Posted by: Colleen Ens | October 24, 2010

Firsts and lasts…

Recently, in reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography I read something I can say truly resonates with me, something I wish to share:Andre’s coach says to him: I won’t ever try to change you, because I have never tried to change anyone. If I could change somebody it would be myself. But I know I can give you structure and a blueprint to achieve what you want.

There is a difference between a plow horse and a racehorse. You don’t treat them in the same fashion. You hear all this talk about treating people equally and I’m not sure it means treating them the same.

As far as I’m concerned, you’re a racehorse and I’ll always treat you accordingly. I’ll be firm, but fair. I’ll lead, never push. I’m not one of those people who expresses or articulates feelings very well, but from now on, just know this: It’s on. It is on.

We’re in a fight and you can count on me until the last man is standing. Somewhere up there is a star with your name on it.

I may not be able to help you to find it, but I’ve got pretty strong shoulders and you can stand on my shoulders while you’re looking for that star, for as long as you wish. Stand on my shoulders

and reach… 

To all those who thought perhaps the earth had indeed ‘gone flat’ and I’d fallen off, I would like to apologize.

For those who are not familiar with the rigors of final assignments and the ‘fits’ and starts of preparing for the conclusion of an intense practicum, it would take more time than I have parsimoniously allotted to explain.

For those who have experienced what in essence may be compared to rewriting ‘Ben Hur’ for a seven year old audience, thank you all for your patience in what may be my penultimate creation for your reading pleasure.

We will call this installment –firsts and lasts: Since it has taken me so long to communicate, I won’t spend time worrying about chronological order here. Knowing that in just under a month I’ll be back in Canada and this will be but a memory, I’m sure the lines will blur as our memories have this way of behaving.

OK, here are the bullets “A record of firsts”. This means firsts not just for me but for Australia in my time here:

  • First time since 1983 the Aussie Dollar is on par with the U.S. Greenback 
  • First hung parliament since 1929
  • First woman prime minister
  • First time in ten years that the Wivenhoe dam opened to reduce the amount of water being stored there
  • First time in 128 years – Birdsville races are rained out (there is a piece on Birdsville further down – it won’t be as detailed as I would like due to my time crunch but it turned into a ‘first’ for me to accompany a news crew in a private flight from Birdsville to Alice Springs…
  • First time in fifty years Australia appears to be green from one side of the New South Whales to the other

My own first and lasts

  • My first ‘pumpkin festival’ (more than 500 contestants ‘bowl’ pumpkins down a hill and the furthest distance wins a prize – no, I didn’t win)
  • First touring flight over New Zealand, which turned out to be the a first for the pilot who had never seen the coast so clearly
  • First time teaching a room full of seven year olds in my last practicum
Posted by: Colleen Ens | August 1, 2010

Ten for 10 in 2010


Everything is coming up ’10’s for me.  Ten weeks from now I’ll will have  completed my university training in my Post Graduate degree in Education and start my final practicum – this time with children in year ‘TWO”! This is my 10th posting on Go Ahead and Take A Byte – AND things are 10 for 10 for me in my outlook for  all the right reasons.

Not the least is having spent one of our best months ever together as Zoli and I traveled from Sydney/Melbourne/Hong Kong/ Beijing/ Auckland/ Sunshine Coast/Sydney together.

I’m so blessed. These adventures are so welcome, so invigorating – the greatest  being with Zoli.  We have reconnected and just smile a collective smile as we go about our work now.  I’ve piled in the photos in order to share our adventure with you – Asian style! 

Today I want to focus on allowing the photos to do the talking – PLEASE e-mail me – University mail box is OR my personal box – for those who want to send a personal message – feel free to send your comments to the address above and we’ll get back in touch OK?

   In my last note to everyone I spoke of a great dividing line between Australia and Canada as being defined by the weather – yesterday we were blessed with 26 degrees which is very unusual. For the most part just lately it has warmed up to feel more like May at home than a ‘winter’ month in Australia.

Within the photos you will see Zoli and I covering the itinerary and really being on the move –  So, now we have the fun of boring,  “oops” I mean sharing our trip photos with all of our friends in our Asian adventure.            

The transition between unpacking travelling items and purchasing text books has been a little bumpy so please forgive me if this transmission lacks a little of it’s previous creative writing. I promise to express myself a little more eloquently in transmission eleven.  Once a few papers and assignments have been completed….

Ten/Four – over and out :

Posted by: Colleen Ens | July 4, 2010

let the games begin

Posted by: Colleen Ens | July 2, 2010

Let the games begin…

Let the games begin!

June 23 to July 1, 2010 – parts prepared in-flight from the Sunshine Coast to Melbourne

You can’t believe how this time has been for me. Seeing things I couldn’t imagine I would, right along with things I’d rather not. I’m in flight now, for the first time since landing in Brisbane via Fiji in February 2010. It wouldn’t be fair to say time has flown by, as it has not. Too many times I’ve tried to ignore the voice yelling out “what could possibly be worth being so far away from those you love and those whom you love back?” 

But here I am at 35,000 feet – never uncertain when airborne.  Happily gazing out of the window of the fuselage. Trucks on the tarmac getting smaller by the minute, now cruising over flat and lush pastures, now my favorite part above the clouds so bright and while on top and a brilliant blue sky above.  Seeing the red earth tinged with green tell me there has been so much more rain than what has been the norm for the last ten years and it is very welcome, so far, so good for the local population.

   The great dividing line between here and home is less in the weather, in spite of how dramatic Aussie rains and suns can be and more inspiring through its incredibly abundant bird life. The concept that they don’t fly away, to warmer or cooler places still intrigues me. More so the idea that flowers bloom in the winter because the summers are too hot for them to bloom – such a foreign concept!

            …The colours are so vivid,

            How do these birds manage to go through life with so much colour? What do you suppose a Cardinal would do if he came across this squawking creature? The Crimson Rosellas fly in large flocks and ambles up and down flowering branches as though they are clumsy clowns. These guys are so much fun to watch! They are slighter larger than their Rainbow Lorikeet cousins who’s names are as colourful as they are! Sometimes it takes a while to recognize the unexpected details, sadly the beauty is not everywhere. Many of the inhabitants have dangerous driving habits and not altogether racially tolerant. As I contemplate our landing, I’d say I’ve landed on my feet and can’t say I’m suffering very much. 

… a break in the clouds

Now I’m happily thinking of a space of less than 24 hours when after four months and 20 days Zol and I will be reunited. I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they saw into my future, now half way through an enriching experience in a post grad degree at the same time putting out of my mind how I can possibly cope with perhaps even a bit longer stretch before I return home – home to winter in Canada no less when at the same time heat stroke is a possibility here, should circumstances allow me to help my flat mate – Jenn move to her new life – it its there, for her in Melbourne.

            If you ‘never know someone till you live with them’, knowing Jenn as I am beginning to do has been the absolute best thing I could have done to learn this wonderful ‘down unda’ culture.

            …Life as a student – gotta love those university breaks!

So, to the most significant piece of news first – I have been blessed with honours and a high distinction’ here, which matters to me a lot more than I thought it would. While on campus, dealing with deadlines, papers to be submitted including presentations and project work with hard-to-read partners well it created a life of its own. Today the grad dip program is at a half way mark. I was happy to be done with the first semester at university and now I’m happy to be half way through my practicum requirements.

            The kids were fantastic, my critics, my friends, my trial audiences – pretty ironic when you consider in my own childhood a struggled with the grade 5’s I’ve been teaching for five weeks HA! Most fun so far was making plaster of Paris casts for the kids ‘C.S.I. projects and both the students and myself up to our collective elbows in plaster dust. I smile when I remember how my first week’s project included decorating the library in a Canadian Blizzard Scene – the theme being ‘Chill out with the good book’.

            …. Blizzards and Brilliant Birds

            So there I was, my first week of my practical experience at ‘Currimundi State School’ in the class of grade 4/5’s split and my mentor teacher tells me he has my first project lined up for me. It’s the new library’s ‘Book Fair and the theme is laughable – I should be thinking of chilling out at all – queue Colleen in the shops of Brisbane tracking down images of Polar Bears and Penguins. HA! After a week of pure endurance and a lot of effort the Library is transformed into a Canadian winter wonderland and at the end of the week, my mentor teacher – Darren – is telling me he’s never seen anything like it J. His previous experiences from his many ‘prac’ students didn’t put in the same amount of effort. Overall, no matter how often I hit the target or even a bullseye in my University studies, the real prize has come to me through the recognition of “high distinction on my first practicum – now just to repeat the process … but first – we focus on something we can’t afford to miss – our Asian adventure.

A doubly momentus day!

Our day begins with two major events:

1/ From a strategic and political perspective a Welch-born woman has moved forward – you may say – sharpened her elbow and has been named today as the first Prime Minister of Australia. Can’t say as her bearing is much to write home about but like it or not Ms. Julia Gillard is at the top of the heap at this time.

2/ What matters so much more and to mark the day of this historical event in personal terms as the day that Zol and I got reunited. Zoli and I found each other in Sydney after an interminable wait – we were almost five months apart. I could never have foreseen this


            Last week I met a couple from Quebec who were making their way along the way from the coast and so making their way along the coast and so very intent on expressing this adventure day to day. Veronique and Julien hailed from Sherbrooke – a lady who works in lab and a blood bank and a man who currently drives bicycle in lieu of the city bus he drives back home. My flat mate Jenn admired them and called them intrepid and I agree.

If I were going to worry about the path that I am on, I would have to say the current path is a good one and too good to worry about. My response is that it depends on the day that I am asked the question. Any day that includes the vantage point which includes connecting flights,high above the clouds is a good day to ask me. So I say no looking back now. 

I’m so blessed. These adventures are so welcome, so invigorating – hard sometimes to recognize a good opportunity when the greatest pay off includes accepting the delayed gratification of being with Zoli, more to be here, in this day when we reconnect and just smile….J Now for our own adventure – Asian style!

Posted by: Colleen Ens | May 23, 2010

The Kids and I – off to a great start!

Motivational thoughts
Reflections on Reflecting
Lateral Thinking versus excuses for procrastination

The above topics represent to cerebral an introduction for a Sunday morning. I’ll start, perhaps by putting a ‘toe’ in the proverbial pool of knowledge. I’ll begin by saying that on such an auspicious day as this – the day of my birth two score fifteen year (I love being obtuse) – I realize that no matter what day it is, we make up our own minds in marking the turning points in our lives.

The immediate turning point to which I am referring marks not just another year passing, but my first week with the kids in Mr. Fulcher’s 4/5 class but also tangibly closing the ‘uni’ student’s text and opening the pre-service teacher’s readers.

Man, am I happy to see the first semester of academic writing behind me! No results are available to me from the University of the Sunshine Coast and happily, this relieves me of the duty of sharing my standings with my sorely missed readers. For now, know that I have passed them all (yes, including Math in everyday life) However, to bring you up to speed I am VERY happy to report the feed back on my first week in school in which Mr. D. Fulcher reported never having seen such a wonderful result in the decorations for the new library: I carried out the huge task of replicating a winter snow scene, complete with a huge design of a polar bear, attended by several stuffed white bears purchased at the local Sunday market who were united with their penguin friends in honour of Curriumundi State School’s, ‘Blizzard Book Sale’. Imagine my bewilderment in scouring the downtown section of Brisbane last week in search of images of walrus, penguin and polar bear – now that’s what I call a milestone!

With the thought and the sense that being a student with a beginners mind in the land of plenty, so plenty means being open really and absolutely and ‘overt’ to enchantment of this place. This is not to be confused with being enchanted with the people. I’ve discovered, as in any other country, I suppose, there are too many who don’t look at each other and miss the pleasure of seeing the joy in each other. There are too many people who push in front of each other and fit the word – new to me –  the term is ‘HOON’ a similar word back home called ‘Hooligans’. Either word strikes me today as having an almost Aboriginal slant to it.
However, what I could not be happier about is having met many Aussie’s who do not resemble the former group mentioned and whom, by my reckoning, are the ones who give fair consideration to each other and more than an ‘occasional’ G’day’ to each other.

You may remember that there is another milestone approaching, one I will find even more difficult to spend without Zoli so in dedication to his sacrifice in holding up house and home while I’m down unda for all its trials and tribulations, I have found particular lyrics to a song written by a well known Canadian artist by the name of Jim Cuddy. He has been the lead singer with Blue Rodeo for a great many years.

To Zoli:

May  30th  2010 marks my 13 year Wedding anniversary with Zoli I dedicate this to you my darling husband:
You Pulled me through

There are papers scattered on the lawn and birds upon the line
There are letters left unopened here there never is the time
There are messages I should return and people I should call
I’m left tripping over echoes left lying in the hall
There is a light comes through the darkness and slowly to my eyes
You can fall back there forever I just never realized
Oh time won’t let me go and I everywhere I know…

That you could pull me through, you could always pull me through
Even when I’m lying here, drowning in my blues
You take the sting out of the rain and bring the sun back out again
You could always pull me through

Oh we stood outside together and we laughed like ancient friends
Then we lay down in a field just where the road begins and ends
I see you in the mirror and I watch you from afar, my friends all think I’m crazy but I know the way things are.
Outside I hear voices underneath the moon but I’m grateful for whatever breaks the silence of this room. Oh…

Time won’t let me go, and everywhere I know
You could pull me through, you could always pull me through, even when I’m lying here, drowning in my blues, you take the sting out of the rain and bring the sun back up again, you could always pull me through.
I hope you’re travelling well now and there are stars over your head.
I hope the river carries you everywhere you’re sent.
I miss the way you look at me and how you’re always there
I miss the conversations we left hanging in the air
Oh late a night I wake up and wonder what’s been done….
But I know our life together will go on and on..

You could pull me through, you could always pull me through..
Wrap your arms around me and chase away my blues
Take the sting out of the rain and bring the sun back up again, you could always pull me through.

If you have time to read this now, carry on, if not now, please let me know how the spring is treating you back home.
This is a reflection on a bizarre day I had while heading to Brizzy to obtain my Chinese Tourist Visa:
The more time I spend here, the less I believe in coincidence.
Background: One of my most recent work experiences includes being hired on as an aide for the office of Independent Living and working with Ana in her home.
It was a Sunday and I received a message that Ana, a wheelchair bound lady who lives near the university and whom I have the pleasure of working with to help with meals and music and French introduction, needed a backup ‘aid’ to assist her and cover a shift in her home. On that day I had a personal dilemma as there were four large and contentious projects with pending deadlines, all to wrap up within the next few days so I had to decline.
I was feeling badly about not stepping up when her usual worker could not make it because she had been in a car accident;

Ana’s mom has more challenges than would be fair to write here and now but in deference to Ana and her mother, I really wanted to have a word about it with Pam, Ana’s Mom and wished I could see her to set her know I was not able to help.

When I stepped off the train the city of Brisbane, more than an hour’s train ride from either of our homes, I thought I must be dreaming; As is the way in there ‘dream world, I stepped off a train, asked directions to the street I need for the Chinese consulate and found myself standing directly behind Ana’s Mom in the train station!! How on earth does that happen? Seeing her there was so out of place, I had to ask for her number so that I could have it recorded, just to prove to myself I really did exchange a conversation with her on May 14th.
Here are some reflections from my first three months here:

Honour yourself with theses important decisions.
Consider how your attitudes colour your life. Remembering this; the focus is on what is being started not what is ending.
Consider whether it is your biography – your past that is shaping your future as an individual who values effective communication above all, I am taking these initial steps with the long term plan of leading by example:
I believe that today’s children are challenged by having so many choices with few stable points of reference. Many of their popular role models are actors or celebrities who are not grounded in the realities of the times in which we are living.

Upon my successful completion of Teacher Certification, my intention is to return to Canada with two clear objectives. The first is to impart the good news to Primary School students that their ability to speak a second language starts with a fresh approach and a belief that they are more likely to do so if they are having fun while they learn. My second objective is to be sure to weave many stories of my Australian training into my lessons in order to help maintain their interest and enthusiasm.
Go ahead and take a byte

Recently I have conducted some informal research with several Canadian teachers on their views of the caliber of those returning from Teacher’s College in Australia. I am hearing only positive accolades with regard to the approach in the classroom from those fortunate enough to have training down under and I would be honoured to learn sound teaching techniques. I see teaching French as a most significant responsibility and I approach it with a goal of opening young minds towards actively reaching their goals rather than being less than inspired and allowing their dreams to slip away

Posted by: Colleen Ens | April 7, 2010

Ahh race day!

race day! Ahh

For those of you taking in these words who lack the predilection for the gods of carbon fiber, particularly when their chariots disintegrate into bits, by all means, just skim through this portion and your patience shall be rewarded with fresh tales of bright excursions encountered en route to the Melbourne to witness this auspicious Formula One event.

 After so much planning and effort, the golden day dawns and I’m armed with smallish lawn chair, bottle of water and a plan for brunch with Natasha. We had a lot of catching up to do and I enjoyed making the acquaintance of her partner, Tonio. With brunch enjoyed and devoured, they were my guides to the gates where I bid a fond farewell and prepared to participate in the long-awaited competition.

Naturally, it was important to reach out to Zoli by phone at this point and of course I did so, not call to ‘rub it in’, no, not at all…

All of a sudden I realized that my general admission tickets might not provide have provided the straightforward access I had hoped for. Not daunted, (cue the theme from Mission Impossible) I begin to slip past the guards, purchase special race paraphernalia and …wait for the music to reach it’s crescendo… one of  the guards decided to leave his post – at turn one –  I found myself striding forward – and I’m IN! The fun continues as I realize the demographics are positive since female fans were greatly outnumbered in these high-end grandstands. Gradually the seats begin to fill, queue Colleen networking her way through and shifting as they fill in the hopes that when the Australian Army completes their air maneuvers (see Colleen hold back in pink panther style before pouncing on the next vacant chair, waiting, ever watchful, until the guards have their eyes gazing upwards and are searching the heavens for signs of the elite flying squad)

… and YES! At last, Carl two rows up appears to have a truly vacant seat to his left as does Ben the same vacant seat on his right. Before the race even starts I see myself as the winner of race day musical chairs – costing me about 10% of the price and in a heck of a position to take in some of the most amazing racing I have had the pleasure of seeing in a live ‘full on’ Formula one race.

 But I am forgetting my manners, I promised not to spend an inordinate amount of time on sports pursuits of this nature. Let’s go back to our adventures on the road…    


For those more interested in my current university experience:

My upcoming large project includes preparing a presentation on motivation and learning.  As a portion of the mark is based on working with a partner, I am looking forward to joining up with Kristine. She is an Aussie whose husband is a Policeman from Canada. Ironically, I did not realize this when I suggested that we work together, however, I did jump at the chance to discuss motivation in learning because I feel it is the key to creating a positive and being creative classroom ecosystem.

If we follow the current thinking, there is a chance to engage in a positive way to instill confidence in building a connection between students and teachers and a good place to start is to consider the dynamics involved when people learn.  Within this short space of time, I have embarked on methods geared towards a focus on knowing your audience while reinforcing a sense of self.

My best work takes place when I leave out the negativity about late starts and missed opportunities and focus on the reality that we are not equipped with a rewind button… so in finding our triggers to what motivate, inspire, stir, spur, urge, encourage, enthuse, instigate, prompt, bring about, stimulate, egg on, induce, excite, kindle, rouse, awaken, fuel, persuade, tempt and invoke us to make that move and  take delight in our own rebuilding project.


Back track on a review of our journey to Melbourne…

So we begin with  our departure on Friday March 26th. The itinerary for Melbourne includes visiting Jenn’s brother Richard. My plans include staying at the home of my friend Gavin as well as connecting with Natasha and finally, Zoli’s old contact – Milan who lives south of Melbourne.

 By now you may have read between the lines regarding the top-notch organization skills of my ‘driver’ Jenn – room-mate and all around road warrior – Ms. Jennifer Purse, being equal to the task and pushing us ever onwards through such enlarged town names as Coonabarabran (revisited for a night of our return journey) and less than inspiring ‘Dubbo’ – our trusty guide-book says, “in 1841 Frenchman Emile Serisier recognized the potential of the growing north-south cattle trade and opened a slab hut where the stock route crossed the McQuarquarie River, the area’s first commercial venture. The settlement grew with gold rushes and prospered still more with the arrival of the railway in 1881. Thomas Alexander Browne, while stationed at Dubbo as police magistrate used his spare time to write Robbery Under Arms, published under the pseudonym Rolf  Bolderwood, a book which Jenn considers to be a rollicking good tale and enjoys reading this author’s work.

 We ‘parked in Parkes’(The Parkes Observatory is just to the north of town where we saw at a distance the famed radio telescope that figures largely in a little Aussie movie “The Dish”..)Sailed on through West Wyalong, which serves interstate truck drivers just as it served teamsters and Cobb & Co. coaches in earlier days. With the discovery of gold in 1893, West Wyalong eclipsed Wyalong, the official centre, where public buildings, including the court-house, still stands. We skipped past Grong Grong – a fork in the road, missing Wagga Wagga, then gassed up in Narrandera – one of the earliest settlements in the region now known as the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. By the 1880’s it had become the centre for road, rail and river transport. From 1917 to 1944 the local parish priest was Father Patick Harigan, better known as the bush balladist John O’Brien, whose poem ‘Said Hanrahan, with its refrain ‘we’ll all be rooned ‘ has become an Australian classic..


With 400 plus kilometers left to travel and shadows lengthening, we didn’t stop in Tocumwal, listened to classical music on the radio all through Koonoomoo and gained ground on Shepparton. We were fortified by the signs of life at Nagambie, knowing that Craigieburn was dead ahead (here we switched radio stations and by coincidence, to a show called the ‘one night stand’ where the “John Butler Trio” played their best music in a live broadcast from Alice Springs – and what do you know- Jenn’s daughter Lisa was at that very same moment participating on site at Alice Springs. Lisa’s cause is – to fight a very bad Canadian company who wants to undertake the mining of uranium within close proximity of Alice Springs (squirm and insert uncomfortable passenger smile hereJ

At last we arrived in Melbourne and after a few unscheduled exits and mysterious on and off ramps including the help of Elmo (our less than specific GPS guide) I was foisted on my petard – in short, we made it to Gavin’s place in Port Melbourne where many in the Kempin household were fast asleep. A bleary eyed Jenn then had a further  20 kilometers to go to Greensborough – a Melbourne suburb.


RE: Australia’s current water conditions…

But, on the subject of water in Australia– a life long friend of my good host Jenn whose name is Jim is losing sleep over the extended costs of purchasing water for his flocks on his roaming acres. My conversation with the gentry in these arid regions tells me that even the heavy rain falls and huge floods in the region do not necessarily mark the end of the drought.  Even as boats are needed to navigate through flooded areas, the residents can drill down as little as six inches and find the ground bone dry.

 Finally, allow me to digress into a literary abyss for just a moment; In this golden time of interaction with my Australian ‘cousins’, beyond actually hearing a shopkeeper refer to a man as ‘Bruce’ when I don’t think she knew his name, I have encountered ‘a keeper of an expression’ in a modern guide to synonyms: My Aussie hosts and extended friends and relations receive me with open arms and indisputable authenticity.  In a local text entitled Use the Right Word , the expression for genuine, “may refer to an example of cuneiform inscription as in a genuine painting by Picasso or Goya”. Sometimes the informal word dinkum, or fair dinkum, is used in these senses but it is mostly kept for adverbial use to assure one of the truth of something – It’s a fact or/ fair dinkum.  

Post race…

With the race squarely behind me, we drive on to spend time with Jenn’s parents (now both in their eighties) for Easter Sunday in Towoomba , established in 1876, is located on the Condamine River. It has one of the largest cotton gins in the world. “Squatter Henry Russell made the history books as an upper-class gent of Toowoomba. Its name is said to come from his association with Jimmy Crow, an Aboriginal (now politically correct term is Indigenous) Jimmy was a man who lived in a hollow tree where bullock teams habitually rested. Not far from the village is Crows Nest Falls National Park is a valley and water falls like diamonds as Crows Nest Falls descends over granite outcrops. “

Be aware: Deadlines for assignments looming!

Heads up! My good friends and friendly readers may find that a further update may be a few weeks away.  We’re heading for the second half of this semester including many looming deadines…

For anyone keen to Skype, My skype address is colleenens –

Those  with an amazing phone plan are welcome to call my cell # is 04 3132 1531 – calls I receive are free on the mobile.










Posted by: Colleen Ens | March 11, 2010

The beginners mind..

I’m so happy to know that you’ve taken the time to check in on my most recent chapter… 

As life for me is all about engaging with the ‘inner voice’, I am doing some thoughtful journaling within my response to Denise’s questions.  A new perspective is always good!.

Hi Colleen,

Hello Denise, good to hear from you.

D. How are you as you settle into Aussie life?

            Aussie life in many ways has been everything I thought it would be however there are a few major exceptions. One of them has been in spite of detailed planning on my place of lodging and working through a woman from the Student Services office at the University, within a week and some less than complete construction in her home, I wound up relocating.

D. How are you finding your digs and school life?

As is often the case, it has worked out well as my new house mate is fantastic. We met on a tour put on by the university on a Friday and by Sunday, I was on the phone literally in tears over what to do next, but that was then and this is now. Photos of the falls which I have included reflect the tour of the Hinterland near the Sunshine Coast and no, there is no relationship between the Hinterland and the nether regions – ah I do keep myself amused.

On a separate note, Jennifer has been very kind in helping me find a bike to toodle around on. The ‘uni’ is about 17 kilometers away so that is not difficult, however the days are getting shorter and I wouldn’t want to go too far in the dark. There are some pretty scary and very large bats that enjoy the fruit on the palms in this neighbourhood and seem to enjoy dropping the pits which hit the windows from time to time. They sound just like raccoons when they squabble and they seem to do this constantly. On a more colourful note you should be able to see my latest shot of a Rainbow Lorikeet who also likes the same fruit by day. They squawk and carry on. It’s a real paradise! 

D. Does your head hurt (from studying) yet? (just kidding)

            As a matter of fact, I’d like to press upon the nut who said this was a ‘gimme’ course and give him/her a taste of the workload. The Aussie expression for a challenging situation is that it is ‘full on’ and I would definitely say there are several things going on with four subjects on the go and the first half of the study portion of the course runs 10 weeks. After the first lecture the professor suggested that we would have sore heads, perhaps he was thinking of the international students who get to drink at an earlier age in Australia than they are allowed to in their European homeland.

D. Of course we don’t have much snow here, but we did get enough weather last

     Friday that I had to cancel a class on the way to Kitchener.

    We have been thinking about your big transition and ‘envy’ your adventure.

            My big adventure became considerably bigger when the rain did not stop for almost a week. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The floods in Charlieville and many other areas in Queensland are a refection of many of the rivers in these areas being 12 meters above flood level. They haven’t seen water like this in thirty years!

D. Have you had a chance to do any site seeing locally?

I have been to Kondalilla Falls and seen the Glass House Mountains from the distance. There have been two trips to Brisbane on weekends, one via train travel – for students it is very inexpensive and one by car.

D. And are you able to keep up your running?

The trip by car actually on Sunday March 7th was set up by Jennifer – my super new housemate- so that we could participate in the 5 kilometer ‘Chicks Pink’ Cancer run. There was no timing chip but I had a good idea that running around hundreds of people who decided walking was the same as running added a certain dimension to the day. Afterwards we had a nice outdoor brunch and then met Jenn’s daughter at the Breakie Creek Hotel where the steaks were excellent.

D. We look forward to hearing from you when you get the chance.

            Thank you for your patience, with the move and the passing of Orientation week, the last 10 days or so have demanded a lot to get things in place. We’re good to go now. I don’t know if I mentioned that Jennifer’s home is a 10 minute walk to the ocean, we’re set for 5 a.m. wake up to join a group for ‘Boxing on the Beach’ – hope I’ll last till 8 p.m. when my last Tutorial wraps up for the week.

D. Till next time then.

            Yes, please thank everyone for their moral support.

Posted by: Colleen Ens | February 20, 2010

And it RAINED….

And it rained…

From my vantage point safe within the walls of the Faculty of Education, I watch as clouds plummeted into a deepening blue, attended by a more menacing green churning from the south to the north – a foreign concept to an observer from the Northern Hemisphere.

As it was ‘Market Day’ on campus all the services presented within various booths along the way created a carnival atmosphere to the accompaniment of a gifted duo playing a brilliant guitar in the sultry breeze with its mounting closeness.

Since my departure from Fiji, I have been drawn to the symbol of the turtle, representing ‘oneness’ or as the French suggest – Je suis bien dans ma peau – literally- I am good with the skin I’m in.

At this early juncture, I have had the pleasure of acquainting myself with the notion of the  impact of grasping a new concept and seeing it crystallized through exhaustive research. No matter what the timing, embracing this with a beginner’s mind pulls my tenuous hold on today’s truth in a different direction:  To go with the flow – as if I had my sights channeled through a kaleidoscope, blending in a facet of my joy at a time of discovery for my new ‘uni’ life.   

Next on the agenda is to set aside a golden hour absorbing the indigenous culture on campus. The site of the university campus is situated on indigenous (previously termed aboriginal) land. 

 The scene opened on ‘Henry Neill’ – of the Murri ‘mob’. The setting is ‘dream time’ with insights into one of the stories that shaped the ancient history of this wonderful land through the local legend of the Rainbow Serpent. See photos included here of the ‘mob’ and our chance to ‘shine’ in volunteering to take part in the recreation of the myth for the benefit of the international students.  Henry requested volunteers. Might you guess who it was who stepped up to join in?

Reference below taken from:

According to Australian Aboriginal culture, all living things were created by ancient spirit ancestors. These stories of creation are known as the Dreamtime, or Dreaming.

Dreamtime according to the Aborigines, describes the creation of the earth and how all living things were created. It is said that in the Dreamtime (the beginning), ancestral spirits inhabited the earth. As the spirits travelled over the country, their movements created the mountains, rivers, animals and plants.

Today the Dreaming is still seen by the Aborigines as a living force that comes from the land to which they belong. Different communities or individuals may have differing Dreaming, which is instrumental in maintaining the structure of Aboriginal society, governing its people’s behavior.

Aboriginal paintings dating back more than 6000 years depict numerous Dreamtime stories about the creation of sacred places, people and the many aboriginal languages. One of the most well known is the story of the Rainbow Serpent.

The Rainbow Serpent

The Rainbow Serpent (Ngalmudj) was an enormous snake who created rivers, creeks and lagoons as it moved across the country. It protected the land and its people, but it could also wreak revenge if it was disrespected, symbolic of both the creative power and destructive abilities of nature.

The Rainbow Serpent features in many Dreaming stories, but it is always associated with water – the rivers, creeks, lakes and billabongs. One of the most common interpretations of this story tells when the world was bare and cold, the Rainbow Serpent slept under the earth with all the animals in its belly. When it was time to give birth, the Rainbow Serpent rose from underground, calling to the animals to awake from their sleep. As she rose up, the land was pushed into mountains and hills, causing rivers and lakes to form. It forced itself through rocks, creating valleys and water holes.

Read more at Suite101: Aboriginal Culture and the Dreamtime: The Beginning of Creation

The Rainbow Serpent is believed to bring the monsoonal wet season to the northern parts of Australia each year – the beginning of the breeding season for all forms of life in the area, and creating a rainbow across the sky. The Rainbow Serpent also has the ability to punish those who do not follow Aboriginal law by drowning them in great floods.

The spirits of Dreamtime never die, but manifest into mountains, rocks, or other forms of nature. This is one reason why Aboriginals today hold many places sacred. The Rainbow Serpent is said to live under a waterfall in Kakadu (Gagudju) in the Northern Territory.

Today, Aborigines express the Dreamtime through storytelling, paintings and dancing – maintaining their rich cultural heritage by passing their knowledge and values onto the younger generations.

Read more at Suite101: Aboriginal Culture and the Dreamtime: The Beginning of Creation (link here) Maroochy River/ Coloured sand and Glass mountain.


As life takes a more familiar routine there seems to be a revelation on a daily basis – by the way, that rain – 48 hours later continued to ‘soggily’ plod on….

It actually did stop raining on Friday Feb 19th,  the day of a student bus tour to cover a Friday (Feb 19) tour where we visited Mary Cairncross Park, Maleny and Kondalilla Falls.

The finishing touches of a hectic week were incredibly balanced in making a connection with a lovely lady from ‘Dicky Beach’ by the name of Jennifer Purse. She is a high achiever, recognized through a group at the Uni called ‘The Golden Key’ and currently studying for her Bachelor of Communications at The Sunshine Coast University. Jenn is on her way with a plan to team up with a publishing house in Melbourne when she graduates in a year’s time. She takes pleasure in the benefit of a very enjoyable and adventurous life. 

As we headed into the ‘Hinterland’ our morning stroll turned graduated into an invigorating hike as we traversed the 80 metres down some slightly slippery steps and were fully in awe of the unique trees such as the Strangler Fig, known best for its murderous intent with a method of growing around a host tree and taking on the nutrients of its host, killing it off in the process of reaching above the canopy to bask in an eternal sun. Kondalilla Falls was tremendous.

Our lunch stop was in Maleny which is a very ‘alternative’ town including a food cooperative and workshops on economizing on energy consumption which thrives on its collective consciousness. The citizens of Melany have their own banking system for local access and a focus on ethical investments – some barter their expertise with others through a currency of nothing more than a locally grown nut called the Bunya nut.

We passed through Monteville, which had a flavour reminiscent of Niagara-on-the-Lake a la sheep herder. Finally our afternoon adventure brought us to the Mary CairnCross nature preserve with a view of the Glass House Mountain. I was reminded of the feelings I had during family trips to the beach when as a child, the day ended far too soon. On the route back to the Uni we agreed that a return trip was in order and set a plan to return in March.

So the first week, affectionately called ‘O’ Week, has come to a close. Next week we get to the heart of the matter commencing with Education 101. It really has been an eye opener through learning to benefit from new approaches to note taking and effective essay writing. You may guess who put off the ‘time management’ piece, ah, I’ll get to it.

No worries!

Posted by: Colleen Ens | February 14, 2010

Final Leg – Brizzy or Bust – finish on the Sunshine Coast

So now as my plane takes off, I see its shadow grow quickly smaller as I pull away from Fiji. I’ve spotted the little island I enjoyed so much and it looks as though it is a perfect oval emerald in an azure ocean.

Now the mission is at hand. Grace – to have the honour, the privilege and the gift of timing to hold tight to this ambitious learning experience. The on-board film is, “This is It” in which Michael Jackson says, “There is nothing to be nervous about – embrace it.”

All went very well today as the flight was smooth.

The film clips also reminded me of the impact of rising sea levels on small island nations, some of whom are no greater than 3 metres above sea level.

Upon my happy arrival at the Brisbane airport, I stowed my bags and sorted out a day train downtown. A little while later, after coffee with a Canadian who is enjoying new residency and work in Brisbane. With a quick view of Central Station and a very large City Hall, I made my way back to the airport to my final destination.

Stayed tuned as I plan to include my views on comparing my first lesson with Derek Noble Topic:  playing a ‘Didgiridoo’ and its contrast to playing a ‘C’ flute…   

Posted by: Colleen Ens | February 14, 2010

Three days in Fiji

From L.A. to Fiji, I crossed the dateline. Now I’m tuning in on establishing a new rhythm and considering my options on setting aside a few bad habits in this transition.

I started my day in Fiji upon arrival at the Nadi airport with the sun rise. Deciding not to lose a day, during my brief trip to the Mercure Hotel, I quickly got changed and decided a long walk into town would do me good. As it happens, I measured the round trip at just over 9 kilometers and I must say that the belching diesel fumes along the way could, at times, be quite oppressive.

 Before making a decision on the nature of the out island tour that I would select, I decided it was time to pause and count my blessings. My foot path brought me to a carving shop where I was introduced to the Kava Kava tradition. Apparently this is a welcoming ceremony which includes a white powder called Kava Kava (so good they say it twice?) sieved with water through a soft silk cloth and accompanied with an appropriate amount of clapping and arm circles. (Visualize here the kind of dance we have seen Snoopy undertake and add a circular motion as though stirring a pot)

 Greatly encouraged by the shop owners’ insistance that Fijians are no longer cannibals, I drank down the bitter liquid and refrained from requesting ‘seconds’.

 Carrying on from my first foray into Fijian Hospitality and continuing into town, I noted that there is a cultural mix of Polynesian, Thai and East Indian .

Day two in Fiji and I carried along my camera during my 5 k jog. Once off the main road, I found a lovely village and will include a few snap that will help me savour the souvenir.

 With the help Gabby, a very helpful agent at the Mecure, I chose Mola Mola as my destination for the day. On inspiration, I decided to stroll down to the end of the pier and play my flute, given that I had a bit of time before my departure, not realizing that they would leave once all passengers were on board (oops) which made me the last to board 🙂

En route, I made fast friends with Dylan and his girl Silka hailing from Tasmania.

The sad little boat laid anchor about 100 metres off-shore and we were ferried into a little metal motor boat. The coral reef and calm waters could be enjoyed by taking a leisurely 15 minute stroll all the way around the island in a soothing ‘promenade’.

I took the notion to swim out to the boat and back and was astounded by how much buoyancy I enjoyed in the salty water and somewhat less thrilled with the slight stings of ‘sea lice’  – say what?

For those who know me well, I wasted no time in moving from passenger to ‘crew’ by joining in to sing along with a beautifully musical group and playing my flute. By joining in I felt myself becoming a part of the crew.  Along  with my boat mates who were Aussie, German, Kiwi, we enjoyed perfect weather and a resounding game of beach volleyball.  

On the return trip, I decided to take the long way home when the shuttle bus was taking the German couples to their resort which was called 1st Landing – dating from 1500. This is a point in history when a ship first docked with many locals from Jamaica.

 Day three meant pacing myself by staying closer to the hotel by completing my 5 k and rewarding myself by finding a great price on a relaxing massage. 

In all, stopping here was a wonderful idea. I must say that this type of transition is one that is not all that difficult to cope with. Isn’t it great to find the ‘upside’ of changing ones course?

What have I taken away from my time in Fiji? A wonderful mix of many flavours of music with a group possessing amazing musicality.

Useful expressions, written phonetically:

 Bulla                                         hello (think Avatar “I see you”)

Moo – say                                Goodbye

Venaka Vek a lay vous             Thank you very much

Kahloota Na Singa Nknee Kooa  Have a nice day (doesn’t every Canadian need this?)

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