It has been three weeks and I can safely say that I LOVE my job. I don't think I've ever been able to say that before. Not that serving food and cocktails to needy, rude people didn't just tickle my fancy - but this job is a wee bit better :)
Like I said before, my students are absolutely crazy, often out of control and usually drive me nuts - but there's just something completely fulfilling about teaching. I'm not going to get all "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul" and say that there have been so many moments where I felt like I have inspired students or that I've made such a huge difference in their lives at all, but teaching is just fun. When the students aren't being disrespectful or rowdy, they actual listen to you and you get to call the shots. It's nice being in charge. But obviously it's more than that - it's just fun talking with the students, learning about their culture and even thinking up lesson plans and games to play is kind of exciting. Yeah, I know it's only been three weeks, but I hear the first month is the hardest anyway.
Getting settled with things OUTSIDE the job, however, has not been a picnic. Getting a bank account, a cell phone, internet at home & a bus pass all seem like impossible feats when you get here. You have to get this "ARC" card which stands for Alien Registration (Card?) and you have to get this first before you get anything else. But to get your ARC, you first have to get a medical check. So after they finished attaching strange clamps on me and thinking that I was about to wake up in an ice bath with a missing kidney, I was cleared and able to go to the Immigration Office for my ARC.
You have to have someone Korean go with you everywhere because most people don't speak English so my co-teacher brought me everywhere, thank God. So after sitting in the Immigration Office waiting room (which rivaled DMV wait times), I got a temp card while I wait for my real one to come (which takes 3 weeks. If you ever come here - make sure you get this temp card on the spot because it has your ARC # which is just as good as the card).
After that, I was able to FINALLY open my bank account! Which meant I also got my flight & settlement allowance! (Thank God because I was down to about 30,000 won. & unfortunately, that's only about $30). I also was able to sign up for a cell phone contract the other day. So long are the days of desperately searching for open WiFi hotspots to figure out where the bus has left me stranded because I'll actually be able to use 3G on my iPhone :) Thank you baby Jesus!
So I don't know if I've mentioned, but Nate and I have separate places. His place is ginormous - and when I say ginormous, it's about the smallest one bedroom apartment you'd find in The States, but with a pretty big bedroom. Regardless, it's probably bigger than most places in this country. My flat is tiny but I love it. Minus the finicky heater, old school internet (no wireless interent so I'm using an "ethernet cable" - when is the last time you've ever even said "ethernet cable"?) and questionable closet.
Have I mentioned that Korean heaters are super duper genius inventions that the US needs to adopt immediately? They aren't normal heaters that blow out warm air - they have water pipes that run underneath the floorboards (everyone has hard(wood?) floors) and when you turn your heater on, hot water goes through them so your floor heats up and keeps your toes super toasty. I've never loved sitting/laying on the floors so much. They're super efficient though, and keep your place warm a long time.
My "closet" is in this little outside area which isn't outside, but it's just 0 degrees for some reason. It's the section of my place that has the washing machine (I think every place here has its own washing machine, which would be more amazing if it was accompanied by a drying machine - but beggars can't be choosers) and there's a door that opens up to my tiny closet. The tenant before said that she wouldn't put clothes out there because they would always stay damp so for now, I have a ghetto clothes rack in my room that I'm soon to Pinterest into something fabulous. I wanted to avoid putting pictures up of my flat because it's super boring, but I will anyway on my next post and then I'll hopefully have some amazing "After (post-Pinteresting) Photos" to add later.
The Asian Ways (the strange and sometimes brilliant ways of Koreans):
- Everyone wears slippers to school - students AND teachers. Everyone wears their normal shoes but then changes into slippers inside
- Needless to say, everyone also takes their shoes off inside homes. & even some restaurants as well
- Everyone brushes their teeth at school after lunch - this may be in part to the mass amounts of kimchi consumed
- It's not uncommon to sit on the floor in a lot of Korean restaurants
- Students will often bring the teacher's things (computer, notebook, etc) to and from class for them from the teacher's office
- Most apartments/flats here are key-less so everyone just has a code to unlock their door
- Disposing of trash, recycling & "food waste" is absolutely ridiculous (yes, that means you have to separate your food waste from your garbage) You have to pay for special trash bags and then everyone just piles them up outside and somebody supposedly picks it up every day (I'm not convinced). You also have to purchase special "food waste" containers & then also buy special "chips" (& not like potato chips - like little SD-card-sized chips) at the market to be able to get your food waste picked up. This is not a brilliant method, in my opinion.
- Kids here are obscenely busy. After 8 hours of normal school, they often go to another school. High school kids aren't home until around 11pm.
- [Some of] My kids are GENIUSES. This kid started paying with Rubik's cubes 2 months ago.
I made the mistake of continuing to watch Rubik's Cube videos after posting this and then my kid didn't seem as impressive, but I've definitely never met any other 14 year old who can even solve a Rubik's Cube, let alone in a minute & 10 seconds! I'm on the hunt for a prodigy violinist next ;)
So after my span of seemingly “soul-searching” kinds of entries, I deemed it necessary to fiiinally actually write about you know, living in Australia and all. And so don’t worry, this is a TRAVEL entry, not a life entry (thank God, I know).
I have obviously been struggling with quite a few things in life right now (yes, I realize this is already starting to sound like a LIFE entry, promise it’s not…not completely anyway), and so here is a list of the ongoing BATTLES I have with this country. (I still love you Australia, don’t worry)
There are pros and cons to everything. I thought that the good outweighed the bad in this area, but I am increasingly despising public transportation a little bit more every time the tram is late (which is several times a day).
I am honestly almost impressed at how the Trams & Trains know me so well. And when I say “know me”, I mean HATE me. Or how it bases its being on Murphy’s Law. How can it possibly know that I need to go to an interview across town, so it makes sure the times on the internet are wrong? And then of course, when I get to the tram stop 2 minutes late, the tram was on time and I had missed it. When EVERY single other tram I wait for, is always AT LEAST 3-5 minutes late. You can almost rely on it (unless you’re trying to make it to an interview of course).
The best solution I have come up with for this problem, is to not check times. Always go extra early and more often than not, you end up waiting less than you would if you had prepared and checked the times online before (because like I said, they’re often wrong, and the trams are always late anyway). This unfortunately will not work after about, 7 or 8 o clock when you decide to go out in the city to get drinks because the trams don’t come as often (perhaps every half hour or so). So you may end up waiting longer than you would if you had planned it. Fortunately, you’re usually somewhat inebriated in this situation so waiting isn’t a huge issue.
As frustrating as it may be, I still enjoy the economically sound (AKA cheapness) and peacefulness of riding on public transportation. There’s no better time to gather your thoughts and relax. Unless you, like me, have a tendency of falling asleep in any kind of moving vehicles and have had to be woken up by the driver on multiple occasions because you’ve reached the last stop. On the last tram of the night.
So school has never been my strong point. I guess that’s not really true. In elementary school I was a real “star”. Unfortunately, “uni” involves a tad bit more effort and focus, that I just don’t seem to be able to muster. So I thought that I had senioritis last semester but I didn’t even KNOW what senioritis was until this semester. Granted, these classes don’t actually count for anything because I’m graduating regardless, so I have a good excuse for lacking motivation. However, it’s too bad because these classes can be quite interesting. When I do decide to go.
Other than the battle of trying to even make it to classes, I also have a little bit of difficulty keeping up in one of my classes: Contemporary Australian Politics. When I began the class, I had no idea what the Australian Political system was like AT ALL, but that's not even the problem. It’s actually their viewpoints and perspectives that I have trouble with, because sometimes it’s just so completely different to how we think in The States.
For example, we talked about Australia’s Welfare system. Each class, a few people come to class prepared to debate certain topics. Yesterday we talked about Welfare and “Mutual Obligation”, which in short, is just certain things people that are receiving Welfare need to do in return. Such as getting a college education or doing specific types of community service, regardless if it’s related to “what you want to do in life”. So I kid you not, but students were legitimately saying that these people, who the government was GIVING money to, shouldn’t have to do anything in return. And this just BLOWS my mind because I’m thinking, why should tax payers have to pay for the living costs of lazy individuals? And I mean, if you know me at all, I am in no way conservative/Republican/right-winged AT ALL. I have an almost socialist view of how I would want our society to be.
But anyway, students were arguing for these teen moms and unemployed people – who mind you, aren’t necessarily from poor families and neighborhoods. We’re talking about your normal every-day people who just don’t want to work. It’s NOT hard to get welfare in this country. My teacher admittedly went on about how he got welfare when he was younger because it was so easy to get and you could literally live off of it fairly well. We’re not talking food-stamps here. These people get decent checks in the mail of amounts that people in The States don’t get for actually doing labor and working.
And so they’re arguing about how the Australian government is acting as a dictator by saying these teen-mom-welfare-receiving individuals need to get an education (which they will PAY for) because if someone doesn’t want to go to college, then they shouldn’t be forced to. I thought OUR government babied us, but it turns out that we’re quite harsh. (Granted we have a very high poverty and unemployment rate) but people shouldn’t just be GIVEN money and so much support by hard working tax payers because they don’t feel like working at a job that “isn’t what they want to do”. Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party leader (and “Liberal” to Australians means Republic basically), named these people “job snobs”. There are people here that could get a job and are qualified for jobs, but they don’t want to get work because it’s not the “right job” for them and are waiting around for the right one. And THESE are the people who are receiving welfare. Obviously there are people in need that are receiving it as well, but far too many people in this country get a free ride. There’s a “high unemployment rate” (which to them is about 5%) & also a shortage of skilled labour in many occupations (http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/stories/s27562.htm
). (I actually have to write a paper about Welfare and I decided not to because I figured I was going to fail the class anyway. And yet here I am, quoting politicians and citing sources).
Anyway, like I said, these are the battles I’m dealing with. Like shutting my mouth during the class debate so people didn’t think all Americans are heartless. Since you know, these people are just “lost and confused and don’t know what they want to do in life”. Umm yes, I can relate, yet I’m still working two jobs and I’m not even a citizen of this country. But like I said, their perspectives are just so different. Australia is so much more laid-back and relaxed and I suppose, much nicer (as in the opposite of mean), than America. And maybe this kind of perspective has given them an advantage. I mean, it’s given them a LOT lower of an unemployment rate so I guess they did SOMETHING right. In the States if the same issues were brought up, our government would laugh at them and would definitely NOT give them any money just because they haven't found that right job that suited them. But then again, America is a power-hungry country with a high poverty/unemployment rate that can't afford to give any money away because we spent all our money on the war. (Still love you though, US!) So I guess it's all about perspective on which of these two countries is better off. And in what sense "better off" would mean.
So it seems fairly hypocritical that I am going to complain about work right after that whole welfare shpeal…schpeal? However you spell that word…but at LEAST I have a job. Although I don’t think this country would give me welfare checks regardless, so maybe I’m just biased ha. Anyway, I’m struggling with this whole “not-tipping” concept. Right, it’s great when I go out to bars and restaurants and the price on the menu is what I’ll ACTUALLY be paying, and not 30% more (tax + tip). But when I’m on the other side of it, NOT receiving tips, it’s quite a bust.
I’ve worked in the serving/restaurant industry for what, 7 years now? Ever since my lovely little hostess gig at the Denny’s down the street from my house in Orangevale. And even THEN I got tipped. Anyway, I have dealt with a fair amount of abuse from customers saying their food sucked, or their drink wasn’t strong enough, or they put too much tomato sauce – whoa, I mean KETCHUP – on their burger so they need a new one and blah blah blah. Okay, you’re giving me money – like literally handing me money that I get to put in my pocket and go home with and spend on drinks later. SOO, I will put up with your nonsense. But Mr. I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-my-seat-and-order-at-the-register-even-though-this-is-a-café-where-everyone-else-is-but-you-should-serve-me-at-my-table-and-then-I’m-going-to-yell-at-you-because-you-should’ve-known-I-wanted-a-large-sized-latte-even-though-I-never-told-you-but-you-should’ve-read-my-mind – I don’t want to deal with you because YOU are not giving me my future rum&coke money. I am clearly losing a lot of patience with these people. Especially since I live in & work in this apparently “up-scale” town of Camberwell where even Australians can be snobby and a PAIN in my “arse” (that’s what Aussie’s say instead of ASS…weird).
Unfortunately there’s no way to spin this battle to make it into a half-full cup of water or whatever the phrase is.
Oh the Weather Outside is Weather…:
(Forgetting Sarah Marshall reference if you didn’t know. If you didn’t know, go watch it). So I for some reason, used to call San Diego weather bipolar. And I’m honestly confused as to why I did that. Because from what I remember, it was about 70-75 degrees and PERFECT about 300 days out of the year. Yes, there are 65 more days where the weather was a little less than perfect. Perhaps 65 degrees or 80 degrees. Every now and then it would rain.
I now know, like how I know how what senioritis is, what BIPOLAR WEATHER is. People actually call Melbourne the city that has 4 seasons in a day, or something more eloquently said than that. I am literally sitting in my room at this moment with the sun glaring off the neighbors’ window and straight into my eyes, when it was dark and cloudy about 10 minutes ago. No joke. It will rain for 20 seconds sometimes and then suddenly subside long enough for the sun to come out for about 15 minutes and then 10 minutes after that, I hear thunder and lightning. Sure, it sounds kinda cool. But what the hell am I supposed to wear when I’m getting dressed for the day?
My iPhone weather app says it has a 40% chance of rain. I look out the weather and it’s completely sunny. I get ready and the clouds take over so I put on my rainboots, only to trudge around in school in them, feeling like an idiot while everyone else is wearing sandals in the sunshine and humidity. The only thing worse than that is deciding on wearing Toms and getting completely soaked because it starts pouring rain. And usually I would just bring my umbrella just because of how sporadic the weather is, but the wind & rain destroyed mine. That was also during an episode of battling the trams and having to run to my interview. (Evidence below).
Fortunately, all the rain and bad weather (I’ve actually NEVER been in so much rain in my entire life) makes me appreciate every single day of good weather. Unfortunately, most of the days happen to be on the days I’m stuck inside working. (Murphy’s Law at it again..or is Catch 22? I honestly never could remember which was which and which applied to my life. Probably both ha). But regardless, it's nice to wake up to a beautiful day when your weather app told you there was a 95% chance of rain every single day. Every now and then, the unlikely 5% can endure:)
So I've failed to write for a few weeks so I have a good amount of stuff to write about:) I figured I would kind of separate the entries so I wouldn't just have one realll long entry. The past few weeks have been amazing! Nothing too crazy, but a lot of exploring, wine, eating and more settling in.
I didn't even mention in my last entry that I had started class (I guess we can see where my priorities are ha). They've been relatively interesting. A couple of the lectures are rather boring, but it could be in part that I can barely understand anything the professor is saying. I swear Australian English can be a completely different language than American English.
This is my "wishlist" that I made, since Deakin's website doesn't really have the same tools that I had from SDSU. They're actually pretty mellow about the classes you take. You can pretty much switch into any "tutorial" or "seminar" you want. By the time I had tried to get into my Philosophy class, it was full and so I just emailed the teacher and he said to just come to class. And then when I got there he just had me sign my name and that was it! They have tutorials or "tuts", which I compare to break-out sessions. You basically just discuss what the teacher talked about in the Lecture. And then there are seminars which is basically a lecture slash tutorial and there are practicals.
I would say that the work load is definitely quite different then how college was back home. They definitely have a lot less assignments, but each of them are obviously worth a lot more. I was kinda nervous at first because I already had a presentation the 2nd week of school, but it was super easy. It was for my philosophy class and I don't think I have spent less time preparing for a presentation and the teacher told us that we got a 9/10, which is the highest score he gives. Not too shabby:)
The first day of school was actually quite frustrating. I wrote down my "timetable" (which is what they say everywhere instead of a schedule) and the classroom number would be Lecture Theater 13 or something but it wouldn't say what building it was in. And so I would walk around campus looking for it (luckily this campus is TINY. People here think it's a rather large campus but I would say that SDSU is about 6 times bigger) and ask people, anyone really, if they knew where it was and nobody did. As if it were every adult/student I asked was their first fricken day there as well. I was late to every class I think but so were a bunch of other people. Timeliness is not the Aussie's best attribute.
But anyway, I don't think my classes will be half bad. I think I only have one test out of all my classes and the rest I have 1 or 2 essays per class and then a presentation. I was trying really hard in the first 2 weeks to make sure I was doing all the work and readings and what not, but I tried this week to not care about it all hah. Sounds weird, but I came here to travel and explore and be immersed in the culture and I don't even need the classes to graduate anyway. I'm going to go to [most] of them because they're interesting and I want to learn about Australia (one of my classes is "Australia Today" and it's for international students to learn about well..Australia today. I'm also taking an Australian Politics class so I'll be learning a fair amount of practical things:). But it's my LAST semester as a college student and I definitely think some senioritis is called for:)