Hi all, just want to say sorry for the delay in getting this latest instalment to you – it has been a busy few weeks for us, and you are about to find out what we have been up to since we started our placement in ‘Stralia.
When I left you, I had updated you on the flight from the UK to Melbourne and the orientation with Lattitude which lasted from the Monday we arrived to the Wednesday of the same week. Now that we are well into our placements, I can update you on what has happened since then.
Taking the train from Melbourne, we arrive at the suburb where we are to be working (Pakenham – named after the Duke of Wellington’s brother in law), met at the station by HR who assigns us our departments – P.E for me. We are taking to the campus where I am to be working then we are given a tour of the site, and it is NOT small. That afternoon we sort out the paperwork needed to sort our placement, and set up our staff IPads. Yes, we are provided with IPads (and at no cost to make it even better). As three o’clock comes round our host families come to meet us. Although I’d had opportunity to e-mail Craig prior to my departure, it was great to meet him in person – he has a great sense of humour and is very family orientated so I knew he would be a great host.
Friday morning comes and it’s time to get into work and meet my new colleagues for the first time. I am to be working alongside Mike – the sports admin assistant – a man who you can never upset and someone who has a story about everywhere he has travelled (including when, as a child, he was coached by a Chinese Olympic winning table tennis player) but the best part is, when he lived in Blighty he often holidayed in the sleepy Lake District, or to me, home. This means that we are able to talk about many British habits and customs (such as the great debate on what is the best brand of tea) that confuse the Aussies we work with.
As the weeks progress I have fallen into a habit, which is best started in the middle of the week. Wednesday is spent setting up for the SEISA (South Eastern Independent Schools Association) sports events for the following day. Thursdays are spent supporting the home teams in their bid to make it to the grand finals of their respective sports. Fridays are spent washing the kits and uniforms of all of our sports teams who played in SEISA sports and making sure that they are returned to the right team bag (although sometimes useless when we know that some players *coughs* netball girls *coughs* will take the kits from the other teams). Not only this, but Friday recess is the highlight of the week (and this is no exaggeration) with Fatty Fridays being when all staff gather to eat a range of food from pies and pizza to cake and pancakes, and often eating enough not to need lunch (or sometimes an evening meal!). Mondays and Tuesdays are spent working on paperwork and helping out with the junior school P.E lessons where I was given the opportunity to lead classes on soccer, and in return I was taught how to kick and handball an AFL ball (which will go anywhere if you don’t play regularly). The start of the week is also accompanied by quizzes on a Monday and Tuesday lunch – and it is handy to be a Brit here because one thing I’ve learned is that many Aussies have no idea what is happening outside of the country.
Every few weekends, the gappies in Victoria try to meet in Melbourne to catch up with each other and discuss how our placements are going – and these weekends often end up with a lot of amber fluid (beer in “normal” terms) being consumed. Over the weekends, we have also had the chance to get involved in Melbourne’s wide range of tourist activities. These have included taking a river cruise on the Yarra followed by prinking and spending 3 hours of happy hour at the Asian Beer Café (a great bar if you ever visit Melbourne) – and why wouldn’t you if you can get a jug of local beer for $9? A midnight game of mini golf at Holey Moley – an experience which, if you can remember anything, is something you will never forget – a great way to start a Sunday, a day where you might find yourself at Melbourne Zoo which has a large collection of native Australian animals and (unfortunately) the only place that I have seen a Koala. Other weekends have included taking a trip up the Eureka Sky Tower to see the views of the city from above as well as day trips which have allowed us to explore some of the city’s secrets including more of the street art that we didn’t see on the tour as well as the rooftop bars as well as Storyville – a unique bar where “cocktails are influenced by celebrated pieces of classic literature and some your favourite children’s books”.
Another gappy weekend has included *trying* to escape from EscapeXperience’s “Amnesia” room which was riddled with puzzles from trying to find the name of an island on a globe to decoding secret messages and mixing liquids to create an antidote which will save the world – let’s just say that it’s probably a good thing that it wasn’t real life…
The following day, we took over Melbourne’s Old Gaol – one of the oldest buildings in the city (opening 1842) which housed the infamous criminal Ned Kelly and saw the hangings of 133 people, where some of the executioners were fellow prisoners. We had the opportunity to explore the old cells and deepen our knowledge on the type of people who would have been prisoned from the mentally ill to common thieves and to the most dangerous people within society. Not only this, but, taking part in the getting arrested experience (not literally, don’t worry) we had the opportunity to see how the criminals may have been treated and what their living conditions were like during their stay, as well as what they thought of the prison (knowledge gained from the graffiti) – some views are probably best not shared.
That’s all for now but when I get back from my trip to Sydney, I’ll try to update you further on life down under and what to do with moolah and a middy.