Term four is the last stretch of our exchange year. At this point we feel completely at home here, have some good friends and some involvement in the community. The list of things we want to do is still long and we know we can’t do it all, but we have done a lot. Many times we reflect and marvel at all the things we have been able to do in the last 10 month; it seems unreal at times that this is actually our life!
We arrived back from Thailand in time for the Open Day at the Siding Spring Observatory where we got to tour the inside of Australia’s largest telescope. As part of the Orbital Swing Band, Carlen and I also played two 2-hour sets out on the lawn. ABC Radio National program, “Science” was there and recorded a very tiny bit of our performance and used it for the intro to their episode on the observatory. You can hear it HERE if you want. The following day we attended a talk with Australian astronaut Andy Thomas who described a day in the life of an honest-to-goodness space man! Monday was a holiday making the first week back a short four day week.
More and more people (friends and students) are commenting that out time here is running out. It’s hard to think about having to leave – of course we dearly miss our family and friends, the familiarity of our cozy home and the community that surrounds it, but we’ve established some roots here too which will not be dug up, but stretched across the planet and will always be part of us.
It’s nice to hear the kids at school say they’ll miss me, or want me to stay – it was a hard slog at the start getting through the crusty exteriors but it happened eventually with most of them. Another reason why it will be so hard to leave – relationships like that, that are so hard won, are hard to leave, though social media will make it easier to maintain some ties and see which paths these kids decide to take in the future.
Financially the year has been a bit “spendy” with the balance sheet well and truly in the red but nothing too overwhelming. Thankfully (and with good planning) we were in very good position to begin with so the next couple of years we will adopt a more frugal life style choosing school holidays in the local campground rather than jetting off to Thailand, or New Zealand, or the Great Barrier Reef as we did all in this one single year. No regrets for sure, and the optimist in me sees the time ahead as an opportunity to develop even more skills at living simply. We have also commented many times this year about being a tourist in our own homes. How many Winnipegers have photos of themselves at the Legislature, or the zoo, or the Forks. We’d like to see our own home through the eyes of a tourist and appreciate all the amazing things on our own doorstep.
In other news, I’ve been continuing with my Masters coursework while here and enjoying the chance to really use technology tools to work on group projects. Earlier in the year, from Australia, I was having weekly online video conferences with my project team from Pennsylvania, California, Florida, and Virginia. Was a challenge coordinating time zones and collaborating using today’s digital cloud technology. Also appreciated the very positive encouragement from my professors and looking to submit one of my research papers for publication, which is exciting.
Carlen is enjoying school and doing quite well. He wrote the national standards test (NAPLAN) this year and as much as we dislike the emphasis on testing and question the value of the data gathered, not to mention the expense and commercial industry that accompanies it, we smiled at the results confirming what we already knew… our son’s a bright young fella.
Alicia has dug out her crafting supplies and enjoying sitting at the table by the window making all sorts of beautiful cards. She has also been experimenting with more cheese making, working with kefir, and keeps us all well fed and organized around the house.
As of the day of this posting, we have been off on our adventure for 305 days – a long time but it has passed quickly. When we think of all the things we have packed into this year it is truly amazing and we are ever grateful for the experience. Don’t like to count down the days because it feels like you’re wishing away the time, so we’ll count up… don’t have the tickets home yet, but we’ll be close to 370 before we make the transition from a hot Australian outback summer to the cold Manitoba prairie winter. Until then…