We are less than a month away from leaving and our days are filled with planning, packing, cleaning, sorting, organizing, and attending to other details for our teaching exchange to Australia. We received an e-mail from Jennifer Gluwchynski, a teacher currently on exchange, with some advice for those of us getting ready to head over:
“The Exchange Teachers’ League, here in NSW, is very active and vibrant. There are heaps (lots) of amazing weekend events planned that allow for us to hang out, support each other, swap stories and see the sights at the same time! I hope you will all be able to attend the Welcome Conference in Sydney that happens in February.
Until that happens, I am happy to answer any questions or give you my advice and insights if you are interested. I know you are swamped wrapping up your school term, preparing your homes and that it’s a whirlwind time for you.
Here are a few things you may want to think about:
1. If you teach in a primary (elementary) school you will likely be required to wear a hat out on duty (supervision). I wish I had known that and would have brought something distinctly Canadian to wear. I’m not sure if high schools do this or not.
2. Getting your mobile (cell) phone working here is easy since you can buy sim cards for $2 at a grocery store or petrol (gas) station. Be sure to get your phone unlocked first. I found it easier and cheaper to do it on-line (www.unlock2go.com) here rather than deal with my carrier in Alberta.
3. It’s fairly easy to buy used cars here but I used a rental for a couple weeks to get used to the driving. It is an adventure! I found a great website for short term leasing that seems cheaper than a rental company. Unfortunately, I discovered this afterward but perhaps it will be of help to you. www.DriveMyCarRentals.com.au
4. Ladies…make-up is expensive here (along with everything else) so stock up if you are minding your budget. A tube of mascara can cost up to $30!!!”
Don’t forget to pack winter clothes too as most buildings do not have central heat. I found I needed my flannel pjs and I work my coat, in the classroom, for all of July.