Tan and Strong

April 12. 2014

This morning in usual toaster fashion my roommates and I were up early and singing around the living room. Gosh I love living with a villa full of Toasters 🙂

I was in a funky mood though and tried to shake it with a run. Ugh, not working. I just felt weak and tired. Boo.

We’d planned to go to the Botanical Gardens at 11am and therefore had to catch the 9:53 bus. Simple enough right. One would think anyway, but when you get 11 strong willed people together nothing is that simple. I think were to the point in the trip where people are tired and easily annoyed. Scratch that- I know we’re to that point. All is well though. We go to the gardens and the beautiful sunshiney day met us there. Hello tan face and blonder hair. Yes you may make yourself at home 🙂

The rainforest portion was the coolest. There was even misters that gave it a “raining” feel!


Delicious lunch at the Floresta Café. I got Salt and Pepper squid with seasoned rocket (rocket=greens)

From there we left to find a bus stop and get to The Canberra Mall. Great plan except we couldn’t find a bus stop :/ lol so after walking for 30 min we found one! But Paige, myself and out adventurous-not-wanting-to-sit-down spirits went on to keep walking. Through a Uni, over a bridge, ask for directions, back track over the bridge, walk through the city, follow the water and whabam. The Mall 🙂 couple of good shops later and we headed home to get ready to go out.

Paige and I have formed a special-travelers-friendship of sorts and jn that spend a ton of time on busses and walking together. It’s really fantastic. Somewhere along the way we had talked about weaknesses and nervous habits. She bites her nails, I chew my lip. Neither are good, so determined to help each other we made a nervous trade embargo. For each time we catch her biting her nails we do ten push-ups and every time we catch me chewing my lip we do ten squats. … We were up to 60 push-ups today with 40 yesterday. Man, I didn’t realize but cashing these in were making me sore! (Strong later though) With this, walking/running we surely get our workout! We just need some sort of ab penalty….Lol

Now a whole back I saw an advertisement for the Sydney Ballet Company and was like ‘yes please’ but didn’t think anyone would like to join. But last night I asked my roommates and they said yes! 🙂 so we all got dressed up and headed out for dinner and the ballet. So sophisticated!

We settled for dinner at Jamie’s, an Italian resturant with outdoor seating. Cool. It was a wonderful time of friends, drinks, thanksgiving for roommates, and celebrating. It had started to get chilly (50 degrees) ok, I know… But in dresses… A little slack? Haha thank goodness 50 is like winter for Aussies and they had the heated lamps on us. Paradise 🙂

Trout caught that morning was on special! Cooked to perfection and literally fell right off the bones. Yum!!!

After quite a good time we walked the plaza and got gelato then headed to the theatre.

Oh. My. Gosh. What a good show!!! First, simply was a ballerinas body is capable of is crazy. Then put perfectly synced choreography in the mix and top it off with a thought provoking storyline. Just beautiful!! The whole show was three acts. After the first we were confused and hoping for more. The second was enough to make your eyes dry out in fear of blinking and missing a beat. And the third was colorful, humorous, and had a unique dialogue as the dancers moved about. I am SO glad we ended up going!! I mean how often do you get to go to the ballet, let alone see the Sydney Ballet Company in Australia!

(I don’t have a picture right now, cause they’re on someone else’s device, but I’ll upload soon)

We had a very nice taxi driver on the way home. He, like most can drivers make fun of/love out accents. We just giggle like school girls. Helping our case? Nope, not at all.

Within minutes we were in bed and fast asleep. What a good event filled day 🙂 and a perfect last Saturday.


Mixed Emotions

April 10.2014

Today was like a great Romantic Comedy… it’s so good you cry. Positive-the movies good. Negative- no one likes crying but you do anyway.

The plot of my romantic comedy….

Today I woke up again to the cool breeze outside and the soft pitter patter of rain on my window. The weather begged me to stay in bed but my alarm clock told me otherwise. Strike one against my day.

Strike 2. I woke up with a killer sore throat and zero energy.

The walk to the bus stop was a solemn one. No one could put a finger on it, but I think it’s the “we love teaching” and now were just done…for now. But this is the significant end of a chapter, with a very unknown one in the future. Cue the solemn music that is in accordance with rain and overcast skies.

The bus then was late, and therefore we missed our closely timed connecting bus. Dang. We hopped on the bus that get’s us close but still a substantial walk. Clothes=wet. Cool.

Today was also House day, or a semi-homecoming for the school. Each student is divided into one of four houses. Green, Purple, Yellow or Red. I was on team Green, team Walton. The kids were wound up to the max because a) they didn’t have to wear uniforms but wore their colors instead b) were donating money for a “shave your head” benefit thing. I still don’t understand it. c) it’s house day, and therefore learning is second seat to having fun and ‘team bonding’. and d) all of the above. Cue chaos.

I love my kiddos to death. There is something about working in a low socioeconomic school with kids who barely know English and rely on you as a teacher for so much more than learning core subjects that breaks your heart and hangs on to it liked a tiny painful thread. These kids have become my babies. I hated that I didn’t have my typical energy and I hated that this was  more than likely the last day I’d ever see any of them. Even in the states when you have students for student teaching there is a small chance you’ll see them again someday. You can go visit or you might land a job at their school and then see them through the years. The good-byes there were just “see ya laters”. But here, they are good-byes.

I had no idea that I would form such neat and intimate bonds with these kids and the staff. They are so dear to my heart and the hugs, gifts, words of affirmation and even tears were enough to tell me they felt the same. This is the romance part of my Rom Com. I unexpectedly and blindly feel head over heels in love with these kids. There was a certain growth that I saw in them even in four weeks and a unique pride I feel for them in the work they have done.

The tears part is what got me most. You never know exactly how much kiddos understand about situations like this. The leaving, the goodbyes… So i wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. To be honest I didn’t expect much. A few hugs and ‘byes’ was pretty much what I was ready for, but what I got tugged on my heart strings hard. One of my most dear students brought me an Easter gift and sat on my lap all day. I didn’t complain, I would miss her tiny cuddles. One of my toughest students ( one that I knew needed me most) hugged me so hard i nearly fell over then asked me to come down to the floor, there we hugged again and he said , “Gina, I am going to miss you. A lot.” Simple words, but even as I type this I’m welling up again. This student some days flipped tables in anger, and three things… But we’d grown to have a certain understanding, a unique respect and a special bond. That killed me. One of my English Language Learner students just came up to me nd looked up, then started crying. He said “No leave, Gina.” Through sniffles and that was enough to give me sniffles too. This was all before the bell rang. When there was 45 minutes left the teachers asked for us to meet in the Honey Bees room. We complied and there the students shared their favorite parts of having us there, kindy style. They remembered the songs, the painting and ‘everything’. The teachers had planned for some snacks and a dance party before the bell rang. I danced to Let it Go with so many students you would have though I was Ilsa ;).

The real heart warming moments came next. The parents made their way into our classroom and asked for pictures with me and their child. Of course I would love to was my easy reply. I even got to take a selfie with a student. Mark that off the bucket list. 😉 a few hugs from parents, kind words and well wishes later all my kids were walking into the distance. Wow, that’s it. My final day of student teaching, forever. It didn’t feel like a huge weight was lifted, it felt kinda solemn. The image of one student crying burned in my memory as I cleaned up the classroom for the last time.


Double edge sword. Were done!!! 5 years of school and I’m graduation ready. I’ve been prepared by university standards to have my own classroom and have just one assignment left in my undergrad career!! Thats awesome right!? Then why do I feel so sad.
After thinking about this for quite sometime, I think its this: I love teaching. The feeling of that ending is a whole new level of bittersweet. Something I have never experienced. Exciting because the end of one hard working chapter means the beginning of a whole new exciting one. Sad because I loved what I was doing and it came to an end.
I still don’t think those words are sufficient. They way I felt leaving there was just so odd. It’s something I’ll remember forever but don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain.

Paige and I came right home. Still lacking energy, and nursing a sore throat I climbed right in bed and took a couple hour nap. Haha what a way to celebrate 😉

The night didnt get that much more interesting. We were all in this in expected funk. No one thought we’d be so bummed to be done. A good indication we all enjoyed our time. Tomorrow starts the Questacon and final leg of our journey.

So as the credits roll in this Flim, I’m confused by my emotions but so happy I got to be a part in the making. 🙂

Questacon update soon.

Wonderful Wednesday

April 9.2014

Part of the Kindy curriculum is to learn/teach the days of the week. Each morning starts with what day of the week it is. Today is a Wonderful Wednesday, and therefore tomorrow will be a Thoughtful Thursday. 🙂

I am so, SO proud of my kiddos. We did a postcard writing lesson today and they wrote personalized postcards to my Michigan students on the backs of pictures they drew. They listened, asked great questions and then worked independently to address the cards.


On the right hand side they all wrote:




Exactly to whom and where it is going 🙂 They got to design their own stamp in the top right corner and then they came to me where I scribed their words for them on a sticky note.

Their words:

“Can you please come to visit Australia?”

“Can we be friends?”

“My favorite color is green, blue and orange.”

“Will you come to my birthday party?”

Precious 🙂

They worked so quietly and so well, I believe it was because they enjoyed the work they were doing and it was at their level. I can’t wait to take those postcards home and let my 3rd graders read them 🙂

Paige had a particularly rough day and we knew it was necessary to stop at the market for a muffin. It is a Wednesday after all. 😉 We sat talked, ate a muffin, bought some fruit, picked up fresh flowers then headed home.

Sort of a lazy night, which I decided we deserve. It was our first night in a few weeks that we didn’t need to be lesson planning for the next day. The week was planned for and tomorrow is our last day of student teaching. Weird.

We had a pretty intense massage train going and it was the perfect way to laugh, talk and whined down for the night.

Tomorrow is the last day of work in my college education. EEK!!

Elevator Schpeal

April 7.2014

‘Cuz ya had a bad day. Ya takin’ one down just to turn it around.

Welp, its bound to happen. I had a case of the Mondays and I think the world did too.

I woke up in a panic about things I forgot to do for lessons today. Crap. The walk to the bus included crabby people (who were also experiencing the Mondays) and an ever growing mental to-do list. I just felt off with the kids. It’s not that they annoyed me or they were particularly misbehaved its just that I wasn’t mentally there. :/ we had a meeting after school that went super long. I had a frustrating confrontation with a co worker. I was told that Paige left me and the shops would be closing soon while I still needed groceries. Paige was at the bus stop when I got out of Aldi and I couldn’t help but smile. Of course aha didn’t leave me. We’ve talked about that several times. We got back at 6:47 yet to eat dinner and had seminar at 7pm.

[seminar was actually really nice. I hadn’t anticipated that because of the way the day had gone. We practiced interviewing. Not just talked about it, but actually sat on panels and answered questions without prior knowledge of which questions would be asked. I’ll admit when they told us that, that is what we’d be doing I groaned in my head. Its weird to do this sort of thing in front of peers and we knew it would take a long time. As the ‘interviews’ got rolling I was happily surprised. Talking and being professional to peers was really helpful. My group was honest and have good feedback. Let’s be honest though, at this point in our education we want to get a job. And we wont get there by sugar coating things or not helping each other. We also go to ‘walk/graduate’ the Australia experience. We received our certificates and gifts while practicing shaking hands and walking across the room. 2 hours of good stuff. Thanks Terri and Karen!]

After seminar I picked out a date for my final evaluation/observation. FINAL OBSERVATION!! Woo! I’m going to graduate!!! Well, that date was tomorrow… Soo now I need to write the lesson plan in proper format for tomorrow too. Cool. Add it to the list.

List to-do tonight.
– lesson plan the week
– lesson plan my observation
– cut/paste/ make 25 michigan postcards
– work on rationales for E- portfolio

Yikes… One thing at a time Gina. I mean its only 9:30pm…

Speaking of lists, I didn’t do very well in the list of goals department last week.

Here’s to a better tomorrow and better week!!

Final Countdown

April 8.2014

Today marks my final observation of my work as a preservice teacher. Every observation from here on out will be as a teacher. 🙂


Highlights of today:
– At recess duty this morning three kids whom I don’t know came up to me and started making ninja motions and sounds. I asked what they were doing. They explained they had super powers and super moves that made their powers work. I asked if I was a superhero. They said well yea, but you have to so the moves. After a good 5 minutes of crushing the ‘pow’ ‘bam’ and ‘whoosh’ sounds they started naming every superhero they knew. “Superman, Spider-Man, captain America, Wknderwoman, Batman and Lil Wayne. :)” haha yea, of course 😉


– Also at recess duty or of my ESL students came up to me mumbled something, probably not in English, and then ran away looking back to be sure I was watching. After getting rather far into the distance he bent down and picked a handful of dandelions. Holding them proudly far above his head he looked to me for approval and course I smiled back and have him a thumbs up. Later in the break he came to me with a fist full and said ‘es ellow flora’ then took a big whiff, smiled and said ‘booty-full’ 🙂 It’s the little things.


– {this is not completely a highlight, but still an important part of my day} I had my final observation and it was at ‘the best time’ right after a rowdy round of Art History Release (with a different teacher) and just before an assembly planned and run by our class. They were so energized by the freedom in art and fueled by excitement for the assembly that their attention span shrunk to the size of an infant gnat. Seriously. Despite my best efforts, i had a very difficult time reigning them in and proceeding with the lesson. In fact i knew they were so gone that the lesson wasn’t going anywhere fast and cut it short all together. We went inside with no conclusion and packed our bags. Negative. I was way out of control. Positive. Karen understood the circumstances. And…. my last observation is done!!!!!! 2 days and I’m a teacher 🙂

– The assembly went rather smoothly. The kids did as we practiced and it was a great opportunity to develop as a professional. Plan and Run school wide assembly. Check.

After school we went to a all staff raffle party and I won a handmade jewelry holder. It’s pretty neat. Then Paige and I caught a ride to the Uni to get started on all the work we’ve been chucking down the priority ladder. Like our portfolio. But in our defense when you have classes to teach the next morning and lesson plans to turn in, they take the front spot on our to-do list. We got some work done but have quickly realized we’re in for a project.

Hopefully a restful night before my last day of planned teaching!! ( thursday is a field day) 🙂 cheers!

What Time is it Mr. Fox?

April 6.2014

Our roommates continue to be toasters. We pop out of bed and are in full conversation within the first 60 seconds of opening our eyes. And oddly enough we’re all up within the same 3 minutes. It cracks me up. Today I opened my eyes and Sarah exclaimed “Morning talking toaster!!”. What a good way to start the day.

Also, sometime during the night was the end of Australia’s Day Lights Saving Time and since it’s Autumn, we gained an hour… I think… I haven’t been so confused of what time it is, probably in years! We were trying to catch the 9:52am bus, but woke up at 7:45am, or 6:45am… one of those… so we thought we’d get our butts in gear and catch the 8:52am bus. But we couldn’t figure out if our phones changed or if we sprung forward or fell back… gosh I don’t even feel like we gained or lost and hour!

Anyway we were all up and ready to go by the 8:52 bus and got there with only seconds to spare. Off to the Old Bus Depot Market!! The same one that we went to our first weekend. YES! I love the atmosphere there! The music, the food, the craftiness, the general joy and pride in homemade goods. I have been on a hunt for a cool ring at a thrift shop or handmade somewhere for probably about two years. Lady’s and Gents…the hunt is over!! 😀 I found it! The thing that usually held me back was the price or that it was mass produced. I wanted one with a cool story, or at least from a thrift shop where I could pretend it had a cool story 😉 In the first room I walked through there was an older lady setting up her jewelry display and immediately this ring caught my eye.


It’s much larger than I would have ever thought I’d like but I absolutely fell in love with it! There are two amethyst stones (the light purple February birth stone) and a unique leave design. The lady who was selling it saw it hand made by a 5th generation Indonesian silversmith. She had it specially made and therefore it is a one of a kind, what she called a ‘one-er’ and the only one exactly like it in Australia. When I was debating getting it I just stared at it for a while then the jeweler told me that she is only at this market every four weeks. Starting to be more convinced that this was meant to be, the lady browsing next to me asked my name and was like “Gina, dear, you either buy this ring and love it, or walk away and regret it.” Sold. 🙂 I’m a happy ring owner. Also, I just keep looking at it. Partially because it’s like a foreign object on my hand and partially because I’m so happy with the ‘me’ purchase.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After we headed to the City Centre and shopped for a bit. Ryan and I waltzed by the bus stop before heading in to the mall. Not to toot our horns, but we’re getting pretty good. 🙂

The mall was HUGE, that’s the first time I’d been to that mall,  and honestly it was a bit overwhelming.

When we got home I could hardly believe it was only 1:30pm. We’ve done a lot today! and the day’s still young. I worked on my e-portfolio for a bit and then got bored around 3:27pm. By 3:30pm Paige and I decided that we were up for another adventure. We grabbed our stuff and headed to the bus stop hoping we’d catch the 3:43 bus. Well… the 3:43 bus doesn’t come till 4:16 sooo whoops. So per usual, Paige and I just waited and chatted at the bus stop. Just a few moments later we saw Karen drive out of our village and thought asking her for a ride was worth a chance.

She said she was in a rush and couldn’t take us but asked if we’d go on a tour with her instead. We looked at each other, smiled, shrugged and happily accepted. Haha our plans, we’re always down for anything. And we were thankful that Karen would ask us to join her.

The tour of Canberra was so neat! It would have been a great idea to do at the beginning of the trip but I still learned a lot. Especially the part about the world embassy’s was the coolest. There were different houses for several different countries embassy’s. The US’s, of course, was HUGE in comparison to every other country. The architecture of each building was a wonderful tour in itself. Each building was of traditional build from a specific era in history. The US was a colonial house modeled after houses in Williamsburg, Virginia. So beautiful. I love that look. The Asian embassy’s were straight out of Mulan, with their unique flair.

We also got to see every museum in the town (just the outsides) and hear some cool facts. This tour is what really made the Washington D.C. – ACT (Australia Capitol Territory) connection in my mind. There were war memorials all lining one road that displayed a beautiful view of the Old Parliament house with a reflection pool in the distance. It’s pretty neat. I’m excited to go to the museums not this week, but the one after.

Now we’re gearing up for our last week… OUR LAST WEEK OF STUDENT TEACHING!!!! 😀 Cheers


The Breath of a Hog

April 5.2014

This was the first saturday I’ve woke up at our Villa since we’ve gotten here, and it was grand. 🙂 It was fun getting up and reliving the craziness of last night, relaxing and not waking up to an alarm.

I went for a quick run, showered and then headed off to the mall with Sarah and Karen. We’d vowed to make today relaxing, and about us. Selfish? Maybe. But as teachers we give, give, give…. We need me time get ready for more give time. Yeah?

First, though we stopped by the doctors office, since Sarah was starting to feel sick. No worries though, the doctor diagnosed her with a sore throat and an ear infection. Easily treatable and with mess shes on the road to recovery.

It was so nice to just walk around without an agenda, or the need to catch a certain bus. We stopped in some clothes stores, ate lunch and even treated ourselves to a pedicure. ( salmon pinky-orange was my color of choice) let me tell you though, the massage chairs may have been the best part!

So you can’t see the color… at all…but yup, that’s our toes

When we got home it was nap-time. Two in two days… Score 🙂 Again I think the rain wasn’t helping our sluggish moods, but our bodies weren’t mad about the rest.

Though the rest was perfect, we were interrupted by the boys … The hungry boys and their stomachs. 😉 So off to dinner we went in the City Centre. We went to this cool place called Hogs Breath Cafe and I got calamari, and avocado chicken. Mm mmm mmmm. So tasty, but the portions were HUGE! We were thinking about going out after so unfortunately I couldn’t take it home and I felt so wasteful :/

I wouldn’t normally consider myself a overly adventurous person, but I’ve really enjoyed not knowing where we’re going next and trying new thing. I’ve grown accustomed to trusting peoples sense of direction, being flexible when their sense is wrong and taking the lead when necessary.

After getting home we played quite a few rowdy rounds of uno and jammed to some country music. Great end to a peaceful day. 🙂

Teaching students among Koalas