Friday, July 17, 2015

The ups and downs of my new life down under

I think I spent my first week in Melbourne overwhelmed and consumed by extreme jetlag, English-language overload and a burgeoning foodie scene.

From Warsaw, I had a 26-hour flight that took me through Dubai and Kuala Lumpur before landing in Melbourne at 1 a.m. on a Saturday. I was exhausted, confused and didn’t even know what day it was, technically. I left on a Thursday and landed on a Saturday as if I had been in some kind of time warp. This was the longest flight I’d ever been on, my muscles ached and all I wanted to do was sleep. 

Since I’ve had a little time to adjust and reflect, I thought I would share my ups and downs from my first week here in expat country number three.

Hello English!
After five years living as expats in Istanbul and Warsaw, I’m thrilled to not learn a new language for once. At first, I thought re-living in an English-speaking country would be too easy, but Australia is a whole new world for me. Everyone speaks English here, but it’s a different kind of English. “Is that all for you love?” “Sure doll.” “No worries.” “It’s much of a muchness to me.”

I often find myself messaging my good Melburnian girlfriend I met in Warsaw who’s now living in Dubai and telling her about my day here. So far the Australians I’ve encountered at cafés, restaurants and stores seem super friendly to me!
One of the rare, really sunny days during winter in Melbourne along the Yarra River.
Winter and Time Difference
Besides suffering jet lag and waking up every day at 3 a.m. wide awake, I’ve been dealing with different seasons and a major time difference. While all my friends in Europe and the U.S. are posting sunny beach and mouthwatering BBQ photos, I’m dealing with fall-like temperatures (5-10C/41-50F) and chilly, dreary, rainy days. I’m wearing winter hats, scarves and gloves. Our apartment never seems to warm up so I sit in front of an electric heater every day when I’m on the computer.
Staying bundled up while exploring Melbourne's awesome street art scene.
Although we’ve had several partly sunny days, we’re living in the middle of winter down under. At least, there’s no snow! Well, at least not in the city.

Being so far in another part of the world also means a crazy time difference. That means 6 hours to Dubai, 8 hours to Warsaw and 15 hours to my family in the U.S. Thank goodness my phone’s weather app keeps track of the various times for me! My mom still has a hard time understanding that I’m a full day ahead of her when I call in the morning my time, but early evening for them.

NYC Double Take
So much of Melbourne reminds me of a smaller version of NYC. The city is located along a river. The taxis are yellow. There’s a theater district just like in Times Square, and the CBD’s architecture is reminiscent of buildings built in the early 1900s in NY. The food and market scene is amazing! Plus, there are even restaurants named after places in New York. Perhaps all these almost familiar items are why I feel so comfortable in Melbourne. Now, all I need to do is find a good Mexican restaurant and I’m set as an expat.
Transportation Woes
Traffic flows in the opposite direction here compared to what I’m used to in Europe and the U.S. Australians drive on the left side of the road just like their counterparts in the U.K. Trams and buses follow the same route. I have to make sure I look twice before crossing the street. I have to always remind myself that if I want to go north, I need to catch the tram on the west side of the street and so forth.
Afternoon traffic in Melbourne's Southbank neighborhood where we live.
This opposite world also applies to people. Pedestrians must walk on the left side of road so people can pass on the right. Escalators are the same way. Stand on the left side, pass on the right. Did you know that “it is illegal to walk on the right-hand side of a footpath in Australia?”

At first, these rules were very confusing, but I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of opposite world and hopefully I’ll never get fined for walking the wrong way.

Foodie Heaven
During my first week living in Melbourne, I ate American barbecue, Australian kangaroo, Chinese dumplings, Italian cannolis, Korean ramen noodles, Vietnamese pho noodle soup and Turkish breakfast, gözleme and lamb pide. I am literally in foodie heaven here! I can get every kind of cuisine that I want, and I plan to try it all! I've also visited and been impressed with the farmer's markets here - Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market - so far.
Coffee Fiends
I knew my Australian friends loved coffee, but to see this fact in person down under is a whole different thing. There are coffee shops everywhere! And a flat white, seems to be the popular Aussie order. This caffeinated beverage was created here  in Australia or New Zealand, both countries lay claim to its invention.

A flat white is an espresso-based beverage with steamed milk consisting of very small, fine bubbles (micro-foam) resulting in a velvety consistency. There’s no distinct layer between the coffee and foam. A flat white is not just a small latté  because there’s a higher proportion of coffee to milk and the foam is different.

All that I’ve learned so far is that a flat white is delicious and often pretty!
An Aussie flat white is best enjoyed with dessert in my opinion.
It’s been nearly 3 weeks now since I joined my husband here in Melbourne. I’m over the jetlag and just trying to explore the city as much as I can. I hope you’ll stay tuned for more of my Australian adventures! 
My Traveling Joys

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Jennifer said...

I'm surprise you had time to post this with ALL THE EATING!! Keep me posted on your trip to Sydney. Give my friend there a call!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

how exciting! do you know how long you will be there? i always get jet lag and i hate it!

Lois B said...

I'd noticed that you were down under, but I thought it was just another exotic vacation. It all sounds fabulous, even winter as I read this from sunny AZ! I look forward to reading more. :-)

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

Dear Joy, many congratulations on the move!! I totally missed this - I thought you were there for a holiday! Looks like a great move and being a true world citizen, I am sure you will enjoy and make the most of it, they're lucky to have you there :) Cok selam ve sevgiler, Ozlem xx

BacktoBodrum said...

What a fantastic opportunity to see the other side of the world. Your memoirs are going to be a great read.

Natalie said...

I told you the coffee was good! I think people must think we're crazy the way we carry on about our coffee - oh to have a decent flat white.....

Joy said...

Ha ha! I don't eat ALLL the time! It was fun to meet your friend Leah. Thanks for the connection! :)

Joy said...

Hi Joyce! Not sure yet. Definitely a few months...probably til September or October. I'm feeling better now at least.

Joy said...

Thanks Lois! Hope all is well back in sunny AZ! Well, it's basically a long vacation for me while my hubby is working. :)

Joy said...

@Ozlem, thanks canım! I'm definitely enjoying it down under, but hopefully we'll be back in London later this year. Will carch up then with you! :)

Joy said...

@Annie, Ahhh thanks! I never thought I'd be living in this part of the world, so trying to soak up all the experiences! :)

Joy said...

@Natalie, yes, you were certainly right my dear! Xoxo

Danielle said...

Have you seen Chef's Table on Netflix? One chef that was featured is based in Melbourne -- his restaurant is called Attica. If you ever go, please let me know so I can live vicariously through you! It seems like you're having a blast in your new home -- Instagram photos are gorgeous!

Joy said...

@Danielle, We don't have Netflix, but I looked up Attica here. Menu and restaurant looks awesome, but quite pricey at 150aud for a tasting menu. Guess cheaper than othr tasting menus. Maybe I can convince hubby to go for a special date! :)

Adventures in Aussieland said...

I think that is one of the first things I said when I first saw the Melbourne CBD, "It reminds me of a smaller NYC!" After living here for more than a year, I think I enjoy Melbourne much better than I ever did NYC. People are friendlier, there is always something to do, and the food here is AMAZING!

Tina said...

I would like to check out the restaurants.