Tag Archives: australia

5 things I do not miss about Australia

Five Things I Do Not Miss About Australia

So I’ve moved back to the US. Here are some things I absolutely do not miss about Australia.

I’ve been back in the US for 10 days and I have to admit, there are a few things that I don’t miss about Australia. Even though Australia is amazing in so many ways, there are always cons to go with the pros. Future immigrants and students, these are the things that I did not like and which played a large part in why I left:

  1. Cost of living / “Australian Tax” – At least minimum wage and salaries in general are high, but paying $20 for a bottle of contact solution or $30 for less than 2 hours of parking – as well as higher prices on all electronics, cosmetics, and clothing that are the same as in America (i.e. made in China) – was incredibly infuriating. Everything seems so cheap to me now in the US, even prices in LA.
  2. Slow and expensive internet – DATA CAPS ARE EVIL!!! I got a whole 50GB for $73 a month. The previous year I got 150GB for $60 a month. In the US, I have unlimited internet that is twice as fast for the same price. In Europe, it’s even cheaper.
  3. Rental inspections – I have never been more insulted in my life than when I learned there would be an inspection in my rental house/apartment every 4 months regardless of how clean I kept the place. Invasion of privacy, anyone?
  4. Current government – Disregard for the environment, lack of marriage equality, horrible treatment of refugees, Islamophobic policies, Tony Abbott, etc. It is truly embarrassing for a country that is known for being so laid-back, friendly, and progressive.
  5. Isolation – Flying to Europe or the eastern US takes around 24 hours and can cost more than $2,000. This is why I had to go two years without seeing my niece and nephew. It really takes a toll on you.

Some of these things will hopefully change in the future, and the Australian dollar is getting weaker which makes prices cheaper for some immigrants. The last one, however, is probably the main reason why I am ok with not living in Australia anymore.

My niece is nearly 4 and my nephew is 2. They stopped swimming this week to look at a pretty butterfly. They repeat French words I teach them. Their giggles and smiles melt my heart. I’ve already missed a lot being overseas the past few years, and Australia is just too far away from them.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Can we talk about how awesome Darwin is?

My birthday present to myself in May was one last trip in Australia. I used my Qantas points to get a free flight to Darwin and booked a day tour to Kakadu National Park to see Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie and crocodiles in Yellow Water Billabong.

Darwin itself is a nice tropical destination and most of the attractions are walkable. Be sure to visit in the dry season though (May to September are probably best). The temperature was perfect for me and I am always cold!

A photo posted by Jennifer Wagner (@ielanguages) on

Eavesdropping on foreign tourists and guessing which language they are speaking is always fun when travelling. Coming across multilingual signs is an added bonus.

 

A photo posted by Jennifer Wagner (@ielanguages) on

The day trip to Kakadu was very long and expensive, but worth it. We saw quite a few crocs at Yellow Water.

A photo posted by Jennifer Wagner (@ielanguages) on

We ended the trip at Mindil Beach for the beautiful sunset.

 

A photo posted by Jennifer Wagner (@ielanguages) on

We stayed at The Cav near the bus depot and information centre, and used Darwin Airport Shuttle for transfers to/from the airport. You can see a few more photos on Instagram and I’ve uploaded a video of a crocodile and the Mindil Beach sunset to YouTube.

The next time I come back to Australia, I will definitely visit Darwin again!

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Back to North America Soon… But Probably Not Forever

It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly 4 years since I left France for Australia, but it has. And now it’s time to say goodbye to Australia, unfortunately. My student visa expires soon and I haven’t been able to find a permanent job (most likely because I do not yet have my PhD “in hand” as almost every job listing specifies). Even though Australia now has a Post-Study Work Visa for recent graduates, I am not eligible since I started my program before November 2011 and there is no alternative option for me. I am slightly bitter about how unfair immigration laws really are and being forced to leave a place I love, but I will continue to apply for jobs in Australia with the hope of returning someday. I am also looking for jobs in North America and Europe, so if you hear of any French or applied linguistics lecturer positions, please let me know.

I’ll be back in Michigan and Virginia for a short time in June to see family, and then I’m off to Europe for a few weeks for the New Zealand Studies Association conference and my annual trip with Michelle. We’ll be exploring Eastern Europe and Iceland, and then I’ll be heading to France and Benelux to visit friends and family. When I return to the US in August, I’ll be able to work full-time on the website since I won’t have a job so expect more authentic language videos and realia to be uploaded then.

If anyone in the Adelaide area needs furniture or household items, I’m selling almost everything I own on Gumtree and Ebay. (I’ll be adding my desktop computer and car soon.) I’ll also be donating some things, such as books and kitchen items, to Salvos if you like free stuff.

I leave Australia June 14, but don’t worry, Charlie is definitely coming to the US with me. He actually arrives before I do! Jetpets will be taking care of him along the way, and he even gets to spend the night in both Sydney and Los Angeles on his way to Detroit.

My handsome little man

My handsome little man, and soon to be world traveler!

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

AILA World Congress 2014: International Applied Linguistics Association Conference

I was in Brisbane all last week for the AILA 2014 World Congress, the largest conference for applied linguistics in the world. It is held every three years and I had just missed out on the Beijing conference in 2011 by one month when I first started my PhD. I presented my research on stylistic and geographic variation in French textbooks and was pleasantly surprised at how many people were interested in my presentation. The conference was quite large – over 1,600 delegates – and exhausting but definitely worth it. The program was over 200 pages, not including the abstracts, and there were about 25 parallel sessions to choose from. I found all of the plenaries interesting and was overall impressed by how well run everything was. I can’t imagine organising a conference of this size is an easy task.

Opening ceremony of the AILA Olympics

Opening ceremony of the AILA Olympics

You can check out the program and abstracts via the website to see the diversity of presentations and symposia. It can be a bit overwhelming reading through it all – now imagine having to choose only one session among all of them. Tough decisions!

Plenary on language that looks like English but isn't really

Plenary on language that looks like English but isn’t really

I tended to stick to the strands on language teaching, learning and educational technology. I even found myself in a talk that reported on a Māori teaching course, which I wasn’t expecting from the title since it didn’t mention any specific languages. Hearing Māori – and let’s be honest, incredibly adorable New Zealand accents – is always nice!

So happy to find myself in a talk about Māori language

Jocelyn even said a mihi before the presentation and it was beautiful

My favorite presentation was by Tom Cobb since it’s very relevant to my research. He has recently been adopting English-based corpus tools to French, which also helps improve his amazing Compleat Lexical Tutor website.

Top 2,000 words of French account for 92% lexical coverage

Top 2,000 words of French account for 92% lexical coverage (cf only 80% in English)

Even though it’s winter in Australia right now, it was in the 20s C / 70s F in Brisbane. I love Queensland! However, learning about the existence of gigantic burrowing cockroaches at the (free!) Queensland Museum did leave me a little traumatized…

Swimming in winter

Swimming in winter

The next AILA World Congress will be held in August 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! See you in South America, my fellow applied linguists!

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

The end of my PhD is near, so what’s next?

I have just finished writing the last chapter of data analysis for my thesis. Now I need to write the conclusion and abstract, update my literature review, and do some final revisions then the printing and binding of four copies. Technically I have until March 2015 to submit, so if I haven’t managed to find a job this (Australian) summer, I’ll at least still have student status for a while longer. You’re probably thinking that I could finish in no time since I don’t have much left to do, but I have about seven jobs right now – more than half are actually volunteer positions – so I can’t exactly work on my thesis every single day. Plus turning my chapters into manuscripts to submit to journals takes a while, but needs to be done sooner rather than later since finding an academic job without having research publications is very difficult.

This may or may not be the same size as my stack of data and thesis copies...

This may or may not be the same size as my stack of data sets and thesis copies… [Photo Credit: gadl via Compfight cc]

I love all of my jobs though and wouldn’t give any of them up without a fight. The most time-consuming right now is teaching three classes this semester: first year French, second year French, and a tutorial on intercultural communication. I am a tiny bit obsessed with finding and creating fun speaking and vocabulary activities for my French students (see exhibit A: my Teaching French at Uni board on Pinterest).

I’m in Brisbane this week for the 1,600 delegate-strong AILA World Congress (the most important applied linguistics conference in the world!) and then I’m off to Sydney in October for the Easter Island exhibition that I’m co-curating as well as Taiwan in December to present at the Pacific History Association conference.

I’m also an assistant editor of the Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies which publishes two issues a year and has an annual conference in Europe, for which I’m an organiser, as part of the New Zealand Studies Association. (We’ll be in Vienna in July 2015, btw.) Add to those being the student representative for PhD students in my School (I get to complain on behalf of all of the students! I love complaining!), a research assistant, and webmaster of five websites, and hopefully you will understand why I have very little free time these days.

My current student visa expires in October 2015 and I’m still a little unclear as to whether the Department of Immigration changes the expiration date if your degree is conferred before your candidature is up. (It seems that international undergrads who finish their degrees early only have 28 days before they must leave the country.) I’m crossing my fingers that a visa-sponsoring academic job in Australia or New Zealand is available for next year but I’m also trying to prepare for the worst, i.e. packing up everything and moving across the ocean at my own expense for the third time in my life.

Plan B is submitting an expression of interest to obtain a resident visa for New Zealand since university lecturer is currently on the Long Term Skill Shortage List. Plan C is putting my stuff in storage, having friends look after Charlie and basically hanging out in Honolulu or LA until I can find a permanent way back to this part of the world. Just as one language will never be enough for me, one nationality and one passport will never be enough either.

I’ll post a summary of my time at AILA next week, but in the meantime I’m tweeting about the presentations and plenaries I’m attending and you can also check out the hashtag #AILA2014.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Australian & New Zealand Universities that offer French

Australian and New Zealand Universities that Offer French

For Francophiles based in the South Pacific region, 20 out of the 39 universities in Australia and 6 out of the 8  universities in New Zealand currently offer French:

Australia

  1. Australian National University
  2. Edith Cowan University
  3. Flinders University
  4. James Cook University
  5. La Trobe University
  6. Macquarie University
  7. Monash University
  8. RMIT University
  9. University of Adelaide
  10. University of Melbourne
  11. University of New England
  12. University of New South Wales
  13. University of Newcastle
  14. University of Queensland
  15. University of South Australia
  16. University of Sydney
  17. University of Technology, Sydney
  18. University of Tasmania
  19. University of Western Australia
  20. University of Wollongong

New Zealand

  1. Massey University
  2. University of Auckland
  3. University of Canterbury
  4. University of Otago
  5. University of Waikato
  6. Victoria University of Wellington

If small island living is your thing, then the University of the South Pacific also offers courses in French. The main campus is in Suva, Fiji, but there are campuses on eleven other island nations.

France in the South Pacific

And of course Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie and Université de la Polynésie Française offer courses and degrees in French since these islands are collectivités of France and use French as an official language.

Let me know if I’ve missed a university.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Holiday Weekend in Gold Coast, Queensland

I flew up to Gold Coast last Wednesday to meet up with one of my oldest friends from Michigan. Jessica just finished her postdoc in Melbourne and is moving back to the US tomorrow, so this was our last trip together in Australia.

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View from hotel in Broadbeach

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Queensland needs more beaches

Most people head to the GC either for the beaches or the theme parks. We did spend some time on the beach, but we actually spent most of the time playing with cute Australian animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Jessica and me on the train at Currumbin

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Momma kangaroo and joey

Of the various districts in the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise is probably the most well-known and popular. I definitely heard a lot of foreign languages (mostly French!) spoken there. The tallest building in Australia, Q1, is also in Surfers Paradise. You can go up to the Skypoint observation deck (though it’s rather expensive) or even climb around outside.

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The Q1 in Surfers Paradise

We also rented a car for the day and drove down to Byron Bay in New South Wales, where the most easterly point of the Australian mainland is.

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As close to the US as I can get on foot

Gold Coast is a great tourist destination since the airport is quite small (and resembles a food court more than an airport) and public transportation to and from the airport is incredibly easy to figure out. Bus 702 serves the airport every half hour and heads up the Gold Coast Highway. If you buy a go card from the shuttle desk in the airport (for $5) and add money to it, you will save a lot.

The rest of my travel photos are in the Gold Coast album at the Gallery.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

A Weekend on Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island and definitely worth a visit for the beautiful beaches and adorable wildlife. Although I’ve been to many beaches in Australia already, every new one I see is just as gorgeous as the last one. KI did not disappoint.

Pennington Bay

Pennington Bay

The first view upon getting off the ferry in Penneshaw:

Clear water

Clear water

Sadly, I did not see any (live) kangaroos on the island, but I did see plenty of sea lions, wallabies, echidnas, goannas and koalas.

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Sleepy sea lion at Seal Bay

My friend and I drove down for the weekend (it’s only a 1.5 hour drive from Adelaide, plus a 45 minute ferry) so we weren’t able to visit all of the towns and attractions. We mostly did the southern coast along the highway (the only paved road) since riding in my little car probably wouldn’t have been too comfortable in the north, where almost all of the roads are gravel. The major tourist attractions are mostly along the southern coast too.

Remarkable Rocks

Remarkable Rocks

Weirs Cove

Weirs Cove

You can also fly to Kingscote from Adelaide and rent a car (there are no taxis or public transportation on the island) instead of driving. There are some bus tours that depart from Adelaide but the one day tour sounds extremely exhausting, so I would highly recommend driving and staying for a few nights. Just try not to drive after dark when the animals come out!

Watch out for wildlife on the roads

Watch out for wildlife on the roads

Check out the Kangaroo Island album in the Gallery for more photos.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Australian Vacation / Holiday 2012

I recently returned from two weeks of travelling around Australia. A friend from Arizona, Michelle, came to Australia for the first time and we decided to visit all of the major tourist attractions. We went to Sydney and Melbourne, drove along the Great Ocean Road, enjoyed a few days at the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach, and finished at Ayers Rock Resort. Michelle also came back to Adelaide with me and we went to Cleland Wildlife Park so she could hold a koala (one of the few places in Australia where you can do that) and up to the Barossa Valley for a wine tour. Because of the large distances between all of these places, we had to fly everywhere but since flying in Australia is the opposite of flying in the US (i.e. it is actually a pleasant experience), we had no problems with our flights or baggage.

I met Michelle in Melbourne where I had rented a car so we (ok, I since Michelle had never driven on the left before) could drive along the Great Ocean Road. We actually did it in one day, which turned out to be nine hours of driving for me, but we made so many stops along the way that I was not tired at all. Plus the drive is incredibly beautiful and I was so excited to finally be doing it.

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We also wandered around Melbourne in 100° heat (38°C) and watched the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. Then it was off to Airlie Beach where we did the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach tours with Cruise Whitsundays. I managed to not get sick on the boats, but even if you are prone to motion sickness, they are totally worth it!

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Next we flew down to Sydney and luckily it was not as hot as in Melbourne. I don’t really like big cities but the big cities in Australia are different than those in Europe or the US. I can’t really explain it but they are just somehow better (like everything in Australia!)

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The last destination was, of course, Ayers Rock – or Uluru, as it is called by the traditional owners of the land, the Anangu people. There are also other rocks in the national park, called The Olgas or Kata Tjuta, which are just as beautiful. A three day pass to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park only costs $25, but getting there and the price of accommodation can be a bit high.

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We flew to the Ayers Rock airport instead of Alice Springs (“only” a five hour drive away) because we were staying at the Ayers Rock Resort next to the national park, which is the only place to stay since there is no camping inside the park. It is essentially its own little town, with a gas station, grocery store, post office, police station, etc. but what I loved most was hearing so many languages. Since Ayers Rock is the biggest tourist destination after Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, there are more foreign tourists there than Australians. Australia is very multilingual and I often hear several languages in the big cities and even when I’m out shopping in the suburbs of Adelaide, but languages were everywhere at Ayers Rock! In addition to the wonderful dry heat of the desert (anything less than 95°F / 35° C and I’m chilly), it was paradise for me.

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I’ve already uploaded my photos to the Gallery, and I’ll work on typing up some travel trips for anyone who is interested in going to the same places. But I do need to get back to working on that pesky thesis over Christmas break. If only I had the life of a kangaroo…

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I’ve uploaded some videos of Ayers Rock, the Great Barrier Reef and Australian animals to my Youtube channel.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.

Off to Perth for a Teachers of French Conference

I fly to Perth, Western Australia, tomorrow to present at the Teachers of French Association Conference. My presentation on the vocabulary coverage of French textbooks will include the beginning stages of my PhD project. I will report back on all of the presentations and everything new I learn about teaching and learning French in Australia next week.

Then thanks to the Easter holiday, I have a few days to explore the Perth region, including Fremantle and Rottnest Island. La vie est belle, n’est-ce pas ?

Beach on Rottnest Island

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.