Monday, August 27, 2012

When you hear twin fiddles...

Like all good Mormon families we want our son to play a musical instrument. The two normal choices for Mormon children are the piano or the violin. Since a piano is somewhat difficult to move, expensive, big and as we are gypsies for the foreseeable future we decided on the violin.

In June of this year I attended a "bluegrass jam". It's an informal gathering of bluegrass, Irish and old time music players. They get together on the 3rd Saturday of every month at the union hall next to the Thirroul train station and jam until everyone goes home, taking turns suggesting songs and tunes. My friend Peter, who has a mandolin but hadn't really learned how to play it, came with me. We arrived at 19:30. Everyone was so friendly and we listened and clapped and sang until it was 23:00. Banjos, mandolins, dobros, guitars and a double bass were the instruments in attendance. Most of the players brought and played more than one instrument. What a night!

I got home and decided that I wanted to play too. The search began. The Suzuki Method of teaching music is very popular here in Australia. I found some information online that discussed the advantages of a parent and child learning an instrument together as they can encourage each other and the child sees the parent struggling just like they are at learning. It's nice to know sometimes you are not alone. I found a teacher online and lo and behold she makes house calls. So convenient!

Ebay, violin websites, violin makers,, these became my daily searches. I started looking for local stores and asking advice of the teacher I had found. Boy howdy are there some crap violins out there! I was getting advice from all over, do this, don't do that, buy this, buy much information. I stumbled upon a little music shop that sold mostly guitars and electric basses, but they had 3 violins hanging on the wall, and they were on sale. The shop keeper was very friendly but not very knowledgeable about violins. I went home and for the first time I was able to find the violin maker online. The websites I found called this violin the number 1 student violin in the world. I couldn't resist. I went in the next day and bought mine. We had to order Landry's as he didn't have a 1/4 size in stock.

I was excited when his came in. We now have matching violins, matching violin cases and we are learning together. Awesome! I have really enjoyed learning music again. I can read music better now than I ever have. I'm learning and discovering songs and how music works. I have gone back to the bluegrass jam each month. In July I played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. It was a squeaky disaster but everyone cheered and clapped. I was in fiddle heaven. August found me playing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. A beautiful song that I butchered but I am determined to play a song at each jam session. I was even able to pick up my friends mandolin, which is tuned exactly the same as a violin and play a tune.

The moral of my long-winded tale, you are never too old to learn. Don't be afraid, try something you have wanted to do all of your life. One caveat, make sure it has a positive effect on you and everyone around you.  Face tattoos never helped anyone, just saying. Try learning something with your child, spouse or a good friend. They can give you support and encouragement when you need it and you them.

Happy hunting. :-)

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Oh has been a long time since I blogged!

I tell ya, all the sudden life was BUSY BUSY BUSY and my time to blog was non-existant!  So, here I am trying to make up for it....and apologizing for my lackadaisical attitude towards the old blog.

Okay, so it is July!  Ummm, where has 2012 gone?  I mean wasn't it February yesterday?  I swear it has been a blur...a blur I say!  Anyway...I am now half way through the PhD program here, which gives a sense of...what is the word again...oh yeah...terror!  There is still so much to do and say and write and ask and figure out and...whew.  I am exhausted already...but never fear, I am an energetic girl and will keep on keeping on.

So, today I am going to talk about schools here.  Now, when I say "schools in Australia" or schools here, don't get me wrong and think I am speaking for the whole continent because in reality, I only know what goes on in my immediate vacinity.  I live in the state of New South Wales, so for the most part, I think the schools all follow the same general guidelines within the state.

There are a lot of differences between what I know of schools in America (specifically Texas) and what I know of schools in Australia (specifically the greater Sydney area of NSW).  First, everyone wears a uniform.  All schools have school uniforms and school colors.  Below is a picture of my son when we first tried on his uniform last year...does he look happy or what?  He didn't like the hat, he had never worn a hat before so he wasn't really thrilled with wearing one but he adjusted quickly and now loves his hat. (The girls hat is the same as the boys.)  There is a rule here that says "no hat, no play" which means that they cannot play on the playground outside unless they have a hat to protect them from the sun.  Aussies are really protective about their skin and skin cancer since there is a higher rate of skin cancer here.  The picture below that picture shows a picture of the school kids on an excursion to the library.  You can see that the girls are in their summer uniform and that they are wearing a blue and white checkered dress with black Mary Janes.

The winter uniform is warmer and navy blue with a little yellow stripe in the navy plaid dress.  The boys uniforms are basically the same but they generally wear a sweat shirt, or a sloppy joe as they call it here with their shirt and long pants.

The students wear uniforms every day.  The only exception is called a Mufti Day, this is a day where you make a donation to a cause (a gold coin donation which would be a $1 or $2 coin) and you wear a certain color.  Here they wear maroon or at least they have so far...not sure if that changes.  They only do a mufti day once or twice a year, so it is a fun day for the kids to wear what they want.

The above uniforms are for Monday through Thursday at my son's school and then on Fridays they wear their sport uniform.  The sport uniform is sweat or track pants (or shorts) with a polo type shirt with the school logo on it (See below).  Sports day is the day they do their sports or PE classes.  They only have these classes one day a week.  My son's school is small, so they do not have a PE teacher, they contract out with different groups to come in each term and teach this class.  We have had gymnastics one semester and rugby, basketball and even zumba!

I should also mention that the schools here are much smaller.  My son's school is particularly small, which is unusual, he only has 70 students in his entire school for kindergarten through year 6 (6th grade). His class (along with all the other classes) has more than one grade in the class.  His class is kindergarten (called kindie) and year 1(1st grade) and he has something like 19 students in his class of K-1.  I believe most of the other schools have just one year to a class and the classes are probably closer to about 25 students and many schools have more than one class in a grade.

Schools here start later, but generally speaking so does the work day for most people.  The work day seems to start at 9:30 am for most office type workers and school starts around 9:15am.  The school day is over around 3:15.  My son's school doesn't have a cafeteria, they eat outside under the trees on the school grounds and bring their lunch every day.  Other schools have a little canteen area where kids can buy their lunch on certain days of the week, but not a fully functioning cafeteria like I had in school.

The schools here go on field trips and do other fun things like we did.  My son has been to performances, libraries, museums, and nursing homes as part of their field trips and he once even had a double decker bus come take them on one of their trips.

Sports here seems to be done more outside the schools that in the schools.  Most of the kids we know are in soccer or rugby and do that after school.  Swimming is also really big here and Australia has a big campaign about kids learning how to swim.  These are all programs that you pay for and go on outside of school, usually after school and on weekends, just like normal community leagues.

Primary school (elementary school) is for K-6 and high school is years 7-12.  The high schools are smaller than the schools I went to and include a lot more grades.  I asked some friends of mine, a brother and sister who are in different grades, if they ever saw each other at school and they said not much.  One of them is in year 8 and the other is in year 10, I believe.  I assume they keep the year 7 students and the year 12 students in different parts of the school because the maturity difference there is huge.

High schools here have specialities.  You can go to the high school that you live inside the boundary for or you can audition for another high school if you prefer.  For instance, locally we have a high school that is known as the sports school and one that is known as a performing arts school.  So, if you are more sports minded, you can try out for that school if you are not in the boundaries.  There is also a special technical/technology school as well.  My understanding is that they try to get you to choose a path that you would like to pursue for your eventual career in the future.  So, you might take some courses in high school that would steer you in that direction.  There does not seem to be as much extra-curricular activities offered here.  I don't know of any high school sports teams, although there are probably some but I don't think there are high school teams.  I think most people participate in their community teams.  I don't know of any bands in high school, marching or otherwise, or any orchestras.  I do know that they have a choir program.  The focus, in general, seems to be more academic and less extra-curricular.

It is also really common here for graduating students to have a gap year.  Once they graduate from high school, they take a year off to travel before they go to university.

Another difference is the school year.  Here, the school year starts in late January/early February (Autumn) and ends in December (Summer).  Children can start school with kindergarten if they are turning 5 by July 1st, so you can be 4 years old and start kindie.  While you can do this, in talking to the parents at my son's school, most of them seem to have held their kids back so that they started a year later.  We did not do this with Landry, he was 4 when he started school here in kindie.  School is composed of 4 terms, each with 10 weeks of school and then a 2 week break.  It is kind of similar to the year round school concept.  So, we will go 10 weeks on of school and then a 2 week holiday (which we are currently on now) four times a year.  School gets out around December 17th and then the next year will start around February 1st.  So, summer is not as long but they do get these nice 2 week breaks throughout the year.  For parents, it seems that many jobs cater to this and allow parents to work from home or take time off during the breaks.

We really like my son's school and the people and students there.  They were patient with us as we learned the system and got settled.  We laugh now about the first 2 weeks where we all had a hard time understanding each other's accents.  My little Texan boy has only tiny remnants of his Texan accent any more.  When the people who are teaching you how to read and write have an Australian accent, than you very quickly start to say words the same way they do.  My family in Texas always talks about his cute accent and he can say G'day mate with the best of them.  Another thing that we've had to adjust to is the spelling and grammar.  While much of it is similar, words like analyze are spelled analyse and favorite is spelled favourite.  You add in extra u's and such.  Aussies also use the word learnt as past tense of learn, so you learnt, you burnt, but I don't think you turnt?  I am not real sure what the rules are on when you use -nt and when you use -ed.  

Overall, we have been extremely pleased with the school here.  Every child in my son's class has a laptop to work on and they do all sorts of activities with and without technology.  Each term they have a theme, they just finished their bug term and have done transportation, fairly tales, dinosaurs, and animals for other terms.  His school also has a garden and they go on nature hikes all around the school grounds.  It is not uncommon to walk up to pick up your child and you can hear all the school up in one room singing Mary Poppins songs and having fun.  Our school is a small community school, so we don't have elaborate pick up routines like many of my friends in Texas have for their schools.  When it is time to pick up your kid, you drive up to the school, park and the parents get out and chat while they wait for their kids.  It is a lovely atmosphere and very friendly.  

Well, if you made it this far...good for you, I think you deserve a medal!  Speaking of medals, it will be interesting to watch the Olympics this year.  While we are true blue Americans, we will also be cheering for our Australian athletes in the green and gold.

Until next time!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Oz

Hello and Happy New Year!

It is New Year's Eve here already and I have a few moments to catch up on some blogging. We had our first Christmas in Australia this year and it was great. It is hard to be away from family during the holidays but we have some great friends who helped fill up our holiday with fun and comraderie. Thank goodness for friends, they are truly a blessing in our lives!

Like I have said before...Aussies take their holidays seriously! In the US, since Christmas fell on a Sunday, it means that many people did not really get a holiday and may have been back at work on Monday...well, not here. Christmas and Boxing Day (the day after) are both national holidays and since one fell on a weekend, Christmas was recognized as a holiday on Monday and Boxing Day on Tuesday so most people had a 4 day weekend.

Christmas Eve in the US always seemed to me like it was when most people started their Christmas celebrations. Here, stores are open normal hours on Christmas Eve, I've been told it is after the British tradition of waiting until Christmas Eve to buy presents. We were driving home at 6pm on Christmas Eve and plenty of places were still open. In the US, they would have closed at noon if they had opened at all. Since Boxing Day is a holiday here, the big sales did not start until Tuesday here.

We started our festivities with some friends for Christmas Eve lunch. Here is Kiri's lovely table. While the final preparations for lunch were being made, she had out appetizers for people to nibble on. We had crustini with Boccocini cheese, basil, and sun dried tomatoes, dips and crackers, and a little icing covered cookie that has some name like kufrfrernoodle or something. Kiri will have to post the actual name in the comments section because I have no idea what they were called. I am assuming they were German?

For dessert...which I did not get a picture of, we had traditional European fare...Christmas pudding (British), mince pie (British), and panatone (Italian). I should have gotten pictures! Sorry!

So, pictured below...left to right is...punch or cordial, the cookie thing, a rosemary and olive wreath (which was just for decoration and Kiri kept telling us this...I guess she was afraid we would pick up a piece of Rosemary and gnaw on it!), and the crustinis made by Abbey.

Here is the lovely table...notice each place has a round silver and white thing? These are very popular here, they are called crackers and you pull them apart and they pop and there is a joke (lame joke), a crown (all colors) and a prize in each one.

Here is one that has been pulled and he is wearing his crown and showing you he got a little pen as his prize. To demonstrate the lame is one of them..."What do you call a horse in his pyjamas (pajamas)? A zebra."

I admit it is not funny...I'm not even sure it makes sense! Oh well! Aussie humor, maybe?

Remember it is summer here...and most houses do not have a/ it was warm! This is demonstrated here by my dewey countenance...okay, let's just call it sweaty!

This is Christmas is good to know that the Tonka truck is alive and well here in Australia...Santa delivered one!

And one of my gifts was a new is a picture of is gorgeous but I haven't quite figured out the best way to wear it yet. After opening presents, we headed up to church because I was playing the piano prelude and also singing in the choir.

For Christmas linner...that is the meal that comes mid afternoon between lunch and dinner...we had over a group of 6 missionaries from our church. These 6 young men are all actually in our ward...we have 6 full time missionaries in our ward...and they are always busy!
Starting bottom left...Elder Chen (from China), Elder Gao (China), Elder Stafford (Brisbane, Australia), Elder Henare (New Zealand), Elder Mok (Alabama, USA), and Elder Lambertson (California, USA).

We had a fajita feast and it was really great! The non-Americans were a little leery of them at first but once we explained everything, they dug in! (Except for Elder Gao, he has had fajitas with us before so he is a Chinese fajita eating pro!) For dessert we had Texas Sheet Cake and Sticky Date pudding. Sticky Date Pudding is a favorite among Aussies and it is really more of a cake than a pudding, at least in American terms. It was a 9 inch round cake with a sauce you put on it. Aussies love their puddings!

I spent a lot of time on the computer skyping with my family. We actually have still not had Christmas with them, we are having it tomorrow because of a bought with the stomach flu of my sister's Christmas will officially end with us tomorrow morning as I skype with them as they open presents and celebrate!

Christmas away from family can be hard but we had many friends who made us feel special and spent time with us so it was a fulfilling and happy holiday. I am so grateful for the friends we have made here, I cannot imagine how much harder this adventure would be without them!

Happy New Year!


Monday, October 31, 2011

A burger with the lot

Hi folks...
Whew, it has been a busy few weeks but I have made it to the end of my first semester teaching and the end of my first year as a PhD student. It has been a busy year with lots of new adventures but it has been really good. I have my formal defence of my research proposal a week from Thursday and will be glad when that is done and approved and I can move on into heavy research!

I have been told by my Aussie friends that I needed to try a hamburger the way Aussies eat their hamburgers. I was a little skeptical at first because of one key ingredient....beets! Or, as the Aussies call it, beetroot. What you say? Yes, they really do put beets on their burgers! In fact, they can hardly fathom having one without it. I personally, would rather have pickles, but Aussies don't have hamburger pickles, the little thin sliced pickles perfect for a is a sad tale, I know!

Anyway, this is what you do to have a real Aussie burger. You go to a diner or burger joint...this is what the one we went to looked like. It is a little hole in the wall kind of place that serves Fish & Chips and burgers.

You go to the counter and you say "I want a burger with the lot, please" (because we want to be polite and all) although the Aussies would probably say something like "Hi Mate, can I get a burger with the lot? Ta, mate." (Ta means thanks)

Then you wait a while, while they construct this burger. Forgive me, the picture below is about 2 bites into it because I forgot to take a picture of this huge thing.

What is on it, you ask? Let's see if I can remember...lettuce, tomatoes, beef, beets, a fried egg, Aussie bacon (which is kind of like Canadian bacon, I miss American bacon, but I digress), pineapple, barbeque sauce, and fried onions.

It pretty much starts to disintegrate as soon as you eat it from all the juices and such and Aussies say that it is a regular occasion to have beet juice running down your arm....nice.

This is what mine became after trying to keep it together...a big pile of what once was an Aussie burger.

All in all, it wasn't bad, it was pretty good. It doesn't replace my favorite American burger from some place like The Chicken Oil or even Whataburger....but it was good! Next time, I think I will hold the beets!



Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Tea Party

Yesterday I went to a tea party. This tea party was in honor of my friend, Bonnie, who is getting married next month. It was held out at her family farm about an hour outside of town. Her farm was a lovely place with rolling hills and a beautiful veranda where the tea party was held along with gorgeous views and lovely surroundings.
There were about about 20 people there and we all brought a plate of food. We started with the savory food, which included deviled eggs, egg sandwiches, mini-quiches, spinach dip in bread bowls and my chicken salad cups. To drink you had your choice of punch or champagne (don’t worry, the tea comes later). The punch was served in long stemmed glasses with little fruit kebabs in them….very pretty, such a nice touch.

After the savory course then we went to the tea course, here you had your choice of the above mentioned drinks or a variety of herbal and regular teas served in all sorts of lovely and delicate little tea cups and saucers. It was such a pretty setting with all the cute tea pots.

Then, it was time to dress up! They had borrowed a smattering of dresses, jewelry, and gorgeous hats and fascinators from the local theatre company…and I mean really pretty hats and fascinators, they were all so pretty. We all played dress up…some added hats and gloves, others added gowns and jewelry…it was really fun to watch. Then, we all had our tea party names, which are derived from the name of your first pet and your current city. So, add Lady to your pets name and if your pet’s name was Fluffy and you lived in Wollongong, you would say you were Lady Fluffy of Wollongong. It was really quite cute. We took pictures and laughed and had a really fun time.

After pictures, it was dessert time! We had quite a spread of desserts…more than we could have eaten in probably 2 tea parties…but they all looked really good. We had scones with jam and cream (my favorite), petit fors, custards, cakes, slices, brownies, rocky road, chocolate dipped strawberries and much more. It was really a sugar delight!
After dessert, then we played a game where you tried to toss the tea bag into a tea pot and if you got it in, you got a prize. We found that tea bags aren’t heavy so they are easily carried in the wind and that most of us are not very accurate at tossing into the tea pot. The winners were awarded kitchen gadgets for prizes and it was quite fun.

The rest of the time was spent chatting and drinking and eating more delectables from the dessert table. It was such a girlie time and really fun. It was a perfect afternoon and we all wish Bonnie the very best in her upcoming wedding…of course we are hoping that there are lots more things to celebrate so that we can all be invited back for another tea party soon!

I took a ton of pictures, so here they are:

This is Bonnie with her darling mother and sisters, the hostesses.

This is the photo of all the university ladies. We all go to school or work at the university with Bonnie.
Michelle, going down the slide looking glamorous. Helen waiting to go next.
Helen's turn.
The corner of the dessert table...the scones, jam, and cream were my favorite!
The beautiful bride Bonnie after playing dress up.

Some of the ladies after the dress up fun.
Bonnie and her friend.

Michelle posing in her fab hat.
Me and my hat that matched the is like they knew what I would wear!
Helen and Steph after dressing up....looking lovely ladies!
Michelle, Stacy, Maree, and Helen...ready to have some tea.
Bonnie again...gorgeous!
The tea tables...
They had frames with lovely old pictures of women and old advertisements and such with gloves and other cute things scattered all over.
The tea pots.
This area was off to the side but I loved the little fabric pennant string that they made and decorated cute. Behind this you can see a lovely gazebo with purple flowers growing and draping over the beautiful.

The tea party...the weather was beautiful!
Michelle and her tea cup.
Stephanie with a pretty smile chatting away with the girls.
My chicken salad baskets...phyllo dough cups with my mother's famous tea room salad (from when they owned a tea room) with little flower spoons I made. I was so pleased with how it turned out.
The other end of the table...
Truly a grand day! So fun and memorable, thanks Bonnie for a lovely day out in the country!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watch me go

Helllllloooo my lovlies....

Okay it is Monday morning here and I am out the gate and raring to go for a new semester at school! Since I am teaching this semester, I am excited for that new adventure and hope my students can understand Texan because my version of an Aussie accent is just ridiculous.

I am trying to get back into my an exercise routine. For someone who used to get up at 5:15 every morning and go to boot camp, my life lately has been quite sedimentary and I can feel it...and I don't like it. So, since I am still dealing with my heel injury, I had started to ride the stationary bike to try to stretch it back out and hope to eventually be running again soon.

A group of friends and I went to a women's conference this weekend called "Time Out For Women" sponsored by Deseret Books. It was an exceptional conference and it was just what I was a bucket filling kind of weekend and I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on this semester and to get back in the routine of exercising. Since it is winter here, I admit that I can come up with a lot of excuses not to the sun is only up from 7am-4:45pm and by the time I get home it is pitch dark...or like there is a chance of rain so I can't ride the stationary bike (in my living room)...yep, that one makes sense?!? Anyway, no more excuses...the time is is time to become who I want to be...physically...emotionally...intellectually...there is no time like the present!

So, what are you waiting for? Do something to make yourself stretch (physically or intellectually or emotionally) something to make yourself something good for your life!

Be beautiful...and seek out the power within!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ramblings and random thoughts...


I haven't blogged in a few weeks so I thought I would go ahead and try to blog even though I don't have any amazing pictures or anything really exciting to post. I just thought I would share some thoughts. Oh wait! I do have a picture....see below....
It is winter here in Oz and the tree in front of my house has is a poinsettia tree...yes! A TREE! They grow here all over the place! So, if you take that poinsettia plant that you get at Christmas time and plant it and take care of it, you too could have this tree. It is what poinsettia plants aspire to be!

We are now beginning the 2nd half of the school year. It is weird to be in July and be half way through school....heck, it is weird to be in school in July! We have been here 6 months now and the time has flown by. We feel settled and know our way around the area and feel at home in our environment. We have had a string of really rainy days lately and I have tried to send it to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas and all the other drought ridden areas but I seem to have not been totally successful.

The winters here are really fairly mild, the temperature is in the mid 50's (F) most the time during the day and then it goes into the 40s at night. The only problem here is that most houses do not have central heat, so the temp outside is the same (if not colder) inside. We do at least have a heater/fireplace that keeps our living room nice and warm and we have space heaters for other rooms. It does make it really hard to get out of bed when the room temperature is in the 50s. Needless to say, we have lots of blankets on our beds!

We are getting better and better about understanding people here and only occasionally have to ask them what the heck they are talking about. For instance, the other day a friend of mine offered me something pronounced like noo-ga. Noo-ga, I ask? She looks at me like I am crazy and says it again and then points to the box. Oh, nougat! We mentioned to her that there is a 't' on the end of that word and she said that you don't pronounce it. I said "It's French, you do pronounce it!" then my clever husband asked her to pronounce the word 'fillet' as in a fillet Mignon and she of course said fill-et with a 't' then...nougat/fillet not t and a t? Hence the problem...speaking Aussie is really difficult because of this reason...I think they make it up as they go and then everyone Aussie just follows along! It is a tricky system, but one that we are learning.

We are adapting to some of the 'Aussie-isms' that we like. For instance, instead of saying 'thanks!', the Aussie's say 'Ta' as in la la la la la la la. I guess thanks was just too much effort so ta it is. We love it and say it all the time. In fact, Aaron has even started his own version of 'your welcome', he now says 'wa' instead. The Aussie's also welcome (and say goodbye to) close friends with a kiss on the cheek, I think that is lovely as well. A napkin is called a serviette and we say that so people know what we are asking for and if you try to tell someone you want your food 'to go' then they look at you like you are speaking another language so we are used to saying 'take away' instead. Sweatshirts here are called sloppy joe's, and we think that is really funny so we call them that all the time. It makes me picture someone wearing a sandwich with ground beef and sauce all over them. Sweaters are jumpers.

There are a few things over here that we really like, like Lemon Squash. It is similar to what Americans would call lemonade but it is made with carbonation and it is slightly more tart. Cheddar cheese here is called tasty cheese, and it is quite tasty and we buy it all the time...although I would love a good Monterrey Jack. Chocolate here is just plain better...its got more of the really good actual chocolate and cream and it is divine....divine. The yogart (spelled yoghurt here) is really nice, it is more of a Greek style and is creamy and yum...and pronounced yah-guhrt.

I drive around Oz pretty frequently now and am used to the whole other side of the road and other side of the car steering wheel thing. Cars here are smaller than in the US and you hardly ever see big trucks or SUVs...which they would call utes. Someone told me that they have a place in Australia like Texas, is it called Queensland, which is another state here in Oz so I will have to make a trip up to the Texas of Australia!

My studies are moving along and I feel like I am always learning and growing which is a lovely and sometimes painful experience as I realize I am not as good at some things as I had hoped! But, this life is a journey and this is a new and challenging one and I truly love it! Really, if you have thought about going back to school or if you feel like you are in a rut, I would encourage you to try to re-invent yourself and stretch yourself to try to learn something new. It can open up a whole new world (in my case...literally!) to you and really can be an amazing journey.

School starts at the uni (university) next week and I am teaching 3 sections of Tourism Marketing. Classes here are a little different than the U.S. system, so I am not the main lecturer but a sub-lecturer. We have a main lecturer who does just that, one big lecture that could have 100-800 students in the class, then they break that class into sections and I teach 3 of those sections which would have more student participation and grading and such. I am excited about teaching and looking forward to another new experience.

If I had to sum up my Aussie perception so far, I would say that the people are very friendly, the technology is mediocre, and the service is crap. Now, for my shops that are by my house, the service is just fine and friendly, but once you get into the malls, there is not much of a service component at all. There is also not as much efficiency here which I think is caused by the mediocre technology infrastructure. We joke that we live in about 1997 as far as technology is concerned and many of the Aussies agree, especially the techies. The government is working on passing a law to put broadband all across the country, but I am not sure I will see the fruits of that in the next few years. It is expensive to live here as well but you get used to it and just work around it. Many Aussies order from the UK or US because the selection is so much better and usually a better price even with the shipping costs. I think the quality of products is also much better because the selection is so great. In the US you might have 20 selections and here you might have 3.

With all that being said, it is truly a lovely place and the people are warm and friendly. I find that there is a very strong bond to culture here. In the US, it seems that people move there from other places and they try to fit into the American dream and become American, which is great and patriotic. Here, there is not as much patriotism, so the cultures seem to stay a little more close to their native culture which makes for a rich blend of wonderful people from all over the world. There are very strong cultural communities here and clubs and organizations that bond people by their culture. It is beautiful...and the food is fun to try too!

All in all, we still love it and have learned a lot about ourselves and others. We have also made some fabulous friends, who help us learn all these Aussie-isms and laugh as we try to figure out this thing we call life.

Hope you have a great one!