My last post was written in December at the dawn of summer 2011, which was more than 6 months ago. Besides neglecting this blog repeatedly, I've also deactivated my Facebook account since autumn 2012 as a result of FB fatigue and too many happenings - for those who used to follow this blog might know it began last year already- and I thought it would help to disappear from the social network for awhile. It does. I feel more relaxed and focus better on solving the matters, which I recap below.
In this month of August, the city of Sydney is going through its last weeks of winter 2012. Winter of average 15 degr C that is -sometimes even 20 degr- with mostly sunny days. I'm writing from my work corner, at our new house. Yes, we moved to a new place three weeks ago, this time just 800 meters away from where we used to live. We viewed dozens of places for two weeks, did the packing for another 2 weeks, used the movers to remove the big furniture in 1 day, followed by 4 days of husband and Joseph - and Louise- going back and forth removing the rest. Although still messy, we are happy to get this place. Not only that we have a larger space but also because it is just meters away from the public transport, which makes it easier for me to commute to the university.
Yep, I've been doing my post-graduate research program since two weeks, taking MPhil for now and working to upgrade it to PhD by winter next year. My thesis' topic is around this blog's, which is on Indonesian language. It means, unlike my bachelor's and master's which were in law, this time I'm within the social science sphere. Without 'proper' background in linguistics/anthropology/sociology, I need to catch up on lots of basic and not-so-basic theories before the upgrade deadline. The good thing is, since I've been working on this multilingualism for the past 8 years I'm now very much in love with this field, so although challenging, I found it exciting at the same time.
My process to get back to the university began in January 2012, a week after our return from summer holiday in Jakarta. At that time I was sure I wanted to formalize my research and sent my informal introduction to two universities. Both were interested in my topic but one strongly recommended me to apply to the other university. The proposal writing and application began in March, including taking the academic IELTS test (in which I scored 8.5 out of 9, a rather sweet surprise I should say), compiling my rather oldies bachelor's and master's transcripts and certificates, recommendation letters plus that very serious proposal of 4000 words, all with the deadline of end of April. I got the offer letter two months later which I accepted within seconds. It changed my status. After 8 years, I'm now again back to the work force which simplifies my identity from the longish "homemaker/trailing wife/independent researcher and writer/ex lawyer" into "postgraduate research student".
My eldest son Joseph got very confused and asked, in Indonesian, "How come you haven't finished your school when you were young? Were you that naughty?" My daughter, Louise, asked "Mama dan teman-teman main di halaman sekolah juga?/ Do you also play at the playground with your friends?" LOL.
Another change for us: we received our permanent residency a couple of months ago, after a bit more than 2 years living in Australia. It was only weeks before my university application deadline and I was so needing the PR status as domestic research students do not have to pay the tuition fee. Good timing. And for those who wonder how we got it so fast, PR sponsorship was part of the package offered by my husband's office when he was hired.
Change of immigration status was followed by dealing with the authority. You see, unlike in the US, Germany or Holland - the countries we used to live in - in Australia, only PR have access to the local system, such as, public healthcare, local driver's license, public school or government assistance. During the first 2 months holding the PR, we were running here and there to convert our foreign facilities into locals. I do not want to get into detail but Australian government administration is, most of the time, inefficient. Dealing with the American, Dutch or German authorities were very straightforward compare to the Australian's. Those countries' systems might be complicated but at least theirs work just fine. The Australian web of bureaucracy has lots of holes and errors which often caught us in between. It was frustrating and tiring. After going back and forth to fix mistakes they did with our files, everything is almost settled now.
On the multilingual department, Joseph and Louise are still trilingual Indonesian-French-English. They continue going to the French school. Jo will start the 4th grade and Louise will enter kindergarten next week. Joseph's routine of learning from the Indonesian school books and reading novels/encyclopedias/biographies in Indonesian does not change. He is now reading a childhood book of mine about Mozart - I brought it from Indonesia when Joseph was still a baby living in Chicago - something that touches me very much as it was one of my favorite books.
Louise is still illiterate and will learn how to read and write in French and English this year. Like what I did with Joseph, I will only teach her to read in Indonesian after she's fluent reading and writing in the school languages. My daughter loves to learn and I am curious about how she handles multiliteracy throughout her school years.
Having written them down, things we went through didn't seem to bad. But no, I definitely don't want to repeat any of those application or conversion or moving processes, at least not in the next 2-3 years. It's now 9 am, Sunday. Louise woke up some minutes ago, which means the rest will soon follow. I better start the oven for our Sunday breakfast of Egg Avocado. Yummy!!