Australia in a Nutshell: Snippets from a Newbie
Seven months ago, I remember being cramped inside a train in Manila. Noise, heat and discomfort radiated in midst of the space crammed with people. Despite being squished and pushed around, my mind was in a different state, too caught up with the thought of moving. In a few days time, I was on my way to Australia or ‘Oz’.
Honestly, it is hard to describe Australia when you haven’t been here for too long. It is a huge country which would need months or even years to see everything it has to offer. But there are always activities to do for every type of person, whether you are in the cities or in towns.
1. Nature & Wildlife
The minute I saw rainbow lorikeets flying around the city, free and undisturbed was surreal for me. I was extremely happy to learn how Australians value and preserve their environment. In addition to countless parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Australia is also home to several natural wonders: Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Uluru in Northern Territory and the Pinnacles in Western Australia are just some of the sites you can visit in Oz.
Koalas and kangaroos are usually found in walking bushes but sometimes kangaroos can drop by in your backyards ( depends on where you live). As for the misconception that Oz is filled with deadly animals : sharks, crocodiles, box jellyfish snakes and poisonous spiders. I’m still alive so I guess it is just about knowing your limits and being cautious with your environment.
There are over a hundred art galleries in Melbourne alone. In addition, there are museums where you can learn the history and see artifacts, the kind that will give you a glimpse of what was Oz like, hundreds of years ago. Also, learning about the Aboriginal culture and history is a great way to acquaint yourself with Australia.
Festivals are also celebrated year round. So, keep an eye out for jazz, food, art, or international festivals in the future.
3. Getting Around
Although it maynot boast a sweeping skyline like Dubai, or euphoric feel of European architecture, cities are usually a mix between quirky, modern buildings and well-preserved Victorian buildings that are pleasant to the eye and historically relevant. Parking is quite expensive in some cities ($8-$12 per hour in Melbourne). Luckily, you don’t need a car as there are efficient railway and bus networks that could take you to your destination. Melbourne also has an extensive tram networks.
Meeting new people is one of the perks of traveling. You learn something new from a different culture, clear misconceptions about one another and of course,form new friendships. When I moved to an apartment in Melbourne, I was shocked to find that I will be sharing the house with more than ten people. I had five roommates, all Europeans. I thought it would hard at first, not to mention chaotic ( How the heck will I be able to study?!).
But then, it turns out it is be one of the highlights of my stay in Australia. Indeed, it was chaotic but in a moderate-no wild antics-fun way. Say hello to multi-cuisine dinner parties, impromptu night-outs and just normal conversations. I even got to see how pizza was made from scratch! ( courtesy of my Italian housemate)
As of now, some of my housemates are back in their respective hometowns while others continued on with their travels. It was temporary and who knows when I will see them again but I’m pretty certain that we will all have a reunion someday.
Now to certain things I’m not so keen about:
The rent usually depend on where you live. It is usually more expensive to live in the city than in suburbs. For instance, a lease in a two-bedroom apartment in Melbourne can cost up to $300 per week whereas you can get a three or sometimes four-bedroom house for that same value in the suburb.
Dry heat, 45 °C temperature, blistering rays of sun – I hate Australian summer and I’m determine never to spend summer here ever again. Even the lovely beaches cannot make me stay.
3. Everything Being Expensive
A bottle of water for $8.00? and a restaurant meal for $ 22.00? That is why I do not eat out as much as I use to. I basically survive on instant noodles and cheap takeaways.
4. Trading Hours How come almost every store and cafe close as early as 6:00 PM?
Overall, I love Australia and I feel lucky that none of the bad things I often heard about ( racism, being bitten by a shark etc.) happened to me so far. There are still lots of things for me to experience and these could change my current perception of Australia.
Who’s excited? Me for sure.