Well, here’s another year.

Plan

I can’t believe another year has just passed. Every year at this time I need to write something for the new year as well as the old one. Though it is a busy year, I want to keep this habit.

2014 was a good year for me. I have passed three modules of my CA program. It’s also my second year of my CA, so I just need another year to be qualified as a chartered accountant. If there was a surprise, the permanent visa to Australia was not in my plan. Well I know I meet all the requirements, but I did not have much hope when I lodged the application as no one can tell the immigration officer’s decision. The waiting time was extremely painful – I could not buy anything new as I had to be ready for leaving the country within one month in case the application was not approved, which partially explains why I had a crazing Christmas shopping over the Boxing Day weekend later – so I was very happy for I did not need to wait, not for other reasons. Work was okay, gradually a bit faster in all the work I did. Nobody special appeared as usual so it was acceptable.

As I am a bit settled in Australia, it is a hard to make a plan for the beginning of my “new” life. After I found my interests in Finance, I have enrolled in another master degree for the preparation of the CFA program. I will learn 5 modules by the end of 2015 before the level 1 exam in December. In the meantime, I still have my last CA exam to sit in June. I know it is very challenging, but I really want to learn a bit more when I can still study. There are so many things beyond my control, but I can at least manage my time, so I would prefer getting some studies done first. Next, I will fit a short trip to China and US to meet family and friends in the March semester break, and this might be my only travel for 2015. Moreover, my postcards collection is getting more and more serious, so I hope to establish 10 more connections with post office in other countries to get more locally issued postcards, which will be added to my existing 10 subscriptions. These three wishes do not mean the whole year. There are of course some other wishes in the new year, but I don’t need to list everything. As long as I could have done these, I would be very happy by the end of 2015.

Wish is not only hope but also target, so it is never a waste of time in doing so. Go everybody in the new year!

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Back to San Francisco.

Travel

San Francisco is a diversified city, I noticed that even from the airport – most immigration officers were Asians or Latinos. I saw an old Chinese couple who could only speak Chinese passed the customs successfully – the officer could speak Chinese, what a chance!

It was my third time in this city, but for the first time, the BART was not in service as the workers were on strike. I took a bus to the city, very very slow –  capitalism was so bad.

The place I visited this time was the cable car. The museum was actually only six blocks away from the hostel on the map, so I decided to walk there. However when I actually went there on the following day, I regretted not taking the hilly road into consideration. It was almost like climbing a mountain and took me half an hour to get the destination after an up-and-down. Looking at the steep road, I found it really necessary to have a sort of transport in this hilly area. For a long time I thought the cable car was like a tram, actually they were not pulled by the engine, but the moving cables under the track and the central control was right in the museum. As there were no wire network like the tram, the street looked quite tidy. The only disadvantage I thought was the continuous noise from the cable gears but I did not blame it, it was a great system. It was not cheap – around 5 dollars and the many riders chose the Indian way to take it- with only one leg standing on the car and the other hanging in the air.

Starting from the wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, there was a beautiful walking track. It was a Monday afternoon and a bit windy, but so many people were running along the track. There are many reasons why people want to move to the Bay Area, for me it could be simply the running track and the healthy spirit. Yes on the way back from the bridge, I run.

In Chinese, San Francisco was translated to Old Gold Mountain, such a unique translation as Chinese seldom adopts these kind of “nickname” as a city’s official name. It’s all from the gold rush, many Chinese workers went for it in early days and named it gold mountain. Right after the gold rush in Melbourne, they started to call San Francisco old gold mountain. Nowadays the official Chinese name of Melbourne is still Melbourne but Old Gold Mountain as a name of San Francisco still remains, very strange.

It’s a bit dirty on the street, the homeless people are a bit aggressive and the bridge is always foggy, but I  like this city.

It is a good week.

Plan

Early this week, I finished my second marathon. Yesterday I got the result from the institute and I passed my first module of the CA program.

Everything started in June after a relaxed working experience in the country. I started the tax module and I had to spend all my spare time on my study. This is totally different from studies in university – no teacher, no classmates, computer and ebook is the only resource. Meanwhile I had to run at lease half an hour for my marathon training.

It was such a hard time, I had no social life, but busy with work study and training. The worst result could be I did not finish the marathon for insufficient training and I failed the exam as I did not spend enough time on study. I was glad I made both and survived. My colleague said I looked very excited on Friday in office, yes it was a relief. There are only two months left in this year, I am happy I have done something. In the next two month I still have one module to finish. I hope I could say 2013 was a productive year in this Christmas.

Netball, first time.

Sports

There are two strange sports in Australia. First, boys love footy – it’s more like rugby, but they call it footy. Nobody in other countries like this sport, but Australians are crazy about. At certain time in the year the first question people ask you is about footy. Once I asked a friend about the pleasure to watch footy, he said it had more goals that real football so he could yell more. What a nonsense reason. Well I was forced to pick a team by my coworkers, and I haven’t decided. There are many Geelong supporters in the office but I think I may choose Hawthorn..

Another strange sport is called netball. I never heard of it before I came here but all Aussie girls know it and can play it well. When I lived on campus in university, there were many competitions between different halls and girls absolutely love it. I never went to watch any games but my impression was it was a girl’s game.

There is no other place more Australian than the country. If you don’t play netball or footy, you really can’t survive in Swan Hill. Nearly all the people in the office or their partners play for one local footy club, and netball season in town never stops. Interestingly here all netball teams are mixed, so boys got a chance to find their feminine side. I misses the first season early this year and my colleague invited me for this new season. Today was the first match.

My position was Wing Defence tonight, and my goal was to annoy the Wing Attack – that was just my understanding. The WA girl was fast but quite small compared to me so it was not so difficult to defend her. I was penalised quite a lot for the defence distance – 3 feet – that was too short for me but I think it keeps a reasonable distance and makes net ball quite safe to play. Lots of running after one hour play, but I think I may like it.

I look forward to next Monday.

A New Financial Year.

Business

It’s been five months since I moved to Swan Hill, and I like my country life so far.

One change from me is that I tried to understand why the country is different from the city. For example, country music, if one lives in the city, country music does not make sense to them. But in the country, when you walk in the forest alone or run along the trail by yourself, some sheep or cows walking beside you, country music at that moment is the best way to express yourself, and it is better to sing it out. Once I saw a girl playing guitar in the park and singing, it was beautiful. Another activity called fishing – it was the most boring thing to do for me, and it still is – I once spent two hours near the river to see others fishing, trying to understand it – it is not too bad. When everything else is not moving, holding the pole still is the best way to synchronise yourself with the world – I think this is the pleasure of fishing. Just maybe, and I must say I am still on the way to understand fishing!
Sometimes I miss Melbourne, or even Beijing, especially my friends there. What I usually do is I just imagine the something here is something there, and this worked well when I was in Melbourne. I remember when I was driving on Princess Highway from Caulfield to Clayton,  I always imagined it was Baiyi Road in Beijing. Sometimes it was raining when I passed Chadstone, seeing many cars there, not sure it was illusion or what, I really thought I was driving in Beijing. In Swan Hill, there is no wide road, the high street only has two lanes, but the only McDonald can still remind me the the one at the corner of Wellington Road and Dandenong Road in Melbourne, again especially on a rainy day. The franchisees of those chain will never expect their shops can be viewed in such a way I guess.
Anyway, goods sides and bad sides, this is life as always. This financial year has just passed and a new year will start soon. You know as an accountant, I celebrate financial year as it is a big relief for us, I also celebrate calendar year as it is my longest holiday over Christmas. Additionally I have to celebrate Chinese New year, so how busy I am!

Picking up my running.

Sports

I was very busy in the past few days, still learning lots of new things at work meanwhile I was trying to have some readings every day – starting from half an hour in the evening but it is really not easy to concentrate at home. I will commence my first Chartered Accountant unit in two months, and it will tough time for me then.

 

I ran three times last week, about 8k each time through a return route on the main road from my flat to the other side of the town. There is also a 10k trail near the NSW boarder to the golf course but there is no light. These days it’s getting dark so early and I don’t even have time for food after work before running for safety reason. One good thing is one colleague joined my run recently. He is a football player and when his wife and daughters went to his hometown, he would push me for a fast 10k run, which was quite good.

I also spent quite a lot of time on my garden, and I hope it will look nicer before winter comes. Last time during the conversation with mum, she asked me to grow some vegetables. I think is a good idea, and I will start with garlic chive, maybe. Actually I really like the orange tree in my neighbour’s yard, and I can get some with my hands though I shouldn’t.


I will talk to the gym manager later this week to get a deal. I really don’t like the gym but I don’t want to be stuck at home, as there is really nothing to do in cold winter. Hmmm winter is really coming.

Everyone needs a library.

Lifestyle

A very important thing I need to get is a library card, yes a book can really help to kill time. Swan Hill Library is very different from those ones in the university, it’s small and community oriented. Most books on the shelf are fictions and illustrations, there is even has a story telling for kids on the corner. I guess I will just check out books from here, not stay here for a day.

I talked to a neighbour today, and interestingly he is a butcher. See his car’s pic above, and it has a very cool plate MEAT-01. The people I know in Melbourne are mostly lecturers, doctors, bankers, or whatever, but here people have a lot more to do: plumbers, electricians, who will be the next person I know?

Today I met two colleagues in Woolworths, and another one in ALDI. I think I will start to know everyone in town soon. It’s such a cozy place, I love it.

Letting My House.

Lifestyle

I have been to the counters in the airport in different countries, and I can tell people working there are quite different. In Asian countries, they are quite efficient – get the seat, tag the bags, and that’s it. In Australia, they will say “how are you”, ask about the weather, the food and the trip no matter how long the queue is – people who are fond of it say they are professional, but I would say they are just slow.

In the country, people are slower in my opinion, though unfortunately there is no airport to prove it. I submitted my house application two weeks ago, and after being refused by one landlord, I finally got one lease offer today. Meanwhile after complaining the agent’s slowness for so many days, I finally became relieved. With hindsight I can understand why they are so “slow”, or I should say they are actually so laid back. Those things that belong to me will finally be mine, and other people’s stuff will never come to me, so just relax and see what is coming. It occurred so many times following the same way, like my degree, my job or my house. This is a completely different attitude, not the one I grew up with, but the one I should learn, as I guess this is the way how it works here. So the conclusion is being slow is actually not bad, but another lifestyle, and I should get used to it.

I will go to the real east agent to take the offer tomorrow, and hopefully I will like my two bedroom house.

Location:Campbell Street,Swan Hill,Australia

Pluto and me.

Travel

Just by accident, I found two pictures between Pluto and me.

The left one was taken is HK Disneyland in 2008. In those days I was busy with my work in Beijing and enjoyed my holidays in China. The right one was taken in LA Disneyland in 2013, and at that moment I did not even know what my next step would be.

I changed a lot in the past 5 years – older, maybe wiser but maybe not, whearas Pluto is the same – cute and lovely as in my childhood. I am kind of jealous of Pluto as it is forever, and I guess that is the charm that Disney brings to us. I hope in the near future, I could take another picture with you, my dearest Pluto.

Is there a next time? Well, say no.

Sentiment

It’s February now. In the new year I normally have some goals, and my potential one in 2013 is to write a blog everyday. I don’t want to break my promises after writing it down, so I would rater make it like this: writing blogs as many as I can, at least more than yesterday.

What’s up? Quite a lot. Yes I moved to Swan Hill and began my new job. Exciting? No, I was quite frustrated about the tax software they use in the firm. All other people including the new girls seem quite proficient in it, not me. I guess doing tax returns in a computer would be very different from passing exams in the university, and I hope it will not take a long time to get used to the new office as well as everything else. Luckily the people in the firm are really good and I kind of believe I made a right decision to be an accountant. Though nothing would be easy in the beginning, as I found something quite surprising in this town. For example, there is no gas supply in this area so everything is powered by the expensive electricity. Also, Telstra is the only broadband provider and there are not any cheaper options like Optus. Moreover, there are no Asian grocery shops, and the only “Asian” shops in town only sell Indian stuff, so I have to go to Woolworths to buy the organic Tofu and unfortunately no more garlic chives or garlic shoot from now on. Can I survive? Maybe I can. I found there are two gyms in town and one of them even had a swimming pool. I also found a good tennis club and they had lots of grass courts. Though I still need to go to Melbourne occasionally to east some proper Chinese food.
Talking about Melbourne, people in the firm or in this town thought I was from Melbourne, but I actually moved everything to Swan Hill. As for the place of my home, yes I once thought Melbourne was my home but  it was not true. Till the day I rent a van and put all my stuff into it, I did not even go to Rod Arena once and did not witness Australian Open personally even once. I always thought I could do that later as I would plenty of time in the future but actually I won’t. Like many other things, time will not wait for me. Do I want to have such regrets in the future? No, grasp each chance like there is no “next time”, and I will not make the same mistakes.
It is my first weekend here in Swan Hill, and good luck to my new week.