I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats waiting to hear what I’m up to… turns out I’m just as prone to procrastination here as I am at home, even with something I actually want to do. I’ve been stockpiling posts, so even though my writing is a little behind my actual timeline, I’m aiming to catch up.
After my first month, I couldn’t believe I’d been here for that long; time really does fly when you’re having fun! After we returned from our road trip, half of that group stayed in Melbourne, while the others went on their way towards the east coast and elsewhere. After spending every waking (and sleeping) moment with the same people for two weeks, suddenly disbanding was a very startling feeling. Similar to that of leaving the Lair after a summer, obviously on a much smaller scale.
Who remained were five girls: ZB, AS, JS, TF, and me. They’ve each requested their own heartfelt paragraph about how much our frienship means to me, so I’m ignoring them. But seriously, I’m a firm believer that your experience is a result of the people you’re with, and I’ve had nothing but an amazing time with these ladies.
I truly had nothing planned following the first two weeks of travel, so what ensued was a busy, but not terribly productive, few weeks. With bottomless free time, my plan was to explore the city and fill each day with something to do, no matter how insignificant. I’d seen plenty of North Melbourne staying at the YHA, but continued to go to the area in search of the perfect avocado toast.
I moved to Space Hotel with TF, closer to the CBD for one week, starting on Saturday, Nov 30. Two weeks before I left Oregon I joined Orangetheory Fitness, a cult-y, one hour workout class membership gym. I knew they had international locations, so I joined the local studio here at the start of December. With the timing of the classes, the most convenient time for me was the 7:10am class. So with nothing I actually had to do, I chose to get up at 6:30am almost every morning for the next few weeks. It’s really a whole new me over here. Since I was already up, it was easier for me to get out and explore.
Near the CBD, I spent the most amount of time at the Queen Victoria Market, the State Library of Victoria (no, not reading, they just had the most reliable WiFi), and walking the streets between different shops and restaurants. In the north, I walked through Little Italy, Carlton, and Fitzroy, the Berkeley equivalent. To the east and south, Prahran, Richmond, South Yarra, and St. Kilda. All of these areas are within an hour of the CBD via tram or train, and speaking of, the public transportation here is so beyond superior to that of the Bay Area. I’ve been inconvenienced fewer than a handful of times here, and the same cannot be said for BART.
I made plenty of visits to St Kilda for beach time and exploring. I went on day trips to Brighton Beach, Mornington Peninsula, and Williamstown. Lots of walking, lots of sitting in parks, lots of enjoying my time to explore the city. My time during these two weeks was also similar to that of the first two weeks of January and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but I’ll cover that later. My goal was to never be bored. I was here for an adventure, so I wanted to see all that I could. Besides, I like filling my day with errands and the mundane, and actually living here.
After a week in the CBD, we decided to try out a different area of the city, so we booked a week at Lord’s Lodge in Prahran. Had this been sophomore year of college, and if I were in the mood to chhhhilllllll outtttt, this might have been a great option. But since I’d been leading an *active lifestyle* and didn’t want to be sedentary for a week, this was not going to work. Also it was slightly filthy. So we promptly cancelled after the first night, and got an AirBnb with ZB for the next five nights, which was exactly what we needed.
By the end of that week, TF found an apartment and abandoned me, meaning my tenure as mum was over. I went back to the YHA Metro for the third week of December, and as my last week in a hostel, I wound up with the best set of roommates I’d had yet. But knowing that I wanted to stay in Melbourne for at least a few months, I began looking at apartments and houses I could join on a short-term basis. Moving and the holidays kept me busy, and still, with nothing really on my schedule, I managed to fill almost every minute.
One of the more exciting days during this time was my first visitor from home! HH came to visit me, coincidentally, as her cruise with BF was docking in Melbs for the day. They generously treated me to a day of touring all around the bay, stopping at the Moonlit Animal Sanctuary, taking the ferry from Sorrento to Geelong, and taking a full lap of the city. I have a few other visitors lined up over the upcoming months, but this first visit couldn’t have had better timing.
After my first month in Australia, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Melbourne. It still just feels like an extended vacation, and at this point, I’d only been in Australia a week longer than my first time here five years ago. My comfort here can be attributed to a variety of factors. It is alarmingly similar to San Francisco, and yet smaller, cleaner, easier to navigate. I’ve kept friends I made in my first week here, and I’ve met new people along the way.
What has become most apparent to me is that no matter how far you go, you can’t escape your life. You always need to think about where you’re living, what you’re eating, and how you’re paying for it. I tend to overthink and over plan my life, which I enjoy to some extent, but I’ve made an effort to go with the flow more than I might otherwise. I’ve always been happier to spend time by myself than with others, but traveling on my own has made me realize just how alone I can be, and how much I miss the simple comfort of my friends. Watching Alias with T&T, nachos at Raleigh’s, and hanging with ‘the boys’. For the first time in a while, possibly my whole life, I was finally happy with the friends I had and the life I was living, and yet I decided to leave it all 8000 miles behind me. When I find myself missing home, it’s the little things that I miss the most. Oh, and mom & dad…
But these comforts of home are exactly what made me want to leave in the first place. I was too comfortable, and I was afraid I’d be stuck in the same spot forever, so I decided to leave, before everyone else did. Again, I realize what a lucky position I’m in to be able to have this year in Australia, and what a strange concept it may seem to some to abandon all responsibilities, but I couldn’t be happier with the choice I’ve made.
It’s a funny thing, to feel so at home and familiar, and yet so isolated here. I think that’s the confluence of a big city attitude with that of a remote continent, one which I can’t wait to see more of.
Up next: moving to the suburbs, Christmas on the beach, and the Australian Open.