Drawing Notebook

I haven’t picked up my pencil to draw anything for a while now. It didn’t help that I really hated drawing on my current batch of drawing books with its extra coarse pages. The paper felt like it was resisting my mechanical pencil’s lead whenever I draw on it.

Sure, my old batch of drawing books were of the same brand and had coarse pages, too, but they were somewhat more conducive to drawing. It’s very difficult to explain but suffice it to say that my newer drawing books weren’t a pleasure to draw on.

While drawing my Lovarian Adventures webcomic over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that I like drawing on smooth paper (like photocopy A4 paper or coupon bond paper) rather than drawing paper. I thought that maybe if I draw on photocopy paper instead, I can rekindle my passion for drawing.

I then cut 20 pages of A4 paper in half (making them A5-sized paper) and stapled them together to form a makeshift drawing pad. I just wish I knew how to bind because having loose sheets of paper stapled together meant I need to have a hard surface before I could draw. With an actual drawing book, it’s thickness plus the cardboard backing made it so that I could draw standing up which is helpful when you are drawing outdoors.

Alternative I could purchase a notebook without lines on the pages. Notebook pages tend to have the same smoothness I’m looking for so I thought it’d be perfect, if it weren’t for the lines. I looked around Melbourne and actually found what I was looking for early this week in Dymocks.

Apart from selling books, the shop also sold these artsy-looking hard-bound notebook diaries. I was very pleased to find that there were notebooks without lines on them. I was stoked! It was exactly what I wanted. I picked up one notebook and flipped it to see how much it would cost. To my surprise, it was selling for $40! No way I’m going to shell out that kind of money for a notebook. It wasn’t meant to be, I thought then.

Fortunately, nearby was Dymock’s competing bookshop, Angus & Robertson, and they also sold some notebooks there. Among the variety of notebooks they offered, mostly with lined pages, was an A6 sized leather-bound notebook without lines. It was the last one they had on display and in stock. I grabbed it immediately before somebody else buys it. To top it off, the notebook only set me back $7!

It’s small that I could easily put it in my coat pocket and bring it everywhere with me. It’s easy to refill, too. Just cut up some A5-sized photocopy paper and punch a hole in the absolute middle of it. The notebook has a leather string that goes through the hole to tie the paper to the rest of the notebook.

Now the only thing left to do is draw.

Published in: on August 12, 2005 at 11:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tips for Pinoy Migrants to Australia Part 2

In the first part of this series, I posted a list of suggestions for would-be Pinoy migrants to Australia while they were still cooling their heels in the Philippines. This time, I have listed down hints that will hopefully help new migrants like you, perhaps, survive their first odd couple of months here.

To make writing this post easier on me, I will assume that you’re a potential migrant and from here on in, I’ll be referring to the migrant as you. Now, let me list what I think are the essentials. Meaning, you’ll probably need to do these things no matter what your situation is when you get here:

  • Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN).
    You do this by submitting an application to your nearest Australia Taxation Office (ATO). You will be required to present your passport which has your working visa or permanent visa so bring that with you when you apply. They should mail you your TFN within 28 days after your application.

    Alternatively, according to the ATO site, you could apply for a TFN online here. If you apply online, ATO will verify your identity through the Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA’s) systems. For further details regarding TFN applications, read the ATO document “Getting a tax file number.”

  • Open a bank account and get a debit card.
    You will want to have the money you brought with you to Australia stored in a safe place. And there’s no safer place for it than in a bank. Open a bank account as soon as you get here. Why?

    Well, anybody opening a bank account in Australia is required by law to first passThe 100 Point System.” In this system, each form of identification is assigned a number of points. You’ll need a total of 100 points or more to be able to pass. Since you’re new to the country, you’ll likely to only get 70 points max for either your passport or birth certificate (they will only accept one or the other but not both). However, if you open a bank account within the first three months of your arrival, the rule is relaxed and you’ll only need your passport to open an account. So, don’t wait too long.

    I also suggest you open an account with a bank that offers an ATM card that is also a debit card (like St George Bank for example). A debit card is just like any other ATM card except you can use it like a credit card. When you make a purchase using it, the money will be drawn straight from your savings account. Here in Australia, most banks impose fees for frequent ATM withdrawals. But with a debit card, you won’t have to withdraw often because you can pay with you “credit card” and it won’t count as a withdrawal.

  • Get a computer and a prepaid Internet access.
    Owning a computer with an Internet access is almost a necessity when you get here. You can use it to search for potential jobs or apartments. You can use it to spiffy up your resume. You can use it for researching about almost anything. You can use it to keep in touch with friends and family via email or through an instant messenger application like Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger.

    What’s more, most of Australia’s institutions have web sites you can browse through if you should need information about them. For example, you need to know about taxes? Go to http://www.ato.gov.au/. You need to know about immigration? Go to http://www.immi.gov.au/. Want to know more about St George Bank’s accounts? Go to http://stgeorge.com.au/. Want to know more about Melbourne? Go to http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/. You get the picture, I’m sure.

  • Buy a prepaid mobile SIM card.
    Assuming you’ve read and took my advice in Part 1 to bring your GSM mobile (cell phone) here, all you need now is to get a GSM SIM card for it. If you didn’t bring a mobile, that’s okay, too. They have promos here for free mobiles even for prepaid plans.

    Anyway, you’ll definitely need a mobile so that you can easily be reached by prospective employers. So, even though you’re outside looking for work, you can still catch calls from any employers interested in hiring you. Another very important reason for having a mobile is so that in emergencies, you’re just a phone call away from help.

  • Get a map of your desitnation city.
    Upon arriving to Australia, remember to pick up those free tourist booklets in the airport. Those booklets would contain a map of the city you’re in. Although this is a good start, these booklets don’t have detailed maps of the areas outside the city’s central business district (CBD). For a more comprehensive map, you need to buy one.

    And even though you can look up a place you want to go to online (like on Whereis.com), you couldn’t bring it with you when you are outside looking for that office where you’ll be having an interview in 10 minutes. At least with a map book, you can bring it anywhere and refer to it any time.

That’s all I have for the essential tips at this time. As for not-so-essential tips, I have those, too:

  • Don’t be too picky with jobs.
    Finding that first job here can be difficult since employers will prefer somebody who had previous Australian work experience. Chances are, the companies that will want to hire you anyway won’t be your first, second or even your third choice. But that’s okay. Take it anyway. You can always continue looking for your dream job while you’re employed in your first job.

    Your priority should be to start earning money. You wouldn’t want run out of savings. I know this sounds like common sense but I have known of people who are too picky with jobs and ended up going back to the Philippines because they ran out of cash.

  • Get a Learner’s Drivers Licence.
    Whether or not you are really interested in getting a full drivers licence eventually, a Learner’s Drivers Licence will be handy whenever somebody requires an identification card (like for membership at a DVD rental shop). Note that an Australian drivers licence (even if it’s only a learner’s licence) is more easily acceptable as a form of identification than your Philippine passport. Also, in the 100-point system mentioned earlier, a drivers licence is worth 40 points which, along with your passport worth 70 points, will give you a total of 110 points.

    To get a learner’s licence, you just need to take a multiple-choice type computerized driver knowledge test. The test will ask you questions based on their Road Users Handbook like that provided for by the Roads and Traffic Authority ( RTA) for the state of New South Wales (NSW – where Sydney is). RTA even has an online mock test on their site for you to test yourself until you’re ready to take the actual test.

    Note that other states will have a different traffic and roads enforcement agency so be sure to look up those institutions on the Internet and study their own version of the road rules. It is also likely that they’ll have their own online mock test on their site.

  • Get used to the slang and accent.
    One of the biggest hurdles I had during my first few months here was that I found it difficult to understand some Australians. Specially those who speak real fast in their typical accent while at the same time using slang and idiomatic expressions I never even heard of.

    First, you must read up on Australian slang so that you’ll know what they mean when Australians use them. Next, you have to get used to the way they speak. One way to train yourself for this is to watch a lot of Australian TV programs.

  • Get a library card.
    There are a lot of public libraries in Australia where you could loan books, magazines and even audio CDs and DVDs for free. Just as long as you register for a library card first, of course. Another advantage of having a library card is that it gives you access to free Internet usage on the library’s computers.

That’s all the hints I can come up with for now. If I think of anything else, I’ll surely post a blog about it here. For more info about living in Australia, I also recommend buying a book about it. The one we’ve bought is “Living and Working in Australia: A Survival Handbook” by David Hampshire and its been a very handy reference for when we want to know something about Australian living.

I truly hope that my list of tips will help you survive your first few months here in Australia. Good luck.

Published in: on August 12, 2005 at 12:19 am  Comments (11)