© April Meads, 2016
My first two weeks outside of the United States have been very fun but difficult, as expected. Struggling with not knowing anyone, not knowing where anything is, not knowing how to work the public transportation system and meeting Australians that used every slang word possible so I had no idea what they were saying. It wasn’t long before I caught on to the language and was able to keep up:
Bathroom/restroom = Toilet
Garbage can = Rubbish bin
University/college = Uni
Dinner = Tea
How are you? = How’re you going?
Ketchup = Tomato sauce
French fries = Chips
And there are so many more.
Also, when I found out Australians don’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I just about hopped on the next flight home. HOW DO YOU LIVE WITHOUT PB&J?!
Anyway, I was lucky enough to find a group of girls right away that are now my adventure buddies. The first two weeks of being here, that’s all we did: adventure! The first adventure I took with these girls was to the city, which is about a 45 minute tram ride. We walked around to small shops, cafes, food stores, train stations and just about everything we came across. Below is Flinders Street Station:
Inside one of the malls we went into, we found a lot of little shops that were expensive but cute, nonetheless. I think my favorite shop we went into was a Dr. Seuss shop that had art and quotes from his books!
For the most part, we found that a lot of the things in the shops in the city were way too expensive for us Americans, so we stuck to browsing and buying overpriced food instead. Summer was wrapping up and the weather was still dreadful; ranging between 90-100 degrees everyday. Fahrenheit, that is. (Another issue I’ve been having talking to people who aren’t from the U.S. about weather, distance or any type of measurements. Shoutout to the United States of America for not using the metric system).
Aussie: “I think it’s supposed to be hot today.”
Me: *checks weather app* “Oh wow, the high will be 105.”
Aussie: “I have no idea what that means.”
Anyway, my point being that it was really hot and with all the walking we had done through the city, I was hungry, thirsty and overall tired. We were walking down the sidewalk looking for a restaurant that looked like it would meet everyone’s needs when I saw an Adidas store in the distance. Usually I only get excited about Nike so when I saw the Adidas store I kind of just thought: “Okay whatever, it’s Adidas.”
That was until we walked past the actual store and I had to take a triple take. What I saw would’ve been normal if I was back home, but once I remembered that I was in Australia, I got the chills. I realized that what I was seeing was pretty special. I literally yelled “Oh my gosh! I need to go take a picture! Can someone come take a picture for me?”
That’s right. DAMIAN LILLARD OF THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS. What made this 10 times more exciting was that he wasn’t just being a representative for Adidas’ ad wearing everyday Adidas clothing. He was wearing his Blazers jersey! Seriously, this made my whole first week in Australia. Anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with the Trail Blazers so it totally makes sense why I was so happy.
Once that happened, we found a little Mexican restaurant that everyone’s eyes lit up for. The guy who came to seat us had an American accent and clearly recognized that we did too. He asked where we were all from and when I said Oregon he looked at me with huge eyes and said: “I grew up in Oregon. I just got back from spending a few weeks there. I live in West Linn.” Okay, so how cool is that. We ordered tacos and enjoyed chatting with our Oregonian waiter while we all fueled up on water.
Once we were finished eating, the waiter’s shift ended and he grabbed his stuff from the back and headed for the door. He turned to say something to a coworker and I saw he was wearing a Portland Trail Blazers hat! Again, I freaked out! I commented and said “nice hat” and of course that led to a conversation about Portland’s recent victory over the Golden State Warriors and how well our team has been doing.
After dinner, we found a really cool graffiti alley that has so many different pieces of street art that changes on a daily basis.
Since the city of Melbourne is incredibly large, we had to make another trip. We found a doughnut shop called “Doughnut Time” that we visit nearly every time we are in the city. Here is where I had Nutella for the first time with a Nutella filled doughnut! What better way to try Nutella for the first time than in a foreign country inside a yummy doughnut?
This is the day we took on the Eureka Skydeck. It’s a super tall building with an amazing view of the city. It sounds pretty simple until you learn that you have to go up 88 floors to get the view! It was a little nerve wracking in the elevator on the way up but it was worth it. I’m very afraid of heights so it took me a good 10 minutes before I would go up to the window and actually see the view but once I did, I couldn’t look away.
We sat up there admiring the view for a couple hours and stayed to watch the sunset, which was the best decision we made all day. It was hard to get a good photo since the windows were a tad dirty. Why isn’t there a window washer for the 88th floor??
Of course, the walk to the tram afterward was beautiful as well.
A few days later, I attended the G-Eazy concert in downtown Melbourne! He’s a hip-hop artist from California so I found it funny that I saw an American concert on the other side of the world! I went with my friend Melanie, who is also from California, and is a huge fan of G-Eazy for obvious reasons. Despite how small the venue was, how hot and sweaty we were for the full three hours and how deaf we were when we left the concert, it was still loads of fun.
Us girls spent the next day enjoying the 95 degree weather at Brighton Beach. This started off as a bad day. I forgot my tram card but since I see people getting on and off the tram all the time without swiping their cards, I figured I would be okay. But of course, with my luck, public transportation officers got on the tram and asked to see everyone’s cards. Long story short, I got a $75 fine so at this point I wanted to just skip the beach and go home.
Once we got to Brighton though, my mood was instantly turned around by such an amazing beach.
Excuse my super white legs, but look at that clear ocean water! Isn’t that just amazing?
As you can see on my shoulders, I got sunburned this day. And it wasn’t just on my shoulders, it was basically my whole body but it was worth it! The last two photos were taken at a more private part of the beach so we made our way over to the more touristy part of the beach where the ever so famous bathing boxes are.
For the rest of the day, our group chat consisted of photos of our bizarre sunburns and conversation on how to take care of them.
Our last adventure of the first two weeks was to the Melbourne Zoo. I love animals and I’ve only been to the Oregon Zoo so I was hyped for this experience! However, we found that we chose the worst day to come to the zoo because it was incredibly hot and a lot of the animals were either MIA or sat in the shade so far away we could hardly see them. But I got to see my first koala and kangaroo so I was content!
We saw a variety of animals, but since this post is getting long, I’m not going to add the photos of them all. Instead, I’m going to end with a group photo!
From left to right: Me, Melanie (California), Alyssa (Massachusetts), Sam (New York), Merriel (Oregon, woohoo), Jessica (New York) and Karina (New York). Yay for friends!