Back to Australia (Apr 23-June 7): Melbourne and Sydney

My time back in Melbourne went extremely fast, and the first part of it was the most stress that I had felt in a long time. I was hoping to get back into the swing of things as fast as I possibly could, so I wanted to move into a new flat so that I could get back to work (since I ended up overspending during my time in Asia). In order for me to get a new flat, I needed to have enough money for a damage deposit, as well as my first month’s rent. I had enough in my bank account for one, but not the other. Originally, I was offered my room in my old place (which I was extremely excited about), but then my flatmate/landlord said that I’d only be able to stay until mid-June because she was planning to move to Europe. Therefore, I didn’t see the point in moving for a month and a half, since I’d end up being in the exact same situation when I came back to Australia from my Canada visit. While I was in Asia (a couple weeks before getting back to Australia), I asked my parents if they’d be able to transfer money to Australia so that I’d be able to afford a new place, but when I landed in Melbourne, I received a message from my mom asking for my bank details… meaning the money wouldn’t arrive in my bank account for at least another three days. I had four house viewing appointments set up for the following day, so I instantly began to panic (I tend to over-react when things don’t go as planned). Jess graciously allowed me to stay at her and Vic’s place for a few days (they were planning on getting a new tenant the following weekend, which gave me 4 days). Jess and Vic were both at work when I got there, so I let myself in, showered, and relaxed until Jess got back from the farm. Liah was with her, so Liah and I ordered some dinner and we all chatted until I couldn’t stay up any longer.

The next day, I started my apartment viewings. The first place was in Balaclava (the neighbourhood next to my old neighbourhood) and would be with two girls (one from the UK and one from NZ). I had a big gap until my next viewing, so I first went to the library to FaceTime my mom. I started having somewhat of a panic attack because all I could think about was that if I liked one of the houses, I wouldn’t even be able to pay for it. My mom email-transferred me some money to my Canadian account (which would still take awhile to receive) and then I used Transferwise to transfer $1000 that I already had in my Canadian account. Afterwards, I decided to walk to the Medicare Centre to reapply for my Medicare. I ended up being there for an hour and a half (and therefore had to show up to my next viewing late), but after waiting for 50 minutes, sitting with a lady for 40 minutes, and being on the phone (and on hold) with the headquarters because the lady wasn’t sure if she could give me Medicare for another year, I finally ended up getting it! She said that because I left the country, she wasn’t sure if I could have it again. However, the headquarters said that since I wasn’t gone for longer than six months, I could keep my Medicare (thank goodness!). I went to the next viewing, which was another 3-bedroom and needed all new tenants. It wasn’t very homey and was far away from all public transportation, so I crossed that one off the list pretty quickly. The next one was by far the nicest and was in my favourite area. I’d only have one roommate, and he didn’t seem to be home very much. However, he still had a lot more viewings and said he wouldn’t make a decision until the weekend (which is when I’d want to move in). The last place I looked at was a lot more run-down, and I’d have two roommates who were both British. I didn’t love any of the places, but I was also desperate to get into a new place. I headed back to Jess and Vic’s place to think about what I wanted to do. I had also gotten an email that I had received the money from my Mom in my Canadian account. I decided to transfer another $1000 over to my Australian account just in case. I knew that with Transferwise, I couldn’t do transfers larger than $1000 or they’d ask for a bunch of verification documents. However, I didn’t realise that this meant you couldn’t transfer more than $1000 within a 24-hour period. Once I tried to transfer that money, I was asked to provide a bunch of documents : a passport, a bank statement, and a proof of my Canadian address. The only document that I had with my Canadian address was my driver’s license, but they emailed me the next day and said that it wasn’t a valid document. That night, the girl from the first viewing wrote and asked if I would be interested in moving in because she was getting other messages, but wanted to ask me first. Even though it was further than my old house, it was the cheapest place, so I told her that I’d move in. The next day, I sent her the deposit (which was basically all of my money left in my bank account), and then I was hoping that the money for my first month’s rent would arrive the following day. As I said before, Transferwise declined my driver’s license as a proof of address – they needed a piece of mail that was sent by the government (a tax return, GST cheque, etc.). I wrote back and said that all of my mail had a PO Box, and they replied that they don’t accept PO Box addresses. I then asked if they could just cancel the second payment because I technically didn’t need it, but then they emailed again and said that because I’ve already been asked for verification, I’d need to provide it before any transfers could go through. I told them to cancel both of the payments, and said that I’d use a different company. They wrote back and said that both of my payments were cancelled, and I went downstairs to talk to my friends about other companies to use to transfer the money. I decided to go with OFX, but when I went to transfer the money, I saw that the $2000 was gone from my Canadian bank account! I wrote Transferwise and said that the transfers had been cancelled, but that the money was gone and they emailed back saying that they’d need a proof of purchase from my bank, with their bank information, my bank information, and the amount of the transfer. It was then that I got extremely upset. I wrote back and asked why they’d take the money in the first place, when they didn’t receive the correct documents. I FaceTimed my mom and was at a loss – I was ugly crying and I’m sure that my friends could hear me downstairs, but I didn’t know what to do. My mom decided to wire transfer some money. I knew it would take at least 3 more days for the money to arrive, and I didn’t have enough time for that. Vic was waiting downstairs for me to talk about it, and then I wrote some of my other friends about what had happened and how stressed I was. Thank goodness for Liah, because the next day, she offered to lend me $1000 to pay for my first month’s rent. Also, that day (Thursday), the $2000 had shown up in my Canadian account again and I received an email apologising, and saying that I could make a transfer if I provided proof of address for my Australian address (so I just used my old address). Finally, things were looking up! I had a flat (and could pay for it!) and the other money was on its way so that I could pay Liah back. I was offered to move into the flat on Saturday but since it was my birthday that day, I decided to move on Sunday instead.

On Friday, I made some birthday cupcakes img_5039-1and then Jess offered to drive me to Nathan and Sabriena’s house to pick up all of my stuff (which had been stored there for over four months). We drove to my old flat to pick up my laptop and bedsheets, and we kept everything in the back of Jess’ truck for the weekend (hoping no one would take it). On Saturday, Jess and I went to the South Melbourne market to buy some stuff for my party. Jess is so great at hosting, and made a huge snack platter to go with the cupcakes, and we made a huge pitcher of Caesar. It was so nice to see everyone again, since I hadn’t seen most of them in over four months!

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On Sunday, I packed up the last of my stuff and Jess drove me to my new flat. I spent the day moving everything in and then met up with Allen for dinner since he was moving back to Taiwan that week.

I was ready to start work on Monday and made my way to Flinders Street for 7:30am, as usual, but I didn’t receive a call. I was really upset about it because I felt like it was going to be a repeat of last year, when I didn’t receive a call for two weeks in December. I started researching other teaching agencies and even set up an interview with one of them. Later that evening, my agent called and apologized because she had just read my email (from Friday). I hadn’t signed the contract to guarantee me work because I wouldn’t be there for the entire term, so I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to sign it. However, Hannah said that I could and I’d be guaranteed 5 days per week until I left for Canada. With me signing the contract, it meant that I couldn’t work for any other agencies so I had to cancel my upcoming interview with the other agency. However, my agency lived up to their word, and I received work every single day until I left for Canada! I talked to a lot of my other friends from the agency, and most were only getting 3.5 or 4 days each week – some hadn’t gotten a five-day week during that entire period! However, at the end of last year, they had sent out a survey, and I answered it quite honestly, so I’m wondering if that’s why they gave me work everyday.

My time in Australia was filled with quite a few events, including two of my Canadian wing nights, and a new tradition of weekly Bachelorette viewings. I also got to go to the two-part Harry Potter play, which was really cool! It was like a play mixed wth a magic show – I was wondering how they got away with certain tricks! I also went to a couple events to meet some new people, and met up for a few lunches, dinners, and birthday parties.

My time in Melbourne seemed to go so fast, and I already had to leave before I knew it. And unfortunately during the end of it, I started getting sick and losing my voice completely. I decided to take a couple of days off during my last week because I didn’t want to spend a 24-hour trip being sick.

During my last weekend in Australia, I had booked a trip to Sydney to go to the Vivid Festival, which is a light show throughout the city. The day before I left, Jess also bought a ticket to join me, which was an awesome way to spend my time in Sydney. Even though we booked at completely different times, we ended up being seated next to each other for BOTH flights (with an aisle in between us), so that was a great coincidence! Lucky for me, Jess is also a planner (she took over planning the Canadian Wing Nights while I was gone) so for the first time, I let someone else plan a trip for me. We arrived in Sydney at about 2:30pm and then had to make our way into the city. It’s crazy cause my flight to Sydney was only $102, but my transportation to and from each airport was about 80 bucks! Jess and I checked into our hostel, which was called Asylum Backpackers and cost $72.90 for three nights (one of the cheapest we could find). Unfortunately, a common occurrence that happens in Australian hostels is that you’re put in a dorm with people who are living there long-term. So in our 6-bedroom dorm, four of the people were living there long-term. Therefore, laundry was strewn around the room, as well as baking supplies(?), hair products, etc. The people were definitely making themselves feel at home! That night, Jess and I went to Bar Luca for burgers, and then we found cheap tickets to a 90-minute 80s dinner cruise for $32 each. We got a free drink upon arrival, and had a huuuuuge buffet! If we had known there’d be so much food, we wouldn’t have went for burgers beforehand, so we were both stuffed by the end of it! It was nice listening to all of the 80s music and seeing all of the lights of the Vivid Festival from the river during the night – it was absolutely gorgeous! When we finished, we walked around the Vivid Festival until it closed at 10pm and then walked back to our hostel. It was absolutely freezing that night, so I’m glad that it warmed up for the rest of the weekend.

On Friday morning, we took a boat to Celsius Coffee, where we had an amazing breakfast.

Then we walked around the area for a bit, stopped at Wendy’s Secret Garden, walked through Luna Park, and walked across the bridge to the main part of Sydney.

We then walked along the boardwalk to the Opera House, and through the Botanical Gardens. We got to Frankie’s right before happy hour, so we were able to get some cheap pizza and drinks until their happy hour finished. We then walked to a Mexican bar to catch another happy hour, but it was so packed! We decided to explore another section of the Vivid Festival that night, and then finished our night having some cheap Mexican food at Guzman Y Gomez.

On Saturday morning, we took the bus to Bondi Beach. It was supposed to be an uglier day that day, but we were pretty lucky and didn’t have to worry too much about the rain. There was a Farmers Market in the area, so we got lunch and coffee, and then started the walk from Bondi to Coogee. We took our time and stopped many times along the way, so when we finally made it to Coogee, we were thirsty and hungry.

We stopped at a hostel bar for drinks and then decided what to do next. There was a cheap(er) theatre about a 30-minute walk away, so we decided to go for Vietnamese food at a restaurant nearby (where we got 25% off), and then go to Rocketman at the theatre, which was so good!

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Neither of us had realized that Elton John’s life was the way that the movie portrayed, and it was really well-done! We walked back to the hostel and went to bed earlier, since our flight would be at 8 the next morning.

I only had four days left in Melbourne when we got back, and I was busy every night until I left. This was the week that I had to take two days off because even while I was in Sydney, I wasn’t feeling too well. However, I felt fine once I headed back to Canada. But I’ll save that for another post! Love always

We Weren’t Born to Follow

My trip is going way too fast!! And I still have to catch you up on everything I did before I left Australia. Work was pretty quiet during the last few weeks, and I didn’t even get work during my last week there. On the day after I wrote my last blog, I did another photoshoot. This was for a local company who would be selling their t-shirts on Amazon, and the photographer who did my graffiti shots a few months ago asked if I’d be interested in being a model. Of course I said yes, cause when else would I be a model on Amazon? The pictures were posted a week later, and I even got a couple of free t-shirts as a thank you! The next day, I didn’t get work either so I did some shopping and then Sarah and Sabriena came over to help me make some chocolate chip cookies. When everyone else finished work, Nathan, Alexa, As, and Jessica came over to have cookies and Nanaimo bars on the patio before we met up with Kitty and Ryan for taco night at Saint Lucia. After dinner, we all went back to my house again for a short visit before everyone went home. That Saturday was Bon Jovi!! It was such a warm day so I walked to Big W to do some shopping for my trip, and then I met up with Alexa in Richmond for a drink and dinner before I went to the concert. The concert was so good, and he kept everyone entertained!! I decided to avoid the train station after the concert since it was so crowded and instead, I walked about 20 minutes to try to catch the tram. However, I JUST missed it and the next one wouldn’t be for 20 more minutes. I decided I would start walking until the next one arrived but an hour and a half went by and no tram came. Before I knew it, I was already home with some fresh blisters on my feet. The next day was my last day with Alexa since she’d be leaving to go on a trip to New Zealand. A group of us met up at Town Hall to get a picture taken with Santa since it would be the last time we’d be all together for awhile. Then, we went out for lunch before a smaller group of us went ice skating. Air Canada made the first summer skating rink in Melbourne and lucky for us, it was cooler that day so we still got to skate (as they had to close down the rink many other days since it was too hot). It was just As, Alexa, Kitty, and I so it was a smaller group and surprisingly, the Aussie was the best skater out of all of us! I think the last time I went skating was likely when I was about 15… We all made the entire 45 minutes without falling, so we were quite proud! Unfortunately, the poutine stand was closed by the time we finished so we went to an ice cream shop called Dex2rose and sat there for a couple of hours, visiting and enjoying our ice cream. We then went for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and then decided to head back home. On the way to the tram, As suggested that we go to the Myers windows since they do a Christmas display every year. In front of the windows, there was a fire truck and as I jokingly said I should hop on, one of the firemen waved us over and let us sit in the front and try on the uniforms. They were so heavy! We even got to carry the oxygen tanks and hold the tools that they would have to carry in a fire situation, so we had a ton of extra weight added on. I was sweating even though it was a cold day that day! After about 45 minutes of talking with the firemen, we finally took a look at the Myers display. This year, it was an Alice in Wonderland theme but it was actually pretty creepy. Then it was goodbye for me and Alexa, who has become one of my closest friends in Melbourne so it was tough knowing it would be a full four months until we’d see each other again.  

The next week, I got work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Little did I know, Wednesday would be the very last day that I’d ever get work. On Monday night, I went to Rent: The Musical, which was pretty good. It was nice that it was Christmas-themed, as it’s been extremely difficult for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year, which is actually quite surprising. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the most Christmas-y person ever. I’ll start playing Christmas carols in November (or sometimes October), and I’ll always bake up a storm. This year, it just hasn’t felt like Christmas for me. I was actually more upset in June and July and started feeling sorry for myself because everyone would be celebrating Christmas without me. And then I’d remember that it’s June. So I think next year, I’m just going to celebrate Christmas in July because the weather is cold and gloomy, and it just feels more like Christmas. It’s been so weird seeing Christmas trees and hearing Christmas carols everywhere I go.. That weekend, I spent the entire day in bed on Friday night and on Saturday because I was feeling sorry for myself that I was leaving Melbourne. Yes, I was upset because I’d be going on a 4-month trip. I really didn’t want to leave my life in Melbourne. On Sunday, I spent half the day in bed and when I FaceTimed my parents and they said I better go out and do something, I decided to meet up with Ryan for drinks. We met at an Irish pub on Chapel Street and stayed for a few hours and then walked to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. We had this weird poutine-like dish, which was fries with fried chicken, gravy, mayo, and sriracha, and we had to eat it with chopsticks. The cool thing about this place was they had a board game room, a Nintendo room, and a karaoke room. Since it was Sunday, we got to do everything for free so we played a few rounds of Mario Kart, and then sung some karaoke. It was a fun day! 
On Tuesday night, I met up with Jess, Kitty, and a couple new girls for taco night. It was actually in a hostel but the deal was if you buy a drink, you get free tacos until they run out of ingredients. We ended up getting two each, which was more than enough! On Wednesday, I ended up doing another photoshoot. The photographer wanted to do one more with me just for fun, and as a thank you for doing the t-shirt shoot. As soon as I realised I wouldn’t get work that day, I texted him and then went home to get ready. We met after lunch and went to the botanical gardens, where we took a bunch of shots. We were approached a couple of times asking if we had a permit (which I didn’t realise we would need) but since it wasn’t a paid shoot, they let it go. After the photoshoot, I quickly went home and heated up dinner, then headed over to Ryan’s to have a couple of drinks before going to Shania Twain! I had bought my ticket a loooooong time ago, and spent $110 to sit in the fourth-last row of the stadium, nearly as far away as you could get from Shania. Ryan had wanted to go but by that time, tickets were about $250. I got an email from Groupon a few weeks ago saying that there’d be a discount on Shania Twain tickets so I sent it to him and he ended up spending about $80 and got a seat in the first level. I wasn’t too happy about my ticket! We decided that we’d try to sit together, so I sat in the seat next to his and then when those people came, we’d move to the row behind and then when THOSE people came, we’d move to the row behind. By the time we moved three times, I was like, “Okay, I think I should just go to my seat,” but the people around us were like, “No, keep going! This is entertaining for us too!” So we tried one more time. And we made it through at least half of the concert! But then at about 9:30, the people came to take their seats 😦 I moved back to my seat for the rest of the concert. Shania did a really good show and did a ton of outfit changes! However, she didn’t do an encore and she didn’t sing some of the classics cause she was singing too much of her newer stuff. But it was still a great concert! On Thursday, I had to move all of my stuff out of my flat. I had booked a car from Car Next Door, which is essentially what it’s called – if your neighbour is at work and not using their car, you can go use it and pay by the hour or the day. I paid for two hours, which was $7 per hour and then I had to pay for kilometres on top of it, so it ended up costing less than $20. I woke up and got ready, hauled all of my stuff downstairs, went to pick up the car at 10am, transferred everything into the car, drove to Nathan and Sabriena’s house, and Nathan and I unloaded the car. I stayed for a bit to visit, then left with a half hour to spare before realising that the car didn’t have a quarter tank of gas in it (which is required when you return the car) so I frantically searched for a gas station, added ten dollars, and drove it back just in time. Unluckily for me, that day was the first day in a long time with rain. Not only that but they said that we got a month’s worth of rain in that one day. So you can imagine how soaked I was by the time I got home. That afternoon, I went to get a haircut and then I met up with Jess for all-you-can-eat hotpot. We only ordered food once, but we ordered so much and couldn’t even eat it all! That night was Jess’ last night before going back to Canada for the holidays, so it was nice to spend one last night with her. 
The next day was my last full day in Melbourne! I spent the morning getting my bag ready for my trip and packing up the last of my things (which I left at my flat). Then, I had to go pick up my travel card, which is a story on its own. You see, if I want to use my Aussie bank card while travelling, I’ll get charged $5 every time I withdraw money at an ATM. I researched other travel cards and found one that wouldn’t charge me at all but when I went to that bank, they said they’d have to make me a profile and in order to do that, I’d have to prove that I’d be in the country for at least six months. When I explained that I wouldn’t be able to do that until AFTER my trip, they said that they wouldn’t be able to give me a card. My bank has a travel card which still charges $2.50 per withdrawal, but at least it’s better than 5. I ordered that card online and they told me to pick it up at the Balaclava branch in five business days. However, when I went to the Balaclava branch the next week, there was a sign on the door saying that the bank was permanently closed. I called the bank and was on the line with them for at least an hour before they finally resent another travel card to a different location in central Melbourne, on Collins Street, but I’d have to wait another five business days. So on the fifth business day (right before my haircut), I went to the bank to pick up my card. I had to wait about 10 minutes for them to check and then they asked, “Are you sure it’s at this location?” “Yes, they said on Collins Street…” “We have three locations on Collins Street.” So then, since I had to go to my hair appointment, I called the travel card centre on the way there and asked which location. The next day, I went to go pick it up and they had no idea about my card. The branch was supposed to close in the next hour and luckily one of the bank tellers sat down with me to take all of my details. “When do you leave for your trip?” “Tomorrow morning…” He called the travel card company, who confirmed that the card was sent there so he said he’d have to issue me a new one. However, I’d have to put $200 onto the card in order to get it (even though I had already put $500 on it when I ordered it). I FINALLY got my card so I left in the pouring rain (it was literally another month’s worth of rain in 15 minutes) and met up with Ryan in the closest coffee shop we could find, just so we could get out of the rain. Once the rain died down, we headed back towards my train station, where we stayed until they closed. Kitty joined us for dinner, and then Sarah came later after she finished work. Then, I had to say my goodbyes, go home, and get up a few hours later for my flight, which I’ll write about in another post. Hope everyone had a great Christmas! Love always
We Weren’t Born to Follow – Bon Jovi

Sunny Days

This week has actually been one of my busiest weeks in Melbourne, even though I didn’t end up working the entire time. Since I didn’t get work, it gave me a lot of time to do life admin during the day, and catch up on my social life at night!
Thanksgiving Dinner!

Last Friday morning, I had to get up early to go to Warragul since my tattoo artist (Shanra) said that I could come 1-2 months after my tattoo to get anything retouched free of charge. She only works Monday-Friday so this worked perfectly since I wouldn’t have to take off work to come see her. I must have been in there for about an hour and still quite enjoyed the feeling of it (so weird, I know). But now, it looks even better than it did before – she spent a lot of time adding more contrast to the watercolour so I love it even more now! I got back home and checked the mail because I’ve been waiting for a letter for the past eight weeks. In Australia, we get our tax information around May or June, and then we have until the end of October to lodge our taxes. They automatically tax everyone for Medicare (Australia’s healthcare) no matter who you are. However, since I’m a Canadian citizen, I’m not eligible for Medicare (which is why I have to pay $70 every time I go to the doctor, even when they tell me it’s only a throat infection and to just gargle with saltwater…). Therefore, in order to get out of this, I have to opt-out of being taxed for Medicare. Now in order to opt-out, I have to provide a bunch of paperwork – I had to go to the police department to get them to certify copies of my passport and visa as well. I sent the paperwork way

My updated tattoo 🙂 

 

On Saturday, I met up with a friend who I hadn’t talked to in two years. We had taught at one of the worst all-girls schools in London for about a week, had exchanged information, but never met up again after. He’s Australian, lives in a town three hours away and was in Melbourne for the weekend, so we met up for brunch in Richmond. Afterwards, we went to his friend’s house to have some drinks with his friend before they had to go to an engagement party. When it was

St Kilda Beach

time for the engagement party, Leigh said that he had written his friend to ask if it was okay that I come, and he said that it was fine. Therefore, I found myself going to a random engagement party with a guy who I hadn’t seen in two years. It was actually quite nice and everyone was so friendly, so I stayed for a few hours before I went to meet up with Alexa, Sabriena, and Nathan for dinner. I got to Alexa’s house and we had fajitas, and then relaxed on the couch. The next day, I just tried to catch up on laundry and cleaning before having to go back to work on Monday.

On Monday, I got up at the usual 5:30 to slowly get ready for my first day back after the holiday. I got to Flinders Street Station at 7:30am, walked to Starbucks, got a pumpkin spiced latte, and waited until 9 before deciding that I likely wouldn’t get any work. I then made my way back to the Medicare Centre so that I could submit all of my paperwork. I had to wait for quite awhile to get in, but eventually they got everything sorted and I got reimbursed for my previous doctor appointments. So now I officially have Medicare, yay! No more waiting until I’m dying before going to the doctor! I went home to have lunch, and then I met up with Sabriena to sit on the beach in St. Kilda. After a couple of hours, one of my teacher-Canadian friends (Hannah) showed up, so we walked to a nearby cafe and had some gelato. That night was the second of my

The Thanksgiving Crew

 

On Tuesday evening, some of my friends and I had planned a Thanksgiving potluck so that day, I went to the store to get everything I needed and then I made two dishes: broccoli casserole and broccoli salad (cause if you don’t like broccoli, then you better learn to fast). I then went to Victoria’s house, where there were six of us who had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner! We had waaay too much food, but it was delicious!! On Wednesday, I had set my alarm for 5:30 but then decided not to go to work that day either. That morning, I spent over an hour trying to change my flight to Asia. You see, AirAsia actually changed the airport that I have to depart from in Melbourne so because of that, I’m entitled to change my flight up to 30 days sooner or later than the actual date. I had decided that since I haven’t seen Yang, Ron, and Evan in forever, and I

Our beautiful gingerbread house

haven’t even met Max yet (for those of you who don’t know, Yang and Ron are basically my sister and brother-in-law, and Evan and Max are my nephews), I should try to fit Shanghai into my trip. Therefore, I decided that I should leave for Bangkok a week earlier (December 15) and then spend a week in Shanghai before my travels started. After waiting in the queue, I was finally able to speak to someone and change my flights. Afterwards, I went to St. Kilda to meet up with Jessica for lunch. We split some nachos and then were keen on finding some dessert. We decided to just buy a cake at the grocery store and then saw that the Christmas section was already set up beside the Halloween section. We decided to get a gingerbread house kit (cause why not?), as well as some cider, and we went to her place to make the gingerbread house while listening to Christmas carols. I now understand why they sell the kits in October – when we’d put icing on a candy and attach it to the side of the house, we’d watch it slowly start melting down until it fell off. It was actually so difficult, and we eventually lost patience! I ended up staying there until nearly 11 because we couldn’t stop visiting. 

On Thursday morning, I actually got up and ready for work, and then made my way to Flinders Street Station. I sat there for an hour and a half again and then made my way home at 9. That day, I looked at flights from Bangkok to Shanghai so that I could get that sorted. Then, I realized that I’d have to apply for a visa in order to go to China. I filled out all of the paperwork for the application, and had to write Ron to ask him for his address. I also realized that if I had gotten a visa in China before, I needed to provide photocopies of it. However, my visa from China was given in 2012 on my old passport, and I had absolutely no idea where that old passport would be. I frantically wrote my mom and sister, asking them to look in my box of “important stuff,” but it wasn’t there. I have a storage unit way out in Delisle, nearly an hour outside of Saskatoon, with all of my stuff so my parents (bless their hearts) drove out and went through as many boxes as they could in the cold, but still couldn’t find my old passport. I decided that there wasn’t much else I could do except try to submit my visa application without the visa photocopies. That evening, I had my meet-up with the sport teacher, who’s actually a Canadian from Hamilton. He decided that we should meet up for drinks at 7:30, and then he had made a reservation at an Italian restaurant for 8pm. As soon as he mentioned that he made a reservation, I wrote my friends saying I couldn’t do it. I realized how much of a commitment-phobe I am cause usually any sign of something being too serious, I run in the other direction (obviously … I’ve basically been single for 28 years). Reservations were too serious for me! However, my friends pep-talked me into going and it was fine. We had a drink before going to the Italian place, and the food was absolutely amazing! Then we went to another bar afterwards to visit some more. Actually, I talked a lot.. maybe too much. I even somehow ended up talking about narwhals at some point. And every single one of my friends has had the same reaction: “How do narwhals even come up in a conversation?!” Honestly, I really don’t know. But this girl made it happen… But yeah, nice guy, good conversation, I won’t say anything more. By the time I got home again, it was after midnight so I decided I wouldn’t be getting up for work the next day.
On Friday morning, I decided I’d try to submit my Chinese visa application. The centre is only open Monday-Friday from

Drinks at Rooftop Bar

 

Brighton Beach Huts!

On Saturday, Alexa and I met up again that afternoon to go to a rooftop bar in central Melbourne. We spent a couple of hours there before going to a restaurant on the floor below to have Mexican food, and then we went back upstairs to have some more drinks at the bar. We even made some new friends, who we’ll hopefully hang out with again soon! We were in that building for at least 7 hours so by the time we were done, we were ready to get some dumplings in Chinatown before heading home. On Sunday, it was 28 degrees so Alexa and I met up again to go to Brighton. In Brighton, they have a famous row of beach huts, so we walked past all of them, took some pictures, and then spent some time on the beach. We also decided that we’d purchase our own Canadian beach hut but upon looking them up, we saw that the latest sale was for $326,000, which is a little out of our price range. We walked back into the main part of Brighton and had dinner before heading back home to get ready for the next work-week. This week was just what I needed after being away for two weeks, and it’s great that the summer is finally coming out. 
I was pre-scheduled to teach BIOLOGY today for the first time in Melbourne, so I was super excited about that! However, I woke up, got ready, and just as I was about to leave, my agency called to say that the school had cancelled. I then went to Flinders and waited for no phonecall, so I went to do a bit of shopping and checked out the State Library, which is absolutely gorgeous! That evening, I met up for drinks with some friends because it’s one of our friend’s (Sophie’s) last week in Melbourne before she goes back to Vegas for school. She’ll be back in June, but it’s still a long ways away! Hoping I’ll get work tomorrow because this is really starting to get old… Love always

Sunny Days (Michael 

Golden

Okay, so now all I have left to catch you up on is September (and only two-thirds of it, since I went on holiday the 20th!). ! I’ve been really trying to put myself out there since I’ve moved to Melbourne so I could make myself feel at home here, since it was so difficult to meet people in London. In Warragul, most of my friends were from Taiwan, or Japan, or Hong Kong, and one thing that I noticed about all of my Asian friends was not only how hospitable, kind, and friendly they all were, but also just how vulnerable they were when meeting people. I’ve noticed that normally when we all meet new people, it might be at work or through a random friend, but both parties are often too scared to make the “first move” and ask that person to meet up outside of work, or outside of their mutual friend group. With my friends in Warragul, it was so easy because they were basically like, “We’re going to be friends whether you want to or not, why don’t you come over for dinner sometime?” (Okay, they didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what they implied). It made me realize that maybe we should all be like that! What do we have to lose, and why are people so scared to make the first move? I met so many awesome people at Hudsons, but the first time that I went out with them all together (other than the Christmas work party) was during my last weekend in Saskatoon. We had a blast but couldn’t do it again because it was too late! Anyway, now I’ve learned to be a little bit more vulnerable when it comes to making friends. I’ve been creating multiple events on the “Canadian Ladies in Melbourne” facebook page (I already have a

reputation as the planner), and usually a lot of the girls who I met at the very first brunch join in, and sometimes we even get some newbies as well. With a few of the girls, I’ve clicked with them really fast and we’ve already reached that, “We’re going to be Melbourne BFFs” stage, which has made my time here so much  more fun! Anyway, I decided to start a Food Club, where I would plan a different dinner at a restaurant every 3-4 weeks. The first weekend of September was our first dinner, which was at an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant called Okami. Eight girls showed up, and we literally ordered everything on the menu (and some items, we ordered twice!). After dinner, a few of us went to a nearby bar for drinks before heading home. On Saturday morning, Sabriena and Sarah (the two Albertans) came to my house and we made sugar cookies. We literally ate the first batch before it was even cooked all the way through (so hard to resist!). I think we only had about 12 cookies left to split amongst ourselves after we finished baking everything. Sarah had to go to work, so Sabriena and I met up with her boyfriend, Nathan, and the three of us went for Mexican food at a restaurant by my house called Fonda. On Sunday, Allen and Viola came to Melbourne later in the day. Allen seemed to be suffering from the same throat infection that I had suffered from the week before so he wasn’t feeling that great. However, it was Viola’s last weekend before she moved back to Taiwan, so he wanted to make sure that we could see each other one last time (before I go visit in Taiwan!). We went to the cat cafe, where we got to spend an hour with multiple cats, but nearly all of them slept the entire time. Afterwards, we went to a hot pot restaurant for dinner, where they had a selection of meat and veggies that you could add into your

The Hot Pot Restaurant

own bowl, and then they cooked it in broth and brought it out to you. It was really good, and I think it helped both Allen and I with our sicknesses!

On Monday, I was finally starting to feel better from my throat infection. That night, I had planned a Canadian Wing Night for the “Canadians in Melbourne” facebook group. I’m hoping to make it a monthly thing and this was the first, so we only had a turnout of 8 people, but it was a good group! Hopefully more and more people will keep coming as the months go on. The wing night is at a place called Kodiak Club, which serves real Caesars (for approximately $22 each!), and apparently real poutines (yet no one has tried one yet), as well as deep-fried pickles (yum!), and a dozen wings for $6. It was a good night! That week, I ended up teaching prep to year 2 everyday so lo and behold, by the end of the week I ended up being completely sick again, but this time with a cold. By the time Friday came, I had to cancel plans again and I passed out before 8pm. On Saturday, I went to Matthias’ house to have Caesars with him and Ryan, since I still had my Clamato juice that I had gotten from Trivia Night. A few new people came as well (all from Canada). It’s weird cause in London and while travelling, I met up with so many Aussies (and seldom met any Canadians) and now that I’m in Australia, all of my friends are Canadian (and I seldom meet Australians). On Sunday, there was a Ukrainian Festival at Queen Victoria Market, so a group of us went and I got to have some borscht, as well as some kovbasa – so good! The perogy line was over 45 minutes long, but I decided

Ukrainian Festival!

that I could just get them at the restaurant by my house. After we spent some time at the festival, Sabriena, Nathan, Ryan and I walked around Queen Victoria Market for a bit before heading back home to get ready for the following week. That week, I suffered from my cold the whole time. The worst part was when I’d have coughing attacks in the middle of class and start crying in front of all of the students because I couldn’t breathe. Towards the weekend, I started to feel a bit better, which was a plus!

On Friday night, I met up with Ryan for a couple drinks. Then on Saturday, a group of us decided to do another bottomless cocktails night. Sabriena, Nathan, Alexa, and I met up for dinner at another Mexican restaurant called Hecho en Mexico and then we met up with everyone else for our 6:30 session at the bar. Remembering how the last bottomless cocktails night had went, I decided to take it easy this time. We had such a good time, and I was still able to walk the 28-minute walk back home at the end of the night. On Sunday, I did some cleaning and tried to get everything organized for my trip to Tasmania. That week, I only had to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, which was so nice to have such a short week, especially since I was only asked to teach prep to year 2 again every day. On Wednesday, I was told that I’d be teaching year 1/2 the entire day, but was then informed that it was as a music teacher. The one teacher was like, “Have you taught music before?” and I said I only had once, and

she was like, “Well, did you prepare anything for today?” Kind of taken aback (as she had JUST told me I’d be teaching music 30 seconds ago and even so, why would I prepare something?), I replied no. She said that this week was the school’s planning week, so the students only had specialty subjects (music, art, phys.ed., etc.) so that the rest of the teachers could plan, and therefore there wouldn’t be any lesson plans that day. So I had to improvise two two-hour lessons with two different year 1/2 classes. Needless to say, I was so happy when it was finally the end of the day since I knew my holidays had started. That night, I went home to pack so I could go to Tasmania Thursday morning! I’ll write about Tasmania in a different post and keep this one short 😀 Love always

 
Golden – Parade of Lights

Window

I’m already one day away from being in Australia for 8 months! Where is the time going?! This is literally the fastest year that I’ve ever been a part of!! So.. what have I been up to since the beginning of August? Well, quite a lot actually! First of all, I actually went on my first online date in Melbourne. Yes, I set up a new dating app called Bumble, which is apparently
First AFL game!

the new, hip dating app since the girls have to make the first move. I wasn’t a huge fan… Anyway, I went out for drinks with a doctor from Aus who seemed nice, but you know that vibe/connection that I always say that I look for when I meet someone? Yeah, I didn’t get that from him… So, I said no to a second date and I think I just came to the conclusion that online dating isn’t really my thing. I always meet the best people randomly, especially when I’m travelling so I guess I’ll leave it up to fate! That weekend was also the first weekend I went out in Melbourne. First, I went to a restaurant called Borsch, Vodka, & Tears with a couple of the Canadian girls (Sabriena and Jess) so that we could have some well-deserved perogies! The food was actually really good, so we’ll definitely be back again. After dinner, we paid $30 for two hours of unlimited cocktails at another bar, so we met up with some more people and got started. I stupidly thought that my alcohol tolerance would still be at the same level as it was in London, but I should have known better since I hadn’t actually gone out since I was in Saskatoon seven months ago. Therefore, as you can imagine, I had only realized that I

had gone too far once it was already too late. I got one of my friends to request an Uber on my phone but (unbeknownst to me), he had put in the wrong address. Therefore, when I got in my Uber, he said we were going to Richmond, and I said I lived in St Kilda East. He asked me for the address, I spelled it for him, closed my eyes, and fully concentrated on keeping all bodily fluids inside of me until I safely exited the vehicle. A few minutes later, he asked if we were at the right place and I asked if there was a church (because I live across the street from a church). “A what?” “Nevermind, I’ll get out…” I got out and realized I didn’t know where I was. I got out my phone and realized that I was on the right street, but I didn’t know which direction I had to go. I started walking, felt like I was going to be sick, and let it all out on the sidewalk. At the same time, three men walked by and one asked if I was okay. I said I was fine, told them to keep walking, and thankfully they did. I sat down on the sidewalk so I could figure out where I needed to go, and realized that I had been walking in the wrong direction. Anyway, I ended up waking up at 6 in the morning fully clothed in bed, with my contacts still in so I got up, got ready for bed, and went back to sleep. I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise that I haven’t

The Air Canada Tram 🙂

had another crazy night out since that night (up until this past weekend). I know things could have been a lot worse, and I’m lucky to have made it back okay. Anyway, that day was when I first started feeling sick and since then, I’ve still been sick on and off, so it’s been a long journey! The next day, I went to my first AFL (Australian Football League) game with Breann. Aussie Football is not like American football nor is it like soccer. It’s kind of like a mix between soccer and rugby, but with a whole bunch of other rules mixed in. We happened to randomly sit on the winning team’s side, so it was fun being in the crowd! The next morning, I met up with a few of the girls that I had went out with on Friday, and we checked out the St. Kilda Market and wandered the area.

The next week, I ended up not going to work on Wednesday cause I still wasn’t feeling very well. I made pumpkin cupcakes on Friday and then on Saturday, I went to Warragul for Viola’s birthday. Allen wanted me to come as a surprise, so she didn’t know that I was coming until they picked me up in Melbourne! It was so nice to see them again since it had already been a month. All of my flatmates from my first place in Warragul were there as well, and most people would be finishing at the tomato farm within the next couple of weeks (technically my 6-month contract would have finished the day before Viola’s birthday). We ordered pizza and watched a couple of movies, and Allen even drove me all the way home at the end of the night, which was so nice of him because otherwise I would have been on the train for two hours. The next week, I ended up working at a K-9 school and the organizer asked all of the substitutes if anyone knew any music. When I said that I
Me, Allen, and Viola

had played piano since I was 5, she asked if I’d want to take a music teacher position for the next four weeks, starting on Monday. I wasn’t too sure what to say, since I had just arrived that morning and I had no idea what the school was like. She told me to see how the day went, and then to let her know at lunch. I still wasn’t sure because I didn’t want to commit to four weeks, especially when I’d be responsible for making sure all of the students get their work done during that time. I ended up working the first week there but by the end of the week, I decided that I wouldn’t want to do the full four weeks. However, when my agent called, she convinced me to stay one more week and then she said she’d find someone else to do the last two weeks. On the Monday, I wasn’t feeling very good at all – I felt shaky, I had a major headache, and I was so tired. I just thought it was because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before, and I ignored it. On Tuesday morning, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go in – I kept going back and forth between the shakes and the sweats all night, and I still had the worst headache, as well as a really bad sore throat. I didn’t have any cold symptoms though, which was weird to me. I called in sick, went back to bed, and ended up sleeping for over 12 hours. The next day, the same thing happened. I went back to bed and ended up sleeping for another 12 hours. I was still so exhausted but my throat hurt so bad, so I went to the clinic. After spending $100 to find out it was just a throat infection, I went back home to spend the rest of the day in bed. My agency called me right when I got back and said that the school didn’t want me to come back for the rest of the week because I had already missed the last two days.

Anzuk event

The agent figured that the school was just looking into it too much, and they made it sound like I was just calling in because I didn’t want to go there. I ended up feeling even worse because that obviously wasn’t what my intentions were, so I wrote my agent and asked if there was anything else I should do or follow up on with the school, and she said she’d look into it but never ended up getting back to me. While now I look back and I don’t care, at the time it really made me feel horrible.

The weekend before I got sick was pretty eventful (which is why I thought I was feeling bad on the Monday – I didn’t think it was virus-related). On Friday, my agency hosted an event for all of the international teachers. Most of the people who I met were Canadian, but I also met a few English and Irish people as well. It was fun being able to chat with other people in the same situation, and I met quite a few new people. A group of us went out dancing afterwards, and it was a lot of fun! On Saturday, we had Canadian Trivia Night. One of the bars in central Melbourne had put it on, and it was quite popular! There were 22 teams and we did amazing the first three rounds – we stayed in 6th position the entire time. However, we completely lost our place during the fourth round 😦 One of the Saskatchewan guys who I met at the Anzuk event the night before (Matthias) was there and he brought his other friend from Saskatchewan (Ryan), so now I have some friends who know what a bunnyhug is! After the event, a few of us stayed for more drinks since the bar had a special deal on their Molson Canadian (they had over-ordered back in July for Canada Day so they were trying to get rid of it all). After we noticed that we were the only ones left in the bar and the bartenders were cleaning up, we decided we should probably leave. However, when Sarah and I were about to walk out, the bartender asked, “You’re not going to stay for more drinks?” He
My super-awesome 3-person sweater!

grabbed some more beers for us (on the house), so we sat at the bar and chatted with the bartenders while they were closing up. I asked what they’d be doing with their leftover Clamato juice and when he said that it would get poured down the sink, I was NOT impressed. “Do you want some…?“ Of course I did! So he grabbed some jugs and refilled them for us to take home, yay! I was also able to talk one of the bartenders into giving me a three-person sweater, which was one of the prizes for Canadian trivia. So no, we didn’t win trivia, but I still won in my heart 😀 On Sunday, we celebrated Sabriena’s birthday by having bottomless brunch. We got unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, as well as an assortment of pastries. As usual when we go to a bottomless brunch, we stayed out for 5 or 6 hours. This was the day that I really started feeling tired and was the very beginning of the throat infection that I would suffer for the next week. On Monday evening, I went out for dinner with Breann and her parents. Breann’s time in Australia was nearly finished, so her parents came to visit so that they could do some travelling together before going back to Canada. Therefore, I got to meet some more cousins! It’s so weird how they don’t know who

The bartender looking so happy to bring me my Clamato!

my dad is and vice versa but upon meeting them, I could definitely tell that Breann’s dad was part of the Achtymichuk family. It was so nice to meet them, and put faces to the names of people who I had been writing to! For the rest of the week, I had to cancel all of my plans cause I literally felt like I was dying in my bed. And that brings me to the end of August, yay!

Recently, my excessive use of exclamation points has been brought up to me multiple times. Before Justin was about to pick me up before my photoshoot, apparently my exclamation point number went from 1 to 2 to 3, and when he came to pick me up, he asked if everything was okay. He was concerned because he thought I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed with the amount of exclamation points I was using. I had to explain to him that I’m just an avid exclamation point (over)user. I’ve realised that I really appreciate someone who takes the time to press that extra button to put a ! in their message. There’s something that really annoys me when someone’s like “that’s fun.” or “that’s exciting.” Like…is it, though?! It doesn’t SOUND exciting when you say it like that… I’m someone who edits other people’s text messages when they’re sent to me (in my head, obviously) and I look into the punctuation and use of words. Don’t ask me why, I just do. Maybe it’s the
Me and my cousins! (Breann, Ty, and Corinne)

teacher in me. If I’m annoyed or upset with someone, my amount of exclamation points will decrease. I don’t think anyone notices, but now I guess everyone knows! So beware of fewer exclamation points… I had this discussion with a couple of friends and I was saying that maybe I should type like everyone else, but they said that I type in a way that I would speak, and it makes me sound more enthusiastic. So I will continue with my grammatically correct text messages (and blog posts) with excessive exclamation points, whether people like it or not!!! (3 exclamation points for emphasis).

Anyway, I will write about September later – I just wanted to post about August now because I’ll be starting my 2-week holiday tomorrow! Therefore, I’ll have even MORE to write about once I come back. Hope everyone’s doing well! Love always
Window – MAGIC GIANT

Not Too Late

Oops, I guess it’s been over a month and a half since I last posted a blog.. A few people have asked if they missed a post, and I realized that I’ve been falling behind. I’m a week short from being in Melbourne for two months but it already feels like I’ve been here much longer! First of all, I’m having a blast here! That’s not just me trying to make everyone think that my life is spectacular while in reality I’m having the worst time, because really – my life is spectacular! I have really found my niche here, and I already feel so at home here, moreso than I did in London. Sure, some of the schools that I’ve been sent to aren’t the best, but it’s not the end of the

world (yet… I seem to slowly be losing my patience). When I last wrote about what I’ve been up to, it was still my first week in Melbourne and I was planning to go to work on Wednesday. Well long story short, that didn’t end up happening. And me working for the rest of that week didn’t end up happening either. I ended up giving myself an entire week off, which was really helpful for my transition to Melbourne. I got talking to my cousin Breann, and we decided to go to Wizard of Oz – the musical, on Wednesday. The musical only had two weeks left and in order to get cheap tickets, we’d have to go to a matinee production, so I decided to give myself the day off. The musical was good! Not the best I’ve seen (I think I actually preferred Wicked), but it was cool to see! After the musical, we found a cafe in a bookshop and enjoyed some coffee with dessert. On Thursday, I met up with one of the girls who I met at the Canadian brunch (Jessica), and she also brought another friend who had just moved to Melbourne as an au pair (from America) named Brianne. We walked up and down Chapel Street (by my house) before finding Prahran Market and had lunch at a restaurant there. After lunch, I had to get the train to Warragul because my tattoo appointment was at 4pm. We started walking back to my house because Jessica had her au pair family’s vehicle, so she was going to drive me to the station but upon realizing how long it would take us to walk and drive, I had thought that I wouldn’t make it to the station in time. I decided to walk to the nearest train station and transfer from there but I had went to the wrong side of the platform so as I went to walk to the other side, the warning lights started flashing and a gate came down, which blocked my path. I therefore had no choice but to watch my train stop, pick up the passengers, and leave right in front of me. I had missed the only way I could get to my tattoo… Feeling defeated, I started coming up with ideas in my head – should I try to catch a tram to the other train station? Should I call an uber? I messaged Jessica and she was nearly at her car so she said she would come pick me up and try to take me to the station. However, by the time she got to me

through the crazy traffic on Chapel Street, I knew it would be too late. She got me to the station about ten minutes after the train, meaning I had to wait 50 minutes for the next one. By that time, it was only about 2pm so I still had two hours until my tattoo, so it really sucked knowing that there was nothing I could do. I even contemplated looking up a car rental place nearby so that I could drive over. I didn’t have time to go back home to get my phone charger but luckily, there was a shop closeby so I had to buy a new phone cable, or it definitely wouldn’t last until Warragul. The good news was that the next train would arrive at the Warragul train station at 3:59pm and the tattoo place was only a 3-4 minute walk away, so I would hopefully only be 5 minutes late. I called the parlour and told them that I’d be late, and they seemed fine with it, and I ended up arriving exactly when I said I would! I already wrote about the tattoo so I’ll skip over that. After my tattoo, I went back to my old house because I still had a few more things that I had to take back to Melbourne. I visited with Paul and Gabi for a bit and then made my way back to the train station. My tattoo actually ended up hurting more on the train ride home than during the actual tattoo, and it lasted for the next day as well. I had decided that I would go to work the next day, but when I went to bed, I lied there for hours and I could NOT fall asleep! There was still so much adrenaline going through me so I decided to change my availability (since I’d get less than 5 hours of sleep) and decided to just start working the following week.

After my first day of teaching on Monday, I already started questioning what I had gotten myself into, and wondered if I had left the tomato farm too early. I decided that I needed to just power through, and I hoped that eventually, I’d get back into the swing of things. The teaching agency requires me to be at Flinders Street (the main station) by 7:30am everyday, so I have to leave my house by 7am. Then, I need to wait for a phonecall there. On my first Tuesday of work, I got to the station by 7:25am and waited for a phonecall. By 8:30, I still hadn’t gotten anything. I decided to just walk around central Melbourne until 10:30, and then I figured I probably wouldn’t be getting a call, so I went back home. Since then, I’ve gotten work everyday, which has been good. My teaching agency said that in order to guarantee myself work, I’d have to be flexible with the type of schools that I agree to go to, so they said

I’d get more work if I worked in primary schools. Even though I’m technically qualified to teach at primary schools, I hadn’t had any training in primary schools during university, nor had I any previous experience of working in primary schools. The agency (at first) said that if I got asked to go to primary schools, they’d try to give me the older years (years 5 & 6). They did really well the first couple of weeks, and I worked in secondary or year 5/6 the entire time. However, as the weeks went on, I started getting more year 3/4, then more prep and year 1/2. Actually, this past week, I ONLY worked with prep, or year 1 and 2. I still don’t know how to deal with them – I’m pretty sure I still treat them like they’re 15-year-olds. I don’t have the patience to deal with, “Johnny won’t let me play with him,” or “Lucy won’t let me read her book,” or “Kevin said stupid,” being said to me every ten seconds. Plus the germs… Oh, the germs!!!! I NEVER get sick and when I do, I get REALLY sick. Well now, for nearly the past month and a half, I’ve had an on and off cold or flu at all times. I’ve been stocking up on hand sanitizer, probiotics, throat lozenges, and cough, cold & flu medication in order to combat the billions of bacteria that I’m exposed to every day. I’ve had students walk up to me, sneeze directly into my lap, and walk away. Kids are coughing all over the place. I’ve been finding myself passing out before 9pm multiple times during the past two weeks because I’ve been completely worn out. And I’m continuously cancelling plans with people because I’d rather spend the evening in bed, resting. Last week, I had to call in sick for two days because I had gotten a throat infection. This week, it’s just a cold so I’ve just been having coughing attacks and crying in front of the class. I’ve been scheduled to teach science once since I’ve started here,

and that teacher didn’t leave any lesson plans, so it ended up basically being a free-for-all. The last time I was in a secondary school was over a month ago. So needless to say, no I’m not loving teaching here. The students are way better than in London, but the organization is killing me. I am seriously considering looking into other agencies, or looking into other career paths.

 

During my first week of teaching, the photographer who wanted to do a photoshoot with me wrote, and asked if I would be available that Thursday. He was wanting to do a graffiti shoot, and was hoping for the ripped jeans and leather jacket look. Looking through my closet, I really only have cute and innocent clothes since I’m a teacher. I’m not going to show up to school dressed up as some bad-ass rocker chick, or someone about to go out to the club. I don’t have any “going out” clothes because I rarely go out and if I do, I’ll still wear something modest. I’m not all that fashion-inclined. I buy stuff and keep it until it’s no longer wearable. I still own clothes that I bought in 2008. I don’t buy things because they’re trendy – I buy them because they’re cheap. And I’m PROUD of all the good deals I find – if someone says, “I like your dress,” I’ll respond with, “Thanks, it was 15 dollars!” Practicality is more important to me than how I look. If it takes longer than ten minutes to do a hairstyle, it’s not worth my time. Same goes for makeup. I guess I’m pretty low-maintenance compared to other people around Melbourne. One thing I noticed when I went for my first bottomless brunch was how different everyone looked. It was like I was in a different world! It was the first time I had seen people with lip injections in real life, and I found myself continuously looking at them because I was shocked as to how much their lips were protruding from their face. I felt like an alien observing humans for the first time. I don’t think the photographer realized that he may have chosen the wrong girl to be his model. I suddenly remembered that I DO have a “cool” dress that I got from Yang for my birthday and excitedly went looking through my clothes to find it. However, I couldn’t… I then remembered that I decided to take it out of my suitcase because I only wore the dress in London once. No cool clothes for me… So then I basically started looking up how to be cool. When, I finally decided that I might as well just go for ripped jeans and a leather jacket, I started doing my research to do it in the cheapest way possible. First of all, I’ve never bought a pair of ripped jeans in my life. Why would you pay full price for something that isn’t as functional? What is the practicality of having ripped jeans, other than for the style? Plus it’s winter.. who wants to shave their legs in winter? So now, what am I supposed to do – just shave those three areas? And every time I try to put on the ripped jeans, my foot gets stuck in the hole and I have to stop myself from tripping and falling. I walked to the Big W (Walmart) on the look-out for “cool clothes.” They actually had a bunch of stuff on sale and I walked out with my first pair of ripped jeans on sale for $15 (woot woot!). The next day, I went to K-Mart to search some more. They also had a bunch of stuff on sale so I got a hoodie on sale for $7, a light spring/fall jacket for $12, and some heeled boots on sale for $15. A leather jacket was found on Facebook Marketplace for $30 (originally 60), so in my opinion, I think I did pretty good with finding deals! On Thursday, I had to run home from work and get ready for the shoot. I decided not to bother with trying to curl my hair since

it would only stay for about 5-10 minutes before falling straight again. I continuously questioned if this was actually a good idea since I would be going into dark alleyways with a random man/stranger who I had talked to for less than an hour. I think every possible scenario had passed through my mind about how the night could go. My parents had taught me about Stranger Danger, but I have also learned to do any new experiences when given the opportunity. My flatmate seemed legitimately concerned when I told her if I didn’t come home that night, to send help. Anyway, everything worked out fine. Justin came and picked me up at about 7:30 or 8, and we were out until 11 before I said that I needed to get back home since I’d be waking up at 5:30 the next morning. It was absolutely freezing that night, so I was just focused on trying to stay warm! He was basically just wanting to try out a new style of photography – lighting up certain areas without using any editing whatsoever (all pictures are non-edited). So a lot of it just had to do with me being patient so he could move his lights around in order to get what he wanted. It was a fun experience, and the pictures turned out quite good! I’ve attached the private link if you want to take a look – https://www.jzaffphotography.com/Graffiti-shoot-Janelle-26th-July-2018/n-cs7vjv/

That weekend, I had dinner with my flatmates. It was the first time (after two weeks) that all of us were in the same room together. Since then, I can probably count the number of times that we’ve all been together on two hands. Everyone has very different schedules! Many times, I’ll hear Laura come home from her night shift at 7am, right before I’m about to head to work. However, both girls are lovely and when we do see each other, it’s always nice to catch up with what’s happened during the week. That Sunday, I went to another bottomless brunch with some of the Canadian girls, as well as some au pair girls. These events have been an awesome way to expand my friend base here in Melbourne, and many of the girls that I met at the first brunch have met up with me multiple times since then. It makes it a lot easier to go to more events once you know at least one person – we all agreed that it’s the first event that’s most difficult to go to but once you get it over with, it’s so worth it! Anyway, that brings me to the end of July and I feel like if I write about August as well, people might get bored and stop reading (if they haven’t already). Therefore, I’ll write about August in another post when I have more time to write. I hope everyone enjoyed their summer in Canada! I want to feel bad that you’re going into winter but I can’t because I’m really looking forward to summer here, so I think it’s about time that we did the switch… 😀 Love always
 
Not Too Late – Moon Taxi

So this is a first… (My First Tattoo!)

So I’ve wanted a tattoo for quite awhile but I’ve never had any ideas of what I’d want. Of course, it’s something that would stay with me for the rest of my life so I didn’t want to just get a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo. Plus I’ve always been petrified of needles – once I woke up screaming in an ambulance when I heard a voice say, “We’re going to have to prick her finger.” I’ve cried numerous times in the waiting room before getting bloodwork done. I’ve had a nurse ask if I was okay after putting an IV in my arm because I went ghost-white and she gave me juice (even though I wasn’t supposed to have any food or drink) before running through the hallway, yelling for a doctor. I’ve had my mom ask if I wanted to go for lunch and instead she drove me to the clinic to get bloodwork done because the papers had been sitting in the kitchen for months (and I wasn’t going to get up and do it myself) – so mean! I have been reassured by multiple people that tattoo needles are different. But

either way, I still wasn’t going to voluntarily put myself through pain unless it was for good reason. In terms of deciding what design I wanted, I realised that this entire time, I was in the wrong train of thought.. I had always been thinking of travel-related tattoos, but I didn’t want something that hundreds of other people had gotten, and I’m not really the most creative person so I don’t come up with many ideas on my own. But suddenly about three months ago, an idea came to me.. I’m always travelling, I don’t need anything to remind me of travel. I need something to remind me of home. And what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “Saskatchewan?” Well, the Roughriders..  but I wasn’t about to get Gainer tattooed on my buttocks, that’s for sure (although I seriously considered how I could incorporate the Roughriders into this tattoo before deciding against it). And what next?? Of course, farmland. My ancestors from both sides of my family came over from Europe to farm, and my uncle and aunt still take care of the family farm on my mom’s side of the family. I have never been a farm girl (until now 😉) – I’ve always lived in the city, but even though the fields usually make for a boring drive, there’s something truly calming about them. So this is what my tattoo means to me…

I used to get so mad when people had an opinion about Saskatchewan. Especially because most

Me with my aunt & uncle in the fields

people who had strong (bad) opinions about it weren’t even from there, and many hadn’t even BEEN there before. Saskatchewan has some of the friendliest people in Canada! I realised this when I met other Canadians in London and would say that I missed how nice people were back at home – how strangers would just say hi when walking past you on the sidewalk. Most of the other Canadians were like, “Really??? It’s not like that where I live…” I remember being so surprised on my first day back in Saskatoon after living in London because I was unpacking my car and two people walked by and said good morning. I was so accustomed to living in London that I was wondering why they were talking to me. I noticed the same thing in Warragul – I’d walk past the same people everyday and we’d say good morning to each other. It’s something that’s often lost in those big cities, but something that makes a world of difference. Saskatchewan also has one of the top fan bases in Canada because Roughrider fans are so passionate about their team. Going to a Roughrider game is an experience that everyone should try at least once in their lives! Saskatchewan has prairies, we have forest, we have lakes, and we even have some hills. Go ahead, let everyone think Saskatchewan is boring. Let everyone continue going to Finland to see the Northern Lights.. Let everyone continue going to different parts of the world to see “the most beautiful sunset in the world.” We’re called “The Land of the Living Skies” for a reason that no one will understand unless they’ve lived here. Saskatchewan is the best-kept secret in Canada and it’s a place that I’m truly proud to say that I come from. Even if I end up moving to another part of Canada later on in life, Saskatchewan will always be my home.

My tattoo also has a blue and yellow background, which represents the Ukrainian flag. In the flag,

blue represents the sky while yellow represents the fields. When I was in Ukraine taking the train from Kyiv to Lviv, I was truly shocked that when looking out the window, it looked EXACTLY like home. Also when I was in Ukraine, I was mistaken for a local quite often, and many locals told me that I looked very Ukrainian. While I know that I got many of my characteristics from my dad’s side of the family (as I’m usually told that I look more like my dad while my sister looks like my mom), it’s been something that I’ve been so proud of. I’ve always been so interested in my Ukrainian heritage and the food is my favourite! I even attempted trying to learn Ukrainian on Duolingo during my first couple of months in Warragul (which I failed at horribly – it’s really difficult!). Anyway, especially with what’s happening in Ukraine right now, I definitely wanted something to link me to my heritage.

And the last thing that I somewhat think of when I think of farming is Warragul, which is why I

ended up getting my tattoo in Warragul, as opposed to Melbourne. With wheat, it doesn’t always survive all types of weather. Farmers can have good years and then they can also have tragic years. But the chances of a stalk of wheat surviving are a lot higher when it’s surrounded by a bunch of other stalks of wheat to support it. And that reflects my time in Warragul, and with my life in general. I’ll go through all kinds of storms – ups, downs, everything, but I’m not meant to go through it all alone. It’s all of those people who let me lean on them which helps me survive the worst weather. So thanks to everyone who has been my surrounding wheat! 😀

And last but not least, wheat is very significant for me personally since I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 18. PCOS caused me to be depressed and led me to make the decision to move to France, which started my whole travel experience.  It has also led me to have so many insecurities and has lowered my self-esteem tremendously. It’s caused me to make diet and lifestyle changes to benefit my health and my confidence. One of those diet changes is omitting gluten from my diet as much as possible. So it’s somewhat ironic that I put the one thing on my body that I’m not supposed to eat. But it reminds me that I won’t let something that I was diagnosed with define me. I’m me and that’s all I can be.
Anyway, that’s what my tattoo means to me. And I love it, and that’s all that matters! I’m not looking for approval from anyone cause quite frankly, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. In terms of pain, it actually didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. As a matter of fact, sometimes I was just bored and wished I had a book or something haha but then again, I (thankfully) have a really high pain threshold. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few moments that made me cringe, but it was manageable. I had been following Shanra at Warragul Tattoos on Facebook (see her page here) for awhile because I instantly fell in love with all of her work, so I knew I wanted to get a tattoo done with her. By the way, she even said, “This is going to be a really weird compliment, but you’ve got really great skin for tattooing!! It was definitely meant to be for you to get a tattoo.” And then she told me that if I had any other cool ideas, she would do them for me. So I guess I’ll see if anything else comes to me in the next 1.5 years… 😉 Love always