Alberta Newsletter Volume 1 Edition 1

First Impressions
Hi all, I suppose you think it’s been quiet now that we are out of the country… well that won’t last! Here comes the first of many instalments about the life and times of the Hammos in Canada eh!

This week has flown, we have achieved a huge amount and are gradually overcoming the jet lag and finding our energy returning. One might argue that we have contributed to our own fatigue with all the running around this week, but to be honest, it helps us sleep at night J

Our initial impressions were of a fairly flat and dull city, the road from the airport to Edmonton is somewhat like driving up the Geelong road to Melbourne and turning off at the Footscray Rd exit. It is a wide highway and after the farming areas it has lots of large stores and warehouses.

As you get into the neighbourhoods the streets are prettier as they tend to be tree-lined. There are a lot of one way streets, so learning how to navigate between point A and point B has been interesting. The houses are really different from Geelong/Melbourne. Many neighbourhoods have streets and streets of houses all the same, with architecture similar to Norlane (Bea-uuuutiful!), other areas have houses with traditional architecture such as these here.

We live opposite a pretty little park, so our outlook is great. The autumn trees are just lovely. Lots of yellows right now and other trees with reds and red berries. With the wind the other day we lost quite a lot of leaves and the kids found it really fun to play in the leaves. Even putting them into the big bags to be carted away was fun, perhaps because it was novel

So far we have ventured around the city, visited several malls and spent a whole day at the West Edmonton Mall in the World Waterpark. It was lovely to be in water and the waves made us almost homesick… the chlorine was a dead give away though and a constant reminder that this was a pool. There were so many large slides it was phenomenal. The kids made us go down some… Alec more than Anita. Alec even “got air” on one of the slides… everyone was impressed. It was funny being in this massive pool complex with viewing windows from the large Mall. You realise what it would be like to be a penguin trapped in a zoo in a simulated arctic environment.

It has been a juggling act keeping the kids entertained to a satisfactory level while getting the administrative requirements completed. Things like getting a Social Insurance Number (yes, it’s a SIN) and a hire car, arranging a bank account, getting a cell phone and so on is all quite time consuming. We try to do something fun mixed with the boring stuff to keep the kids on side.

A really big highlight was visiting the kids’ school. We decided not to send them to school until next week as they really have not got through jet lag easily. They are still sleeping to 10am and still needing every minute. They will have to get up one hour earlier each day on Saturday then Sunday to be ready for Monday. Our first impressions of the school were “It’s huge” and “it’s not that attractive” but once inside and meeting the teachers and seeing the students in the hallways and interacting with each other it was easy to see that it is a really happy place. When we got to Sam’s class we met her lovely teacher and the kids were all working in small groups on the floor out in the hallway etc… a couple came into the classroom and said “is this Samantha?… we’ve been waiting for you!” What a relief for us all to know they were waiting and wanted her to arrive! They had a desk sitting waiting and a locker with her name on it. They are SO keen to meet her, hear her talk and ask all about Australia. One girl was just so excited she was smiling at Sam, kind of wringing her hands asked her to join her group’s activity straight away. They were very cute! Sam was taller than quite a few of them. Yay! Sam is really excited to start on Monday.

Will enjoyed what he saw too and is quite calm about the whole thing. Grade 8 kids don’t have a home room. You arrive, put your bag and books in your locker and then go to your first class. The timetable is 5x 1hour classes per day with 7 minutes between classes to change books at your locker. You should have seen some the girls checking him out in the hallways, Alec and I just had to chuckle! There are 6 girls to every 4 boys in his year level.

Oh yes. The school fees are to die for! $500 for the two of them for the year, books are returned at the end of the year, oh and it includes lunch for Samantha in the canteen, so we said “yes” to every option available… the fees actually could have been less!

So, of course, you’re wondering how the driving is going! Well, Alec has done most of the driving as he will go and get his Alberta license soon. We cannot get reasonable car insurance without an Alberta License. We’re talking $2,000 versus $7,000 per annum!!!!!!!!!!!!! The driving is going well, but it’s when you relax that you turn a corner and head to the wrong side of the road… it hasn’t happened yet as we are always on the look out for each other. The kids have been VERY good in the car, quiet when we need it.

We’re looking at buying a Chevy Tahoe (in Navy Blue colour) second hand through a friend at work whose neighbour wants to sell one of his many vehicles! He’s only asking around $6000 and it is the top of the range with leather seats with seat warmers and CD player and all sorts of mod cons we didn’t know about 11 years ago! It will get us through the Rockies just fine! We can’t buy a car until we have insurance though! So we may miss this opportunity. There’s $20,000 more to spend on the house!

So that’s been our week. Tomorrow we are going to the football at Commonwealth Stadium and on Sunday we are going to visit Will Johnson and family. For those of you who don’t know, Will is a teacher from Geelong College who is on exchange this year here in Canada and is about 1 ½ hours North of Edmonton in Barrhead. They are here until December, so we thought we’d better visit them quickly in case we missed out seeing them. It will be great to take a long drive and out of the city. The kids will enjoy listening to Aussie accents after this week.

Well, that’s it for the first instalment. Feel free to reply or just hit the delete button… J Also, feel free to pass this message along to others who may not have received it (thanks).

Take care and enjoy the warm weather. It’s already zero at night here and a warm 12 during the day.

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About hamigos4

A family of four adventure-seekers from Australia... currently living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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