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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-Ū-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.
October is the month of visitors and I could not be more pleased! I lived in South Korea for 7 years and barely got my parents to visit (BUT THEY DID). I have lived in Melbourne for 3 months and I already have a list of people coming to see me. All about location, I see.
It was hard to narrow this down to 10, but here are some of my favs from when my dear friend Lydia and her husband DJ came to visit from Sydney last weekend. They took me on a whirlwind tour of eating delicious food (these photos show the brief stops we made in between eating, haha). I was so blessed by how well DJ did his research and his decisiveness in ordering food.
I am slowly falling in love with this city.
I am also super proud of myself for posting these photos ON THE 10TH.
For half a decade I have had a very faithful pen pal. We met in South Korea on August 20, 2009 and lived together for 10 days in a small dorm room as we were acclimated to our new jobs and country of residence. That random room assignment has given me a gift that keeps on giving. Christina has inspired me through her adventurous spirit, and her letters, and her gift of photography, which you can see on her blog. I am grateful for her faithfulness in writing me letters, because sometimes it takes me months to write back, but she never gives up on me.
A week after I received Christina’s letter in the mail I got another letter from a best friend since childhood. April blogged about sending something in the mail to someone you miss. I read the post and loved it and secretly hoped she would write me a letter one day soon, and then guess what showed up in the mail?
Thank you friends. I love my letters.
A few days after I got my letter from April, I received a package. Mail! It’s the best thing ever.
When I left Korea I had a group of beautiful friends form a committee (without my knowledge) to plan my going away party. As part of the party (before, during, and after it I should say) the committee asked my church community to write me letters of encouragement. They printed out pictures and put together a massive binder of the letters and pictures and verses. You know you have teacher friends when you get a book of encouragement organized to last a whole year. I am not allowed to open the letters as I please, they are set up for me to open 3-4 a week.
Thank you Dyanne (those pictures, yay!), Tammi, Zara, and Delia. Thank you especially to Delia for putting it all together and for mailing it to me instead of making me carry and extra 12 pounds of weight to Australia. Thank you for knowing me so well. I love and miss you all.
I spent three weeks in Texas when I was 14 and when I showed up to the ranch that, unbeknownst to me until I got there, had been donated to YWAM by Melody Green (the person I am named after) one of the first things a Texan said to me was, “You’re from Michigan.” Not a statement, an observation.
“How did you know that?” Confusion. Probably the best look to describe my face.
“I can tell by your accent.”
Mind blown. At this point in my very sheltered, country-living upbringing, I had met very few people outside of the States and I thought the only accents that existed were British ones. Because those were the only people I had met outside of the USA.
I had an accent? Me? It took a minute to wrap my head around the idea. Once I realized that everyone has an accent to someone else, well this revelation was the beginning of my journey to becoming more cultured. A journey that hasn’t stopped since leaving Michigan, the home of my accent, and living in South Africa, South Korea, and now… Australia.
The people I am in cahoots with the most are diverse and come from a broad range of countries and backgrounds with a variety of accents. This has caused me to forget accents exist. I meet someone and once I get to know them I think, “That is how so-and-so sounds.” Their voice becomes like the color of their skin, their eyes, their hair, it’s not an “Australian accent” or a “Kiwi accent” or a “British accent”, it’s “Danielle’s voice” and “Joanna’s voice” and “Ryan’s voice”. This in turn has caused me to forget that my voice isn’t “Melody’s voice” to strangers I meet. It’s a very thick “Michigander’s accent” that may have become slightly convoluted by years of international living. I’m sorry, is that one too many quotation marks? I’ll move on.
For example, when I order at restaurants or chat with cashiers at Woolworth’s a strange pleasant look usually crosses their faces as they pause. “What accent is that?” A lovely woman asked me the other day when I was shopping for groceries. I told her where I am from and she said, “I was going to say America, because I just visited family there, but I didn’t want to offend you in case you were from Canada.” Haha, those sensitive Canadians. I told her it’s always okay to guess Canada first, because if they are from my neighboring country they will be so happy that someone guessed Canada before the USA and if they are from the States they won’t be bothered too much. And people say Canadians are the nicer ones (okay, okay, usually true…).
I was ordering food at a restaurant when a handsome waiter started bantering with me (not unnecessary details) and asked where I came from. He then proceeded to try and guess which state, and he didn’t say California or New York. Mad props. He guessed Colorado and another state that I can’t remember. This impressed me greatly as the majority of Aussies I meet don’t know where Michigan is.
While living in South Korea I started losing the ability to remember skin color. When people asked me what someone looked like that I just met I would sometimes have to guess if they were Asian or Caucasian because I would actually forget. Now, I am losing the ability to pick up on accents. It’s a wonderful thing, living abroad.
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.