12.26.2012

Tacos, street signs, and toilets



We've been here about one month now, and settling in has pretty much been seamless. With a visit to Ikea and a few days spent in the car on the left hand side of the road (I have not mastered driving yet), we felt self-sufficient pretty quick. Our American accents were constantly giving us away as foreigners to this land. So after a few days, we decided to try to master the Australian accent. We started with the vowels, and I mean we really focused. We learned a lot from watching the newscasters the first few days after we first got our television set up. We were roaring laughing in the living room practicing our Aussie accents with each other. We learned that a lot of Australians put an "r" after words that end with "a". China is pronounced here as "Chiner", Obama is pronounced "Obamer" and the funniest one of all was "no" pronounced here as "noar". I won't go on, I think you get the picture. Trying to learn the accent was all in good fun, but it made me realize how strange our accents must sound to people here.

Something that was hard to deal with when we first arrived was Australia's lack of free Wifi. Don't get me wrong, there is Wifi in some places- but it's not free and it's hard to find. You have to pay $5-10 minimum for 30 minute access which is guaranteed to be very slow.  McDonald's is the only place that you can get Wifi for free. Needless to say, we've frequented McDonald's more in the last month than we have in the last 5 years. Coming from a smart phone driven country where internet is part of of a large majority of some people's way of life, I can honestly say I was completely lost without it. This is the reason for my hiatus (sorry) from blogging as much as I'd like. But I'm back!

Some other interesting differences I noticed when I first got here include:
The Pee and Poop flush. Two different buttons on the back of the toilet you push depending on how you go. The "pee flush" uses half the amount of water. I had never seen or heard of this before, so I totally got a kick out of this when I first got here. I also thought it was a great idea.

Things are also much smaller here compared to my super-sized America I'm used to. My coffee's are smaller when I order at a cafe, my microwave is tiny (I have to tilt the plate to get it in), and sandwiches do not automatically come with fries or chips as they call them here. At times, it feels almost European with all the small cafe's and cappucino's. I like it. But then the beefy Land Rover's everywhere throw me off. haha! My husband drools daily over cars that are sold here that are not sold in the U.S. and we talk about how much my Dad would love to see them.

Australians overall seem to be much more conscious about the energy they use, the water they consume daily, and where their food comes from. It is completely refreshing! They even have switches on all the plugs here to keep from drawing electricity out of the wall when you are not using whatever device it is you have plugged in.

To our dismay, everything is so expensive here in Australia. To be fair, I was warned by friends. However, I could never have prepared myself for how expensive it really is though. My first taste was when we landed in the Melbourne airport and I wanted something out of the vending machine while we waited to be picked up. Chips were $3.50. A bottle of water was $3.00. I thought to myself that it was just the airport. Nope, that's the price everywhere in the surrounding Melbourne area.

So funny thing, we ate ramen noodles the first week we were here! I didn't mind really. We were still trying to adjust to how expensive everything was- including food. The story behind that is my husband is super frugal. Anyone who knows him, knows this is true. So in the mean time, we were searching for a grocery or a place to buy food where it wasn't so expensive. We winded up going out to dinner one night as a treat for eating soup all week, to a local Mexican restaurant. We absolutely love Mexican food. We went to Mexico on our honeymoon, we cook tacos at the house a lot etc. Big mistake. It was the worst Mexican food we've ever ever had. When I asked the waitress and the owner if they knew of where we could find salsa dancing, they referred us to the bowl of salsa on the table and said that was the only type of salsa they had. Once I explained what salsa dancing was, and they laughed at the idea of there being that type of dancing available here, it was clear we should not be expecting to find good Mexican food while in Australia either. We walked away with an almost $100 bill for horrible tacos. Lesson learned folks.

We recovered and now mostly cook for ourselves at the house. We reserve our eating out for restaurants we know have really good food, like those in the city. Australians do steak, beef, and salmon well.  The dairy and cheese here in Victoria is to die for. We've learned to stick to ordering what Australians do best, and ordering what is local.  Learning to live here has been a blast and a learning process.

I would have to say my favorite thing about Australia, besides the trees, are how friendly the people are here. We've received the warmest welcome and have had incredible interactions with complete strangers everywhere we go who are genuinely interested in knowing us, where we're from, and why we're here.

I treasure each day that I get to spend here in Australia. Even if it's on the left instead of the right.