Before I begin my post of my travels back to the USA, I feel the need to share a few of my more recent Melbourne Adventures! I’ll keep it short as I hope to go back and write them up later, but here’s what I’ve been up to the last few weeks in Australia!
End of April I crashed a work colleague’s conference trip to Sydney. There was a conference/workshop by a man who is well known in the area of clinical exercise and heart failure. Since my thesis project involves heart failure patients, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the physiology, treatment, exercise prescription and research on this disease. No only that but it was a great excuse to have a short weekend adventure with a friend in Sydney. The conference was fantastic. I learned a lot about heart failure and how exercise physiologists in Australia work. That night my friend and I went to a Jamie Oliver restaurant and managed to have quite a good time at the bar, despite waiting about 3 hours for a table. Yes we were crazy, but it was good fun. The next day I got to explore Sydney (I swear we walked the entire city), have brunch by the bridge, and sit at the harbour watching boats go by.
Early May I moved to a beautiful new apartment closer into the city. It’s a lovely little apartment in South Yarra, right by a train station (perfect for car-less folks like ME).
My room has floor to ceiling windows which I LOVE (there are also blinds). While the apartment is on the smaller side, I find it quite nice and enough space for me and my one flatmate. An added perk of the apartment is how close it is to the river and a beautiful river bike path. Since my Uni is also located along a river, the bike path by my new apartment actually wraps all the way around the city and leads right to my Uni. And the ride in, when not raining, is beautiful.
I also broke in my new apartment with my birthday festivities. We were having way too much fun to pause and take pictures, but I did also have an adventure out to Yarra Valley to enjoy a wine tasting at Oakridge Wines. I cannot WAIT to go back to Yarra Valley. It was absolutely beautiful and the wine was perfection. Obviously I walked away with several bottles, including one particularly pricey and delicious Pinot Noir that a friend and I have somehow agreed that we can set on a shelf for a year to open between our birthdays in 2016…wish us luck!!
Enough old updates…onto NOW!
It’s a weird thing coming home. I know the U.S. is home, but it’s not the same home I left. I recognize the accents, but they sounded weird to me for the first few days. I’m used to being in a melting pot of accents. On a daily basis I was hearing British, French, Australian, Kiwi (the list goes on), and suddenly now it is straight up American. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it just felt weird.
At the Melbourne airport I fit right in. I “rocked up” to the terminal with about an hour to spare, sat in the business lounge for Qantas thanks to my advisor, and walked over to my gate right as boarding began. Obviously this no worries attitude of Australia is rubbing off, as the Mary of old would have had at LEAST two and a half hours for my flight. In fact, when I flew to Australia just three months ago, I’m pretty sure I spent a solid 3 weeks packing, weighed my luggage 10 times and showed up to the airport with 3.5 hours to spare. Quite the contrast.
As I touched down on U.S. soil, there was a sense of relief. Living in a foreign country meant that I was ALWAYS “on.” I could never tune out or stop thinking because every tram ride, conversation, and new city required so much thought. Was that my stop? What the heck does that word mean? Where are the road signs? Finally, I was back in a country where everything made sense. Or did it? As I walked to my connecting flight, I found myself getting a lot of stares and I kept running into people. It wasn’t particularly crowded or anything, they just kept walking straight into me. After about the third person, I worked it out. I was walking to the left. Without even realizing it. 25 years of hearing “keep to the right” had vanished in just 3 months abroad. The people here were giving me the same look I gave the Australians when I first landed. Suddenly I needed to tune back in, even in my home country.
I walked over to brueggers to grab a bagel before my flight took off. Ahhh. Here we go. A place I know and grew up on. I pulled out some cash and realized I hadn’t switched out my money yet. Luckily my Mom had forced me to take some US dollars with me to Australia, so I had some on hand. I pulled out the bills and they looked so….green…and boring. It took me a second to work out which bill was which. In Australia you can just see the color and know it’s a 5, 10, 20 etc. Suddenly the Australian way didn’t seem so odd.
The days are really throwing me off here. I cannot remember what day of the week I’m in. I’d finally gotten used to knowing what times everyone in the states are awake and when I can text and call, and now I’ve having to reverse the process to remember what day it is in Oz and when that assignment is due. Having it be a holiday weekend in the states didn’t help with my confusion either.
I love being back with family. The conference I’ve traveled back for is in San Diego, and I’m very fortunate to have an Aunt and an Uncle living there so I’ve had a few days of R&R before the conference kicked off. This Saturday I will be flying across the country to join my family on their annual beach trip to the outerbanks of North Carolina. I’m so grateful to be able to have a week with them, but man am I already dreading my return trip. The following Saturday I will be flying RDU to LAX to SAN to LAX to MEL. It’s an unfortunate consequence of booking internationally and domestically separate, and it means I will be flying from 6am Saturday the 6th to 9:30am Monday the 8th. Ok, really it’s only about 35 hours of travel since I gain some time going to Australia, but it will still be brutal.