Sunday, January 30, 2011

First week

I had my first Sunday morning in Australia! It was great to go to church, saw lots of old and new friends, exciting to start getting involved again.

Some current prayer points for us are here-(or see pages in the sidebar) look out for the red rabbits, no its not getting in early for Easter, they are there because the year of the rabbit begins soon.

This past week each day I have had settling in errands to do, buying stuff, applying for stuff etc etc, I think Saturday was the first day i didn't have stuff that I had to get done.

I've also been walking heaps around the streets and parks, something I missed while in Cambodia.

I've also been getting to know the college community. The school year will start proper next week, but many students have just had a week of greek/hebrew intensive.

There are lots of new people to meet, as well as old friends  and other people I have connections with.
I don't study here, I just live here, and although Kimsoeun will study here he doesn't have that much class time or class mates on campus. So we can probably choose if we become part of the community or not. I'm really enjoying getting to know people, and there are lots of other benefits (network for ministry here, network for finding partnering churches etc). But I know I'm going to find it hard getting to know so many ppl at once- church, college.... and work which I start tomorrow!

Friday, January 28, 2011

First impressions- white people look the same

On my first night living at college I went to the dining room to look for a friend. I thought I saw her, but it turned out to be a different girl. I kept looking up and down the rows of people...they all looked like my friend!!! All the white people looked the same!

First impressions number 2

  • Queues... Most of the last 8 years I've been grumpy because generally, in my experience,  people in China and Cambodia don't don't line up, its more of a cluster with pushing and shoving.  But over the last few days I've been surprised. I've had errands to do that involved going to places like medicare, post office, supermarket etc etc. I walked out of a few of them when I saw a queue. I don't like queues anymore??

  • This morning I had to visit the college admin office. I got there but it wasn't open. I found out it doesn't open until 9am. I've gotten used to office hours beginning around 7.30am.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First impressions

  • I'm enjoying being able to go for a walk along all the great footpaths, and its weird that it gets dark so late at night.
  • I'm finding it a bit weird eating big chunks of meat that we have to cut up ourselves at the table, using a knife and fork.
  • Last night one of my new housemates asked if our other housemates were home. My eyes immediately went to the floor near the door to check if their shoes were there. (People take their shoes off at the door in Cambodia so I could always work out if Kimsoeun was home and if we had visitors.)
  • Drinking tap water
  • Using a bath mat. In Cambodia the whole bathroom is the shower, everything is wet.
  • Eating "normal" food.
  • Hearing lots of people speaking Aussie accents to each other all the time. About once a week in Cambodia I saw another Aussie, but usually only one at a time. I'm finding it amusing that there are so many people here, even on TV who speak with that accent. I find myself wanting to copy it and make fun of it. 

The first few days

So, I'm in Australia!

First 24 hours had some friends babysit me- airport pick up, first night, move into college and get hand phone, bed sheets and toiletries. That all went smoothly. Was great to see them, and all the things on my list to do for my first day I got done. 

First day in a new country I usually have a few things I need to do, it looks like a small list on paper but feels really hard and big. So now I always keep the list short- just aim to get the urgent things done.

So after my first full day in Aust I was able to sleep in my new bed!

I'm slowly unpacking and getting set up. I've been waking up at a good time, but still having trouble going to sleep at Australian time. So I'm still tired, and still feel like I have lots to get my head around, and get sorted out before work stuff starts next week. I think I have enough time, but everything is new so its hard to sort out what I need to do and when. I bought a diary yesterday, so that should help.

From now until Easter I think I'm going to feel a bit tired. When I was a student, the first part of the year was exciting and exhausting as I got to know lots of new people all at once, I think its going to be similar for me this year.

Its started already, getting to know people on campus. And on Sunday I'll go to church and start getting to know people there, then Monday I'll have work stuff on and start getting to know my team mates, then later on there will be students to get to know........ exciting and exhausting!

I haven't quite worked out a good internet connection yet. I'm living on campus, but not because I'm a student, cos my husband is a student, but he is not here i don't have a student number etc...I feel like a bit of a fraud being on campus! But people keep telling me I'm allowed to eat with everyone so I have been.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Here are some photos from the stampede that happened two months ago. The other night we drove around Diamond Island and across the bridge where all those people died and were injured.

First time to.... into Sydney in 9 years. Thai since I was in high school. in Australia not as a student since I was 5. as a married couple in Australia. on campus as a student's wife.
(I've lived on campus as a student in Australia, as a teacher in China and as a teacher's wife in Cambodia.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Confusion- the last reentry

“Kassalin, you are looking fatter now.”

Another comment from my Chinese friends that made me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Meanwhile, they seem to think it is a completely normal conversation.

Even now I still don’t like when people call me fat, even though I know they don’t mean to be rude.

But despite that, I think I must have got used to it while in China. Just after I got back I remember standing with some friends and seeing another friend walk past. He had put on weight while I had been away, he looked quite different.

“Wow, he’s heaps fatter now.” As soon as I exclaimed this the friends I was with let me know we don’t normally say that kind of thing!

I realized straight away what they meant and wondered why I just said something that I knew was rude. I totally didn’t know it was rude when I said it.
Another memory for the Surprise! Series and the re entry one as I consider the perils of living in Australia where people expect me, the white Australian, native English speaker, to know how to act/speak/think etc.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A re entry surprise from last time

“How much did your bike cost?”

I was vaguely aware that the person I was asking had a strange look on their face.

“Six hundred dollars,” they replied.

I was shocked a bike could cost so much, so I told them so.

“Wow, that’s a lot, why did you pay that much?”

I've got used to eating rotten fish with herbs and spices 
Later, I was thinking back over the conversation and wondering why the bike owner had such a strange look on their face. Then I remembered when I first got to China I used to feel uncomfortable when people came up to me to ask me how much I paid for my laptop/bike/jeans/eggs/books. It seemed like an invasion of privacy to my Australian ear.

Durian, a smelly fruit I have not got used to eating.
After my Chinese friends had found out how much I paid for something, they would often tell me I’d paid too much. I think I usually felt annoyed at them, it sounded like they were insulting me, but I don’t think they thought they were.

 I guess in Australia we don’t ask questions like that, but in China they do. And I guess I had got used to those questions without even realizing it.

Also, my bike in China only cost me around 10 US dollars, so you can see why 600 shocked me.
This memory (which is from when I just got back to Aust from China) fits into my Surprise series and the re entry one. It’s only after it over that I can look back on it and reflect like this.

I wonder if I’ll have any experiences like this over the next few months, as I go back to live in Australia for a few years, after being in Cambodia.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kuy people in Preah Vihear Province

Soeun smelling Kuy food
Most people in Cambodia are Khmer, but there are some minority groups as well. Last year Kimsoeun and his small group went to visit the Pnong people in the province of Modulkiri, and I tagged along. It was a cross cultural experience for the Khmer Bible school students as I mentioned back here.

This year's trip he also went to visit a minority group (i'm not sure that the right term?). Anyway, they spend some time with the Kuy people, many of them live in Preah Vihear province. 

I heard from some people (i think it was these people) who work with Kuy (sounds a little bit like goo-ay), that they used to have a written language, but it got lost, and they don't really want it written. There was some "dog ate my homework type story". (In contrast to many languages of the world which aren't written down, but people may start developing a written language so they can translated the written work of God into it, and I assume the people like having their language written down.)

Here is a bit about them from a booklet that you can download from here.

Peoples of Cambodia- Kuy

In appearance they do not differ from the 
Khmers. They have their own language, unwritten 
until recently. One folk tale is that the village elders 
originally wrote their language on a pig skin but then 
dogs ate it so their writing was lost. Kuy is in the 
Mon-Khmer language group and there are several 
dialects. Most Kuy people also speak Khmer and in 
some places they are losing their own language. 
dominant belief structure. 

I think this is the newly paved road. You'll see older photos of a big red muddy road. And you can tell by the trees that there is still a lot of red dust around. Those leaves are probably actually green if you wipe the dust off.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flash flood slideshow.

On the radio i heard it called an inland tsunami. Yesterday in Toowoomba all this water came through and created all this chaos as you can see in these photos here. 
The re entry stuff I'm reading said before you go back to your country you should try to catch up in the news from there so don't feel so out of it. Well, I'm certainly doing that- I've been listening to Radio Australia all day cos of the floods.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Which is worse?

Rachael asked "Which is worse?"

""Have you ever played the "Which is Worse?" game. You know, the one where you are given two completely horrible scenarios, and you have to choose the lesser of the two evils. 

Which is worse: Eating only Brussels sprouts for a week or go hungry for a week?""

I guess some people in Australia are thinking- which is worse: drought or flood. After a decade of bad drought, now there are terrible floods. Here are some amazing photos from early this month of the floods.

For me at the moment: Having to throw out perfectly good stuff now, and feel like it is a waste or ending up with a house full of old broken things?

I've spent the last week/s emptying our house of stuff. Throwing out my old language learning notes, old letters and cards. Finding new homes for saucepans, plates etc. Knowing the washing machine we bought still has a lot of life left in it but we can't get any use out of it, saying goodbye to books that I may find useful/interesting in the future but I just can't carry them all....

But on the other hand, if I lived in one place for many years I'd probably complain too. i'd end up with so much old stuff that will have to be thrown away at some point.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Odd one out

Photo thanks 
Most of my adult life I've been the white person among mainly Asians.

When I first got to China I found it really weird and hard that people stared at me. But then when I got back to Aust. I felt like something was wrong- I walked down the street and no one took any notice of me!

And its not just the staring, I was used to being different to others, but in Aust I felt like I was the same as others.It was very weird.

I wonder what it will be like going back this time? I'm looking forward to my new job, which should give me the opportunity to keeping being the blue cherry. Here is a bit from my brochure:

This year I’m going to join an international student ministry in Australia.  
I’m excited about the opportunity to share the Good News with people from China and other places as they study in Australia. 
I’m looking forward to getting to know international students. As an “international person” myself when I’m back in Australia often it’s other international people I relate best to. 
Kimsoeun  and I are also thankful that this will give me ministry experience that will be useful in the long term. While we are back in Australia for him to study, this will give me the opportunity to be further equipped to serve the church in Cambodia.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Christmas cake extraction photos

Made by my family in October in Australia.
Arrived in Cambodia in November.
Weighed over 2kg.
Cooked in biscuit tin with a small mouth.
I was all for scooping it out with a spoon.
But my Filipino, Singaporean and Japanese friend were dedicated to extracting the real Aussie Christmas cake in one piece.
More about our Christmas and the cake on Ayako's blog.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Re entry

artist's concept of a shuttle re-entry
Photo courtesy NASA
Artist's concept of a shuttle re-entry
" to ignition or blast-off, the re entry phase is the most dangerous and difficult part of a space mission.."
From Craig Storti , The Art of Coming Home, pg 187 

I'm going back to Australia soon. It will be my first time to live there as a non student, and first time as a married person.  As I think and read about the re entry process I've started a thing on this blog of re entry posts, it begins with stuff I wrote in May about how I was confused last time I went back to live in Aust. As well I'm collecting some re entry things on my other blog under  re entry(Kronicle extra).