Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 2 Begins

So I have survived my first week in Brisbane. I have made friends with several of the teachers at school now, who have thankfully offered to give me rides, so I'll no longer have to ride the detested bus that likes to never be on time.

This weekend I was able to experience a lot of the culture. Saturday we went to South Bank, the downtown area, and walked around to all the markets and what-not. I didn't get to see all the museums and gardens that I would have liked to, so I think I'm gonna try to go back by myself one day next weekend. Sunday was by far my best experience so far. We went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is sort of like a zoo, but with very limited captivity, which made me happy. The animals roam around as they wish, for the most part. They do keep the venomous snakes pinned up! The kangaroos roam have an enclosure, but they can get in and out of it if they please, and the other animals are much the same, to the point that if you go to the little cafe area, you have to protect your food from the lizards, birds, and other creatures roaming around! The kangaroos were probably my favorite, they are all extremely good natured and just want to be pet and fed. As you can see from the picture, we were also allowed to cuddle koalas, which are the most adorable, cozy, lazy balls of fur you can imagine. Ashley- I took several pictures of the dingoes for you!!

I start my first actual class tomorrow. I have been given a Year 8 and a Year 12 to be in complete charge of, and the Year 8's meet for the first time tomorrow, wish me luck!!!

Daddy and Kelly-please tell Layla hello for me again, please!
And can someone also make sure Nana and Papa are getting these?

Love and miss you all very much!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I have survived my first day as a teacher at Clairvaux MacKillop College. High schools here unlike anything I have ever seen in the States. Every two weeks, the teachers and the students are given a timetable which lays out for them what time they will go to which class for the ten day period. Every two weeks, a new one is given. There is absolutely no rhyme nor reason within each time table or between. The days vary from class to class with no pattern or consistancy. I am going to have extreme difficulties with this one.

The school also has a very different curriculum. Rather than having students take Algebra 1, then Geometry, then... etc., the students take Year 9 math, Year 10 math, ... etc., each being a mixture of the different branches of mathematics and increasing in difficulty with each year. A system I think the US could learn a lot from. I have been given charge of a Year 8 and a Year 12 to run completely alone and as I like. I cannot decide if I am more nervous or excited. It feels so amazing to be doing this. I feel as if I am finally in my element, and I am even more confident now with my career choice.

The students are extremely well behaved. I of course was asked several times where in the States I was from, had students try to copy my accent, and was asked if I owned a gun or if the KKK was still in existence. I really wanted to "give 'em the mickie", as they would say here, but I decided to not tease and just told them the truth. My supervising teacher introduced me as the "Yank" so I had to explain to everyone also that there is a difference! They stereotype just as we do... everyone in America to an Aussie is a Yank, apparently.

So much happened, I could go on for days, but I am worn completely out. Lauretta and Dave dropped George and I off at a mall earlier, and we missed our bus and ended up walking over 3 kM home. Sorry, I don't know the conversion rate and I'm too lazy to look it up right now :).

I miss you all very much, and next time I begin to post I'll make sure I'm not at the line between incoherency!

Oh... toilets do not flush the opposite way here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Days 2 and 3

Happy Australia Day to all!

January 26 is Australia's national holiday, so today Lauretta and Dave took us to meet their "mates" and have a cook-out. By the way, I have yet to eat kangaroo... contrary to popular belief, it is not a regular dish here. Lauretta has lived in either Sydney or Brisbane her entire life and never tasted it. So today we went to a little park with Cricket "fields" and cooked out and played cricket all day. I have also now experienced my first Australian sunburn-yes Mother, I was wearing sunscreen, as well as a straw hat, the sun is just that brutal here! So turns out that Australians are excellent cooks, and that Americans are awful at Cricket. It's very similar to baseball in that you have fielders, a batter and a pitcher, which they call a bowler. Instead of running bases though when you hit the ball, there are two batters who stand at opposite ends of the field, which is just a narrow strip, and however many times they can run back and forth, that i show many runs you get. Striking out doesn't actually get you out, you just lose five runs, and each team of batters gets twelve chances to score as many runs as possible. So when Dave and I teamed up, we ended up with -28... Pretty embarrassing! My only redeeming quality was that I was able to tag three people out while I was bowler! Also, you are supposed to keep your bat with you when you run, but George and I are so used to baseball we kept throwing ours, so we lost some points that way.

George and I found out last night that there is another girl from the States (Ohio, specifically) who is also in COST and staying with Brisbane, she just lives about ten minutes away. So today she came with us, and I think she is going to start traveling and sight-seeing with us as well.

Dave took George and I to the beach yesterday, and it was quite amazing. The rip tides get really bad, however, so they have about 20 ft -although they measure in meters- areas blocked off where you can swim every mile or so. Apparently, and this should make Hannah rest easier, more people die from rip tides than sharks and jellies combined.

A couple odd things... it isn't popular here to have air conditioning. In San Fransisco, I understand this, as it never gets above like 65. However, in this 85-90 degrees, it's brutal. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes because the heat is so suffocating. Apparently at the school I'm at, some of the classrooms have air conditioning, but poor George has none anywhere in his school. At night the air is pretty cool though, so its nice to go sit on the back porch and have dinner. I would definitely take the heat any day to be able to be here!

Also, people in Australia don't tip. When you go out to dinner, you pay for your food, and that is that. I have never felt so awkward in my life getting up from a table without tipping, but Lauretta said that if you leave more than just your extra change, it can almost be considered an insult to the server, because its as if you are saying that they are poor. She and Dave met in Ireland, and she said the same holds there. She worked as a bartender for a while, and she said some of the only people who tipped were Americans, and it was usually an absurd amount.

One last thing... if anyone ever offers you beetroot dip, I suggest strongly that you decline.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hello to all my friends and family!

Australia is amazing so far. As you know, I do not fly well, and I was terrified that I would not survive the flight due to heart failure or lack of oxygen as a result of multiple panic attacks. And although my flights to both Dallas and Los Angeles were awful, the flight to Brisbane was amazing (also partly due to my Ambien, which I could not be more thankful for, Kelly!) Each seat had its own private television screen (set on the back of the seat in front of you), and the airline had an On-Demand type cable selection. There were choices of about 30-40 movies and 20-30 television shows, so I was able to catch up on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which I was pretty excited about.

My housemates are terrific. Lauretta and Dave could not be nicer if they tried, and George as well seems like he is going to be extremely easy to live with. As I was told, Dave is a tremendous cook. All we have had yet are burgers for lunch, but they were unlike any burger I have ever experienced. I do feel a little bad though, because Dave was born in the Czech Republic, and learned to speak English in Ireland, so I have the worst time trying to understand him! Lauretta ensures me that he is used to having to repeat himself and it does not bother him, but I'm not so sure... This is such a multi-cultural house... Lauretta was born in Sydney, Dave was born in Czech but knows Irish English, George has a Yankee sound, and I of course am representing the Southern drawl.

I am not nearly as nervous as I thought I might be. Lauretta and Dave are so personal and friendly, they make it very easy to adjust. Also, Lauretta said that since she moved to Brisbane, she has not had much time to travel, nor Dave, so they are very excited to take George and I sightseeing and on other adventures not too far away.

Although I can make phone calls pretty cheaply using Skype, the money still adds up. That and with trying to figure out time differences and when is best to call everyone, I figured that this would be the most efficient way of keeping in touch with everyone. I am going to try to update several times a week. I love you all very, very much, and I wish you could be here with me!

To Daddy and Kelly, please also give Layla a hug and a kiss for me, and make sure she knows I miss her as well!

Also, I do not know Nana or Papa's email address, can one of you forward this link to them?