Let me summarize the last month for you, as I have obviously been MIA blog-wise since then. I spent a week in Queensland which was lots of fun. I got to go the beach and really swim in the ocean for the first time – terrifying. I also encountered a lot of jellyfish, a snake, a bunch of lizards and endless amounts of bush turkeys.
Upon arriving back in Sydney from Queensland, I was a bit at a loss about what to do. I had been job searching for 2 weeks and nothing seemed to be going my way. Let me tell you, job searching is frustrating. Like endlessly frustrating. There is nothing more annoying that filling out application after application, writing your cover letter over and over and editing your resume what feels like a thousand times. I felt so defeated and rejected, it was not fun. I got to the point that I was ready to call it quits and go home. I wasn’t happy, wasn’t enjoying my time. Basically, I had an extreme case of feeling sorry for myself. Anyways, on this day that I had finally decided whole heartedly to go back to Canada (coincedentially exactly a month after arriving in Australia), I got a phone call from a job agency that I had submitted an application with. Not only did she like my application and resume, she had a bunch of jobs for me to look at. To her dismay, I was not so interested in the “agricultural experience” that she was attempting to entice me with, and again I felt discouraged. I did not want to learn to drive a tractor or milk a cow. Anyone that knows me, knows that I hate farms. It is beyond a dislike, farms and I do not get along. Then, the woman on the phone mentioned a job in hospitality in South Australia. I ignored the “small town” and “various roles” part of the call, and focused on the picture that was forming in my mind. I saw myself working in the bar and waitressing at a resort on the sea, sipping beers and relaxing on the beach in my spare time. I felt like I had hit the jackpot! After a few more phone calls, and some skype interviewing, I was offered a job in Wallaroo, South Australia. If you want to be entertained, read the Wallaroo wikipedia page. The following is a direct quote:
“The name “Wallaroo” comes from the Aboriginal word ‘Wadlu Waru’ meaning wallaby urine. The early settlers tried to copy the aboriginals by calling it Walla Waroo, however they found this too big to stamp on the wool bales, so they shortened it to Wallaroo.”
Yup, this is where I now live. I did my first day of work today after arriving in Wallaby Urine yesterday. I did housekeeping, which is not as bad as I imagined. Basically I attempted to make beds (has anyone else attempted to learn how to do a hospital fold thing? Impossible) and I vacuumed. I had a really nice woman working with me, and she was extremely patient with my stupid questions and my asking “pardon” every 5 minutes because I can’t understand her accent.
The setup is simple. I live in a motel unit for a subsidized rate of 100$/week, and I get 50% off all meals because I live on site/work here. In my free time, there are a number of exciting things for me to do. There is the ocean, which I can use at my leisure to drown or fish in. There are roads, which I could walk or run or skip upon. There’s a library that is only open between 10am and 3pm 5 days a week. There is a post office, which I think I could probably loiter in front of. There is also a food land, for all my food/stationary/toiletry needs. The big plus of this town is that even I, the extremely directionally challenged, can’t get lost here. It’s also beautiful. The ocean fades from that perfect turquoise colour to dark, dark blue. There is a “jetty” (aka boardwalk) that allows citizens and visitors alike to wander and fish. It’s apparently very quiet most of the time. Last night was certainly an exception to that rule as a boys soccer team is staying at our motel and they were up until 4am drinking in the yard outside my door. Let me say that I have only seen 3 naked boys wandering around, and I feel like that’s enough for having been here a total of 36 hours. I must say I smiled a little bit when I saw one of them puking in the bushes this morning.
So I am really not sure what to do with myself. I think the next few months will certainly be interesting (or painstakingly boring, who really knows). My goal is to bank some money for more travelling. My amazing friend Nicole is visiting for an extended period in February so I’m basically saving up for fun with her as well as to replenish my savings. Any suggestions on what to do in spare time are welcomed. My current ideas are drinking a lot and eating horribly.. suggestions definitely welcome.
So I’ve officially been in Sydney for a whole week and it’s still very surreal. Here are some of the highlights of my first week:
I got into Sydney at 6:15am Sydney time (+14 hours ahead of Ottawa). My flight was fine, but it did feel very long. Recommendation: don’t tell the airline that you’re gluten free and just pick around the normal meals – gluten free meals were disgusting. I flew with Virgin Australia and I would wholeheartedly recommend them, minus their gluten free meal making abilities. I managed to sleep about 6-7 hours on the flight, and otherwise occupied myself by listening to Harry Potter audio books or watching movies.
When I got off the plane in Sydney I was greeted by my friends Alex, Tim and Kathryn with whom I had lived in England during my exchange in third year. I was so excited and relieved to see them! Getting off the plane and through customs, immigration and everything was so long and tedious. My luggage took FOREVER to come off the plane, and then I got put through the ‘extra screening’ type area where this adorable beagle comes around and sniffs all your luggage as a biosecurity measure. I think he checks for food in your bags? (If that’s the case he failed as I had a ton of snacks in every single bag). So that panicked me a bit because I was worried that I would have to open and go through all my bags in the middle of immigration but thankfully I made it through unscathed.
Upon arriving at 6:15am, my friends very astutely realized that I would definitely not last the whole day awake unless they kept me busy. It started off cloudy but ended up being a totally beautiful day! We went to the Taronga Zoo which is right on the Sydney Harbour and built on a big hill. We got the take the ferry across the harbour so that gave me a great first taste of how beautiful Sydney is. Upon arrival at the zoo, you take a little gondola up to the top and then work your way down through the exhibits. It’s a beautiful zoo and made for an awesome first day in Sydney. Highlights were: the seal show (they were so cute and amazing), the bird show (with an amazing view of the harbour) and the chimpanzees (eerily and awesomely human like).
I love Sydney right now mainly because when I go out to eat I almost always have options! A few of the menus highlight their gluten free options and almost every cafe I’ve gone to has gluten free toast which means I can have a sandwich or eggs benedict or even just toast! It’s amazing, and the bread is actually delicious (unlike 100% of bread I tried in Canada.. Canadian food companies need to catch up and steal some recipes!). The “cafe culture” of Sydney is amazing and if I don’t watch out, it will contribute to serious weight gain and money loss. Every corner and street has a locally owned cafe with amazing options of sandwiches, breakfast dishes, fancy mains (steaks, schnitzel, etc) and tons of fun coffees, smoothies and teas. All of these places are quirky and adorable in their own way, and they’re by far my favourite way to eat.
I’ve already been to many a pub and I have mixed feelings about them. First, on the positive note, I absolutely love the atmosphere. I love that it’s very ‘take care of yourself’ and that you go up and order your own drinks/food right at the bar. I like that you can roam around and sit wherever, and that most of the pubs are multistory with cool courtyards/rooftop seating. On the other hand, the menu is soooo limited for me. The salads are not really up my alley unless I want an overdressed ceasar salad and everything else is either weird or breaded. Now, I realize that I am not the usual as I’m both gluten free and the pickiest eater on the planet (seriously, I rival any child in terms of pickiness) but options are so limited. Everything is really heavy and depending on the pub, not that well seasoned or very flavourful. Favourite pub meal was on Day 2 at the Edinburgh Hotel. I had sausages and mash with 4 of my friends from exchange and really felt like I was back in England. It was lovely!
Things I’ve Learned So Far
Hotel = pub.. and sometimes an actual hotel
Ute = pick up truck
Chips = chips but sometimes fries (contextual)
Hot Chips = fries if you need to specify
Tomato Sauce = ketchup
Sultana = Raisin
Lemonade = sprite/clear citrus soda
Lemon Squash = fizzy lemon drink, but different from lemonade
Bondi Beach = Bond-eye Beach
Australia = not always hot (my first purchase here was a jacket [that everyone in Canada insisted I not bring])
Cockroach = dead on my floor = me crying
There’s a spray to kill spiders and it doesn’t completely kill them right away – beware. (Upon furthur investigation, no, there is not a travel sized container that I can carry with me at all times).
Most people here are insanely stylish and many are beautiful. Clothes are ridiculously expensive so I will probably remain unstylish for awhile. Apparently I just look ‘foreign’ so I’m hoping that’s endearing and will work for me.
Also, cover at a club was 15$ and no one batted an eye. I’m still waiting for the free t-shirt that justifies the cost of entering a building to spend more money.
One last highlight
On Thursday we (Kathryn, Alex and I) went to Bondi Beach. We had a decent lunch at a cafe and then wandered around. We walked along the sand and I got my first feel of the ocean and then we went and walked along the rocks looking for wildlife. We saw a bunch of dolphins just cruising along right near the rocks! It was so neat and so exciting. We also saw some (very small) starfish and a few little crabs, sea urchins and things like that. We climbed up the rocks a bit and sat and just watched the surf. It was so nice and I’ll definitely be back to swim and enjoy the water a bit more as it warms up.
Will try and post some photos!
Packing is legitimately the most annoying thing and I HATE IT. I don’t even like packing for a weekend away. My problem is that I never know what I’m going to want to wear, or what I’m going to need. I am a horrible packer. I’ll always have very uneven amounts of things. For example, I went camping with my aunt and uncle over labour day weekend and I brought 2 pairs of pants and like 10 shirts, and no raincoat (despite forecast of thundershowers for the whole weekend). I also find that the more stressed out I am, the less focused my packing becomes. Therefore, as I sit in my bedroom in Palm Springs, leaving for Australia tomorrow night, I have come to terms with the fact that I am an absolutely horrible packer.
In my defense, I can’t imagine that ANYONE has an easy time throwing their whole entire life into 2 bags. I have been bound and determined since the beginning that I would not overpack for Australia. I have one huge suitcase, one 50L MEC backpack and a purse for carry on. Well, that was the original design.. but since my Mom had to shove about 10kg of my stuff into her suitcase, I have finally forfeited and am bringing a duffle bag on carry on. Also, I’ve discovered (as I emptied my suitcase and sorted out my stuff) that I have no interview-appropriate pants and that I hate the two pair of jean shorts that I brought. Needless to say, I am a teensy bit stressed. Packing is so hard, and so frustrating. Big suitcases are great, but if you fill them full then you are always going to be over the 23kg limit. I am also trying to bring over gifts (advice – maple syrup in glass containers is insanely heavy), and alcohol (18.49$ for 1.75L of vodka.. can’t ignore a deal like that) so my clothes have taken a back seat. I didn’t even pack my birkenstocks (cue tears).
Anyways, today will be the day that I figure it all out. I’m hoping that as I put everything back in bags, it magically all fits and weighs the appropriate amount. 24 hours from now I’ll wake up and be officially making my way to Australia (well first making my way to LA, then catching my redeye to Sydney). I keep fluctuating between extreme excitement and extreme anxiety… either way, I’m counting the hours til I touch down in Sydney, Australia to begin the biggest adventure of my life!