February 17 on 17

This week a dear friend of mine moved back to South Korea after living in Australia for a year. She was a faithful sower into the community I am a part of and was sent here (like I was) to help start a church. Before it was time for her to head back home (aka before her visa expired) there were a few things she had to do. And one very important mission was a road trip along the Great Ocean Road.

It feels like it was forever ago, but it’s actually been less than a month since I took a road trip to the Twelve Apostles for the 3rd time. And this is my 17 on 17.

Time to meet the crew.

For some familiarity, I started with me… thanks to Minho for catching this shot by the Erskine Falls in Lorne.

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Minho

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James

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Judy

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Stephanie

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Jaehee

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A snap from the car of the Great Ocean Road (that I did not take because I was driving).

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We found matching tank tops for 3 dollars, I mean, how could we resist?

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Such a legit Airbnb.

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Group picture at the twelve apostles.

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Another great shot by Minho (I know, you aren’t used to seeing pictures of me in my posts, how exciting is this?!).

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When your friend let’s you on his shoulders for an epic shot and you don’t want to get down because you finally feel tall…

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I LIVE HERE! Come visit ūüôā

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Hoping to blog before my next 17 on 17… but we shall see. xx

My Year of Trust

For me, all of 2016 was about trust. From January until June and really since October of the year before, every time I panicked, every time I felt scared, every time I thought, “is it too late to change my mind?” I heard God clearly say, “Trust me.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

My own understanding of the situation was that I was about to leave the best school I had ever worked for to move to a country that was notorious for being difficult to get visa sponsorship since they have enough teachers of their own. But 7 years in Korea was a long time and I was ready to leave. Then again, I was not ready to leave. I had been begging God to call me to live somewhere else, and then when it happened, I wanted to stay. Oh, we are so fickle!

I was excited to move to Melbourne, Australia and I was terrified at the same time.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. 

Isaiah 43:2

Moving here has by far been the hardest thing I have ever done. I know, I know, my instagram feed shows pictures of me going on amazing adventures and seeing koalas in the wild and feeding kangaroos and exploring waterfalls. But who posts a picture of themselves crying on a living room floor in the middle of the night because they don’t have a place to live yet? Who posts a picture of themselves at a fax machine trying to send request forms to their universities because they can’t get their teaching license registered without actual snail mail transcripts (it’s the digital age people!)¬†so they can’t start looking for work? Who posts a picture of themselves sitting at a cafe by themselves (okay a lot of people do, but you know what I mean) and feeling like¬†they don’t have a friend who knows them enough in this country to know that when they get migraines they can tell by looking at their eyes? Those photos probably wouldn’t get a whole lot of likes, and they are downers, no one wants to see that. And I didn’t want to post that. But every time people asked how I was I tried to be open and honest. I knew it was going to be hard, I just didn’t know what kind of hard it would be. There’s no way of preparing for that.

It’s 2017 now and I have a job at a school that is sponsoring my visa. I live in a great apartment in an incredible location. I have a church community that is starting to feel like family. God is worthy of my trust, and He is faithful.

2016 may have been the toughest year yet, but there were so many moments I have to be grateful for, and I don’t want to forget them.

At the beginning of the year I took a trip to visit friends in the Philippines. Those same friends were able to visit me at the end of this year here in Australia. My friends in Korea made me a book of encouragement to last me the my first year in Melbourne. It is full of notes of encouragement and photos and it is really fat, they love me so much they gave me the first part before I left and mailed the rest of it (which was most of it!) later. My colleagues at GSIS were some of the best people I have ever worked with and they made leaving Suwon (who would have thought?) so hard. ¬†I am so grateful for that. (“Gold! Nay… Diamonds.”) I started (and stopped, oops) exercising! My roommate was my partner in crime and we even did a 10 day sugar detox. Paying off the last of my student loans with my final paycheck from Korea I left debt free. DEBT FREE.

I visited my family in the States and I got to watch my niece dance in a bajillion dances while my nephew played charades (“You’re a tree! You’re a tiger!) with me during the intermission. ¬†I met the newest nephew and held him like he was my own and couldn’t get over how happy my 2nd nephew is, all. the. time. His smile could light up a city, scratch that, a country.

My sister couldn’t talked to me the whole two weeks I was home and I got really good at lip reading. When we were out by the pool my niece who is going through her “only mommy for me!” stage, walked over to where I was sitting with my legs dangling into the water and turned her back to me. She then proceeded to back up towards me and plop herself into my lap. It was the greatest. day. ever. And my other niece kept saying, “Auntie DeeDee come look at this. Auntie DeeDee Let’s pay that. Auntie DeeDee these are my pigs.” Yes, she has real pigs.

My fourth niece (and the 7th grandchild) was born near the end of 2016. I can’t wait to meet her.

My church as doubled in size from when the original team of 12 was called to start it. I love humble beginnings.

At the end of 2016 I celebrated my six month mark here in Australia. And while feeding kangaroos and seeing inspiring landmarks is ridiculously cool, I will remember this year by the conversations with my CG at Eight One Eight. I will remember the 5th grader who told me I taught¬†her how special reading is.¬†And renting a car for the first time to go on a road trip with my friend who visited me from Singapore. I will remember friends showing me the best food spots in Melbourne, even though they were here for the weekend from Sydney. And hearing about how the child I teach in Sunday school volunteered to pray on her own. I will remember my niece getting really excited when I walked through the door carrying her sister’s silly monkey because she thought I was back to play. I will remember working at a mapping company for two weeks clicking on facebook links and meeting the nicest people. I will remember my friends who stayed with me my last night in Korea and helped carry my luggage to the airport. I will remember eating dinner with my pastor and tears streaming down my face as she empathised and understood my struggles living in this country and gave me wisdom on what to do next. I will remember learning how different Australian culture is to my own and starting to love the way they spell and say things.

Thank you God, for teaching me how to trust in a whole new way. Thank you for 2016.

10 on 10- November

I had big plans for this month’s photo post. The month of October proved to be super fruitful with several friends visiting, resulting¬†in many pictures being taken. But then… I heard about the Night Noodle Markets. And the opening night of this glorious event was today, November 10th.

I realised (see what I did there?) that my friends’ visits deserve their own posts, possibly even their own albums on facebook. At some point. But the Night Noodle Markets? That was worthy of a 10 on 10 blog post. Taking a much needed break after work today, and before I started writing more report card comments, I strolled down the road, crossed the river, and found myself here.

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Avoiding¬†the crowds meant going as soon as the event opened and I actually brought a tupperware container to save what my small appetite couldn’t eat for my lunch tomorrow. I am such a winner. Not to mention this is a 20 minute walk from my house. Melbourne, I swoon.

How to Speak Australian

Truth be told, I am still learning how to speak Australian. Before I moved here many people told me I would have culture shock, even though this is an English speaking country. I believed them. Except, I didn’t really believe them. I mean, I knew. But, I didn’t know. You know?

My first day of teaching Year 5 (translation: 5th grade) proved to be the most culturally shocking. It felt like every other word that came out of my mouth was an ‘American’ term that they in turn had an ‘Australian’ word for. I said sweater, they said jumper. I said sneaker, they said trainer. I said sweatpants, they said trackies. I said braid, they said plait. I said candy, they said lollies. I said markers, they said texters. I said backpack, they said bag (I flipped out on them at that point, “If you understand what I am saying enough to correct me, then don’t correct me. One of our classroom agreements is to, ‘Celebrate Our Differences’ are you celebrating our differences right now? NO YOU ARE NOT. If you really don’t understand what I am saying then ask politely, otherwise don’t say anything.” The class went pretty quiet after that. For about 10 seconds.)

They still accidentally correct me if I say a word ‘differently’ than they do. Data, inquiry, maroon, Adidas-turns out that one Americans do say wrong because it’s an actual German company and it’s NOT pronounced the way we say it!-but all the rest is tomato or tomato.

I have started a list in my phone to keep up with my Australian colleagues. There are times when they text me or I have conversations with someone and I get very confused. For example, “She shouts all the time” does not mean someone is yelling. ‘Shout’ is when you pay for someone’s meal or coffee. I know right?

Here’s just a few¬†more (really this is the very shortened list):

Ta- Thank you
Wag/Wagging- skip or skipping, “Wagging school to go sight seeing I see” is a text I got once.
Bogan- hicks
Sticky beak- being nosey
Lollies- anything that I would call candy
Arvo- Good afternoon
Pash- to make out (I didn’t learn that one from experience)
Cuppa- hot drink (often tea)
Daggy- worn out, uncool, unfashionable
Woop-woop- Middle of no where (my assistant principal taught me that one!)
Sweet as/good as- I don’t want to finish that but it means something along the lines of: awesome! nice! really great!
Fair dinkum- Are you serious? Are you telling me the truth?
Horse riding- Horseback riding (seems incomplete without the back to me)
Aluminium- spelled differently, said differently. Al-Ň™-min-ium. So weird.
Herb- pronounced with the H
Maccas- McDonalds (they like to shorten everything. I had people calling me “Mel” that hadn’t even met me in person yet)

And instead of saying, “Hi, how are you?” as a common greeting, everyone here says, “How ya going?”

Not only am I rewiring my brain to do everything opposite… I still say, “left, left, left” in my head when I am walking on the sidewalk or trying to figure out what side of the road to get the tram on, but I am learning how to greet in another language. Good ‘ol Australian English.

10 on 10- September

I should just start calling this 11 on 11th. Only I have 10 photos so it’s going to stay 10. I will, I will try very hard to post this on the correct date of the month in October. I can do it— fighting!

Yesterday, on the 10th I went to the South Melbourne Market, a mer 15 minute walk from my apartment,¬†to shop for my housewarming party. Heeeeyo. I decided to grab my camera, something I haven’t done in a while, and snapped shots of one of my favorite places in Melbourne.

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10 on 10 Project, I have not failed you.

Tomorrow is September 10th. I missed posting pictures on June 10th, July 10th, and August 10th. I will not fail in September, and yet if I do forget or don’t have time because there are other important things on my mind, that’s okay too. Part of me is ready to drop the 10 on 10 project for the rest of 2016 and start up fresh in 2017.¬†But “starting fresh” or having pictures to document every single month isn’t what the project is about for me. It’s having archived memories to look back on and see my life and my photography, two things I love very much.

 

Thank you, Korea.

Have you ever knitted a scarf before? You are almost finished and you see a dropped stitch creating a big hole right in the middle of your soft, thick, creation and you think great now I have to unravel it because the idea of having a whole in my scarf is too terrible to comprehend. At least that’s how dramatic my thinking usually is. You unravel all the yarn and proceed to take the end of it and wrap it around your hand, because you need to do something with all of the yarn or it gets too tangled. And you wind the yarn over and over and over again, around your fingers. Around and around until the ball of yarn gets bigger and fatter and your fingers get squeezed tight and you have to pull them out of the yarn and keep wrapping, around and around again.

I feel like for the past seven years I have been wrapping a ball of yarn. Every job, every apartment, every friend, every student, every moment, a turn of the yarn goes around and around. Memories wrapped around memories, layers over more layers, creating a giant ball of life that is just waiting to get knitted together into a beautiful scarf to keep me warm (and stylish) as I move away from Korea and on to the next place.

I will never forget you, Korea. I will never forget the memories because I wrote them all out. Here. Where there is spit on the street.

Thank you for teaching me how to use chopsticks, for giving me the discipline to learn Taekwondo, and for introducing me to jimjilbangs. Thank you for assigning seats during movies, for having a top notch public transportation system, and for letting couples dress exactly the same and not judging them for it (except maybe sometimes, a little bit). Thank you for the people who love practicing their English with me, and for the adjuma who picked me up when I fell (literally), and thanks to those kind Koreans who helped me carry my stuff down the street because I overestimated my strength and got over-excited while grocery shopping. Thank you for the jobs, all the jobs. Thank you for red days, for your closeness to many other great Asian countries, and for sparking my interest in photography. Thank you for the Han River and tandem bicycles and for convenience stores on every corner. Thank you for the Lantern Festival, the Mud Festival, the Strawberry Festival, the Ice Festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, the International Fireworks Festival, the Apple Festival, the Ceramic Festival, the Green Tea Festival,  the Mountain Trout Ice Festival (okay those last four I have never been too, but I am still thankful for them)… Thank you for my colleagues, my students, my students’ parents (even the challenging ones because I learned so much about myself as an educator from them), and my masters degree.

Thank you for Korean BBQ (this deserves it’s own line).

Thank you for Han Wool. Thank you for my overseas family. Thank you for my church.

I wrote this blog 70 days ago and I forgot about it. I just now found it in my drafts. Today marks two weeks in Australia and I already have so much to be thankful for. 

Thank you God, for the opportunity to live and love and learn in cultures so very different from my own. Thank you for the appreciation this brings.

Now everyone go out and try something new! 

And now for some random pics from Korea I found in my phone^^