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.

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 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?

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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 !

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I don’t believe it …

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

Cane toads, for those unfamiliar:

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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:

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:

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Arkie – risking his life for a cheap thrill.

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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.

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Surprise ! I’m in your car !

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Goodbye Frog !

Bring on 2014 !