Invercargill by Saturday: end of week 1

This was the first free day that I had spare after the hectic week at work, made hectic by new town, new country, new job, jetlag and having to leave hubby in the UK.

Its been a mad week. I cannot quite believe that I made it through.

I have been throwing myself into things 110% to try and keep busy. It has been tough. Way tougher than I ever imagined it would be.

The job morphed into something that I did not expect it to be. When I left on Friday 12 April, I was expecting to teach 16-19 year olds. By Monday I was teaching 5-9 year olds with severe learning difficulties. I was shell shocked to say the least.

I cried for three days, thinking ‘what on earth have I done?!’ I felt like getting the first plane back out of here again. I knew though, that this was all normal, having read other stories from Ex pats who have been through the same. I was talking to someone today actually, who did exactly the same thing, when they arrived in Auckland.

I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into as many things as I can find. The staff are very social in my new school, a huge contrast to UK teachers. I have only one or two friends who are teachers in England, and choose not to mix friends and work. That is a conscious choice. Here in Invercargill the school staff are incredibly social and very supportive. I have been struggling to come to terms with this all week, thinking at first that it was rather suspicious. Then I realised that that was just my UK brain working overtime.

On Friday evening, I was sitting in a pub with the headteacher, and three other staff I only met this week. It was a great evening, and was nice to see RUGBY on the TV’s in the pubs rather than football! Would I find myself doing that in the UK? Not in a million years!! Staff in schools here seem to pull rank much less than in the UK. One of the two headteachers that I work for is so down to earth it is hard to take in at first. But everyone sees this as perfectly ok.

On Tuesday and Wednesday evening, I was sitting at home in tears. I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I have been talking to as many people as I can, getting a feel for how others think. It seems that many people stay here in the South simply because of the people, and their friendly supportive nature. I have to admit, when I thought about it for a while, I realised how very little people in the UK actually talk to each other. My neighbours back in England basically said hello and nothing more. The next door neighbour to the house I am staying in at the moment gave me a lift to the shop, simply because she saw me walking out as she came in. The school have lent me a vehicle. One of the runners from the triathlon club invited me round for a coffee on the first occasion she met me. Its incredible.

Something else that I need to stop being surprised about too is how everyone knows everyone else.

I was sitting having coffee with a girl called Amy, who the school receptionist put me in contact with. Amy is from the UK, and knows the lovely lady Helen, who I ended up sat next to on the plane from Auckland to (Christchurch) Invercargill last week! The lady in the tax office, put in contact with me via someone who I contacted through an ex pats forum, knows a teacher in my school!

The headteacher of one school has called her contacts in the real estate business to get me started with house hunting. The other headteacher has offered me the loan of a load of furniture. The staff in both schools are telling me NOT to rent furnished because they are sure that between them they will be able to loan me enough furniture to survive while I wait for my own to arrive.

I feel shell shocked. I really am not sure the job is what I expected it to be. But, I have a beach within ten minutes, some wonderful bush and trails to run in, the mountains nearby, and empty roads to cycle on. Not to mention a town full of super friendly people willing to help at every turn.

Once I have a house and my own furniture and things around me, my husband here too, I am sure I will begin to feel a whole lot better.

Until then, I will continue to throw myself into meeting as many people as I possibly can!

Author: Melanie

I am a massage therapist and part time athlete, blogging life thru a disability lens. On wheels, with flipper and occasionally on feet.