How you going?

The language here is mesmerizing to me. It’s so familiar and yet so foreign. I’ve mentioned the Aussie’s love of all things abbreviated previously, but it goes even further than that. Even words that are the same, are sometimes pronounced differently (putting emphasis on different syllables and such). There’s a rhythm to they way they talk and it feels like even though the language is the same, they are marching to a beat that I just haven’t learned yet.

I am starting to feel more in sync with the rhythm of the city though. My confidence is growing and I’m pulling out my phone’s gps mapping app less and less. I still look both ways at all road crossings (both ways at least twice), but I’m starting to recognize which way the cars are coming.

My roommate taught me how to use the grill, giving me even more cooking options, and today I got tutorials on a few more of the house appliances. We are trying to fit everything in before she takes off for the US in two days.

In another step towards independence, I purchased a bike today for my daily commuting. The Uni is only a few miles from where I live, and while the trams are super convenient, they are quite expensive (7 dollars a day). I try to tell myself that back stateside I was spending close to $200 a month between insurance and gasoline for my car, but even so spending 7 bucks a day for a ride I can do just as fast (if not faster) on my bike seems silly.

Anyway, I really like my new bike.

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And I got a snazzy helmet to go with it:

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It was a fairly large expense, but I wanted to be sure to get something that was reliable and would last. Without a car, this bike is my main mode of transport. My roommate took me for a ride around to show me the area on two wheels. It was incredibly intimidating because here in Oz it is illegal to ride on the sidewalks, so I’m being thrust into the chaos of driving, with only two wheels and no metal surrounding me.

There are loads of bike paths in the area, but to get to any of them you have at least some road travel. It’s also oftentimes faster to just ride the roads (which typically have bike lanes) because the paths are out along the rivers. For me, however, speed is the least of my worries and I plan to stick to quiet roads that get me to calm bike paths. Luckily my Uni is right off the river and my home is also very close to the river so I can take a longer, more roundabout commute with little road travel.

The other excitement (I use that word loosely) of the day was finding a GIANT (Aussie sized) spider in my bathroom.

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It’s hard to tell in the picture, but it’s body was probably the size of a nickel to a quarter. Ashley and I removing it was not the most graceful venture, but we got the job done.

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Yes, he went for a swim. No, I don’t feel bad. Needless to say after that I have been watching where I step even more closely.

Speaking of scary animals, the other day at the Uni I went to an international student orientation where we were inundated with tons of information. Overall they presentations were fairly helpful, but one in particular caught everyone’s attention- the life guard (life saver). She started out the presentation saying something along the lines of “now even though we had that event yesterday, shark attacks are NOT common.” Needless to say, that piqued everyone’s interest. Apparently earlier this week someone died from a shark attack in Northern New South Whales (not near me). Luckily the state of Victoria is not known to be a shark area. It helps that most of the close by water access is to the bay and not the open ocean as well. She repeated again and again that as far as water safety goes, the area we are in is about as good as it gets as even the jellyfish aren’t venomous. PHEW.

Aside from that I’ve just been trying to get sorted at the Uni. Everything moves at a rather slow pace here, and I’ve actually adapted ok so far. Somehow I’ve managed to not get overly frustrated. Comparison can be a killer here so I’m trying to avoid it entirely. Of course for purposes of this blog I’m obviously highlighting some differences between Oz and the States, but for the most part I just go with it and accept it as the new norm. I even caught myself absentmindedly throwing out some Aussie phrases.

The standard greeting here is “how you going,” which is their version of “how are you,” and EVERYONE says it. For the first few days I just smiled and said “good thanks,” but recently I found myself spouting back good how you going. Every time I leave out the “are” I feel like somewhere across the world my English major mother is cringing.

That’s all from OZ folks…

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