Aussie induction a steep learning curve

FROM roundabouts to rash vests and flour to thongs, Australia has been a learning curve for a Canadian family transplanted to Broulee.

Julie and Dave Kleuskens have traded homes and jobs with St Peter’s Anglican College teachers Kim Pidcock and Liza Martini, who are now rugged up against the winter cold in London, Ontario.

The Kleuskens and their children Joey, six, Marielle, 11, and Lindsay, 13, swapped snow for sand on January 21 and are learning fast.

“Driving and shifting left-handed is a challenge,” Mr Kleuskens, a maths teacher, admitted.

“I should put some Canadian flags on my wiper blades, so when I throw the wipers on people would know I am trying to signal right.”

After initial confusion, he has come around to roundabouts.

“I think I got called a bad word on the first roundabout I drove through,” he said.

“I don’t think I stopped for the lady who was already on the roundabout. She was a little 

unimpressed.

“I like the concept, because you are not stopping as much. It flows, once you know what you are supposed to be doing.”

They’ve learned to call a “swim shirt” a rash vest, be generous with sunscreen and that a thong goes on your feet. “Utes” and self-raising flour flummoxed the family, along with strange power points, but Mrs Kleuskens said neighbours have been more than willing to translate.

“People have been so friendly and welcoming,” Mrs Kleuskens said.

“What we are enjoying most is just meeting so many new people, it is fun.”

However no amount of hospitality is likely to convert Lindsay to eating kangaroo after a Year Nine cookery class.

“It was disturbing,” she said.

Joey and his father were alone in embracing a lamb roast, vegemite is unlikely to win over Marielle and the family still pines for 10 per cent milk fat cream in their coffee.

But they are delighted to have broken their routine.

“I have been pretty ecstatic with everything,” Mr Kleuskens said. 

“It is a great break. The people have been great, everyone has been welcoming. I have certainly spent more time in the water than I would at home.”

“We really like it,” said Lindsay, even if she chafes a little at school uniforms and unfamiliar time tables took some adjustment.

“I like the beach and meeting new people.”

Marielle, in Year Seven, said she was at first reluctant to leave her friends, but “it is fun”.

“It is hot out, there is no snow.” 

Lindsay is facebooking her friends at home, while Marielle is texting.

The basketball-mad family plans to play locally and has embraced pushbikes, while Joey trounced them all on a surfboard.

Mrs Kleuskens, a science teacher, says the environment is very 

different, but “the students are very similar”.

“They react to the teachers in the same way. The same issues we have in teaching at home we have here.”

And, apart from the accent, “the staffroom sounds the same”.

London is a city about the size of Canberra “in the thick of the Great Lakes”, Mr Kleuskens said.

Its economy is based on automotive manufacturing and agriculture.

The Australian and Canadian families are taking part in an international teacher exchange program.

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