Exchange Postcard

Despite COVID, an amazing time

I can’t believe how fast this year has gone, considering we have spent so much of it with limited movement and social contact.

I have managed to book flights home ... now fingers crossed I can get on them, and don’t get bumped. This entire getting home process has been so stressful! First, there was NO consistent information – the Australian Consulate in Vancouver wasn’t able to give any advice really, other than good luck. Being the only exchangee from Perth, even the information from you guys had to be checked and rechecked, because of WA’s hard borders. We can’t actually get home to Perth, so will have to quarantine in Sydney, then again in Perth. Hopefully at home in Perth and not in another hotel.

Being part of Aussies getting home and Aussies in quarantine groups has been both amazing and awful. I found my flights home through their information, but reading all of the stories about being bumped, cancelled, no refunds and awful quarantine conditions has been really scary and very stressful. I had to ban myself for a little while.

A co-worker asked me about a week ago how I was feeling about my return home. I actually don’t think there is an emotion that I am not feeling about going home. Excited and happy to be going back to my friends and family (my son was supposed to join me, but couldn’t get permission to leave), sad to be leaving new friends, nervous about saying goodbye, since I don’t know when I will see everyone again (lots of people were planning to come next year and visit – but who knows now).

I’m nervous about whether or not I will be homeless, jobless and carless if I can’t get on my flight, scared of how I will be able to deal with any delays, terrified of quarantining without fresh air with two kids.

I have so much anger at my government who is making it so hard to get home. Frustrated and angry at so many of my fellow West Australians, who love what Premier Mark McGowan is doing, and have actually said to me “Well you were told to come home in March” with so little understanding of any of it.

The stress is actually insane to deal with, while also trying to work full-time, and make sure all reporting etc is ready for my exchange partner to return and finish the school year. Ultimately though, I would do it all again. Despite COVID, I have had an amazing time, and I would recommend teacher exchange for sure!

Joanne Huttner, St Anthony’s Primary School, Wannaroo, WA