I've been busy writing and thankfully doing pretty well on the academic track: was accepted into a conference in Australia (well, two really, but I can't make the second one), received good feedback on an article submitted months ago, finished a helpful seminar for postgrad students where we learned about some of the ins and outs of academia from an insider's perspective, and am almost finished with a chapter of the thesis. I'm realizing just how little you can actually say when you have to integrate theory and support from outside the primary texts. I'm very excited about the opportunity to go to Australia again. We wanted to check out Tasmania while we were here, and now we will be able to. We're going to spend a week in Melbourne first since everyone has recommended it, and it looks like a cool place from the little I've read in the guidebook so far. Tasmania has some good wildlife spots, so I want to visit some of them despite the fact that it will be winter and likely very cold, possibly even snowing!
We checked out Corsair Bay on the other side of the Port Hills during a nice sunny weekend. Days like those where you're out enjoying the natural beauty remind me of what's nice about New Zealand.
Our car started stalling really badly while driving so we had to take it in and get something in the air line fixed. That was several hundred dollars of fun.It was out of commission for a few days, so we had our first experience taking the bus to school from our house, and it wasn't too bad, although it takes almost an hour (car takes 20 minutes). There were a lot of school kids taking it, and they would come on in big bunches and sit on their phones or chatter amongst themselves. Most wear school uniforms here, so they can't really not stand out.
We had some American visitors come over for dinner, and beforehand we drove them up to the Port Hills for some good views. It was nice to hear about what's going on in the U.S. from folks 'on the ground' and compare with some of the features in New Zealand. They also graciously brought us some supplies from back home, including D's favorite Pasta Roni and Mexican food supplies like chili powder and sauce which will be great for cooking, and we loaded them up with some delicious Whittaker's chocolate. I've got two more planned visitors in the next year and am looking forward to showing them around, too.
Someone here wanted to know about how to work for a U.S. company and deal with tax issues, and I found a helpful site that explains about 1099s for foreign contractors. Taxes are often confusing, but especially so when you're coming from a country like New Zealand where a lot of people don't even have to worry about them or file tax returns because the government handles everything (their tax code is a lot simpler).
I found out that here they have flatmates but not roommates, and that they think sharing a room with someone, even in college, is weird. Of course, it's not all like the movies they see, but it does take getting used to sharing a tight space with a stranger.