Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Friday, July 28, 2006

Don's Report to His Colleagues

Because Don lost 45 minutes of writing this morning (because HE DIDN'T LISTEN TO HIS WIFE'S ADVICE - bwahahahaha!!)
I am culling from a letter to his colleagues for his daily column. Here's what he had to say to them (with a few additions from yours truly).

This is the outside of our apartment. You can just see the gigantic American flag that our landlord has provided for the Yanks that rent.

We have now been in Australia for about two weeks and our students are in their seventh day here at Fremantle. We've seen a few sights and eaten at a few places like Joe's Fish shack here:

They are having a good time and have had a decent balance of recreation and orientation activities. They are all old enough to drink here in OZ and have sampled the local pub culture, but in a good way. They all live in an refurbished hotel called the P & O and their Residential Supervisor or RS, an Australian named Brad is a top notch bloke. He has lived overseas in the U.S., Asia and Europe I think and was also a police officer here in Australia before he became a student at UNDA in physiotherapy (our equivalent is physical therapy).

They took to Brad right away and when he gives them information about things to do or not to do and places to visit and when not to visit they actually listen! He took them all around to some decent pubs and will continue to look after them throughout the course of the program. These Resident Supervisors are a great asset and I wish that other CSB SJU programs were based at universities that incorporated such a feature.

Wendy and I have been quite busy setting things up for the program and doing a lot of work on the computer. She has created a blog just for our students and has gotten it off to a start by posting quite a few photographs of them since they arrived in Fremantle and incorporating some short captions. The blog address was then sent via e-mail to the students parents and guardians and we received quite a few responses, all positive. This way the folks back home and the CSB SJU International Programs Office can see how things are unfolding whenever they like.

The students share a large common kitchen where they are responsible for their own meals, preparation and clean up. So far Brad has been full of praise for how things have gone in the kitchen. He said the clean up has been top notch and timely and as long as that continues he will not have to step in. If it deteriorates, then he will set up a schedule and a rotation of duties for our group. There is a competition that is held between all three International and Study Abroad student housing complexes and their R.S. folks to see who can do the best job, so our group is off to a flying start as at least one of the other housing units has had to draw up a schedule.

We have gotten involved with a local sports enthusiast and business man named Tony whose love is Australian Rules Football.

Together with him we have gotten about 17 of our 22 students interested in attending a gathering of Australians who are involved in this sport and their friends and families who socialize together. Traditionally, they gather for games or practices and then go to their pub and have a brew and a pie. This pie is more akin to our chicken pot pie and is not a dessert, but rather a meat pie. This afternoon at 430 p.m. we will meet with three OZ students from UNDA who play and they will take our interested students and us two over to the their sports club and talk about the game and get to meet members of their community.

This is a great way for our group to meet Australians and see another side of their culture. Tony also has numerous connections to homestay families in the area who are eager to meet CSB SJU students since our young people have a great reputation. This connection will be made after evening mass at the school on Sunday evening. We have encouraged if not insisted that all of our group be there for this.

Students learning about Australian Rules Football.

I have been busy and made a big batch of shortbread. It was quite a challenge working with completely different flour, butter and sugar and then having ONLY metric system measurements and baking with Celsius temperatures. The batch turned out though, and the first trial serving, to our students at a brunch at our apartment last Sunday went well. So far, I have given some away to a few staff at UNDA that have been particularly helpful and our RS and gotten positive feedback.

Don has also had a chance to have a nice breakfast on our veranda:

Our landlord called up and stopped by today. His name is John Lynch and he is a fit 60 something businessman who was a farmer for 25 years. He now deals in moving large quantities of fertilizer domestically and abroad.

He and Tony are life long friends and have business together in properties, one of which is where we are staying. We had a great talk over tea and cookies and found out that we share a common interest in history. He also gave us some great tips for traveling and sightseeing while we are here. We will soon be gearing up to have several different folks over for dinner at different times and he will likely be the first. The wining and dining is an important part of keeping the social relationships going over here in OZ and it is part of what we must do in order to make the program a success. All the connections that we create will make things that much more interesting for our students.

I will send more details about this punishing duty in the future.

Classes begin Monday and Wendy will be teaching our students on Monday afternoons and Thursdays nights. After the Monday class, they will all come over here for cake and ice cream since we want to have a once a month celebration for any of our students who have birthdays during the months that we are here. Three or four have them in July and they will be first up for the celebrations. Afterwards, we will start a rotation and have four or five of them over once each week for a home cooked meal.

This is Don R. over and out for now!

Other things you should know about our trip. We finally saw our first Australian kitty (and of course I had to document the event.) One of our neighbors was pretty negative about cats in general. Thought they should be shot on sight (which seems to me what has happened since there are so few around).

Don and I treated ourselves (are you paying attention, Victoria?) to a meal out at a local Indian restaurant.

It was delicious, but we were sure not to show any food so Victoria wouldn't get mad!


At 11:22 PM, Anonymous min said...

" notch bloke."

Don, I didn't realize you were bilingual! Thanks for the "pie" explanation---I heard about that from a gecko that keeps trying to sell me auto insurance.
I'm happy that you chew with your mouth closed (not like our president), but for those of us who aren't Victoria, could we please see some food! I'm beginning to think Australian restaraunts don't really serve food. I'd especially like to see Australian/Indian food (and Australian Mexican food!!)

At 11:31 PM, Anonymous min said...

Oh yeah, see if you can't smuggle that cat home to Wendy's sister Sandy. She doesn't like to see them shot and can never have too many! While you're at it, see if you can smuggle Tony home for can never have too many handsome Australian men!

At 11:36 PM, Blogger Wendy and/or Don said...

Tony's married, but John on the other hand is probably available.


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