Monday, 30 August 2010

Uni starts

Have I "bitten off more than I can chew?"  We will see.  I thought I'd only registered for two subjects but find I am registered for three.  I will see how it goes, but think I might manage the bigger workload.  I'll know in a week or so.

What am I studying?  Master of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University.  Clearly I am an external student - but will try and get to Melbourne at some stage to meet my lecturers and tutors but meanwhile it is all online or on CD.  

My, how new technology is changing things.  My study pack was all on CD - complete with all the material I need and the lectures, which I can listen to and read.  As often as I like.  The Swinburne website is awesome and a bit overwhelming too, though I think I have managed to understand most of it.  Certainly it shows me what can be done with the new resources - and I look forward to having the time to myself to study when I move into the house sit at Paddington next week.

 I have scheduled study days - and free days though I don't think I will have many of the latter as I have quite a few things I want to do - writing wise.

Also having some challenges with my parents.  Mum is in a nursing home - she has dementia, and she is not settling in well, though I know it will take several weeks to get used to her new surroundings.  I was told I could not speak with her - but I phoned the nursing home today and they have said I can speak with her.  She will not have a phone in her room, but I can have short conversations on the hoswpital cordless phone.  I did today.  She told me she was in the city, waiting for a taxi to take her home.  Sad.  I doubt that she has every used a taxi, and she certainly isn't in the city.

I have spoken with the nursing home sister in charge today, and she paints a different picture than that I had from my family.  She has been seen by a doctor (though a locum), and she has had her hair washed, and according to them, she is generally quite settled.  Dad feels terribly guilty about it all - but as she is 95 and he is 91 - there was little option.  He cannot manage her.  She does have moments when she is lucid - but they are rare.

I am hoping to get information from the Dementia people - just to check what else we can feasibly do for
her.  It is frustrating for me to be so far away, and I know it is frustrating for my father and sister to deal with it all on a daily basis.

I willl go to Adelaide in a couple weeks.  Meanwhile it is back to study.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Time goes so quickly..............

It seems like only yesterday that we welcomed Mandy and Rita to Brisbane - and last night it was all over as they departed via Singapore Airlines to return to their families.  Changed people no doubt.  I think  any travel changes one, but for these two young ladies to experience life in the freedom of Australia after the cloistered life in China will change them in many ways.

Apart from improving their English, and learning much about another culture, I suspect that they will question many things about life in China now.  They did find out about Tiananmen Square and the events of 1989 - not from me - but someone thought they would know, and then on finding out that they did not, chose to tell them.  

One of them saw the movie "Mao's Last Dancer" and this made her ask a lot of questions.  Why did Li Cuxun not return to China?  He should have!!!  One of the girls bought the book in a second hand book store, so I suspect they will both have the opportunity to read it and read ALL the story - not just the abridged version of the movie.

One of them learned some cooking skills, and we learned that there is little interest in cooking, and that they don't know much about "Cook Books" though I know I saw them in the shops in China.  Many people do not have much in the way of kitchen space - nor do they cook much at home.  One of the girls said that her parents have a cook that comes into their workplace and cooks for her family, in conditions that even she felt were unsavoury!!!  She'd like to cook at home.  One issue is that they do not have the tools that we do - and I sent one of the girls home with a set of measuring spoons and measuring cups.  I will send some recipes, and I know I will have to make sure that the recipes are simple - and the ingredients can be measured in measuring cups.  Kitchen scales are available - but not in many homes.

It has been an extra ordinary learning curve for us all.  Wonderful experience - but now I am not as time poor for my own endeavours as I have been in the past few weeks, so I can explore the study that I have committed to at Swinburne University.

My course materials arrived this week - I was expecting a large parcel - but a small packet arrived with 6 CD's which contained the welcome lecture, and course information on the subjects that I am studying.  I though I only enrolled for 2 subjects, but I find I have 3 - will have to decide in a day or two if I am going to take on the whole 3 - or bail out of one.

I am fascinated at how well it is organised using the new technologies which were not in use when I was last at university.  How amazing it all is!!!

I am glad I did not commit to returning to Shaoxing this semester, and that I can focus on the study.  I am really looking forward to it.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Students arrive

I've detailed the story of the arrival, and the touring with the Chinese students here.  It has been a busy time, and while looking after them, I've communicated with my father and sister, and other family members while I have worked in conjunction with my sister and father to find long term care for my parents.

My mother has been assessed and her new status is that she needs High Care,but the documents had not arrived when I last spoke with my sister, and our progress through the paperwork is pending the arrival of these documents.  I feel sorry for anyone who has had to go through this - it is bad enough to know that your parents' health is failing, but the running around to get any accommodation for them is distressing. I can't imagine how families that are fragile for any reason might manage the process.  Of course we have a lot of work to do on this - we are barely close to getting anywhere suitable for my mother.

Meanwhile I am back in Brisbane and racking up huge phone bills - but there is not a lot I could have done if I had stayed in Adelaide.  Much of what I need to do can be done from here.

Each day I have been with the students - until yesterday when the students spent time with their host families, and two other TESOL students.  I've not heard from anyone since I left the students on Tuesday afternoon, so I can only hope that all is well.

Today I had a lesson with Paul Farris - a photographer at Wynnum.  I will have to find time to practice some of the material that I learned today.  Maybe the weekend will have better weather, but today is cold, windy and not good for photography in any way.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Busy time

The last few days have been hectic.  On Sunday August 1st, my parents, sister and I, and my niece had lunch at the Warradale Hotel - a place that is a popular meal place for my parents.  We had a lovely time, and took Mum and Dad home later in the day.  

I was due to fly back to Brisbane that night, and was all packed and ready to go, and just about to have some soup that my sister made, before I left.  Then we received a phone call. Dad was not well.  We left her house in a rush, so much so that she backed into a car across the road doing a lot of damage to her own car and destroying the drivers door on the other car!!

We called an ambulance and Dad was taken to Flinders Medical Centre, and later I went and spent a couple of hours with him.  Mum cannot be left alone so when I returned late that night, I stayed with Mum.  I'd cancelled my plane trip of course.

Mum was unsettled and didn't sleep much, and I didn't either.  Especially as I was still in the clothes that I had had on all day!!!  On the Monday I did get my luggage delivered and could change my clothes, and  at the same time try and organise care for my mother.  

Of course I had another concern - the girls arriving from China on Tuesday morning and knowing that I needed to be there.  But I had to resolve the care of my mother.  Then the hospital decided to discharge my father!!


In the end I arranged a carer to look after Mum for a while, then I went to the hospital to get my father, and determining that Dad was OK to look after Mum for a couple of days with other help, I managed to fly back to Brisbane from Adelaide, arriving around 11 pm.  By the time I got home, unpacked etc, I got to bed well after midnight and then had to be up at 6 am to go to the International airport to collect the Chinese students.

Then I had to look after them all day before delivering them their host families late in the afternoon.