Getting Oriented

Have been here two days now and taking in my new surroundings and absorbing everything around me. On the surface it seems so familiar and similar to home. But even after just two days I quickly began to notice how really different the country of Australia (and Australians) are compared to the U.S. Since Australia started as a British colony and is still a Commonwealth of Great Britain, there are indeed many unusual and foreign (to us) undertones immersed in the culture.

Phrases and words take on very different meanings, for example, the trunk of a car is a boot, your bank checking account is actually your savings account.
When someone here asks you, how are you going? – translated in American talk means “how are you doing?” Giving something a try = give it a go. There will be many more to come I’m sure!

Poor Jim of course came ahead of me, about four weeks before I arrived to begin work at a well-known global company (of which I prefer not to mention the name.) I was lucky to have him help me get oriented and settled in but not so great for him when he first arrived. Beginning a new position in a foreign country, you have certain expectations that maybe there would be a colleague that would be there to welcome you and help you during the transition. Not one person in this huge conglomerate offered to help him in any way, not even human resources. In fact no one even spoke to him or introduced themselves and when he had to (and still has to) consult with co-workers on technical matters, they only speak with him begrudgingly. It was shockingly disappointing to say the least. As Americans, we had this idea that Australians are so friendly and out-going. Frankly, we found Australian folks in Melbourne, last year to be much friendlier. Imagine coming to a new country and shlepping around your luggage from apartment to apartment, trying to learn a new city and a new job and no one to offer any advice or help? I give Jim alot of credit for hanging in there and making it that much easier for me when I arrived.

Last night, my first night here, we had dinner at the Hog’s Breath cafe, almost felt like we were in Key West! Good first night out…

The long flight here….

I am sitting here in a room of a downtown Sydney apartment catching up with emails. We’re living in Pyrmont at the moment. A Chinese woman owns the three-bedroom apartment and rents out two of the bedrooms to travelers coming and going through AirBandB. It’s a very nice apartment in a great location, but, for me at least, I hate living w/ strangers and the kitchen is not kept very clean. I am grossed out by everything, so I eat and use things to a minimum. Fortunately last night we ate out and will again tonight too. The bathroom is very large and actually pretty clean but now we have to share it w/ a German couple who just arrived last night. I can’t wait to get out of here. I miss my privacy and miss my own home. Not used to city living, it’s not easy going from peaceful & quiet Clinton and Noank to a bustling noisy city, especially a ground-level apartment. Highway and construction noise have been relentless.
I left the States on the 8th and arrived yesterday, the 11th, feeling pretty grimey, disheveled, angry and frustrated over this entire travel experience. I have decided to coin a travel phrase, “The worst part about traveling is the travel.”
Boarded United Express in Providence to Chicago, was charged $700 for three bags and one box. Mary had to take the largest one back home with her otherwise I would have been charged $900!
Caught the connecting flight at O’Hare to LA on American and arrived in LA around 11PM.
Next and final leg of the journey in LA was the Qantas flight to take off @ 11:30PM. Flight cancelled due to runway construction work which caused all other flights to arrive/depart late. Was given a discount coupon to stay overnight at an airport hotel for the night and flew out the next night.
Before the rescheduled flight took off I spent the day fighting w/ Qantas and United for giving me inaccurate info about the baggage fees, not to mention the $25 extra I paid to be guaranteed an aisle seat on the 14hr portion of the flight on Qantas, now that was eaten and never used. So far no one wants to take responsibility to reimburse me for the overcharges, the aisle seat or the hotel stay. 
Trip going really well so far… (grin)
Finally arrive in Sydney, however, none of my bags arrived. The brain-dead idiots apparently did not transfer my belongings. When asking customer service, they had no idea where they could be… I was given a missing baggage file # of which I could use on the website to track/trace where my bags are. When I enter the info in the fields, it tells me it doesn’t exist.
So now, it’s Thur. the 12th, my birthday and I still only have the one outfit I’ve been wearing since the 8th. Fortunately there is a washer/dryer here in the apartment and Qantas comped me a shorts/t-shirt set w/ some toiletries and a $60 gift card to buy some clothes.
After I finish this email, my day will be spent, once again on the phone w/ Qantas, looking for our “permanent” apartment and hopefully just get outside and explore the area. It’s lovely, tropical and beautiful here. I love listening to the tropical birds too.

At 4:30pm I heard a knock at the door – my luggage and computer finally arrived!! Good to have clothes to wear. We celebrated the occasion of the delivery and birthday on the Cockle Bay Wharf and had dinner at the Harborside Waterfront Grille. Basically similar menu fare to any good American restaurant, well, except for the kangaroo steak and camel burgers… :-/  Very nice evening!

My Reluctant Move to Australia

I must confess that I’ve never written a blog before and I’m not even a great writer. But I am thrilled that so many friends seem genuinely interested and have requested updates about life down here that I’ve decided to begin writing a blog anyway. I look at it as an on-line journal of our personal experiences, mixed with a few facts and photos sprinkled in between, documenting the move and new life “down under.” I should also mention that whatever our personal experiences are, may or may not be typical for other Americans or Australians. We can only tell our own story. But before I begin the journey, I wanted to post a few photos of farewell parties given by co-workers and friends before I left CT. Thank you again to those friends that made saying goodbye a little easier and the fond memories to hold me until I return in a few years!

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