Hello folks – the few of you that read this!
As I sit at home in little old Ottawa, far from the adventures I left behind nearly 6 weeks ago, I am clinging desperately to racy reasons to update this post… not the current reality of part time work, living at home life, and the need to redefine my social network. I had an interview yesterday afternoon for a 100% contract teaching French, but didn’t get it. I decided this morning to suck it up and look for a part time job. I found one before I’d even left our little town next door…as a server at Swiss Chalet. Oh well! Apparently, tips won’t be bad, and I’m certain men will flock to me if I smell like chicken? no?
Anyhow, It just so happened that as I was cleaning up documents on my laptop, I found an intended blog post from my Australia days that I had meant to post but never did. The blog is now idle (www.frommelbournewithlovex.wordpress.com), but I thought, why not put it here? It is a freeze frame of some very valid feelings I felt. If you choose to read, here’s the set up: 6 months spent teaching in Melbourne, two months traveling, getting a gig on a farm in inland NSW to get my second year visa. It was an interesting re-wind for me, but I’ll let you decide:
Writing this on day 19 of the work for my regional visa. For those who I haven’t explained it to, if you want to qualify for your second year visa in Australia, there are two options: you can get sponsored, or do regional work. What qualifies as regional work is usually agricultural or farm work in a rural Australian postcode. There are many different kinds. Some people land jobs picking fruit, by the size or at an hourly rate. Some become station hands or farmhands and help with general farm duties. Some people manage to au pair or nanny, as well as teach, which technically isn’t regional work… but couple it with light farm duties, and you’re set. The last option is woofing, where you basically ‘volunteer’ your time helping a bit each day in exchange for food and accommodation.
Oh, the options. It doesn’t do well do dwell and look back on possibilities, but I do think about the other venues I could have gone with. I had looked into outback teaching but didn’t think I could handle being isolated in the outback. I wanted a job that was either social in nature, or well-paying. Funny to think that now I ended up with neither. Excuse me while I go kill a giant spider in my room.
Where were we… oh yeah, not making money or being near people. Well, that’s all part of the pro- and con system of regional work. When I ditched the cherry picking idea in Tasmania and we began making ads, I originally got calls from people offering to have me au pair and work in a local store they owned for 600/week. This thought is irksome now when I’m making 150/week, but you have to play the cards you’re dealt. Everything is a learning experience. I made the choice to stay with the Finnish friend I had met, and I knew what I was getting into, mostly. Our day usually involves an 8 am start, which isn`t too bad. We work until about 1030, and have a short tea break. It`s then out again to work until about 1, then lunch. Depending how hot it is, we may have a bit of an afternoon break, during which I usually pass out starfish across my bed for a nap from heat exhaustion. When the fog passes, we head out again to do afternoon chores until 430-530. We’re now both splitting cooking duties between each other since the farmer’s wife is away for an unknown time.
I hadn’t taken into account just how isolated it is. Sydney is about a 5-6 hour drive. Apparently it’s 3.5-4 hours to the coast (if only). We’re fortunate to be allowed to go to a pub now on Wednesdays which doesn’t have much except for a backpacker school that has a new crew each week. It makes for people to chat with once a week, even if they are heading off right after. There’s another pub thirty minutes from here, but that’s it, and it’s dead most of the time. We’ve met a few local guys, and they seem nice enough, but it’s a completely different social life out here.
We usually head into ‘town’ once a week for ‘free time’ and groceries. Tamworth and Gunnedah are the two choices. That was another thing to get used to… with part of our setup being free food and accom., we now need to decide what we’re going to cook and what we want to eat, but it’s kept pretty basic. It’s hard for me to not be able to eat what I want, when I want, and to have to think ahead for meals instead of just being able to go out and get things as needed. In a way I feel like a child again, having to ask permission for everything. When they say it’s a change, they’re right!
Like I said, it’s still a learning process. There are days when my patience is definitely tried, and when I know best to keep my mouth shut. Sini and I also live together and see each other every day… and sometimes I just need space. Same for our employer, but I think that’s natural. I’m learning that I’m capable of this physical labour thing, which is more than I expected. I’m learning not to care about what other people think, and other people’s situations. I’ve definitely lost my physique (or rather, gained a lot more of it?) and it’s seriously depressing…probably thanks to lack of gym membership and overactive social/party life in Melbourne… so I need to get it back. I know I can do it when I really feel motivated, and heck, there’s no one out here to notice me, so as long as I’m okay by Canada time, right? The point is I’ve become a lot less hard on myself, which might be bad, but it’s also been good too. I cut myself some slack. I now choose to do my own thing, and forget what others think. In situations like this, I have to make what choices are right for myself.
I’m definitely learning about perseverance. I would say that I stress out less, especially when I should, given current financial and work situations. I firmly believe that if the shit hits the fan, I will pull out and just go home early. That would be very upsetting, and I’m going to fight for my second year visa, but there it is. Rock bottom. I’m learning to fight for things. If this situation doesn’t work out, I’m going to find another job, just like I did when Tasmania didn’t work out. You’ve got to keep trying.
Seems weird to say that you can learn about relationships when you’re far away from those you care about, but here I am. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder; I don’t know if this is true, but I definitely realize the importance of maintaining connections with those I care about when I’m so far away. I believe I’ve employed good use of the lost art of letter writing. I’ve been sending post cards and letters home to let people know, I love you. I think of you. Emails, texts, facebook- I’ve been doing that too, when I can, because even if its informal it’s still a link to friends and family. I can’t wait until I get off the plane May 6th and the same lovely woman who dropped me off at the airport is there to pick me up. Talk about how long a year is. It feels a long way off, but man, it’ll be sweeeeeeeet. Friends and family seem to be something I take so much less for granted when I can’t be with them as conveniently as I could back home.
Well, I think that’s a deep enough post for now. I’m still in limbo here, not sure what I want and how I feel about the whole situation. Some of you will know more pros and cons I’ve described via email or in letters… all I can stay is stay tuned, keep in touch, and cross your fingers for me! 78 days to home.