School starts in a couple of weeks (see below for more about that) so it was time to get the kids fitted out with uniforms. Say what you will about uniforms, they certainly make being the new kids a heck of a lot easier. No wondering what the cool clothes will be and whether your clothes are okay. Everyone wears the same thing, no worries, no exceptions.
The girls' summer uniform is a cotton dress, blue wide-brimmed hat, white cotton anklets, and black shoes with a green blazer. Oh, and hair up and no (noticable) make-up. There's a p.e. uniform, too: shorts, shirt, jacket, rugby shirt, swim cap, and swim suit. Not all at the same time. We hope.
These two have been nothing short of heroic in their gameness to jump right in with enthusiasm. They have each toured their campuses, met their house masters and tutor group teachers, met with student buddies and been assigned classes.
In fact, when Sam toured his school they mentioned the school musical auditions were that week and invited him to try out. And he did! I'm not sure I would have the wherewithal to show up at an audition at a school I didn't yet attend. But he decided to jump right in and went for it by himself, even though it was completely outside of his comfort zone.
Maddy pretty much took my breath away with her poise and positivity and confidence as she interviewed and chatted with all of the requisite people at her school. I could practically feel the ptwing of a few apron springs springing free.
It's not all sunshine and bliss, let me quickly add. Of course there are teary times and nostalgia for what we left behind. The kids are at times a bit bonkers with all of this free time, no school yet, and none of our belongings here. Sometimes new isn't adventurous and exciting, it's just hard and unfamiliar. Sometimes the ketchup tastes different or our uber-togetherness sours to irritation or starting from scratch with finding friends feels overwhelming. As Sam said last night, "Sometimes I just don't want to be the new guy anymore."
But time will take care of most of it. One day we won't be the new guys anymore and it will all feel like home. In the meantime, we're in this rare, mostly blessed, in-between time, dwelling in possibility.
. . .
I've had a lot of questions about the kids' schooling here. The shortish answer is that they are starting up on October 15 with the 4th term of the school year, Sam at a boys' Anglican grammar school and Maddy at the girls' Anglican grammar school (though the two schools collaborate on music and theatre and other clubs so it isn't completely segregated all the time). While there isn't an international school here, these were the schools that were highly recommended to us by both Australians and expats; the studentbody is mostly Australian students with a bunch of international kids mixed in. Both schools offer the fantastic IB diploma program for years 11 and 12, which Maddy will begin at the start of next school year.
After this upcoming term they'll have another summer holiday! Since the seasons here are basically reversed from where we were (we are just heading into spring here as Concord heads into fall) the school summer holidays are in December-January and the students all move up to their new school year afterwards in February.
That meant we had to decide whether to skip our kids forward 3/4 of a grade or back 1/4 of a year. After lots of consideration and deliberation we all decided that they would repeat the last term of the year they just ended in June. This way they get to have that term to get used to life here, meet friends, get involved in activities and not have the pressure to zoom forward in all of their subjects. On top of all the other changes, why jolt them like that, you know?