March 2012


I’ve lived without a car before, and I’ll admit that given the choice I’d rather have one. But we don’t really want to rush into buying one down here until we find “the one”, so our search has been casual at best.

Shopping is… interesting. Especially when on top of groceries, I’m trying to buy things like dishes and other housewares for our new place. Each purchase, even something seemingly small like a set of sheets, has an impact on my journey home.

Stan is comfortable enough with his masculinity to endorse those pink striped sheets. Am I a lucky gal or what?

It’s probably good for the ol’ budget to go grocery shopping on a bike, because I can only buy what I can squeeze into my messenger bag. (But boy do I test its limits!)

Sure I could get panniers or a basket or something, but then I’d have to get an adorable dog wearing a beret to ride around in it.

Here is a pile of stuff I bought in two trips:

You might notice that there are some heavy items in there. Like the mortar and pestle. I don’t know of any of you have ever hauled a hunk of granite 2.6 km under the antipodean sun, but let’s just say there was no guilt over that ice cream float I enjoyed. None whatsoever.

Of course, hilarious as it might be, I’m not about to try and push a fridge home in a stolen shopping cart or dolly, or hitch a ride with a stranger in a truck with my couch. We have some big stuff to buy, and that’s why today I’m renting a “ute”. For one glorious 24-hour period, I will be able to drive to my heart’s content (well, within a 150 km limit) and stock that thing to the brim. (BTW, ute = pickup.) I’m a little terrified of the fact that my first driving experience in a new country on the wrong side of the road is going to be in a rented ute, but let’s just not think about that.

My cheaponess can’t handle even Ikea prices, so I’ve already arranged to buy a bed and a washer off of Gumtree (the Craigslist equivalent). I’m hoping we’ll be able to score a couch and a fridge as well, and maybe some night stands and/or a coffee table if we’re really lucky.

I’ll share the full list of what we need to buy, as well as our budget, in another post. In the meantime, wish us luck!

(PS- My brother-in-law Alex has helped someone move using only bikes. We’re not that hardcore.)

We made it! After a few travel delays that made our trip stretch to about 48 hours, we landed safely in Adelaide, South Australia and were greeted by Stan’s new boss. I’m sure I made an excellent impression, looking much worse for the wear even hours after this photo was taken:

I remember babbling on about something, and him telling us that if we wanted ketchup for our fries to ask for “tomahto sauce”, but that’s about it. That night, we tried to stay awake as long as possible, and we lasted until 5:30pm. I was nervous that we were going to wake up in the middle of the night and not know what to do with ourselves, but nope- we slept until about 7am the next day. I guess five fitful hours of sleep on the plane the night before wasn’t enough.

Since our arrival, we’ve been scrambling around to get our lives set up again. We set up our bank account, but naively left most of our money back home. We, uh, kind of need that for a deposit on an apartment and stuff. Good thing I have a nice brother-in-law who is going to wire us some of our money (and we’ll pay a nice $40 fee to have that done- awesome). I really didn’t think it would be that complicated to send money between accounts- I was wrong!

Next, we tried to set up cell phones but we have no credit here. So we’re going old school and buying prepaid minutes, which actually isn’t bad. It was nice to get a phone, because then I could call people about their posted apartments and they would know that I was a real person.

They do rent by the week here instead of by the month. It’s funny how easy it is to convince yourself that a $30-50 difference between apartments isn’t that much, but then you remember that monthly, that is actually a $120-200 difference. A lot of apartments posted online will have a time period where you can go “inspect” it, usually for only 15 minutes. So there’s you and a bunch of other people walking through and talking to the realtor (yes, pretty much all the ones we’ve looked at are being handled by agents, instead of just by the landlords themselves). Then you ask for an application and give everyone else the stink-eye hoping they will leave and not apply.

I really hope someone accepts our application. I’m nervous, because we don’t have a strong rental history (less than a week here in Australia, and owning a home back home with no one to put down as our landlord except ourselves). They also require lots of identification, and most of ours is obviously American. The temporary place we’re staying in now isn’t bad, but I’m excited to get our actual home set up.

Also, did you know that here, “unfurnished” means the apartment doesn’t come with a fridge? So add that to the list of things we need to buy, as well as a washing machine, bed, couch, ALL furniture… sigh. It might be a slow accumulation.

There are a few things about Australia that you may have heard, that are in fact true. Such as… the toilets flushing the other way, and people driving on the left. Proof:

I’m happy to report that as a pedestrian, my relationship with traffic has gone from a near-death experience due to forgetting which direction the cars come from, to maniacally spinning my head in every direction possible to check for cars when I’m even thinking about crossing the street, to intuitively knowing where I need to look before crossing. Although I sometimes revert back to the maniacal head-spinning, because one can never be too cautious.

Speaking of traffic, I saw the cutest thing yesterday. An out-of-service bus had a sign that said, “Sorry, out of service”. I don’t know why I love that. It’s just so polite, and you feel like the bus driver is sincerely feeling very sorry that he can’t pick anyone up.

I have managed to make an idiot of myself quite a few times, simply because I’m not really afraid to be a clueless American. Just today at the grocery store, I was looking for arugula and I kept seeing this leafy green that vaguely resembled arugula but was labeled “Rocket”. What the H is rocket?? So I asked the produce guy, “What is rocket? Is it like arugula?” and he replied, “No,” followed by an explanation of what rocket is that I couldn’t understand, either because his accent was particularly thick or because my brain is particularly thick. So I just walked away and put the rocket back.

Now that I’m sitting at a computer, why don’t I google it?

Googling… googling… googling…

Well darn that produce guy! Rocket IS arugula! Thanks a lot. Oh well, now I know.

One thing I love about this place already is the Central Market. Good, cheap, fresh, local produce. Check out this red bell pepper! It was only 50 cents! One half this size is like $1.59 back home.

BUT. I can’t find Cholula, and toothpaste is like six bucks. Life is about tradeoffs, I guess.

This post is taking me forever to write because I feel like it’s boring, even though I’m really having a good time. Since I started this post, we got approved for an apartment! It’s in a really cute neighborhood and it’s nice but a little generic, so I’m excited to tackle the challenges of decorating it and making it our own. One of the biggest challenges is going to be that since we’ll only be here for three years, we don’t really want to invest in super nice stuff. However, we’re also trying to move away from buying cheap crap. Somehow I’m determined to make the two go together.

I’ve been revisiting Apartment Therapy, and the fact that we’ll be actual apartment dwellers again gives me new eyes through which to see that site. Some of my fave shelter blogs are written by non-homeowners, and I’ll happily take suggestions for more!

Also this is a call-out to Crystal and Emily who live here in Oz and commented on a post a while back. Let’s be friends!  (Not to creep you out… we can just be internet friends if you want. :-)) Sometimes I’m bad at responding to the comments but I’m going to be better.

And lastly, here are some pictures.

I realize the following statement isn’t 100% geographically correct, but it’s more or less true: The next land mass across the ocean behind me is Antarctica. Craaaaazy.

Kristin, this last one’s for you:

Thanks for reading!

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And a buttload of luggage.

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Oh and those two boxes? $1100 to ship that to Australia. Good thing we get a little moving allowance. We also shipped our bikes, which was another $1600. Yowza!

We’re getting on the plane today, folks! I’ll try to post as soon as I can.

Packing stuff to store:

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Packing stuff to take:

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Trying to sell my whip:

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Going through my closet and attempting to take photos of myself to decide if I should keep particular items of clothing:

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Getting our fridge to a level of empty it hasn’t seen since day 1:

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Planting some forgotten daffodil bulbs in the dark before it snows tomorrow:Image

…Among other things.

Someone is enjoying all the empty shelf space.

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I’ve been horrible about updating you all on our move progress. That’s probably because I’ve been procrastinating and hadn’t done much until very recently. Bless his heart, Stan is much more… conscientious?… than I am, and has been starting to go through stuff and make home repairs for weeks now. I’m more the type to put it off, and then pull a couple all-nighters right before a deadline. Healthy, right?

Anyhoo, we’re still over the moon about this adventure. But along with procrastinating the tasks, I realized that I have been procrastinating the sadness. I’ve been having mini-breakdowns at very inappropriate times (while sitting at my desk at work, gassing up my car, etc.) thinking of all the stuff that we’re going to miss in the next three years. My brother brought his family down from Idaho to visit us one last time, and squeezing those little kids’ cheeks really set me off. When we return, so much will be different. Their cheeks seem to dramatically reduce in size with age, and I’m not okay with that happening without me being here to test the progress with a pinch every once in a while.

So far, I’ve mostly thought of our new life. I’ve thought about what it will be like to live near a beach, in a city that’s a little bigger and more urban than my current one, and to have to start from scratch to make friends. At the same time, I’ve also had a mental block and my subconscious has convinced me that it’s just a vacation and I’ll somehow magically not miss things like my friend Candice’s wedding and family trips. We’ve been making the rounds with family, including my mom coming to stay with us which was so much FUN and reminded me that I’m never too old to need my momma. Life is good. Too good. And I’m starting to realize the limitations of Skype.

Skype can’t transmit sticky fingers or endearingly awkward side-hugs. IPads don’t have cute pigtails.

You can’t use Skype to clean your grandpa’s house and go to lunch with him like you’ve been doing once a month for over a year.

No more calling or texting Jonny on a whim to say something like “Metamucil is sure an amazing product.” You know why? Because when I get that urge, he’ll be asleep, and besides that text messages probably cost an arm and a leg!

And as much as I want to force the girls to take me along via Skype/iPad to every girls’ night and bachelorette party, I admit that could get cumbersome.

 

It’s true that moving overseas is a lot less scary now than it probably was 20 years ago. But I think I’ve been falsely comforting myself with that fact. The truth is I’m going to miss this place and the people in it, no matter the technology. I’m going to miss out on stuff. I know I’m whining and this is an awesome opportunity and there’s no way we could say no and everything. I truly do, and I am very very excited. Just keepin’ it real.

Here is a photo of two sad things: patches in the wall where our artwork was, and the empty guest bed where my mom was staying, with her on a plane.

This time in two weeks, we’ll be in our new city probably recovering from jet lag, and I have a feeling I won’t know what hit me. Wish me luck?