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New Beginnings and Composting

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  • This is an Xchange story from one our Guests, Andrew Butler. Andrew is writing about his Xchange Xperience on a regular basis. Whether you're a host or a guest, his story will resonate with you in some way. Enjoy the ride as he takes you on his Xchange journey.

    The first day of my second week with my hosts’ was a 'no have to' day. The night before we had a party here and I helped them out a lot so they gave me the day off. 

    Despite this, I was so grateful to be living with them that I spent two hours cleaning the kitchen anyway! My host was so relaxed on the couch watching a movie that she didn’t even notice until I finished the job! 

    On Monday, I had another engaging chat with my host. 

    That was two in the space of 48 hours!  This time I began to open up more. She helped me see things about myself that I had subconsciously noticed, but never let surface. Sometimes freedom is simply another perspective away.

    The next day, I decided to take on cooking a meal for the family.

    Not being much of a cook, I felt very much out of my league, but I was up for the challenge! My host came up with the idea of cauliflower steaks and eggplant with a miso glaze.  Being a vegetarian, that sounded good to me! I searched online for a recipe for the cauliflower steaks and eggplant. I then started gathering the ingredients from the kitchen and got started chopping up the veggies. I hadn’t cooked a proper meal for a long time, so this was an exciting experience for me.  The meal may not have turned out perfectly, but when we sat down to eat, it tasted so good because I knew that I had played a part in making that meal for us.

    My host had been looking for someone to assist her in her business.

    Then it dawned on her – she could hire me!  She offered me a part-time job helping her with daily tasks. Knowing that I would need something to transition to after I finished my PhD, I immediately accepted. Who would have thought that in the course of our Xchange, our professional needs would be met as well?  I started working for her the very next day. It was a delight being able to help build the business that had been and will continue to be so beneficial to me.

    On the weekend, I finally had the time to unpack my suitcases that had been sitting around for two weeks. 

    The process of organising my room and putting my belongings away in the drawer and wardrobe space was a milestone. It made me feel like I had finally moved in.  Now I was officially a resident and member of the household.

    One thing that I asked about was getting a desk for my room and a compost bin for the garden. 

    So, that Sunday, we drove to the local shopping area and purchased the desk they asked me to pick out and a compost bin I had researched, as well as some plants for the garden. Going shopping with them felt like an adventure!  When we returned home, I spent about three hours putting together my desk and the compost bin, while my host prepared dinner.  I could really feel a sense of unity in the house that day. Everyone was contributing to what needed to be done and because we were all helping each other, nothing was too hard. At dinner time, we were all shocked at how much food waste we were able to put in the compost bin after just one meal!  I think my presence had created a domino effect.  The room I occupied was no longer unused and now the waste from the kitchen was being utilised to its full potential.  Experiencing life together with people who were strangers just two weeks ago has already changed my life and their lives for the better.

    By Andrew Butler