Saturday, June 28, 2008

How Canada is Different Than Australia

  • Cindy says: Canadians pronounce 'r' when it is in a word. Aussie's make 'r' silent but make up for it by adding it onto the end of words that don't have an 'r' the word "Canada".

  • Brett says: Canadians say "eh" at the end of every sentence.

  • Cindy says: Canadians have their toilets in a bathroom with a sink. Aussies have their toilets in a sink.

  • Brett says: The restaurant service in Canada is substantially better, but you have to tip.

  • Cindy says: Many Canadians think squirrels are pests. Many Aussies think kangaroos are pests.

  • Brett says: In Canada, 3 consecutive days over 32 degrees is considered a heat wave. In Australia we would enjoy the cool relief.

  • Cindy says: Aussies call flip flops "thongs", sunglasses "sunnies", bathing suits "bathers" and change just about every word they can get away with.

  • Brett says: In Canada a "doodle" is a drawing. In Australia it isn't.

  • Cindy says: Aussies have better parties.

  • Brett says: Canada has more coffee, better coffee, cheaper coffee and instant coffee is rare.

  • Cindy says: Canada has four distinct seasons. Australia has two.....none of which require snow shovels, winter boots, and ice scrapers.

  • Brett says: Canada has snow. Australia has drought.

  • Cindy says: There are no helicopters looking for sharks at the lake I swim in in Canada.

  • Brett says: Canadians drive on the wrong side of the road.

  • Cindy says: Australians drive on the wrong side of the road. AND they have photo radar to catch you speeding ......four times :(

  • Brett says: Canadian news is predominantly "weather", Australian news is predominantly "sport".

  • Cindy says: We (Canadians) say "sports".

  • Brett says: Aussies drive Utes, Canuks drive trucks.

  • Cindy says: Both countries celebrate their national "birthday" with a day off of work. However, Australians seem to be a bit more vocal about their patriotism. We celebrated Canada Day on July 1st by going for a boat ride with friends and eating chocolate beaver cupcakes.


Hi, Brett here!

Niagara Falls is one of those world famous landmarks that everyone has heard about. I can remember seeing the falls on a travel program about ten years ago and thinking "That would be an amazing place to go". On Friday the 27th of June, I experienced the exhilaration first hand.

The falls are about 3 hours south of Barrie so we set off with out good friends Leanne and Shaun who were our tour guides for the day. The Canadian side provides the best view of the falls and it was amusing to be able to look across the Niagara river at the U.S.A.

We parked up river from the falls and began the walk along the river towards our destination. You can hear the sound of the water crashing onto the river below long before you actually see it. As you approach the falls from behind you can see the large cloud of water vapour that rises up from the bottom of the falls.

Upon arrival, all those stereotypical adjectives come to mind; beautiful, breathtaking, awesome, etc. Basically, it’s just really cool! I don’t think I have ever taken as many photographs in a single day as I did this day.

The highlight of the day was definitely traveling to the bottom of the falls on the Maid of the Mist. This boat takes you right to the bottom of the falls where you really get a feeling for the enormous power of the falls. You can actually feel the wind in your face as the force of the falling water pushes the air outwards. Taking pictures is not even an option because the water spray is far too heavy. They give you a poncho as you get on the boat but I still came out drenched. And I didn’t mind one bit. It was a surreal feeling to have the water of the Niagara Falls dripping from my face.

An unforgettable experience that I will look back upon with fond memories in years to come. One of my top five days in Canada!

One final thought.... If you are aboard a boat on the Niagara river and you are closer to the American shore, are you in Canada or the States? (Please leave your thoughts in the comments section)

"The Waub"

Hey Y'all, Brett here,
Today is the first day of summer holidays here in Canada. After taking a position as an EA (Education Assistant) at Waubaushene Elementary School at the beginning of March, I have finished what was one of the most challenging jobs I have held to date. Although the pay was less then a teaching position, I was pleased to have a full time position, as opposed to being a substitute teacher and not knowing where I would be from one day to the next.

"Waub" is a small community about 30 minutes north of where we live in Barrie. A drive that was particularly treacherous when I started in winter. My role was to work with students at educational risk, whether that was due to learning difficulties, special needs or behaviour. The other side to my role was lunch supervision and yard duty, 12 times a weeks. The teachers contract states that they can only do 80 minutes of duty a week. So that left me with 290 minutes of hell! Lets just say that, in Aussie terms, the kids were a bit "feral".

Yard Duty
The school board has a policy that students have to be brought inside if the temperature drops below a certain level. That level just happens to be -26 degrees Celsius... So if its -25 you’re still out there! So I would put on my thermal socks, snow boots, snow pants, fleece jacket, winter coat, beanie/toque, gloves and hood. Then I’d go out onto the snow covered school yard to break up fights and stop kids from throwing snowballs at each other. Highlights included watching a 14 year old boy pick worms up off the ground, brush the dirt off, then suck them up like spaghetti.

Lunch Duty
20 minutes, 100 kids, 1 gym and me. By far the hardest single task that I have ever undertaken was supervising 4 classes of students aged between 9 and 14. My main objective was to keep students safe and the gym relatively clean. Students hurling food from one end of the gym to the other compromised both of these. Some of the most memorable moments included being told by a grade 5 kid to "Change your tampon", getting called a "Dirty hoe" and watching a 12 year old boy lean over some soda-pop that had spilled onto the floor and then proceed to lick it up like a dog.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad. There were a lot of really great kids who would do their very best to say "G’day Mate" and would enjoy chatting to me about some of the differences between Australia and Canada. The staff members were also great and I enjoyed being one of 6 males on a staff of 10. I was fortunate enough to attend some interesting field trips including Elmvale Jungle Zoo, Ontario Place and Wye Marsh, and experience being part of the Canadian school system.

The one thing that I will never forget about Waubaushene was working with one of the funniest and most interesting children I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. I spent most of my time working one on one with a very special boy with Autism. Everyday he would make me laugh with his wit and his alternative view of the world but it was his obsession with vacuum cleaners that was most amusing. It was all about the vacuum. "Hey Mr. P, What kind of vacuum do you have?", "I’m gonna vacuum you up!" "Why did the vacuum cross the road?" were typical of the conversations we would have on a daily basis. It was his sense of humour, stories and laughter that helped me to get through the fights, swearing and worm consumption.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Everyone's been to Korea...

Hey there! Cindy here.

Until today I had not told my class that I wasn't returning next year. Grade one is a very special and sensitive world. Remembering the crying fits that occurred two years ago when I told my wee grade ones that I was going to Australia, I was trying to avoid telling this class that I was leaving at all.

I love my class. They are an adorable bunch of unique characters. Truly my dream class. There are only 14 of them, and they all have very strong personalities. They make me smile and laugh all day long. Every morning as I open the classroom door, I am greeted with smiles, giggles, "Wow you look NIIIIIICE", and the view of 14 kids all hugging each other. They are honestly happy to be at school. And I am honestly happy they are there too. I am totally in love with all of them.

Today, when Jaelynn started asking me what grade I would be teaching next year, I knew the secret was up. Jaelynn is a persistent little one. She always gets her answers. So I sat them all down on the carpet and calmly told them that next year I would not be at Hillcrest. I explained that instead I would be teaching kids in another country called Korea and that I hoped to see them all again when I got back. SILENCE. I waited for the crying. Or any reaction at all. SILENCE. Then finally Adam said "Oh Korea. Yeah I've been there. Everyone's been there." And then they all chimed in. "I went there last summer." "My Nan took me there for Christmas." "I was born there." Not the reaction I was expecting. AND I think perhaps there should be more in the way of world maps in the grade one curriculum! As I sent them off to complete their butterfly lifecycle booklets, one little girl stayed behind. She wrapped her arms around me and whispered "I will miss you" and then fluttered (as in actually danced like a butterfly) back to her seat. Sigh. They make my heart melt. Even the ones that throw their shoes over the fence at recess.


Hello friends, Brett here...

Now that we have figured out what this "Blog" stuff is all about I guess we should let you know what "We" are all about. Our aim for the immediate future is to teach English to the school children of South Korea for the period of a year. We are currently in the planning stage of this expedition and as the adventure, excitement and drama has already began we thought we should start documenting these happenings.

We are hoping to begin teaching in the city of Gwangju at the beginning of August. Those of you whose math skills are strong would have already realized that this is only about 6 weeks from now. So you would assume that we must have a really fantastic job lined up, plane tickets booked, Visa's in hand and are sitting back finally enjoying the Canadian sunshine... not quite. After successful interviews with 2 schools in Korea we were offered positions at both, each of which later fell through... We are now negotiating with a third school and are hopeful that it will be a case of "third time lucky" for us.

So welcome to the Pre-Korea chapter of what we hope will be an interesting and exciting documentation of our intrepid journey into "The land of the morning calm" ...South Korea.

A Day of Chasing Small Rodents

Hello All!
Now that the school year is drawing to a close, we are getting a bit stressed about a few things. The first wee detail lying heavy on our brains is the fact that we don’t yet have a job in Korea for next year. The second is that we need to pack up both my classroom and my apartment...and hopefully get rid of a lot of things. Third, we want to try to squeeze in as much of Canada as possible for as cheap as possible in as little time as possible. No small feat. But we will give it our best Canuck try (ok, you Aussies....a Canuck is a in the person...not the canoe).

One thing Brett has been the most excited about since his arrival in Canada has been the squirrels. Small, rat-sized rodents with giant fluffy tails. They are adorable, I’ll give him that. However, he’s almost caused a few accidents by screaming "SQUIRREL" while I am driving. I’ve seen them all my life, so they are no big deal to me. But I do remember what it was like when I saw my first kangaroo in Australia....and now I also understand the bored look on my Aussie friend’s face while I spent 20 minutes gushing about "roos" and taking their photos. Anyway, in an attempt to give Brett a look at more Canadian animals, we headed to the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. This is a place that takes in injured or abandoned Canadian animals. And best yet...we had a coupon.

We arrived at a perfect time. A "show" was going on......which was one lady showing the animals to a father and son. Perfect. No crowds. We got a close up look at a wolf pup, black rat snake, a skunk, and a chubby ground hog. We were then given a map and told we could wander through their grounds to see the animals housed outside. I was so excited. Finally! Brett was going to see a porcupine, bear, moose, cougar...and more! All those animals I had been talking about, but can never find.

First up was the porcupine. He was a little angry dude and was putting on quite a show. He was up on his hind legs, rocking back and forth, with all his quills shaking as he did this. Not sure what he was so peeved about. But it was so cool to see. I turned to Brett and said "Isn’t he great?" Brett was not even looking. He was facing away from the porcupine. "What was that?" he yelled, as he ran for the side of the porcupine cage. I followed. It was a chipmunk. For you Aussies, a chipmunk is like a glorified hamster...cute little beige rodent with black and white stripes down it’s back. A common sight in the summer. BUT this was Brett’s first sighting. And the beginning of an obsession. He followed the chipmunk, taking many photos, and commenting on how cute he was. I asked if he had even seen the porcupine... "Yup"was his response..while still looking at the chipmunk.

The rest of our day was the same. I saw a bear, moose, cougar, badgers, a wolverine, and some eagles. . . while Brett excitedly chased around the chipmunks. I would show you the photos of all the amazing Canadian wildlife we saw that day....but the only pictures we have are of chipmunks. We drove 45 minutes and payed money so that Brett could chase rodents that we could have found in my backyard. Oh well.

Brett’s tradition is to always ask what my favourite part of our outing was. So as we ate ice cream on the front lawn of the Muskoka Wildlife Centre, he asked "So what was your favourite part?" "Badgers" I replied. "Guess what mine was!" he said excitedly. Now I want to change my answer. Sure the badgers were cool, but a year from now I won’t remember them at all. What I will remember is watching Brett, a fairly calm guy, get very excited about a tiny rodent. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.