01.03.2013 - 30.04.2013 32 °C
March brought both excitement and sadness. Our beloved friend Scott got offered a job in Perth and so that marked the end of nine great months of us living together. Scott had entered our lives as a complete stranger, turned housemate and landlord, turned good friend to feeling like a long-lost brother. It was strange to imagine Darwin without him... and we were very sad to see him go. With Scott gone, two new couples moved into our flat: Lisa and Jacob, and Michael and Alison 'Ak'. From a leisurely three people living in the spacious flat for a few weeks to a crowded six people. It was quite a shock to the system.
Fun with Scott
March also brought more work for Bennie. He got offered casual work at a lovely Café in our suburb and he also got offered work at the cinema. He enjoyed the work there a lot more than at the restaurant, the hours were more regular and the people were a joy to work with. Best of all: he got fed all day long at the Café and he received two $2 cinema tickets a week. I think that had a lot to do with him liking his new jobs
It did become clear to us that chances of Ben finding an engineering company to sponsor us to stay on in Australia were very slim. We are no hypocrites: we know Australia is unlikely to become the country we settle in and we will always be appalled by some of things that freely occur here. It is nothing compared to what people make it out to be: there are problems here that are mind-boggling and I often wonder how it can classify itself as a first world country. But... and a BIG 'but' in fact... We also know that we are VERY fortunate to be able to live and work here, especially in Darwin. We have had our fair share of issues with this little city, but the work opportunities that it has offered us are beyond what we could have hoped for. Because of its transient population, we have also made strong friendships with people whom we wouldn't usually have sought a connection with. Our friends range from children to pensioners, but nobody cares. In order to survive in a small city, in the middle of nowhere, far away from modernity and even the most common commodities, friendship is worth its weight in gold. And we are very lucky with the friends we have made
Anyway, we decided to apply for the Northern Territory state sponsorship. In order to apply for this, Ben had to sit an IELTS (English) test, the absurdity of which still astounds us today. The next IELTS tests wouldn't be held for another few months, so we had to find another city or country to take it at within the next few weeks. We had a few options, but ultimately decided to go for Sydney.
Apart from the stress of sitting a ridiculous English test, our time in Sydney was truly wonderful. Scott's parents, John and Angela, were kind enough to put us up in their gorgeous house in Copacabana, North of Sydney. They are really lovely people with a heart of gold. We can see where Scott gets his kindness and joie de vivre from! Rather than just putting us up, they showed us around all the stunning beaches, took us to a famous photography gallery, to a pelican feeding colony, and cooked us the best dishes. It truly felt like a holiday and we had a super time together!
John and Angela
Our last two days in Sydney were spent doing some sight-seeing and catching up with a good friend from University, the lovely Stephanie, who just happened to be there at the same time as us. The world is indeed a small place!
Emilie and Steph!
April was a hectic month for us. It marked the end of the first school term, followed by a week of holidays. I was dreading the end of it, worried about committing to a new term at the Darwin Languages Centre, which could abruptly be cut short if we did not find an alternative to the looming end of our working holiday visa. Jeannie, the director of the Darwin Languages Centre - and my secret Fairy Godmother – ignored my worries and kept insisting that something would pop up at the last minute. She even offered me the position of head French teacher after one of the teachers signed up for retirement. I envied her hope and trust in fate, but was worried about leaving her stranded, so I continued on. On top of that, I started teaching a third Dutch family, whom I loved to bits from the very start. Come what may, we had no doubt that we would end up on our feet facing the future together with confidence and strength, but for me it had become a sad thought thinking about all the families I would be leaving behind without a tutor. It really worried me...
Then, a couple of weeks into the month, Ben got called in to sit two interviews! Just like that! One Skype interview for an engineering company in New Zealand and one interview for a local engineering company. He would be lucky to get either jobs, as both companies offered him great career opportunities, but we had learnt from past experiences not to get our hopes up. We had also put forward our application for government sponsorship, which seemed to be heading in the right direction. Now all that was left to do was wait...
… Suspense …
We did not have to wait all that long as a week later Ben got the EXCELLENT news that he got offered the job with the engineering company in Darwin and that the company would be sponsoring us both to remain in the country for a few years to come! We were overjoyed!!! Well done, Bennie!! We are all so very proud of you!!
And thus ended a full year in Australia. Since then, our lives have moved on at a rapid pace... which you will be able to catch up in our next blog post!
Thank you for checking up on us, and I hope you are all well.
Take care and much love,
Ben and Emilie (well, mostly Emilie, but Ben sends his wishes from afar too!)