Friday, April 30, 2010

Going to Wollongong ... virtually

There are many universities, and many Masters courses.

A cautionary tale:

The lovely lady who got the job we had hoped for in Toowoomba is younger than us, and has a Masters. However, after giving her the job, they then put her on the lowest pay scale because her Masters was really 'no good'!

She had attained a Masters of Applied Linguistics in TESOL. If you examine this course, you will find that it looks essentially the same as the Master of Education in TESOL - pretty well same subjects, same stuff to learn, same purpose. What's wrong with it? It's not a Master of EDUCATION!

There are several other universities here in Brissie. Some of them offer a "MATE" - Master of Arts in TESOL. Some offer the Master of Applied Linguistics. But the Master of Education is a little hard to find, and we have decided that is what we want.

So, after our very expensive day, we had to decide whether to pay the extra $10000 (!) or look elsewhere. We discovered that the University of Wollongong has the course, and we phoned them to make sure they didn't have the mysterious lack of Commonwealth places.

We had been looking forward to being real students here especially after doing our Bachelors at ECU externally. (Peter thinks maybe he should grow his hair ... ) But, no biggee, we can do that again.

So at this stage we have applied to University of Wollongong to do a "distance" Master of Education.

Another good thing about that - we don't have to wait til July for the course to start. They have several starts throughout the year, and the next one is next Monday, so we can get right onto it!

The Ten Thousand Dollar Day

We were advised to apply for "Advanced Standing" at the same time as we enrolled in the course (the Master of Education in TESOL course). But we were waiting on a particular item to be sent to us before we could do that. So we waited, and we didn't enrol straight away.

We didn't realise that the person who was sending us that particular item had gone on holiday for a month, we kept believing day by day that it would arrive, and so we didn't go ahead and enrol anyway.

Finally the paper arrived, and we put in our enrolment, and our application for "Advanced Standing"

Oh no! They told us. You missed the "Commonwealth Supported" places by one day. Not that it was an announced closing day we had missed, just a mysterious decision that from that day there would be no more Commonwealth places for Master of Education courses. And we were one day too late.

Our course would have cost $2750 (each), but now we would need to be full fee paying students and it would cost $7500 (each) ... a difference of about $10 000 for the two of us. (That is for one semester - $20 000 for the 2 semesters, of course.)

Expensive day, ay?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You can take the boy out of the garden ...

But you can't take the garden out of the boy!

Peter was looking forward to having an apartment, and no garden (especially no lawn) to look after. We even gave away the lawn mower we had bought in Toowoomba - remarkably it had thoroughly paid for itself the way the grass had been growing in those few months!

So we have this little bit of a "balcony" (well, it's the fire escape really) near our kitchen door, and there is a ledge that runs right around the place under the windows.

Perfect place for the odd pot plant.

And, of course, there are a few plants inside too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How about going back to Saudi Arabia?

So last year I was teaching in Saudi Arabia - see here: Howdi Saudi.
And today there is a new offer for teachers to teach at our old University, Dar Al Uloom.

Job Title:English language Instructors Required
Located at:Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)->map
Vacancy:5 or more
Salary:$5300 USD
Required fields of expertise: ESL/EFL, University
English language Instructors Required
Dar Al Uloom University, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wishes to invite suitably qualified and experienced candidates to apply for English language teaching positions within the faculty of English.
The university, DAU University is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The medium of instruction is English and the university runs a preparatory year program for students who must reach a prescribed level of English proficiency before beginning their respective major/specialization studies.

Did you see that? $5300 USD! (tax free, per month, and with a living and travel allowance as well).

hmmm ...

Great Location

We were so pleased to get a (reasonably priced) apartment close to the city, and close to QUT ... and it is also close to some great parkland for nice walks, as well as a full-size public swimming pool and gym.

And it's a mere 5 minute walk away.

Had a lovely swim this morning in the heated outdoor 50m pool.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's at Caloundra?

With time on our hands, and beautiful weather, we thought we should take a trip up the coast a little way to reacquaint ourselves with the beach (because Brisbane apparently doesn't really have beaches).

There were some lovely little rock pools - though not much life in them.

And there was a bit of a sandy beach, with a little patch where people were crammed together swimming between the flags.

Honestly, it didn't look like much fun!

And the wind meant that it was really cold when you got out.

So we went and had lunch in a cafe in the main town (all the places near the beach seemed to be closed for renovations).

And then came home - only an hour and a bit's drive.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Hill or the Valley?

We are right on the edge of things here.

Just outside the front door there is a sign that pronounces this area to be "Spring Hill" .

A few metres the other way along Gregory Terrace, over Brunswick Street, it declares "Bowen Hills".

But if we actually go down Brunswick Street a little way, we find we are in "Fortitude Valley".

Who cares, anyway - ay?

When we moved in, we contacted the energy people to have the electricity and gas connected in our name. No problem with the electricity at this address in Spring Hill. But the gas - sorry, there is no gas connection at this address!

So we went downstairs and stared long and hard at our gas hot water system, and the meter attached, then we tried again.

After a very long time on the phone we managed to find the gas connection.

It seems that our front door is in Spring Hill, but our back door is in Fortitude Valley. Hey!!

Watching the world go by

There's always something interesting to see from our window. Even just staring at the old Museum building is interesting. And this time of day, the light is just delightful.

Love living in the city.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Moving Day

This is new, we have never done this before!

Despite all of our many many moves ... we have never moved with furniture before. We have travelled overseas, with everything we own in a 20kg suitcase. We have moved within countries overseas and given away all our household gear. And we have moved from China to Turkey and tried to take some boxes of stuff with us.

We drove from WA to Queensland with everything we had in our car. And then we settled in the LYH (Little Yellow House) in Toowoomba and bought (new) furniture. So this time we wanted to bring it with us.

We had a tow-ball fitted to the car, thinking we might do-it-ourselves, buying or hiring a trailer. One of the off-putting things with that was knowing that we were moving to a third floor apartment with a narrow little staircase.

So we hired a truck and two men at $105 an hour.

HUGE TRUCK, way more than we needed ... apparently they sent the big truck because it has better fuel economy over long distances like Toowoomba to Brisbane.

We figured if we gave them lots of help they could get it done faster and it would cost us less, so we had almost everything out in the carport ready to go by the time they arrived at 9am.

But it seemed to be an extra hot (muggy) day, especially at the Brisbane end, and for one of the two young chaps it was his first day on the job so he was still learning how to lift and carry etc. And then (as expected) getting the stuff up to the apartment was tortuous. It ended up taking 7 hours all up! (Imagine if we'd had as much stuff as most people have!)

Our New Home

We looked at all sorts of apartments, in complexes with swimming pools and the like, but this one has much more appeal. The previous tenants had left the place a bit of a mess, but mess can be cleaned.

We have a huge (airconditioned) main room - big enough to use for our studies as well - and it has windows on both sides. (The other apartments had a very closed-in feeling.) So we have great views, and we get a lovely through breeze when there is one.

From our kitchen window (and living room, dining room, bathroom, and outside fire-escape landing) we have views across to the Story Bridge. On the other side (living room, and bedroom windows) we can see the magnificent old Museum building, and Gregory Terrace.

Here is our kitchen and back door (right) and living room to the left.

Our Masters Classes don't actually start until Second Semester (July) ... so for now - well, who knows?

One Really Good Thing

We had to break lease in Toowoomba, after only 4 months of our 6 month lease. We weren't too worried because the LYH is so nice it shouldn't take long for someone else to take it over. All the same, there would be at least one week extra rent (as penalty) plus however long it took to get someone in there. So we were prepared to pay that anyway.

Then we got a phone call from the agents to say that something had happened the very day we left to make the owners decide they wanted to sell the LYH all of a sudden! And they wouldn't be charging us any penalty or any extra rent!

How's that!!