Diane Ross
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I will be spending three months in Australia.  My apartment is in Melbourne.  Unfortunately I actually have to work during the week but I will have most weekends for traveling around and seeing as much of Australia as I can.

So what is Melbourne like. My apartment is near downtown, a first for me. I prefer living in the country. However that is just a personal preference and nothing against Melbourne. The city is very nice and the people are friendly. If I was going to live in a city I would want it to be like Melbourne. They have a tram system for getting around the downtown area which works very well. The shopping area is insane. If you like the Mall of America you would be in heaven. Personally, I hate the Mall of America. I don’t know how anyone finds what they are looking for. It is too big. I feel the same way in downtown Melbourne.

Chinatown has what seems like hundreds of oriental restaurants to choose from. I love Chinese and Thai food and am looking forward to trying out many of the restaurants.

I was surprised at the number of stores from back home. I expected to see McDonalds, they seem to be everywhere. However 9 West and The Sunglass Hut were completely unexpected. They also have K-Marts, Target, Safeway, Subway, KFC, Shell, Mobil, BP, and many more.

I only have 4 TV stations.  Apparently cable or satellite TV is not big over here.  I have spent a couple nights in hotels and they only had 4 stations also.  To make matters worse a lot of the TV is from the US and they are running 6 months to a year behind us.  Just about everything is a rerun to me and I hate watching reruns.

I also have limited internet access.  I only get 500 MB a month.  I can go through that in a weekend when I am working on my store.

Between the TV and the internet I am going through serious withdrawal.

A lot of things are more expensive than at home.  Gas obviously.  Pop and CD's cost about twice as much.  Stuffed animals are two to three times what I would pay at home. 

I love getting away from the city on the weekends.  I have already said I am not a city person.  Cities make me feel caged in.  I don't know why anyone would choose to live in a city.  I know I am in the minority, after all more people live in cities than in rural areas.  I love being where I can walk outside and see a deer (I guess here it would be a kangaroo).  I like falling asleep to crickets not sirens.  I like waking up to the sound of birds.

The airfares here work the way I have always thought they should at home.  They have several different prices for seats.  The cheapest are non-refundable the most expensive have a lot of flexibility for change.  The prices don't really change depending of how far away the flight is.  I booked flights to Tasmania the day before I left and it cost me around $190 Australian dollars.  If I tried to book a flight the day before at home it would cost me an arm and a leg.  They also charge for each way.  My flight to Tasmania is $69 and the one back is $119.  There were cheaper flights back either first thing in the morning of late at night.  I choose to spend a little extra and fly back late afternoon.  That means that one way flights here do not cost more than round trip flights.  I don't understand way I have to pay more for one flight at home than for two.  It is just not logical.

Epilogue

This will be my last week in Melbourne.  I am still not a city person but there are things I will miss.  It is nice to be able to walk to local restaurants for diner.  At first I thought most of the restaurants were far away but a 15 or 20 minute walk no longer seems like a long way to me.  I actually find the walk quite pleasant and I know it is better for me than driving everywhere.  I still don't walk nearly as much as the local people though.  I like the wildlife parks here.  Most of them are like great big petting zoos.  There is a meat market at the local mall that sells wonderful Chicken Kiev which I have cooked at least once a week since I discovered it.  Wombats.  I love wombats.  I want to smuggle one home with me.  I want a Kookaburra too.  I will miss being able to plan last minute trips without paying outrageous airfares.

Even though they speak English in Australia there are still things you will need to learn.  Their batteries go flat instead of dead.  They bell out a harness instead of ringing it out.  (If you haven't guessed I work with electrical systems.)  A jumper is something warm to wear (jacket, sweater, sweatshirt). They abbreviate a lot of things by using the first syllable followed by e.  Un-e is university, breaky is breakfast, pressie is present, I am sure there are many, many more.  They spell tire tyre.  They call drunk driving drink drining.  Bowsers are gas pumps.

In many ways coming to Australia is like stepping back in time.  When I was little my mother and I would take the bus into Detroit to shop.  Stores closed at 6:00 PM.  We only had local TV stations and when cable came out I remember wondering why anyone would pay for TV.  Australia is like that today.  The mall closes at 5:30 PM except for a couple nights when it is open later.  The same it true for the shops in downtown Melbourne.  If you need gas you better do it before it gets too late or you will have a hard time finding a gas station open.  Most people do not have cable.  There is no such thing as unlimited internet access.

I have enjoyed my time here.  Part of me is not ready to leave.  Part of we really wants to go home to my house, my bed and my stuff.  All of me wants my satellite TV, unlimited internet and my puppies.