You ask. Repeatedly. But it is a good question. One for which there is not really a single answer.
One of the reasons was to experience a new way of life in a new part of the globe. So I thought I’d make an attempt at answering this question interweaving some of the differences I have come across so far, as well as other things that have unexpectedly baffled me in the last month since I arrived.
On day one I wore a suit to work. I realised immediately that this was an epic mistake, as no one wears a jacket in 25 degrees, especially not Poms! So the three jackets I brought with me have immediately become redundant. Luckily I only brought one hoody so not too many surplus clothes! Skirts and blouses are the way to go for work. Except on Wednesdays when the Sports Uniform makes an appearance: on Wednesday afternoon everyone does sport, so all staff and students wear the school sports kit all day. I wish it was every day! Sports is an important part of the school week, and it’s a good opportunity for staff to get involved outside the classroom. If you want to read more about the whole-school differences teaching in Australia to the UK, I have a forthcoming article in http://www.innovatemyschool.com which I will link when it is published. I am also writing something about the Religious Education curriculum soon.
Outside of work, the lifestyle is totally different. Although it’s been the most rainy June since records began here, we have enjoyed quite a lot of ‘good’ weather (to us, at least). We have used our pool (though some Aussies tell us they haven’t used theirs in months), we have bought, assembled and cooked on our BBQ, which means we’ve eaten outdoors most days – something we managed to do only a handful of times a month in the UK – and we have been swimming at our local olympic-sized *outdoor* swimming pool (which sounds great but is a bit awkward in practice as it makes it necessary to swim covered up, but at least I only have to count to 32 rather than 64!). The parkrun over here is at 7am so I haven’t made it to that yet, but the warm weather has encouraged me to get out running much more than back in the UK in winter!
It might be due to the depreciation of the Australian dollar, but we have found the cost of living very reasonable. Given that we have rented a house, furnished it, and bought two nearly-new cars, and can still afford to eat out, we think we’re onto a winner. Let’s hope we continue to find it reasonable now we’re earning in dollars!
Australia is a vast country. There is so much to see here, both in driving distance, and a flight away. Not that there isn’t so much in the UK (well, there isn’t the vastness anyway), but the weather makes a trip out much more enticing. Even though it has rained quite a lot this month, we have hit quite a few lucky days of sightseeing. And going for a walk or a run along the beach has become the norm. To say the beaches are so nice, and the weather so good, I am still not going in the sea, given that crocodiles, jellyfish, and sharks live in there! But since we decided to live beside the beach, we might as well take advantage of the facilities:
Some other vaguely interesting things: 1. ‘Cold’ tap water is in fact warm; 2. It is perfectly acceptable to walk around – anywhere, in shops, along the street – without shoes on (and I’ve seen people driving cars like this too, though it still pains me to drive in ‘thongs’ or flip-flops to the UK readers); 3. The word “router” (the thing that gives you internet) is pronounced in American fashion here, and the English pronunciation means something entirely different. Don’t say it in front of students. (It means a promiscuous person). 4. TV does not run on time. Ever.
image by stokpic.com