanging out in my room, and before I used the toilet, and pretty much everywhere else I walked to in the house J All is clear for now. I asked Denyer if I would see a lot of snakes and spiders and she said that she has only seen 3 snakes in her life, but spiders are much more common and many things in Australia are venomous so it is best to just kill it when you see one (In my mind I am thinking…I REALLY hope I NEVER am in that situation where I am trying to kill a venomous spider…because if I miss and it bites me-AHH!-but it sounds like it may be inevitable that I encounter one. She just said to not go picking up rocks and sticking my hand in places where I can’t see what is there, check your shoes, shake out clothes, etc….this is definitely one part of Australia that I already know I am NOT going to miss J Right now according to my internal clock it is 11:30am, but here it is 12:30 at night and I should probably try to get some rest!
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5: I woke up around 8 this morning feeling like a whole new person! It is amazing what a shower and good nights rest can do! I woke up before Denyer so I took a look about the house again looking for spiders…and I found one-Yikes! It is under the chair in the game room so I thought I would leave it alone for now. I am not yet ready to kill a deadly creature yet (I don’t actually know if it is venomous or not but I was told that it is hard to know so just kill them all). It is a beautiful sunny day outside, a little bit on the chilly side but very pleasant. Denyer made me a smoothie like she usually has for breakfast. She used a frozen banana, a bit of honey, and some milk and mixed it all up in one of those magic bullet things like we have back home. It was surprisingly delicious! We then took our smoothies and set out on the patio and talked for a good while. We get along great and she is very warm and welcoming. Some things that she said that are different are that they say they are going to use the “toilet” but we say the “bathroom” and apparently instead of having a school “cafeteria” they have a “canteen.” Also they don’t say grades (like 1st grade), they say years. So she teaches French and SE (social studies) for year 8-10 students. She said that year 11 and 12 are spent on classes to prepare you for University (college) and the other French teacher in the building teaches those students because she is older and more experienced. She told me that the spiders are not deadly but if you get bit they hurt A LOT. She said that around the house and even IN the house before she has seen the long black ones with a bit of white on them and she said that the venom causes an abscess on your skin and will continue to spread and grow until you get it cut out-ouch! We went to the supermarket and I learned that instead of grabbing a “cart” they get a “trolley.” The food seemed a lot like what we have back home except for the brands of food and they had some French and English foods, teas, and cheeses. I bought a hot water bottle (like the one she filled up for me to put in my bed last night). They work great and really did keep the bed warm so I am going to bring one back home! She giggled when I told her I wanted to buy one to take back home. She said it must be more of a European thing since we don’t have them. But they are very common here. She took me to Hilary’s, which is a tourist type place with shops and boats along the ocean front. I saw that they have boat tours that you can pay for to go out to Rottnest Island and you can pay to learn to surf on the island as well!! Maybe that is something that Amanda and I can do later this week because Denyer will be gone on Holiday to Melbourne Wednesday evening. Sunday and we are going to have to entertain ourselves. I am going with John and Hazel to pick up Amanda from the airport on Wednesday evening and I am not sure how up to traveling she will be on Thursday so we will just have to see. Denyer drove me by my school today as well. It seems nice, they are doing some construction and it looks like a new small building is being built. Unlike back home where everything is in the same building, here they have many small buildings that make up the school. Denyer said it is because they have plenty of space to do so and the weather is usually decent all year round. In high school they have a building for math, science, etc. just like at university. One of Denyer’s high school friends stopped by for afternoon tea and brought her 10 month old with her, which reminded me of Jack (except in Asian form J). It was nice, we sat outside on the patio (which has a suncover over the sitting area so even in the heat of the day it is nice) and drank tea and had cheese, jam, (a really good French cheese) and biscuits (crackers). I spent the evening at her parents home tonight because she had lecture (class) at the university. She is currently getting her Master’s in accounting. Mrs. Roberts made a delicious vegetable and meat pizza. While we were eating they told me a little bit about South Africa and apparently Mr. Roberts goes there for business and they lived there for 10 years. While we were eating Mrs. Roberts saw a bird (it was black and white) and so Mr. Roberts got some meat from the fridge and opened the door, said hello to the bird, and threw the food out to it. I believe they told me it was called a magpie bird and that now is hatching season so the mother birds will sometimes swoop down at you, not to hurt you but just as a means to protect their young. She said that although it is natural to want to look up it is important to just cover your head and look down because the birds have long sharp beaks and people have had their eyes poked out and gone blind. She said they have to teach the kids at school this to help prevent any serious injuries. My bags arrived so I have clothes and toiletries. Some other observations…the toilet has two buttons located at the top and I am not yet sure what each one is for or what the difference is. The toilet has a room of its own and the shower, sink, bathtub are in a separate room-the bathroom. Instead of cooking chicken on the “grill”, you cook it on the “barby” or barbeque. Oh and right before bed I plugged in my US power strip to the converter and I heard a loud pop and smelled smoke. I then tried to plug in and turn on some other things and it was not working, then Denyer comes and asks me if my lamp is working because hers isn’t. I just smiled kindly and explained that I believe that would be my fault…OOPS J Apparently I blew a fuse for the whole house…gotta love it J She said no problem, she would go out to the fuse box in the morning and take care of it. I giggled to myself and thought….NIIICCCEE one Nicole J I do not think I will try to use the US power strip here again-it is much to powerful!
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6: AHHHHH!!!! I KILLED a SPIDERRRR this morning! It gave me the heebee-jeebees!!!! BUT I did NOT scream!!! Go me! I was hanging up the foot towel after my shower and as I moved my hand away a spider fell off the towel and onto the shelf…my hand was WAAYY to close for comfort! I took a look at the little bugga and he was exactly the little guy Denyer had warned me about yesterday. Long black body with a white tipped end, so I went to my room, got my shoe, and SMASHED that lil’ guy! Sorry dude, it’s not personal, you just creep me out and can hurt me so a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! I told Denyer about it and she laughed and said that I am a REAL AUSTRALIAN now J John and Hazel came by around 11 today and we went to the airport to meet Amanda. On the way to the airport I told John that I killed a spider and he laughed and said “Just Wait! November is the worst because that is when the flies come, and then the cockroaches!”…And I am thinking-Yippee J When Amanda got off the plane she seemed to be faring much better than me when I got off the plane, I mean at least she could walk straight J Her bags made it with her on the same flight which is good! We then went back to the house and the three of us had some tea and biscuits on the patio and chatted for a little while before the electrician and security system men got there and then Amanda laid down for most of the afternoon because she was exhausted. While she lay down Denyer listed off some places that would be good to see during my time here, so I took note and posted it on the fridge! I am very excited to go sightseeing on the weekends! The three of us went out for a drive in the convertible this afternoon along the beach and had coffee (I had water because I think coffee is nasty tasting) at a cute little café called Trigg on the beachfront. We got to see the sun beginning to set before we headed home for dinner! It got to be pretty chilly this evening so we put the top back up on the car before going home. I am DEFINITELY ready for the warmer weather to present itself so I won’t have to wear a jacket around and then we can go to the beaches! Denyer did say that we need to be careful because the great white sharks are known to get surfers on the coast because it is a cold current running there along the beaches and the tiger sharks are around snorklers especially near Rottnest Island because of the warm current and it being more tropical and they usually have a number have shark attack deaths a year….GREAT J We had a delicious salad and tuna casserole for dinner and I am going to have to get the recipe for sure! Denyer left tonight on her flight so it is just Amanda and I holding down the fort until late Sunday evening…well it almost feels like I am home alone because Amanda is exhausted and has already gone to bed around 8pm but I am still wide awake…maybe I should flip on the television and take a gander at the local news! Oh and I can’t wait to get to use the internet again…but that probably won’t be until school starts…but I want to email Ben and the family to get a calling cards so they can contact me via phone at least since this Skype thing does not seem to be working out.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7: Some new facts about Perth-Apparently it is the most isolated capitol cities on earth, and it is known as the windy city…like Chicago back home J and they aren’t kidding-it gets windy! I woke up about 3 hours before Amanda this morning so I did some Pilates and isometrics and then ate breakfast and read on the patio…so relaxing! I feel like I am living the life of leisure right now…but I know things are going to kick up to full speed in just a few days and I’ll be a busy bee-except for the weekends which I am reserving for F-U-N!!!! John picked us up at noon and dropped us off at Hilary’s Harbor and we spent like 3 hours just looking at the shops, walked along the beach, ate at the beach shack, and got prices on the underwater aquarium and snorkeling. John then picked us up and drove us past the dog beach, Edith Cowan University (She was the first woman in Parlament and she had a big influence on Australian education, which is why that school was named after her) and then we went to Greenwood shopping center (biggest tent covered shopping center in the southern hemisphere) for the rest of the evening. Some fun facts from John: more people are killed from lightning in Australia than shark attacks, and more people are killed by golf balls (around 6 a year) than anything else. And apparently they sometimes get really big hail here to. They got a really bad hailstorm earlier this year. He also showed us the planet Venus, and the constellations Scorpio (the head points you in the direction of the Indian Ocean), and the Southern Cross. There are wild horses called Brumbies in the center of the country. And they have A LOT of camels in the inner country as well, they send quite a few of the camels to Saudi Arabia. Also they either say “How goes it?” or “How you going” instead of saying “How are you” J
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8: This morning Amanda and I went for a run and tried to get a better feel for our surroundings and how to get to the nearest bus stop. We found a short cut by going through two parks! John came by around 11 and took us to Caversham Wildlife Park…and it was AMAZING! We got to see so many animals! However, it was a really hot day so there were quite a few that we could not see because they were sleeping or hiding in the shade…but a successful day nonetheless! I got up close and personal with A LOT of kangaroos…one of the smaller ones even jumped up from behind me, stuck its head and half its body between my legs and looked up at me J And I got to see and pet a koala but they don’t let you hold them and you can only touch their back and you can only use the back of your hand…these precautions are put in place to help the koalas. And I learned that koalas are not really called koala bears they are really only called koalas and they are the only animal without a known predator because they eat eucalyptus leaves, which are not pleasant for other animals…its not poisonous but they don’t like the taste of it well enough to even bother trying to eat the koala. We went to a farm show at the park and at the end I volunteered to go onto the floor and learn to crack a whip! The guy made it look way easier than it actually was! We then went to an open market and got to see some new kinds of fresh fruit, which we definitely want to try later! And learned that they call cookies “biscuits” and that a really good “biscuit” here is the Tim Tam (cookies)! And they ARE good…MMM! Also, it does not seem that they use ice in their drinks here and the toilets have two buttons at the top for either a half flush or a full flush to help save water. Oh and drinking water here is safe but further inland where it has to be piped in you have to filter it or you get sick. And quite a few cars here have like a protective set of bars on the front end and they call them RooBars…can you guess why?...yup! to help protect the car if they hit a kangaroo. Apparently there are three subdivisions which they call the KGB because those are the first initials of each subdivision and they are areas to stay away from…and we are right on the border of all three…but as long as I make sure I don’t run in that direction I should not have any problems…but it makes me a lil’ nervous nonetheless but our house has security screens and deadbolts and we keep all of the doors locked ALL of the time even when we are just walking to the other end of the house because apparently a decent amount of people’s homes get broken into and it can often happen even while you are home and just walk into the next room and when you walk back the computer may be gone. So we just take the necessary precautions and all is well. Oh yeah and another new word: they call sunglasses “Sunny’s” and they REALLY love their tea and coffee…you can hardly go anywhere without there being tea and coffee as an option.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9: We went on a run this morning and I got my first experience being dive-bombed by a magpie bird…HOLY MOLLIE!! That was terrifying…I felt like I was in the movie Birds or something J Some more new stuff: Slip, Slap, Slop (Slip on some sunny’s (sunglasses), Slap on a hat, Slop on some sunscreen) they are really big into sun protection here because they have a high rate of skin cancer. Hazel said that since the flies get so bad, when you are waving them away from your face they call that the Australian Salute J The terms sheilas and blokes are not necessarily derogatory terms to call people but they are more used by hard/rough (like people who go to be bars) people, kind of like saying “Hey woman” or “sexy” in America. They call the ocean breeze that comes in the afternoon the “Freemantle Doctor” because it cools everything down and feels AMAZING! Their mailboxes don’t say mail-they say letters (so you don’t go out and get the mail, you go out and get the letters). They also say “Rightiyo” (I don’t know how to spell that) instead of saying “alright.” Instead of saying “You’re Welcome” they say “You’re Alright.” We spent a BEAutiful day at Cottesloe Beach…it is in a really ritzy part of town and there were a lot of young people and families there. We also are now proud owners of our very own SmartRider card which allows us to “Tag on and Tag off” the train and bus and you just put more money on your card when you need to…I feel like one of the locals now and you get like half off when you use your card! The last bus going home left the train station at 5:30 and we BARELY made it in time. Then the ½ hour bus ride was very interesting…we were on there with like all highschool age kids-boys in the back-and girls in the front and they were yelling obscenities at each other, I mean you name it and they probably were talking about it and LOTS of cussing….a pretty rough crowd that seems to have grown up at a young age if you know what I mean…and there were Amanda and I just sitting in the middle of it J But, when we got home we cleaned up and then made some DELICOUS chicken tacos for dinner if I may say so myself.