Travel isn’t, actually, for everyone

travel is not for everyone

Travel is not, actually, for everyone.

As a person that has travelled overseas, and lived overseas, it is very easy for me to say that travelling is one of the things in life that shouldn’t be put off. Given the opportunity to travel, you should take it – always!

I used to say.

Now, as a relatively settled person, working as an ESL teacher in Australia – I get to meet travellers from the perspective of someone that is calling the travel destination home (for now).

At my school we have students from all over the world, spending weeks or months living in Australia and learning English.


 Teachers know that the first week is always the most difficult for students – a new language, new food, new climate– these people are also transitioning from working, or studying in their home language to learning a new one, all day every day. They may have been the CEO at home, but now they are a student, confused and a little lost, like everyone else.

The second week is when many start to feel homesick. They know that they can survive and get through the day and week, but now will start to miss their friends and family. Frantic phone calls home at awkward hours of the day (Australia is in the worst time zone for just about everywhere) usually don’t make things better. After conquering the fear of the first week, we start to see some emotion – some exhaustion, tears, stress and anguish.

By week three – we usually see a more positive change. Physically – most new arrivals now have a tan (of course this is specific to Australia in the summer). The adaptation to a new living situation has begun. Instead of finding a place to play floor hockey or practice jiu jitsu like at home, newbies have bought a skateboard, are making attempts at surfing or getting more involved with their new friends. Their confidence in English gets better. They are able to show new arrivals where to go and what to do. The concept of having to go home becomes a distant, and slightly off putting reality.

However, for each of these people – there will always be some that just aren’t able to adjust and cope. The food will never be quite right, the activities never exactly what they wanted, the new friendships as fulfilling as the ones back home. New experiences are immediately compared to what was available where they came from, or what was done in the past. Nothing is as good as where they left, which starts to beg the question – well, why did you leave in the first place?


As Dorothy said, there is no place like home.

She knew what she was talking about.

To make the most of your time abroad, it is really worthwhile to keep this in mind. Nothing might ever replace your “home” but, you do get to see some interesting things and grow as a person after stepping out of this comfort zone. You really have nothing to lose in making the most of your time while away, that return ticket is only months or weeks away – and you’ll be back on that airplane before you know it.

Dorothy managed to have a decent time in Oz (aside from being chased by flying monkeys etc – she did make some neat friends, and see some interesting places).

If you are not able to let go of your preconceptions, your routines, your comfort zone, your fear of trying new things, travel might not, actually, be for you. Stay home and watch some travel documentaries on Netflix – you’ll save yourself some time and money !


New Traditions

Happy Holidays and Christmas!

This year I was very fortunate to have my immediate family join us from Canada AND Korea.

Last year, having just arrived, I was taken in by friends and had a seriously traditional Australian Christmas. We went to the beach. I got rocked in the surf. Cricket was played, seafood was eaten. I left to find a washroom and everyone thought I had been swallowed into the ocean and was presumed dead for a couple of minutes. I don’t think many people down here believe that people from Canada can swim. Although, can we, really?

Yes, I know it’s just me likely, terrified of the ocean.

Anyway, this year, in our house, with our family – we discovered some new traditions.

My favourite was the “luminaria” up and down our street: Apparently, a tradition in the American South West, Spain, and Australia … on Christmas eve, families set candles out (in our case, candles in paper bags lined with kitty litter/salt/sand or dirt) up and down the street. The tradition started as a representation of lighting the way for Mary and Joseph, enroute to give birth in a manger. NOT Santa trying to find the homes of good girls and boys (the theory of our family) … apparently, our community has quite an active church going community – which we found out after meeting our neighbours and some discussion about what they were doing.

Prior to this, taking the dog for a walk – we found bags of sand with candles in them up and down the street. No one around, and no explanation. We thought we were missing something important.

It was a great chance to meet our neighbours, and with the warm night, bats, possums birds and bugs – it created a very unique Christmas eve atmosphere.



Maybe I’ll invest in a better camera next year.

Next – not really a Christmas tree. A Christmas branch:

I wrote pretty extensively about this project on Kath or Kate – so click the link if you would like to learn more.


We did see some “pine trees” for sale for 15 bucks outside the Salvation Army – however, I don’t think they were really pine trees – as they were more or less branches, but with needly leaves (and not dead).

Finally – after a barbeque on Christmas day (it’s waaay too hot to cook inside) we went to see a movie at the mall on Boxing day (because it is also waaay to hot to do much of anything).

Parking in Queensland is less of an issue because it is an unspoken, or spoken rule, that you can park just about anywhere, provided you are not blocking anyone. Essentially, this means that you can park on grass covered areas. Here was the mall today and not in the parking lot – up and down the road going to the parking lot:

IMG_20131226_124958 (1)

Christmas is just the best.

I don’t believe it …

Our dog Arkie has had an interesting couple of months with the cane toads.

Cane toads, for those unfamiliar:


Cane toad in a bucket. My friends wouldn’t let me pick him up.

The cane toad (Rhinella marinus) formerly Bufo marinus is an invasive species in Australia. The cane toad is the largest species in the family Bufonidae. Adult cane toads are usually heavy-built and weigh an average of up to 1.8 kg. (4 lbs.). Their size may vary from 15–23 cm.(4-9 in.) and their skin is warty. The coloration on their back and sides may vary from olive-brown or reddish-brown, gray, and yellow while their bellies are semi-yellow or semi-white with darker mottling. Their body is round and flat, has prominent corneal crests, and light middorsal stripes. Their front feet are unwebbed, but their back feet have tough, leathery webbing. Cane toads have short legs and a ridged bony head that extends forward from their eyes to their nose. Behind their ears lie the parotid glands, which usually causes their head to appear swollen. These glands are used for defense against predators. The parotid gland produces milky toxic secretion or poison that is dangerous to many species. This venom primarily affects the functioning of the heart. Envenomation is painful, but is usually not fatal for humans.However, it does have some effects, such as burning of the eyes and hands, and skin irritation.


Predators in Australia are not adapted to their toxin, which is the toad’s main defense mechanism. Because of this, toads don’t tend to hide and are usually targeted by predators, who then expose themselves to the toxic effects.

(From Wikipedia)

For a stretch of a few weeks, it seemed like every time we let the dog out, he would find a cane toad, and interact with it in a way that left him “exposed to it’s toxic effects”.

Travis found this article yesterday:



Arkie – risking his life for a cheap thrill.


Seriously, though – Cane toads are a HUGE problem. This was pretty interesting to see their progress – even from 1940 – 1980.

Cane toad progression 1940 – 1980

1 Year Down (Under)

pram (stroller), bub (baby), creche (daycare)

avro (afternoon)

avo (avocado), capsicum (bell pepper), brekkie (breakfast), frosties (cereal), tomato sauce (ketchup), sachet (packaging)

bikie(biker – as in biker gang), tradie (trades person), sparky (electrician)

shazzer(??), bazzer (Barry – name), ranger (red head, so ooo offensive)

boardies (board shorts), togs/ swimmers (swimsuits), thongs (flip flops), jumper (sweater)

fuel/petrol (gas), bitumen (asphalt), wagon (suv), fourbie (4×4) (sp?)

lift (elevator), car park (parking lot), foot path (sidewalk), jug (pitcher – or kettle)

my shout (my treat),

As we mark one year in Australia I stare up at the ceiling before I go to bed and think of the words I use nearly all the time. My parents have come to visit from Canada, and I notice the differences in vocabulary a lot more.

It is a coping mechanism, to use slang as much as possible. I still say things from time to time that most people in my life (here) think are weird.

A recent example – a friend wanted me to bring a “jug” to a barbeque so that she could make juice. In Canada we would call it a pitcher. Driving home, I asked for the pitcher back, and she had no idea what I was talking about, and her and another friend started laughing. They laughed at the use of pitcher, but not at the left over label on the jug / pitcher “Jesus Juice” (from a party before we left Canada – sometimes I think I am pretty funny / clever).

I didn’t really think that much had changed between a year ago and today – but it’s snowballed and I’ve realized some very specific and unique things have changed:

  • Can peel and cut up a mango – a year ago it was a juicy mess
  • Can make decent guacamole (greek yoghurt, garlic salt, lemon, avocado) AND cut up an avocado properly
  • Can drive a manual car
  • Can drive a 4×4 manual car
  • Not (as) afraid of spiders
  • Not (as) afraid of the ocean
  • Relationship to the outside world in general

Also – we found a tree frog hiding in the boot / trunk of our wagon/suv. This, of course, was after driving about 25 km to pick up my parents at the airport. There is nowhere to put a fist sized tree frog when you are in the middle of a car park/parking lot.

The frog managed to survive the return trip, and I was able to get him out of the wagon – remembering that human skin is generally not very good for frogs, I grabbed my gardening gloves first.

It looked like he was ok.


Surprise ! I’m in your car !


Goodbye Frog !

Bring on 2014 !

Where’d You Go?

After a fairly consistent run of posting every other day, I stopped writing…here.

I am currently working on another project with my pal, Kate – at Kath or Kate.

As we find our footing on Kath or Kate, I think we are going to be working more with practical, DIY projects. At the present point in time we are focusing on the Holiday season – especially DIY crafts, and things for the home.

As such, So Much to See and Do will remain my alter ego – the part of myself that cannot sit still, and will not spend more than 10 minutes in the kitchen or painting Christmas ornaments. As I get a bit older, and more settled, I’ve started to really enjoy the time I spend on creative projects – however, there still exists a restless 11 year old inside, that just wants to go and jump from activity to activity and see and do stuff.

Keep seeing and doing!


Mt. Warning Australia

Dog Eats Toad – Everyone Loses


While it may seem like the only excitement worth mentioning revolves around our dog doing things, this is not the case. I worked most of last week to get together enough grade A Emu’s to a craft fair up in Brisbane. This was also not something I organised myself, and essentially piggybacked on a friend’s sisters loose offer to put my brooches in with their (amazing) stuff. I’m not really sure of the tactic of surprising people with 12 pieces of original “artwork” to sell, is really going to make me popular on this handi-craft scene, but it’s a learning process.

I also finally got around to creating an Etsy site – taking as many “natural light photos” on my lunch break at work, with my camera phone. I really love my Nexus phone. I’m sorry Travis for kicking up a fuss over your refusal to provide me with Apple products for my birthday. Anyway, for the starting (by no means final product)  see kathandtrav  on Etsy for more !

Travis also bought a record player on discount. We have no records. No one I know has any records (except the friends mentioned above, and really, I’m not going to bother them with favours for awhile).  I had just left him at the mall for 2.5 hours while I had gotten my hair done. I was not about to tell him he couldn’t have a discounted record player. We also learnt that there are no records for sale on Gumtree (the craigslist equivalent). We are now listening to the radio built into the record player. Will we ever listen to vinyl? The jury is out.

Most importantly this weekend – Arkie ate a cane toad and tripped out.  He was panting and running around in circles and acting …well.. like he was high. We called the vet to make sure he wasn’t going to die (while he was hiding under our bed eating cardboard). The vet advised us to check his gums for slime, and then wash his mouth out. How? We asked. By taking a cool cloth and wiping the inside of his mouth. We were fortunate that either the toxins in his blood stream or his overall good nature stopped him from biting anybody. It also did the trick and he eventually went to sleep and stopped circling the house. We actually didn’t know that he had eaten a cane toad, or that this is what would happen to him if he ate a cane toad – the vet we called was the one among us that knew right away what was going on. Also how to clean out a dogs mouth after he has ingested a toxic, psychotropic amphibian.

More love for Australia.

Make Over!


What I look like most of the time…goofy.


Suggested day time look …


Finally, the suggested night time look…you can tell I don’t really know what to do with my face at this point.

Today I was really lucky to meet some great ladies. I got invited to take part in a make up evaluation for a friend of a friend studying to be a beautician (I think that’s what they are called these days).  As someone who does not wear a lot of make up, it was an unusual experience to sit in a chair for 30 minute intervals having foundation put on my face. It’s also a teensy bit embarrassing, because I really have no make up routine what – so – ever to make small talk about. My only personal saving grace is that I now try to deal with my eyebrows on a regular basis, and did not subject anyone to out of control upper facial hair.

No uni-brow. You can see I’m embracing my femininity everyday



Cane Toad – Invasive Species .. Our friend here will eat the native  frog species. People blow them up with fire crackers. 

The point of making this website is to have all of my memories in one place. I feel like this is most important now, because the older I get, the more I forget to remember.

I’ve just moved to Australia after taking a transfer from work, and convincing my partner that this was the place for us. No more long Canadian wet (west) coast winter. A booming economy, a great place for late twenty – somethings to get a foothold on finances and the practical implications of becoming a grown up. Something different for the traveller that can’t stay more than two years in one place (I was over-due by 4 months).

While the rest of our friends buy houses, have kids and get married, we have moved across the planet to start again from scratch.

Setting up another apartment, learning to drive on the other side of the road AND learning to drive manual, picking up new hobbies ( I didn’t know I was a light weight bush – walker!) being sociable, making friends … I’ve been good.

Today I hit a wall.

I just wanted to go to a pub with my co – recreational soccer team and have a winter ale. I didn’t need to see my closest friends or family, I just needed to hang out with the group of mostly Irish team mates that didn’t always pass me the ball.

After reading that sentence, maybe the reason why I am so keen on that particular experience is because I know how they feel, and why they hung out together.

Despite all being from western English – speaking nations, there are always difference, both subtle and gaping. For the first time today, I though about finding other Canadians to spend time with on a weekly to monthly basis. I’m not sure exactly what we would do, most likely have a few drinks and talk about the old country… I think I just want someone to look at me and see someone they identify with, someone that is the same – no matter how loose the definition.

When I go to meet these hypothetical Canadians, no one will ask me about my accent. They will also likely not assume that I can’t swim. They won’t think I am strange as a give in, because I am from Canadia. I won’t be that small Canadian girl. Instead – I get to be Kathryn from Vancouver, living in Australia. Based on population size, I bet these new acquaintances are from Ontario or an Eastern province. They probably watch hockey and hate the Canucks. Either themselves, or one of their friends or family has been to Vancouver. They will tell me that Vancouver was nice  and that they also visited and liked Whistler / Victoria or Tofino.

The radio stations in Australia – or what I have sampled from the Gold Coast, play everything.


Those popular songs from 1999 you ve only recently heard because you dug up a mixed cd from high school? Throw out your cd’s  – it’s got airtime here.

They played Nelly – Ride with me (I think that’s the name) today on my way home from work. It made my day. I was in grade 9 again.

I got to my front door and the lady that lives above me had left a note, apologising for not introducing herself because of how busy her family has been with summer holidays (which now take place in January). She had left 2 eggs from the backyard chooks (chickens) and a mango. She also welcomed me to help myself to the mangos from the tree in the back yard, now ripening behind my window.

Prior to this I went to the liquor store across the street from work for a bottle of wine. My favourite wine – Yellow Tail, is only 10 dollars here. I have tracked the price of Yellow Tail as I’ve travelled. The most expensive bottle to date was 100.00 ytl (about 90 USD) In Ankara, Turkey. It is an Australian wine so I am near the source. A new friend lives nearish to the vineyard – we can go visit the grapes.

Like anything in life, you have to take the pluses with the minuses.

Today I had had enough. I felt homesick and was second guessing my life choices and choosing to be away again. Fortunately, today there were also pluses.

Hence the goal – remembering to remember.