Moving to the Other Side of the World, Part 3: Settling in Australia

I have now been in Australia for two weeks, and things are going amazingly well. I arrived via the Overland train from Melbourne. It does take 10.5 hours but time goes by quickly. I definitely recommend it for those who do not like flying or driving long distances.

I have settled in my apartment, obtained my student ID/discount card (oh how I love being a student again!!), met with my supervisors at the university, and explored the library already. I have had absolutely no problems with the paperwork or university bureaucracy, which is a miracle. The day after I arrived I was able to obtain my student ID right away as well as receive my login credentials for the university system and e-mail. Then I signed my lease at the accomodation office and received the keys to my apartment. I managed to get the electricity in my name within 2 hours and since the unit is internet ready, I simply plugged in my ethernet cable and set up a pre-paid account for the data usage. I don’t have a landline or cable TV because I would never use them.

I am less than a 5 minute walk from campus, and a 2 minute walk to the post office, grocery store (open on Sundays!!), bakery, fruit & vegetable vendor, etc. There is a bus stop across the street where I can hop on a direct, and sometimes express, bus to the CBD of Adelaide every 15 minutes (and thanks to my student ID, one two-hour trip is only 81 cents!) My apartment is very quiet as I was lucky enough to be in the building that is not on the street, but back in the corner by the parking lot.

I have received my bank card and PIN so I no longer have to use American dollars (thankfully, since the exchange rate is not so good). Here’s a timeline of what opening by bank account was like:

  • One month before leaving France: Opened account online and transferred money into it
  • Two-three weeks later: Received first bank statement and welcome letter in France, stating which identification documents would be necessary n Australia
  • After arrival: Went to a bank branch that was not my own (remember, I arrived in Melbourne and then came to Adelaide later on), gave them my passport, signed two papers, got my telephone/online banking set up, ordered my debit card and could start withdrawing money immediately. I did not need any actual proof of my address in Australia – I simply told them what it was, and they printed out an official paper just in case I did need to prove my address (such as buying a cell phone on contract.)

Then I went next door to the cell phone store and bought a pre-paid phone. I only needed to tell them my address and show my passport. I could not believe how incredibly easy everything was. So there you have it. Housing, bank account and cell phone are completely taken care of, as are utility hookups in my apartment. Now I’m just finishing up some shopping for little things for the apartment.

I haven’t been experiencing much culture shock, but I have noticed that I automatically behave or think how I used to in France because I’m more used to the French way than the American way. The first time I went grocery shopping, I started to get ready to bag my own groceries and then realized the cashier was already doing it for me. I had second thoughts about ordering the debit card while at the bank branch in Melbourne because I was afraid that it would not be delivered if my name wasn’t on the mailbox at my apartment in Adelaide. But just like the US, your name isn’t always on the mailbox and the post office just uses the number. While at the large shopping center, I started looking to see how much change I had so that I could use the bathroom and then remembered that they were free to use.

Other things throw me off a little: cars driving on the left, not receiving mail on Saturdays, data caps on home internet, most stores closing at 5pm on Saturdays (I understand closing at 5 on Sunday, but why so early on Saturdays?) Not having a car is probably the only “problem” I have, but I would really only need one for bringing home larger items that I can’t carry. Fortunately my colleagues are helping me out on the weekends.

I am doing rather well and the weather is lovely. It’s good to know that this winter is “unusually cold,” which at 15° C / 59° F is a nice spring day to me. It hasn’t really set in yet that this is as cold as it will get all year. That is perhaps the best part so far! Besides the cute animals, of course.

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  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Awwww, I like that photo of you feeding the Kangaroos….which one of them do you ride to the shops on? :P

  • http://oneika-the-traveller.blogspot.com Oneika the Traveller

    Glad that you are settling in!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RQFC4FFKWBG36JHKUJMJQMWHUA TylerH

     Such a nice photo!  It seems like we want to live similar lives.  I’m going to try to move to France next year, and then sometime in the future I would like to live in Australia.  When do you think you are going to have lessons about the differences between Australian and American English?

  • http://ma-nouvelle-vie-en-france.blogspot.com La Petite

    So funny your comments about bagging groceries, the letterbox name/number and having coins to use public toilets!  Btw if there is an Aldi near you they are much cheaper than Coles/Woolworths (Woolies) and you have to bring your own bag and bag your own groceries there (being German and all)…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.degtjarewsky Jennifer Degtjarewsky

    Hi Jennie, I live in Newport Beach, Ca and the big corp I have worked for just moved to Detroit and I opted not to go with them. Have always dreamed of living in Australia and am seriously looking at making the move. Your blog has been quite helpful, esp when it comes to the cost of living. I’m still reeling over the bananas! Anyhow have read that if you get a company in Australia to sponsor you, it’s much easier to come over and was wondering if you knew of any resources that could help me connect to that may help? I work at the director level of the media industry in the editorial/production side in both print and digital and have a history at a very well known automotive magazine in America. Any help or pointers would be great. Thanks!

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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