Australia - What I've Learned (Part 1)

March 7, 2011

This will be an on-going series documenting things I discover while in this country. Interesting facts, cultural differences, little quirks. It's all here.

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There are some very obvious differences between living here and living in Toronto. Let's start with those.

We drive on opposite sides of the road.
It's one of the first challenges we had to deal with. I had to mentally prepare myself for this change before we arrived in Brisbane and even then, I was extra cautious when I sat behind the wheel.

For the first little while, we had to constantly watch the lines on the road to make sure we were still on the correct side. We were signalling with our windshield wipers and when we checked our mirrors, we weren't really sure what we were looking at. We've gotten a lot better over the past couple months and the tight, winding, hilly roads aren't as much of a challenge as they used to be. Even the round-abouts aren't quite as intimidating.

Everything closes quite early here.
This has been quite a big change for us. I had gotten used to waiting for Andrew to run the errands after work while I watch the boys but that's no longer possible seeing as how everywhere is closed by the time he finishes class around 5pm. Luckily, grocery stores are usually open until 9pm but long gone are the conveniences of 24-hour grocery stores, or malls open until 9pm every night, or big box stores open until 10pm every night. Even restaurants are often closed by 8pm.

However, there is late-night shopping on Thursday nights where most places are open until 9pm. That's the one night we all get to go out together, even if it's just for a walk around the mall (aka shopping centre).

The weather. It's just not the same.
Perhaps we came at the "wrong" time, but changing from a cold climate to a subtropical one isn't very easy. Sure, it's great when it's the dead of winter (in Canada) and you fly down to the Dominican for a week or something, but it's entirely different when you move. A couple outfits for the warmer weather isn't enough. And you're definitely not going to be walking around in your swim suit all day.

We've had to add putting sunscreen on into our morning routines and everywhere we go, we're looking for ways to stay out of the sun. We're rotating through what's left of our warm-weather clothing from our Canadian summer and bringing along an extra sweater so we don't freeze in the strong air-conditioning. We've also gotten to enjoy some warm and breezy afternoons and bright sun-shiney days. Even their stormy, rainy days are spectacular - listening to heavy rain fall is quite calming.

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