Last Supper

April 16.2014

Well I am sufficiently pooped. This tourist ‘routine’ we have going for us is not keen to sleeping/resting.

For our last day at Questacon, Paige and I dressed up in real (real hot) astronaut suits!! So cool. We walked around and posed for pictures and high-fived kids. Some kids were terrified. I think paige said one even cried, but most were super curious and wanted to come see us.
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I’m holding the stick bug. Double science-y!!

After that we worked a draining shift at rocket building. I do like the rockets, but in my tired state, the chaos was a bit much to handle.

We met around noon with the Questacon people to thank them and say good bye. Then we met with Karen to give her a Thank You gift for all she’s done for us. We got her a Kangaroo Pandora Charm for her bracelet and a mint Remembrance Day Coin. Gosh, there is no gift large enough to thank Karen with. She wore so many hats this trip. Mom, nurse, coordinator, supervisor, counselor, comedian, tour guide, friend, listener, evaluator and best leader ever! Her joy, smile, flexibility and patience was the perfect model we needed for this trip to run as smooth as it did. In addition Karen wasn’t originally assigned to come for all 5 weeks. There was another coordinator who planned to come for the first 2.5 weeks but he fell unexpectedly ill right before the trip, so Karen stepped up and came for the whole time, and did a wonderful job.

Wrapping up loose ends time. I went to pick up a Kingsford Smith jumper I ordered last week and crashed so hard when I got home. I laid out by the pool for a couple hours, soaking up some final rays and resting (finally!!) and when I got back to the villa I took a nap in my bed. :) Can you tell I was tired? A group of us (the 6 people I’ve gotten closest to and I) gathered and headed to O’Connor shops for dinner. We found this gem of a place called ’39 Steps’. It was perfect for a final meal together! I got a delicious salmon atop a bed of homemade salsa and topped with beet root rocket. (Roasted beet and greens salad) SO GOOD!! It was just a tiny little place with the friendliest service. We were all like ‘why hadn’t we found this place sooner!?!’ It’s probably better that we didn’t ;)

Then back to the villas to pack. Luckily id packed mostly everything last weekend and just had the last minute things to tuck away. (Clothes from this week) in order to save weight I left a lot of things I brought with me. (shampoo, toothpaste, old underwear and older tshirts)
Out original plan was to stay up all night so we’d be tired on the plane but, we were too tired to let that happen. :/ So we devised a ’4 hour sleep plan’. Sleep 10pm-2am. Then shower and be ready for the cabs at 4am. Perfect.

Sweet dreams final night in Aussie!

Time Traveling

April 18.2014

I’m having a hard time writing this post because I’m in denial that this trip is coming to an end. Also, how do I sum up 5 weeks of stuff into one post… So, SO many good times/things have happened. But I know that the experience doesn’t end just because the trip did. So here it goes. (So obviously I wrote this while in the airport still…and it’s a few days later now… whoops ;) )

2am came so quick. And a somber mood coated out group. Leaving the villa was bittersweet. Those walls hold memories, secrets, experiences, laughs and tears. Leaving also means that were leaving the country. It’s a good thing its sad though. Because then we know we had a good time. A really good time.

I’m going to miss my kids, tea time, fantails (milk did like candy), my villamates, seeing the 14 of us all the time, the weather, the kangas, the markets, the muffins, the slang, the colorful money, the mall, the accents, the adventures, the lifestyle and the memories. I’ll even miss the busses, the hills, the early mornings and the late nights.

As I write this I realize the list could go on for a very long time. I want to see my family and friends really bad. But with that being said I was never homesick. Does that make sense?

The last I'll see of Australia for a while.
The last I’ll see of Australia for a while.
neck pillows in tow and bracing ourselves for the second (longest) flight
neck pillows in tow and bracing ourselves for the second (longest) flight

 

Welp, we began this morning at 4am, for the day of impossible timing. Haha we have 23 hours on a plane, 9 hours in airports and 1 hour in car. That makes 33 hours of travel in all. But get this, so we leave at 6am Friday Canberra time ( where we anticipate getting home today, but michigan views it as tomorrow) and get home just 13 hours later at 7pm Michigan time. How does that work!?! Haha i mean I know its time change and stuff, but thats not so easy to tell my body. Its weird too, cause coming here we took 3 days, because of time change. Strange. Anyway, I’m on flight 2 of 3 now and have already watched 4 movies. Woo!!!

 

Friday morning sunrise take 2. ;)
Friday morning sunrise take 2. ;)

I’m excited to be home to see my family (especially pumped that my bros are picking me up), to sleep in, see friends, to do laundry, to run on flat ground, to clean, to graduate and to apply for jobs!! Eek!!

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading this and supporting me in my adventure. I have learned SO SO much about myself as a person and as a professional. Although this will be my last blog post for a while, that surely does not mean the learning has stopped. I know the lesson I’ve learned and things I’ve experienced will continue to unfold for the next days, weeks and years as I grow more KoalafiedToTeach. Thanks again! It means so much to me. ( the support from a far was incredibly encouraging )

I will continue to post (less frequently) about my adventures as a teacher especially as I join the professional world.

Goodbye for now Aussie! I hope we meet again soon :)

Hat Trick

April 16.2014

I thought getting out of bed yesterday was tough, only cause I didn’t meet today yet. I think our days post teaching are longer and more packed then our days in the schools.

Out first shift at Questacon was tasty science where we got to learn and talk about taste buds and such. It was pretty neat. One thing we got to try was called Miracle Fruit. You ask the kids to lick a lemon, then note what it tastes like. Then you give the kid a miracle fruit tablet to suck on. After about two minute you let them try the lemon again. Miracle. The tablet tricks your taste buds to think sour is sweet so the kids perceive the lemon as REALLY sweet lemonade/candy.

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Our second shift was in the Q-lab. Which is a lab filled with inquiry things for kids and I stand inside an island and show kids mini experiments. Tired or not I had found my element. I love showing kids hands on science things. We did experiments with waters surface tension, abdominal cavities, air pressure and surface area.

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Right from Questacon we hurried over to New Parliament for a tour there. We made it just in time, still dressed in our funeral attire (all black) the tour was neat and I learned a lot about Aussie government. We got to stand on top of the house and look out over Canberra. The blue skies made for a picture perfect view.

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We had like 45 min before our next tour and wanted to pack in as much as possible so we jetted over to Old Parliament to check out the insides. Boom. 20 minute power tour, and we’d seen Old Parliament!

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Then we rushed over to The National Gallery where my teachers husband works and he generously offered to give us a personalized tour! He had also arranged for the gallery educators to join us so that we could get the ‘how we show this to kids’ perspectives. The artwork was breathtaking and the descriptions/stories were really cool to hear. I can appreciate good artwork but having a trained eye point things out was even better.

By the end we were pretty beat. So much packed into one day. When we got home we made dinner fast then Sarah and I went for a walk. We took my phone and dance/walked to a new park then swing for a bit.

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Flower outside Old Parliament

The night ended with celebratory games and laughing together (villas 1&2) Soaking up our final real night im together.

Tomorrow I’ll be an astronaut at Questacon. :)

Mission to the Mint

April 15.2014

It hit me as I wrote the date for today. April 15. As I remember back to when I was planning for this trip, April 18th, our departure date seemed like eons away… But now it’s practically here. Wow.

This morning it is was tough to get out of bed. :/ but up and at ‘em and out for a run I went. The cockatoos this morning were ridiculous!! They all had their fans up, were squawking in no particular rhythm, and swooping down all around me. I seriously ran through the ‘what to do if a Cockatoo attacks you’ emergency action plan my head. My conclusion… I still don’t know haha

We’ve become such WiFi vultures, that every time there is free WiFi we go into no-talk mode. When we got to Questacon this morning it was no different. I had messaged Nick about an unfinished conversation and then he asked to FaceTime. Highlight of my morning. Seeing the faces of stags burrow. :) It was weird though, I miss them a ton, but I’m not home sick. When we got off the phone I was like ‘gosh I miss them’ but not like a ‘oh no now I’m sad’ kind of way. It could be because I’m three days from being in the same time zone, or it could mean I really like it here. Or a combo.

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We were on the puppet show this morning which just consists of opening the doors for viewers and closing them when the show starts. Woo. ;) then we had free time so Paige and I caught some rays while working on blog/portfolio stuff.

And I got to FaceTime with my parents!! :) gosh I miss them. I think I lost an eardrum when Mama screamed “GINAAAA!!! :)” but I would have screamed too if we hadn’t been in a public place haha!! Thanks for the constant support and love!

After a quick lunch we were off to the War Memorial/Museum. Tomorrow they’re having a commemoration day so the guards and servicemen were out practicing their different changing of the guards and such. So cool. It’s all a pretty somber place but so much has gone into the remembrance of lost soldiers its so beautiful. Our tour guide Stuart was The Best. He had wonderful anecdotal stories for the different planes, uniforms and memorials. So cool to see history from another countries perspective.

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Poppies are said to be left behind on the battle field when a man dies. This list covers the left and right side of the building which is yearly updated with the names of every Australian every to give their life for the country.

I mean history is history right? We all went through it, but with different approaches and wishful outcomes. My narrow minded American-ness was oozing as I began to fathom the idea of other countries fighting for something too. We could have spent hours there in each of the war rooms (Afghanistan, Korean, WWI, WWII….) but we headed out rather quick to try and make it to the Mint before closing.

We were cutting it close on time and Nick really wanted to get there before closing… Shoot we all did! Phew, we made it just in time. Except, we thought it closed at 4pm, and it didn’t actually close till 5pm. Score! More money time. It was neat to see where the money is made and how it’s packaged. I learned a lot about mis-stamps and collectables. I even got to make my own $1 coin :) … For $3 lol ( tourist I am ).

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The stairs leading up to the mint gallery were speckled with 5 cent coins.
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Kingsford Smith is a famous pilot and the school I taught in was named after him. Cool!

Before heading back to the villa we stopped at Red Hills scenic overlook. Boom, I cant get enough if these beautiful mountains. Seriously. The view from high up is wonderful. We walked around a bit and found probably 30 kangaroos just chilling. Welp, 30 minutes went by and we were still taking pictures and making Kanga commentary. Haha cheap thrills.

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Dinner when we got back; trying to use up the whats left of our food. Now I’m chilling looking at the sunset over the mountains from my hammock. Life is good. :) I’m gojng to miss this hammock spot and our villas view. Soaking up as much as I can before friday.

Highlights of my day ( in chronological order )
- voice message from Nick and Dean
- FaceTime with Nick, Dean and Zac
-FaceTime with my parents and guest appearance by Sandy
- our tour guide, Stuart, at the war Memorial
- making it to the mint on time
- jamming in the car to music
- seeing the kangas (they’re still sweet to se)
- the view of the mountains. The view. The view. I can never get enough
- hammocking/ alone time

Tomorrow more Questacon, Parliament tour, and National Gallery. We’re soaking up Australian History like it’s our job this week!!

Put it in the Boot

April 14.2014

Questacon this morning!! I realize that not everyone loves our time at Questacon, but the nerd in me is loving this. Team Cray Cray was scheduled first at rockets. It was cool getting to talk with the kids about how they re making their design and why they thought that was best. The time went fast and then we were off to busking. We decided to do the Dr. Scar busk. Scar for this kid, bruise for that. I was pretty proud of a few and we got to talk to them about how bruising is just rotten blood. Gross.

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I usually ask the kids what tragic event happened to them to earn their scar. This particular girl said she was chased by a Kangaroo. And therefore a Kanga scratch was in order.

Before we knew it we were done and off to black mountain. Paige’s friend Nick drove us and we had decided to get to the top for lunch first. It kinda felt like cheating driving up the mountain instead of walking it. But once inside it was so worth it. The tower on top of black mountain is called the Telstra tower. Its 800m talk and you can take a lift up to the second balcony. Oh. My. Goodness. You seriously don’t appreciate the sheer beauty of Canberra until you’re seeing it from this view. The landscape around lake Burly Griffin, the city scape to the east and the mountains gently hugging the city for as far as you can see. Beautiful. The sky was blue and the clouds light and fluffy. What a nice day.

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After fueling up at the cafe, we drove back to the bottom to make the 5.4km hike to the top. I loved getting out in the sunshine and getting some exercise. It was cool that after nearly 5 weeks of looking at this mountain from our villa we were finally climbing it! It was steep, but manageable. 50 minutes later we made it to the top!!! :) then a steep hike back down. Nuts ;)

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Aussie Lingo…. Boot=car trunk

That night the Kingsford Smith crew went to Jodie’s house for dinner. Her house has a beautiful view which we got to watch the sunset from. As the sunset the city scape came alive. So relaxing. The food was incredible and the company was pleasant. A wonderful closure to our school experience. The friends and connections I made while at Kingsford are sure to last me a lifetime and I hope to never loose contact with them. The three Kindy teachers had gotten Kristin, Whitney and I the coolest little gift bags. They got us each a few ‘Aussie’ books and the neatest stickers that say ‘Miss Mouch says Good Job!’ And ‘Miss Mouch says how clever!’ They are soo cool!!!

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Pavlova: Aussie dessert. It’s a mix between a meringue and angel food cake. This one had berries and passionfruit on top. SO YUMMY!

When it was time to leave for the night and say goodbye it was a lot harder than I thought. Four weeks ago I would never have imagined exactly how attached I would get to these people. I know I said that before, but its’s worth repeating.

The night finished up with some chatting around the table accompanied by plenty of laughs. Goodnight Aussie :)

 

Scarface

April 10.2014

It was weird waking up this morning and not going to school. But I don’t know that its really hit me. It kinda feels like a weekend.

I was pumped to be working at Questacon (Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre), from what I’d heard it was about to be a Science Majors dream :)

Even on our way in, there were life sized xylophones with huge mallets and Paige had to pull me away just to make it in the door. Yea, I’m going to like this place.

David, one of the ‘science actors’, welcomed us in and gave us SUPER official name badges. With swipe ID’s that get us into VIP lounges. We got a cup of coffee/tea/donut and used our passes to get into the ‘lift’,  (elevator), and I thought I went through an Alice In Wonderland hole and popped out in a CEO’s board room. Seriously, this place was legit. The table was huge, the doors were made of windows, the window outside looked over one of the most beautiful views in Canberra, and everyone was dressed to the nines.

There we were informed about all things science, and all about what we’d be doing next week.

Busking: (v) to street perform with a specific educational or entertainment purpose.

We’d be busking science education. Yessss :)

Lunch was so yummy, Paige and I shared a Mediterranean veggie wrap and berry yogurt. Thank goodness we have very similar appetites!

After lunch is when the real fun began. There nerdy actors joined us to demonstrate each one of the busking stations. Dr. Scar, Seymour Guts, Insects, Music and Astronaut Suits.

Dr. Scar- with this busk we give kids costume make up scars and bruises while teaching them about the science behind the color, clotting and pain. We learned how to shade, explain and talk in ‘doctor’ accents.

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Seymour Guts- A huge plush dummies with removable plush organs. ” here hold on to all 7 meters of my intestines please” And ” you’ve got to be Kidneying me! You dropped that organ!?” Jokes, songs, organs and learning all piled into one fake person. Classic ;) with this one I was really impressed with how much I remembered from my science classes. Yea! Science nerd 👊 Now put all his organs back in the proper place before he dies!! Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeeep ;)

Insects- the museum owns several stick bugs and spiny leaf insects. This busk literally just requires you to hold them on your hand, face or elsewhere and show them to people. They’re native to Southern Australia, completely harmless and more than happy to sway on your hand pretending to blend in with the breeze.

Music- this one is usually done as a crazy hippie roadie one man show musician. The big driving home point on this one is to make sound you need an oscillator and a resonator. Boom- sound :) there are all sorts of instruments in all the families to try, have others try and of course joke around with. ;)

Last but not least…

Astronaut Suits- its as simple as it sounds. You walk around in the seventh later of an astronaut suit and take pictures with kids. You can pose and scare them, or be a friendly waving astronaut. The choice is yours, but one things for sure… With the weight of the suit, you’re sure to get a workout in!

Of course we got to practice/play with all the busks after they showed us … And it was so AWESOME!!! Gah, I can’t wait. I seriously think if I don’t make it as a teacher I’ll become a Questacon Busker. :D

It’s all about the show. Making science fun for kids with skits, accents and cool props. They wont even know they’re learning! Bingo.

After Questacon Paige and I went to the National Library to work on our portfolios and then headed home for Terri’s goodbye party. But not before a roommate ‘Frozen’ dance party!!!

We are surely going to miss Terri. Her humor, honesty, advice, and her company. She wrote an awesome poem for all of us and we nearly cried. The reality of this trip being almost over, and our student teaching being done is starting to hit me. Wow.

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Story Of My Life

April 13. 2014

Beautiful morning. Let me repeat B. E-A. Utiful. Morning. The sun was shining the magpies sounded like dying children, the kookaburras were laughing, the air was crisp and the breeze gently coaxed me awake. Ah, I could get used to this.

Today Paige and Sarah were going to the coast ( lucky ducks) to see the ocean. We’d drawn numbers to see who would be able to go with Karen since there are limited spots in her car. I’m excited for them though. Both REALLY wanted to go. I was glad to work on my portfolio, enjoy tea on the porch, clean the villa and head out early to beat the Sunday mall rush.

It’s weird to think that this is probably my last time at the mall for groceries or anything really. I spent quite a whole just walking around looking and everything and anything and picking up the things I said I’d get later. Sadly ‘later’ is running short on time. I got a few cute things, a few souvenirs, some final fruit/veggies and got back on the bus home.

Once at home, to the pool I went :) and then relaxed in the sun for over an hour. Got more work done, packed a lot of my things and then we had seminar.

Things are just winding down and that stinks. I thought for sure that I’d be ready to go when 5 weeks rolled around, but I don’t think I am :/. I’m going to miss so much of this Aussie life.

Paige’s friend Nick from Melbourne came into town today. He has relatives in Canberra, but is also visiting Paige while we’re here. He seems pretty cool, which is good because he’s going to be spending the next week or so touring with us. haha

We start Questacon tomorrow!!! YEAHHH!!!

Teaching students among Koalas

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