This week I moved into a townhouse with an American roommate I found before heading over. The story of our connection is semi-long so let’s just say we had mutual connections at UNC Chapel Hill (where we both attended – though not at the same time). It feels great to finally unpack all of my suitcases and feel like I have a bit of a “home” here. This is my new bedroom:
It’s a fairly average size from what I’ve seen of the homes here and it has ample storage space for my modest amount of personal items. It is in a quieter part of town, but incredibly convenient to a shopping center (one of the LARGEST shopping centers around—and certainly bigger than any American equivalent I’ve seen.
My first night Ashley showed me the way to the shops in order to procure the groceries I needed to make my first mealin Oz. My jaw dropped when I saw the fresh market at this shopping center. It was HUGE.
So how the shopping centers work here (or at least my experience of THIS one) is that they have EVERYTHING in them. They have clothing, banks, speciality shops (like at malls), produce markets, chain grocery stores, meat markets and pastry shops! It’s setup like a mall, so everything is indoors, but the pure size of this one is incredible. Back to the fresh market though. It is so vast that I literally didn’t know where to start. They had every fruit imaginable (and plenty unimaginable), and whatever they had, they had 10 varieties of. I’ve never seen so many plums in my LIFE.
Ashley circled the market like a pro, scouting prices, freshness and quality…meanwhile I fumbled around looking for recognizable fruits and veggies (bananas, grapes and lettuce), before ending up at the plum section. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a plum before, but I couldn’t leave the market without at least trying one of the varieties (it was delicious….no, I don’t remember which one I got).
Following the fresh market, we ventured over to Woolworths (the chain grocery store here) to get more of the everyday foods. I thought I was somewhat prepared walking in as I’ve shopped and cooked for myself for years now, but when you go to the deli counter and see every price in AUD$ and every weight in kilos and grams, you realize you are about to really show off your American-ness. Thankfully everyone around was incredibly nice and helpful.
Whilst wandering the store I did see some delicious imported beer….sadly it’s now quite out of my price range
They live up to their hype in every way imaginable. YUM.
Ok, enough on food. I also visited the Uni (University) Monday for the first time. When you first walk up to it, it doesn’t seem all that special. Honestly it’s a bit dull with its old brick exterior, but as you wind through the paths you come across benches and trees and sculptures that make you feel like the place has some character. Beyond that, the building I will be working out of is the newest on campus and is stunning.
I also started setting up my teaching contract. My advisor arranged for me to teach tutorials to Masters students at the Uni. Well, he set me up to teach “Tuts” (pronounces toots). It really is true that Aussies abbreviate everything. It honestly feels a bit like they let loose a bunch of teenage girls and had them shorten every word and then said “Yep. That’s perfect. Let’s all talk like that.” I don’t mind it at all, in fact I kind of love it, but until you know the lingo, it truly feels like everyone around you is speaking a different language.
I also had my welcome to Australia moment. Throughout the day I kept hearing semi-disturbing whispers after I mentioned my new town Maribyrnong. I overheard “river….body,” from one person, and a bit later after the same conversation with another person I caught the words “pieces…floating.” Needless to say as soon as I made it home, I looked up what the fuss was about. Evidently police here identified a body that was found in bits and pieces in the river near my town. OY. Ironically (I don’t know if it’s good or bad ironic, or if it’s even ironic at all) the death was not animal related. So much for the animals being so scary (STILL NO SCARY ANIMAL SIGHTINGS).
I met about 50 people I don’t remember and maybe 3 I do (not bad odds for me, honestly). I tripped UP the stairs in a grand, embarrassingly loud fashion twice (only one of which someone saw), and I got lost trying to find my way back to the room my advisor wanted me to meet him. All in all I’d say I got the full first day experience. Today was slightly less eventful, but I’ll save more stories for next time.