Down Under and Feelin' Good

I arrived in Australia last Sunday. Just about a week ago. I can't say anything more about Australia at the moment except that it's incredible. 

The trip down here was great and I was thankful to have the upgraded seat on United for a few more inches of leg room. United is a horrible airline as it is, so sitting with a bit more leg room to spread out on the 15 hour flight made the flight quite pleasant. I know that that’s not a luxury most people get to have, so I’m thankful that I was able to qualify for the upgrade with some miles earned from work. On the plane, 3 people sitting around me had the most brilliant Australian accents I’d ever heard and it made me so excited to arrive here and be immersed in it 24/7 for nearly 3 weeks.

I’m not sick of the accent yet, either. It’s such a rugged, yet beautiful tone that I can’t get enough of. I’m one to pick up accents quite quickly, but I haven’t noticed myself adding “r’s” to the end of my words that don’t typically have them yet. Maybe by the time I go home.

The famous Flinders Street Station in downtown Melbourne

Work has been just fine down here thus far, but like I said, I’m ready to start my real adventure. It’s more that I’m ready to be on my own agenda, rather than the one set by my work. Don’t get me wrong, the people I’ve met through work are amazing, and I’m hoping to keep relationships with them for a long time into the future, but my main goal of this experience was to do just that. Get an experience that I’ve not had before. The closer my solo part of the trip gets, the more and more anxious I become. Anxious in the sense of excitement, but also nerves as I’m not sure who I’ll meet or what we’ll do. I’ve got a general plan at this point for where I’m planning to go, but it’s all up in the air still as I’m hoping to find some companions to tag along with me for a few day trips out of Melbourne.

Melbourne is such an interesting city, and if you ever get a chance to come here, do it. Maybe it’s just Australia in general, or my general naivety of world cultures that’s causing me to think this way, but the people of Australia are so much more understanding and open to people who are different. I’m actually incredibly appalled at the level of close-mindedness I’m realizing Americans have to other people. There are so many things about other parts of the world which Americans are blind to. And not in a good way. I hope that someday the U.S. will finally start to realize we are not alone in this world, and that we have a lot to learn from other cultures out there. The U.S. is a melting pot, and soon I hope we start embracing that.

Melbourne has so much diversity from every part of the world, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Walking down the street, there are people from all over Asia, Europe and India who’ve brought their own flair to the Australian culture. Having the opportunity to experience their cultures and try their food has been really rewarding so far.

I’ve been trying to eat as much unique cuisine as possible down here, and it’s funny how much of your travel experience is driven by food. Each day so far, the biggest and most important decision I’ve had to make is where to go for dinner. I don’t want to go anywhere too “mainstream” as I’m not really getting the full flavor of travel if I do. So far in 5 days I’ve had pickled fish, ox tongue and kangaroo, so I think I’m doing well so far.

Fantastic dinner out in Melbourne. Ox tongue and a pickled seafood platter. Mmmm.

I’ve got a couple more nights in my hotel before I move to the hostel for 4 days, and I couldn’t be more excited. The hotel is comfortable, but it’s not exciting. I'm not meeting anyone. I’m crossing my fingers that the hostel will give me the real adventure piece I’m looking for. I chose to go with the 12-bunk bedroom at my first one in the hopes of meeting some other lonely travelers to tag team some excursions with. I’ve been told that’s the best way to go, so hope for the best with me as well.

Before heading out to the hostel in Melbourne though, I’ve got a couple of exciting nights ahead of me. I figured it’d be a fun experience to go out with the group of Australians I’ve been working with this week, so tonight we’re going out for dinner and drinks. I think this will be a great time and will hopefully give me a few deeper connections that I can use if/when I come back to Australia again.

Tomorrow the group of people I’ve been working with in Melbourne is throwing a Christmas party for their entire team of 60 and they invited my coworkers and I along. This will be a really great experience for me as a professional to get a taste of some international business and networking. It's important to get some experience in these types of social gatherings as every country has a different idea of "professionalism". I have a strong feeling it’ll be a lot different than what I’m used to, as I’ve always felt Americans are far too concerned about “making the right impression.” I really believe this just means joining in on the fun and culture of the people your working with. Australian culture is certainly a bit more…loose, so to speak, than the US, so I have a feeling we’re in for an interesting night.

I'm lucky to have gotten the opportunity to come down to Melbourne, and I'm attempting to cherish every moment of it. Hopefully, someday, I'll get to do this for a more extended period of time, and I'll feel more ok with taking a day to write and share my experiences. For now, I'm trying to soak it all up in the short period of time I've got. 

Once I’m into the hostel, I’m not sure when I’ll get to post again, but I’ll work to throw something up before heading off to Cairns in the north for my snorkel/scuba trip. Cheers, mates!