Life in Oz – March 13, 2007

Thank you to all who have asked how things are going here – Many apologies for not having answered earlier.

We have settled in, at last, and are trying to find that elusive balance between work/studying and finding our way around the city. We just had a relaxing weekend in Caloundra — thanks to Roy and Mary — and our first real trip to the beach! So things are great here – Sunburn and all

Life at law school is, well …. busy. I count on 60+ hours per week of school work; that’s 15 hours of class time, plus another 3-4 hours of study for every hour in lectures. It’s a full-time job! The half-way point in first semester passed by recently, so I am deep into the assignments on torts, contract law, and the legal system.

My classmates are varied mix of students young and old from diverse backgrounds, which makes for interesting stories and lively classes. Some of the students may be far too young for law school (high school grads taking their first degree), while others are complementing a prior degree with law studies (either direct from school, or a mix of school and work). The age range is 17-58, so while I may be the oldest Canadian student in my semester, I am not the most mature law student 😉

Officially, Canadians make up 16% of the law student body. However, it seems even higher on most days — we’re everywhere! In one tutorial, 7 of 10 students are Canadians, while in another we make up only 2 of 12. My classes are generally small in size, but a large group of law students entered this semester so I think we are dragging the average numbers upwards.

Anna has been working overnight (12am-8am) to match the Toronto schedule — our broadband Internet service has been instrumental in making this practical. She has started to look for project management jobs in Brisbane, but is still hoping the local office of her Canadian employer will come through with an offer of something there. Anna is also enjoying fitness classes at the local gym.

How is it to live in Australia like? Excellent!! Anna and I can’t complain about the weather here — temperatures hit the high 20s to mid-30s nearly every day in summer, with pleasantly cool evenings.

There are a few things that take getting used to, however. This includes bats the size of large birds, poor customer service (esp. from providers of phone, Internet and other expensive services) and shorter store opening hours, water restrictions, and driving on the left side of the road with roundabouts and a left-hand stick shift. Still, these are easy when you consider the advantages of sunshine, beaches, friendly Aussies, way cheaper movie tickets, and Tim Tams.

It rains every few days, but hardly ever for very long. When it does rain, it pours down for about 30 minutes. Queensland has been in an drought for 10 years, so that regional water dams are at 22% of capacity. Water restrictions are severe, and about to become more harsh: The current “Level 4” water restriction means you can’t wash the car, water the lawn, or top up the swimming pool — bucket watering only, on 2 days per week in 60 minute time-slots. Level 5 restrictions, coming into effect on 10-April, will see the restrictions worsen. The lastest rumours are that construction of swimming pools will be banned, air conditioning limited to one room in each house, and that rainwater collection tanks will become mandatory on each property (this has prompted a rash of thefts recently).

We are hoping for a visit to Sydney over the exam break in April/May. This will give us a chance to look around there, and to pickup Piper ‘The Wonder Cat” who will be arriving on 27-March but then stuck in quarantine for at least 30 days.

Next time: A new chapter of Steve’s Aussie-English dictionary, including aerial pingpong, banana bender, bludger, butcher, chook, pommy shower, posties, and seppo.