Monday, March 28, 2011

Being introduced to my first three days in Melbourne

Flinders Street StationWhen I first arrived in Melbourne, Australia - I knew no one.  I had just met some fellow USA teachers on the special Qantas flight, who, like me, had made this journey to Australia to teach high school in Victoria, while the current Australian teachers went back to study for their now mandatory fourth year of study.

My group of fellow teachers, most of us still quite young, (I was 23), were taken to a local hostel, (an old mansion type building that had been converted into dining rooms, meeting rooms, and accommodation.)  We were all given small single rooms, and a schedule to live by for the next three days.  We had meetings, and discussions on Australian way of life, and teaching strategies, and name it! 

During our free times, I just headed straight out the front door from this grand old building, and started exploring.  I cannot remember what suburb it was in, but am tempted to say St Kilda.  Anyway, I was loving my new environment, the sound of the people when they spoke, the traffic, the various little street shops and bakeries.  What I noticed first was the glorious aroma of baking bread, and the mixture of aromas as the various beautiful, varied shaped loaves of bread were placed on the bakery shelves inside the shop along with those that just lay uncovered in the shop-front window. The bakery counter glass compartments held pastries of all descriptions and varieties that I had never tasted before, and I was sure that I would make it my goal to get introduced to these wonderful treats.  I felt the wonderment that I was in a new country with the whole future stretched out in front of me. 

I talked with so much enthusiasm  to any shop-keeper who would approach me.  It was infectious I think, because I usually ended up looking at their photos from their wallets, or was allowed to have taste sensations in some bakeries.  (My husband Chris says that they probably filled my mouth with food to stop me from talking and asking more questions.  I think they liked me, and that's the story I'm going to stick to!)

I discovered international restaurants and Australian cafes with their blackboard menus, and no table service.  (That took me a while to realise though).  Out of courtesy on my second day exploring, one of the staff members in a local cafe stopped by my table and asked me if I had ordered yet, and I said  " No, I haven't.  But would like to. Oh, and may I have a glass of water please!"

The stunned look on the face of the staff member amazed me, as I was directed to the front counter and told to choose something from the board -- but I did notice that he did put a glass of water on my table, and I wondered why he was stunned that I should have to ask for it!  ( I learned later, that in these cafes there just isn't or wasn't then any table service, and automatic servings of water was not the accepted custom.  I was lucky he even bothered to deal with me!)

I discovered that a hamburger with the lot meant that I would have to dislocate my jaw to get my mouth around it, but that the strange mixture of egg, bacon, salad, beetroot, and hamburger and cheese was not a bad taste sensation---just very filling!

Back at the hostel we were finally given our teaching placements.  A lot of the teachers were placed in Melbourne and surrounding areas, but I was placed in a wonderful sounding little town called  Rainbow.  I loved the idea!  (When I was doing my student teaching, my students had given me a plaque that read: 'I Believe in God because of Rainbows').  I thought that Rainbow and I had probably been brought together now for a reason!

The Victorian Minister of Education visited us at our hostel, and after a while had a private conversation with me about my placing.  He showed concern and wanted to know if I was OK with the placement.

 "OK? I'm over-joyed!"

"But do you realise that it is in the scrub, and there are limited facilities there?"

"They have a school which needs a teacher, and just listen to the name of the town - Rainbow! It has to be such a beautiful place!"

Just grinning the Minister replied, "Well, I will be travelling to Rainbow and surrounding areas in the near future, and I'll make a point to check on you to see how you are going.  I thought you might have been a bit worried about being so far away from the city".

"Don't think so, I grew up in a small town - (32,000 people) - how small can Rainbow be?"  (I found out later that it had a very small population best measured in about the 500- 600 figure area.)

The Minister just grinned, saying " Well, I will definitely make sure that I check on you.  I wish you a good experience."

"Thank you, Sir.  I'm sure it will be wonderful!"

And you know....I was right!

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