Reality Hits Home


Today was the long awaited Exchange Teachers Conference at the DET building in Bridge Street, Sydney. There was guest speakers there from all over the place – the Australian Tax Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, representatives from the Canadian Embassy, Teachers Health Service, Diploma Travel, the Department of Education, the Exchange Teachers League, and others. All in all it was a pretty informative day, but the best part was the afternoon session where we got to hear from a couple of people who have just returned from exchanges in the last couple of years.Their stories were very interesting, and quite candid. At some points I began to wonder if we were doing the right thing. They did mention quite a few things that would be considered “downsides”, and at one point had almost talked us out of going. But they did balance it out by saying that the exchange was one of the best things they had ever done, so I’m hanging on to that last piece of advice.

It was good to meet other people and talk to them about what they have been going through, compare notes and just chat. Ontario certainly seems to be a very popular destination with the IEU teachers, and we were encouraged by hearing an accountant talking about just how financially worthwhile the trip can work out to be. There are quite a few things that can be done to legally minimise tax and make the most of the allowable claims, so we plan to use his services to do exactly that. It was a bit scary hearing how much money others had poured into previous exchanges – figures between $50-100,000 were mentioned – but we have no intention of spending anywhere near that. I got a bit worried when I heard those sorts of numbers being mentioned, but then we discovered that all these people had spent a lot of time doing very extensive travel into the USA, to Florida, Disneyland, Grand Canyon, etc. Others had flitted off to Europe, etc. No wonder they blew their budget out! We plan to see as much as we can, but I don’t imagine we will be going quite so far afield. To be honest, I’m hoping to go to Canada mainly to see Canada. Europe will be another trip, for another time. Same with the USA. I’d love to travel in both these places, but trying to cram it all into the Canada trip just seems a bit much to me.

Anyway, we joined the Exchange Teachers League, cause it seemed like the right thing to do. We will probably also hook up with the Canadian equivalent while we are there, just to get to meet a few more people.

Time to start getting really focussed now, working out exact dates and times, working out money arrangements, booking tickets, etc, etc. Lots to do!

Blog Away


It just gets easier. This Blogger thing is a great idea, and you can now send a blog directly from email, or Word, or even direct from a mobile phone I’m told. I’m sending this post from Word using the new BloggerForWord plugin, so that’s pretty cool. There is heaps of talk about how blogs can be used in education too, and this ability to add to a blog using Word could be fairly useful…

Lots of stuff going on


Got news from Helen yesterday that our medical forms have arrived and she will be sending them out by Express Post. We should have them on Monday. I emailed back to ask if I can assume that our visa applications went through ok and she replied that they had. Well that was quick! I had expected the work permits/visas to take a lot longer than that, so it was a pleasant surprise.

We have the Exchange Teachers Conference coming up this Friday and Helen says that it will be a great source of information about what we need to do before, during and after the exchange. (Well, maybe not so much after... I made that bit up) But it will be good to get some more direction on things like tax, flights, what to take and what to leave behind. We are trying to guess a lot of things which I'm hoping will become a bit clearer after next Friday.

The work around the house is still happening, and we painted the kitchen last week and touched up a couple of other walls. Today I took the sliding doors off the back toilet and the laundry to give them a coat of estapol... a job that has needed doing since the extension was put on a couple of years ago but that we never seem to get around to doing. Donna is out at the moment buying some more plants for the backyard, since she really wants to make the place look good for the exchange. Oh, and we have painted half the front fence, but its a really big job that takes ages to do. We will get to the other half of it eventually.

We've also been tossing around ideas about what to do with the cars and trailer while we're gone. Originally we had planned to sell it all and replace the cars when we get back, but we're starting to think about how much you lose when you sell a car and are thinking that the fewer times we buy and sell the better. So at this stage we're thinking we might keep the XL-7 and the trailer, but sell the BMW. Donna drove a brand new Toyota Echo the other day and quite liked it, so it looks like one of those might be on the cards when we get back. We also emailed a few car places in Toronto about getting a car while we are there. I think I'm just more confused than ever, and will probably wait till we get there before we worry too much about it.

Skype: betchaboy

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