We Survived A Whole Week in Australia!

At this time last week, we were just arriving in Melbourne. It has been a complete adventure full of ups, downs, and in betweens, but we are feeling so settled and happy with our decision to move here so far!

Here’s a little recap of our crazy, over the top week of miracles:

We arrived at the airport around 10:30 on Saturday morning. A friend of a friend, Bronwyn, came to pick us up from the airport and take us to our accommodation. She was overwhelmingly nice, patient, and just all around a wonderful woman! She drove us to the city with our huge bags in tow and parked right in front of the real estate agency where we were supposed to get our keys.

Fun fact, real estate agencies are NOT open on Saturdays. Duh. But I hadn’t even thought about that until we got to the office and it was locked. Cue my panic attack!

So we call our agent like twenty times and he doesn’t pick up. We call the previous tenant of the apartment, but he’s all the way in Singapore and we’re not even sure if his phone number is the same anymore. Someone lets us in to the building, but then the actual office is locked and no one is there.

At this moment in time, I want to cry, go home, eat chocolate, and scream all at once. Bronwyn and Rory suggest going to grab a coffee while we figure out what to do next.

So we grab some really good coffee and walk around a bit to come up with a plan. Rory finds another number to call and eventually our agent picks up! He agrees to come in at 4 and give us our keys. YAY!

So we walk around the city until 4 with Bronwyn. She gets us our metro cards, shows us the best food and coffee places, the library, and the arcades (malls). We are in awe of how beautiful the architecture of the city is – this was everything we wanted and more!

We finally meet up with our agent and he is Chinese. He immediately proceeds to tell me that he studied at THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS for 3 years before he came here! That made me feel so at home and helped me realize what a small world we live in. I felt much more comfortable after that and took it as a sign that we were doing the right thing after all.

So we get to our accommodation and it’s a UniLodge – basically 1-bedroom apartments for students. We head up and everything looks great – full kitchen, double bed, TV, nice shower, etc. – but the electricity isn’t working. I call the last tenant and he says he forgot to mention that we would have to set up electricity before we got there. So we call up the electricity company he used and realize that they don’t open until Monday – lovely!! No electricity!!

So we head out to get food and such and explore the city a bit more before we go to our apartment seeped in darkness. We find a Woolworth’s – a grocery store – right next to our apartment and stock up. We live on Flinders Street, which is one of the main streets in the city. It has a bunch of sushi places, grocery stores, pubs, vintage shops, and coffee – literally everything we would ever need! We also live across the street from the city’s main metro station, which is super convenient. The cathedral is up the street and the main coffee street is right beside us. All of the malls and the city grid is at our doorstep – we are incredibly lucky to have landed in such a good place that will let us experience all the city has to offer.

After a weekend spent roaming the city, getting library cards, and testing out the metro, I went in for my initial interview with Tradewind Education Recruitment Agency. I am already working with a Canadian recruiting agency called Leading Out, who was able to link me up with this agency.

I absolutely loved everyone there and felt right at home. They set up all my bank details and walked me through the process of CRT/Substitute work in the Australian education system. I even made a new friend and grabbed coffee with her after the interview! I felt really safe and welcomed into the agency and knew they would do their best to get me situated.

Literally the next day – day 3 of our time in Australia – I was called at 7 AM to head into a school for substitute teaching. I was not expecting to get work until a couple days later but was pleasantly surprised when they called. They have an app for the agency that shows you all the shifts available and you can just click and accept whichever one you want. So I got dressed, made my lunch, and hopped on the metro to work. I felt like such a city girl heading to my first job on the metro until it was an hour later and I was in the middle of nowhere Australia. I had to catch a bus from the metro, which was very poorly marked and didn’t tell you which stops were which. I finally had to ask the bus driver where on earth we were and he pointed me in the right direction.

The school I went to was apparently a pretty low-income school with very rowdy kids. The staff were all very nice and showed me how to use Compass, which is their online roll and work system for the students. I subbed for 3 classes – homeroom, health, and science. The homeroom class was so hard to control, but I was able to settle them down. The health class was very chill because they were older and had lots of questions about America. The science class was learning about the moon and just DID NOT want to settle down, but we eventually got them rolling and learned about the moon. I also worked yard duty, which is basically recess time for high school kids – strange, right? All in all, it was a good day.

The second day I went to an inner city school with beautiful, charming, and intelligent children. They were very well behaved and really cared about their education, which was refreshing. The staff were mostly my age and so very nice! Each child had their own computer and their science projects were really inventive and inspiring.

That day was a half-day, so I went to the bank and picked up my debit card. The lady working there was a little older than me and was sooo helpful. She got my online banking details set up and even helped me install my SIM card! I am forever in debt to her for her generosity. I also went to an evensong service at the Cathedral to hear their choir and see how they function. It was a beautiful service and the Cathedral is just beautiful! I feel really lucky to have a church so close to me that’s just like my own back in Oxford.

The third day I went to a school that was in between the low income and the inner city school. It was a little run down, but the staff were plentiful and very helpful and the kids were very polite. It was fun to sit in the staff room and hear the chatter of a typical school day, but it had me wishing that I had my own school and work life that was routine and casual.

Luckily on the metro home I got an email from the Canadian agency telling me that I had been shortlisted for an English teaching long-term position at a really nice school. I called up Bronwyn and she told me that it was HER school that I would be interviewing at – small world again!!

I went into the interview the next day and was super nervous because their curriculum is very different and I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around it yet. But the assistant principal and panel that interviewed me were extremely nice and I felt so at home there already. I really felt like I was able to let my voice be heard in the interview and had a great time. They told me they needed to call my references and would let me know if I got the position in a week or so.

So I took the metro home feeling great and really thanking my lucky stars for such amazing opportunities that have been coming my way. Then I get a call from the school – Mill Park Secondary College – and they offered me the position right then and there!! I almost screamed on the metro because I was bursting with joy. I had done it – I got right into CRT work and now I have my very own English/ESL position teaching 10thand 12thgraders and a school that I can go to every day and really build some relationships. I would never have dreamed of having a long-term position so early on, but I’m really glad that I get the opportunity to experience Australia in this way and hone my teaching career at the same time. I am one lucky cricket!!

Every night Rory makes stir-fry or noodles for me and we grab a coke or chocolate from Woolworth’s. We are having so much fun living together and finding shows that we both like or activities we both want to do together. He actually landed TWO bar jobs and really loves them so far! One of them is at a British pub on our street – it’s like he never left England – and the other is a cocktail bar in a suburb down the street called St. Kilda. He is also going to try and volunteer at the zoo or the aquarium during the day when he has free time. We love walking the city, roaming through H&M, and eating our ways through all these new restaurants. We even bought ourselves some yummy smelling body wash from Lush that makes us feel like we have our lives together.

So all in all, I have learned:

1. Take the leap and move to a different country. It is SO scary to pick up your life and not know what’s on the other side, but it is SO worth it. The grass really IS greener over here and I am living in the city of my dreams with a guy I love and a new job that I’m over the moon about!
2. People are so kind and generous if you give them a chance. I have really had my faith restored in humanity this week from all the people who have helped me out or befriended me just because they felt like it. I’ve already got a full schedule of coffee and dinners with people I just met and I hope it keeps going!
3. Being an adult (Or trying to be one) is scary and exciting and hard, but you just have to roll with the punches and put your best foot forward. You’ll never know what’s out there or what you’re capable of until you try! So why not spread your wings and get going?

I love this city, I love my new life, and I am so thankful for everyone who has helped me get to this moment. I am living out my dream in so many ways and I am forever grateful to my parents, teachers, and friends who have held me up and really supported me along the way. I love you all and I can’t thank you guys for following along on my journey!

Best,

Kelsey

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