Tuesday, September 20, 2011

accents of life

Yes, I’ve made it. After nearly three days of straight travel (28 hours in the air, 3 hours in the car and 10 hours of mind-numbing layovers) I have reached the city of Perth in Western Australia.

For those of you who don’t know, Australia is the sixth-largest country and neighbors Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Indigenous Australians settled this place some 40,000 years prior to when the Europeans came a knocking and set up camp here (however if you ask a Brit, they act like they outright own the place since the queen’s mug is brandished all over the Aussie’s colorful money). The country has six states, including New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia (where I reside). And no, they don’t have a president, but a prime minister. And yes, they do eat kangaroo meat, just like we eat deer. Oh, and no….no “shrimp on the barbie” here, sorry to disappoint!

But enough of boring facts and statistics, how about a little of the good stuff? I touched down one week ago today and since then, my acclamation to the area has been a bit rocky.
Yes, I’ve lived in Europe and traversed many a country with many a language barrier, but something about being in a place where they speak English (albeit differently) has certainly caused some minor upsets (think celly=cell phone, telly=television, taking the piss=to joke and a different pronunciation for just about every word we have in American English). Aside from this minor setback, however, life has been rather good. My hosts (Chris and Alana; if you remember I met them while living in Italy earlier this year and they offered me their flat to live in, free of charge, on this venture) have been nothing but cordial. I have a small mattress set up in a corner of the living room, and at the moment feel something akin to an illegal immigrant (however, I assure you I have all the necessary paperwork to live here for one year legally!). My bags are partially unpacked on two shelves in their closet, but the rest of my personal belongings need rummaged through on a daily basis, as there is just no room to put everything out.

However, for the moment I am content.

Now, since arriving, I have explored the city of Perth and surrounding suburbs (including Fremantle, Cottesloe and Mosman Park, the latter of which I live in) and generally hang around in this beautiful library called The Grove. It is about a 15 minute walk from our flat and so, for that matter, is the beach. Right now, the weather has not been too cooperative for leisurely outside activities, but I did get one day on the sand thus far. Torrential rain and 60 mph wind gusts have made up the trip as of now, however I am promised good weather is on the horizon! But one positive aspect I can recall from all these inclement conditions are the sunsets over the Indian Ocean are incredible, painted with orange, red and purple every night; quite unlike anything I’ve seen at home. The people are also rather friendly, with everyone smiling, offering directions and helpful hints to better get to know their lovely city. The only downfall, then, I can recount (other than those pesky words and abbreviations) is the cost of living. Yes, I was certainly warned, but without a job, all the joys of this new place seem just too far out of reach.

For instance:
* One 15-minute ride on the train to Fremantle is $2.60, for a return you can double that price

* To the city of Perth (just 30 minutes away) it is $3.80 one-way

* A single banana cost me $1.09 (I must add here most fruits and veggies are out of my reach since extensive flooding throughout Australia has caused prices to sky-rocket)

* A small cup of black coffee is $5.75

* A muffin is $4-$5.50

* And liquor is a staggering $50-$75 a bottle, even for the cheap stuff! (Australians have taxed alcohol to discourage youth from underage drinking)

Lucky for me, though, the Australian dollar is quite comparable to the American dollar, so I don’t have too many calculations to do in my head (quite unlike when I had the Euro, now that was a nightmare!). I can only hope soon some of the countless jobs I have applied for (at places like bookstores, coffee shops, the library, a home goods store, a silk flower shop and yes….the circus) will come through. As of right now, my fingers are crossed…toes too for that matter. Despite a dwindling bank account, the journey has already been well worth it.

What else can I tell you fine, fine people? Oh! Australia is exactly 12 hours ahead of your east coast time, which means when it is 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning in, say, Venango County; it is 10 p.m. on Tuesday night here! See, it’s so easy!

As of now, that is all I have to write. I did get a cell phone, which can call America, so some of you lucky people will be getting a call soon! Also, I have made a couple friends, but have yet to really get my feet wet (as they say) in the Australian nightlife and social scene. As for now, I am content in my small corner of the living room, close to the beach with a book by my side.

All right mates, I reckon it is time to head on out and buy some capsicum for a nice evening meal of meatloaf and salad. Until next time, cheerio!

No comments:

Post a Comment