Up’s and Down’s

March 17.2014

Woo Wee! Today=Whirlwind. Mind=Overloaded. Culture=Shocked Gina.

Today was the steepest learning curve I have ever, EVER been up. The day goes up and down as follows.

Down-Up: [5:30am] Woke up early again; I can’t tell if its jet lag, pure exhaustion or a seriously confused internal clock but 5:30am is the time my body wants to greet the day.  Luckily 5:30am here means 2:30pm at home. Hello much needed morning chat with my parents! It was so good to hear their voices and just catch up for a bit.

Up: [7:10am] We walked 1.5km to the bus stop with our whole group and successfully waved down the public bus system (just like you would a taxi in NYC)! And on time. Double score!

1st day

Down: [7:48am] After 23minutes of sitting on the Gold Route 3, we jumped off at a large interchange and broke into our 3 different school groups from there to catch the next connection. My group realized that our connecting bus was going to be 30 minutes later than we thought. Back to the drawing board. Our internal GPS’s were shouting ‘Recalculating-Recalculating’ as we searched the more than confusing map like lost tourists for a different route.

Up: [7:49am] Bingo-Bus 44. Arrival time at this interchange 7:50am. Hearts pounding we frantically looked for the station number that we were to stand by. No luck. Kristen looked up though and saw the 44 Bus headed our way. A flick of the wrist and wave of the arm the bus pulled over to let us in. The bus driver not so happy, but still answered our questions and said he’d stop right in front of our school! Up after Up.

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Up: [8:11am] The 5 of us arrived at Kingsford Smith School, grades preschool-12. Aussie translation: Super School. We took a stab at which building, out of the several that we saw, was the office. If this were the price is right we’d be winners! Behind door number 1, was in fact the office. Catherine (The Staff Relations Coordinator) greeted us inside, had us check in and then invited us into the staff room for tea time and homemade, homegrown pumpkin scones! They are so hospitable! The scones were not shaped in triangles, and were not at all sweet, more liked a biscuit-y flavor. Delicious nonetheless. We were joined by the building principal and then introduced to every faculty member that walked by in the proceeding 20 minutes. Do I remember their names…. probably not, but they were all so friendly. After a tour of the 9 no connected buildings and a brief orientation we were set free to head to our classrooms.

Up: [9:15am] Class started 15 minutes ago. 9am? I know right, awesome! I’ll post pictures of the layout of the Kindy wing soon, it is so different than any US school I have ever seen. I walked into my 22 student, Kindy (kindergarten) classroom and Jodie, my host teacher, asked my name in between giving directions to the kids. I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I said Gina since I heard the kids call her Jodie. After counting the boys and girls in the class and saying the days of the week Jodie rattled off the choices for Investigations, learning stations; tissue paper flowers, math objects, drawing, staying at the SMARTboard to learn about Ladybirds (ladybugs), or going to any other Kindy classes investigations. She introduced me briefly then the kids were off to Investigations. Ruffled by the lack of structure I just watched for a clue as to what Jodie wanted me to do. When I wasn’t prompted in any manner I jumped in to help make tissue paper flowers and learn kids names. Oh, their accents, their sweet, childlike beautiful accents. I don’t think I say half their names right, mostly because they correct my accent and then just giggle.  Name examples: Paul (po-all), Mahlia (molly-ah), Ailja (al-ee-ah), Yameen (yah-min) and Bianca (bon-ka). Others are Matilda, Phoebe, Sophia, Seth and Brayden.

Down: [10:15am] My teacher still hadn’t really talked to me about anything at all or provide further instruction but I was trying to stay positive.

Up-o-Down: [11:00am] The kids lunch begins and they eat in the classroom while Jodie read them a book. Immediately following this we go out to lunch recess with them for 15 minutes until the other teachers come to relieve us. At this point it’s almost 11:40am and class resumes at 11:50am. Yes you did that math right. 10 minutes for lunch. My teacher made coffee, and then said something about how she didn’t get to eat lunch. I responded sympathetically and she replied “That’s alright that’s pretty typical.” Gosh, I need lunch. 10 minute scarf session it will be!

Up: [12:00pm] The rest of the afternoon raced by. We did letter sound recognition; math buddies with the 5th years, read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, recess and packed up their bags. At the end of the day, they were swept away by the music teacher and we were no longer responsible for the rest of the day. That last hour is meant to be kept for teachers prep time. They also have what they call an Executive Teacher. She oversees the Pre-k and Kindy teachers as well as provides relief for the teachers so they have a minimum of 1 hour of planning each day. The Executive handles the Grade Level student assessments, facilitates grade level collaboration, and works closely with all six of the pre-k/kindy teachers. Brilliant role if you ask me!

Up: [4:50pm] One of the year 5 teachers offered to give us a lift to the Uni (University of Canberra) where we were to meet with other students and faculty. The first person we met when we walked through the doors was the Dean of the University. Such a jolly fellow! Sarah, pointed out the herd of Kangaroos out the back window and like the tourists we are we had our cameras out and faces plastered to the window faster than you could say G’day Mate. The Dean just laughed at us and opened the side door inviting us to get a closer look. The herd let us get within 10 feet before deciding we were too close. Kangaroos!! In the wild!!! YESSS!!! Two were carrying Joey’s in their pouches, one was probably 10 feet tall if he stood up straight and several were bedded down similar to what Michigan deer would look like while resting.

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Up: [5:30pm] The Dean presented on a few things about their campus and program. We socialized with different professors and students, received our temporary student numbers and wi-fi passwords, said our thank yous and goodbyes then were off back to our Villas.

Down: [8:30pm] First, note that we haven’t been home since 7am, which makes for an exhausting day regardless of jet lag and culture shock. Second, I came down with a ugly illness/dreadful cough of sorts the day I left and have been fighting it ever since. I’d really hoped it just go away with time and I could call it a cold. The pain in my chest told me that fighting it on my own was not working and I needed some medical intervention. Karen, our professor, and I jumped in her car and headed to the hospital. Driving on the left side, phew, that’s enough to wake anybody up! We got to the hospital only to learn that there would be a 4 hour wait. No thanks. I’ve waited 6 days, I can wait till morning. So that’s what we’re doing. In the morning we’ll head to a clinic somewhere and get this beast taken care of.

Up: [11:00pm] I am mostly adjusted to the time and fully caught up on blogging! 🙂 I am excited for bed and thankful for my mattress and warm blankets!

Stay tuned for more!

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