Sunday, September 25, 2011


Tomorrow marks 6 weeks that we have been in Melbourne, which is really hard for both of us to believe.  While we are starting to adjust to life abroad, there are still some things about our life here that are extremely different from our life back in the States.  Not that those differences are a bad thing, they just present challenges whereas before we never really thought about them.

Neither of us have driven a car in 6 weeks.  There are some really wonderful things about not having a car, such as not having to deal with road rage (which definitely exists here in Melbourne), traffic jams, or rising fuel prices. We bike and/or walk most places.  We do take public transport if our destination is far away, but in general we are getting much more day-to-day exercise in transit to wherever we are headed.  This is fantastic most of the time, but when you are trying to grocery shop from scratch (you know...stock up on essentials to "start" your pantry selection) and shop for everyday foods, it is NOT easy to transport all of those groceries!  Normally we'd have a grocery store within a mile of our house, but it is under renovations at the moment and won't be open until late 2012.

There are lots of "little" challenges as well.  We are finally starting to adjust to biking/running on the other side of the road, though Erik is much better at this than I am.  It is not that common to have clothes dryers here, so I am getting used to drying clothes on the clothesline.  I realize this is not a huge deal, but it is hard because of the crazy weather...never knowing if my clean clothes are going to get dry or get rained on!  I am still struggling to convert degrees F to degrees C, gallons to liters, and lbs to kgs.  The most difficult thing is ordering lunch meat at the deli, where I've just resorted to using a dollar amount instead of grams.

Obviously one of the hardest things is adjusting to being so far away from our family and friends.  We have started to make some friends and I know that I, personally, will make further connections once I am finally employed, but that doesn't change the fact that our family is 10,000 miles away.  This past week my Aunt Emily passed away unexpectedly.  I wouldn't say that I had a particularly close relationship with her, but when I did get the chance to spend time with her, I marveled at how independent, energetic, and genuinely kind she was.  She hopped on a motorcycle at the age of 18 and headed from small town Virginia out West.  Emily eventually ended up in Las Vegas where she worked for years as a dealer at Caesar's Palace.  Just a few months ago she sent an email to my mom and talked about how she had learned that Erik and I were moving to Australia and that she had always wanted to visit this fabulous country.  I had saved that email in my inbox because I wanted to contact her personally to tell her more about our adventures.  Sadly, that email got buried among others and I never actually sent the email.  I hope that my Aunt Emily knew that I thought she was an amazing woman.  I hope that if you are reading this and you've been meaning to email someone just to say "hello" or to update them on your life that you hit the compose button soon.
Erik captured this after getting home from work on Tuesday. I saw the full rainbow on my run about 15 minutes earlier and was amazed at how clear & full the rainbow was. It was the most crisp, bright rainbow I've ever seen!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Spring has sprung here in Melbourne (pronounced "Melbun" if you are a local...we are trying to work on that!), and yesterday we had temps that were almost 30 C (about 85 degrees F), with 100 km/h gusts of winds (that's 60 mph). Today we are back down in the 60's, which I think is seasonal for this time of year. The weather in Melbourne is actually known for having 4 seasons in one day. It will go from nice and sunny to cold and rainy in a matter of 30 minutes. The locals always tell us that if we don't like the weather we just have to wait an hour and it will change. :) The crazy weather does make for some cool-looking clouds and beautiful sunsets though!

View of the CBD near our house
Erik has been very busy with work this last week.  He was sort of thrown into a training study for elite triathletes who are doing heat and altitude training.  I think that he is really enjoying being back doing "science" after a significant amount of time off.  This study isn't really his area of research, but it's very interesting and it is a short study, so it was a good way for him to get started at VU.  I've been spending some time during the day visiting him on campus, which is in this brand new 70 million dollar facility.
I scored an old school pink Trek mountain/hybrid bike last weekend off of Gumtree (like Craigslist), which now makes it easier for me to get around town.  Public transport is close and convenient, but it is often unreliable and slow, so biking is better when possible.

Our container arrived on Sunday and will be in customs/quarantine for the next 10-14 days, so hopefully by early October we will have our "stuff"!  There have been more recent break-ins in our 'hood to our neighbor's house (twice, probably by the same people who took laptops and jewelry the first time and the TV the next time), which makes us a bit uneasy.  We don't have great concern for our safety, but we do have concerns about our valuables.  The police have some leads so hopefully the hoodlums will get caught and we can live in peace. :)  Apparently the type of place we are living is targeted because there is an alleyway behind our house for the garages, so it's just garages back-to-back on both sides and there isn't much visibility back there.

We successfully streamed our first college football game this weekend.  We had to wait until the game was long over to watch it, but we spent our Sunday evening watching the FSU/Oklahoma game, which turned out to be a pretty good game of football!  Obviously Erik was disappointed with the result, but it was exciting to be able to watch the game thanks to ESPN3.  We watched bits and pieces of a few other games live on Sunday morning, too.  Thank goodness for the Internet!! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Did you start to think that I was going to write about food AGAIN when you read the title?!  Even though I could write another post on the oddities of eating in Oz I will not do that do you again! :)

Last weekend we attending our first (and hopefully not our last!) Australia Football League (AFL) game.  Affectionately known as "footy", the game is sort of a combination of rugby and soccer.  It's played on a HUGE field, with 18 players on each side (team), and scoring occurs by kicking the ball through the uprights.  We were lucky enough to get tickets to a highly desirable match up, the Collingwood Magpies versus the Geelong Cats.  Collingwood is sort of like the New York Yankees of the AFL.  They have a huge fan base and their fans tend to be obnoxious (sorry NYY fans), so of course we cheered against them!   The game was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which has a capacity of about 100,000 people.  The game was sold out and standing room only tickets were the only tickets remaining on game day.  I've been to "big" football games in the US before, but this was pretty amazing, similar to when I was in Cardiff, Wales to watch Manchester United play Arsenal.

The game was extremely exciting and we were pretty quick to learn what was going on during the game thanks to two of our friends who were explaining everything to us!  This was the last regular season game before the playoffs, and Collingwood is the #1 seed in playoffs, so they were expected to win.  However, Geelong, the #2 seed in playoffs, was not having that!  The Cats crushed the Magpies, and the final score was 149 - 53!!  Most Collingwood fans had left by the 4th quarter (they play four, 25 minute quarters), though there were a few Magpie fans who were sticking around still talking trash about their team even though they were losing (one fan in front of us stuck around for most of the game and he proceeded to take his shirt off at one point).  We were tempted to report his antisocial behavior!

I wanted to bring our larger camera lense because I knew our seats would be far from the field, but they limit the lenses you can bring in the AFL events to 200mm and I didn't want to risk it getting taken.  Of course they barely looked in my purse so I could have actually gotten away with it! These shots don't really capture the enormity of the field (of of the players!), but you get the idea...

And last, but not least, they take running on the field VERY seriously at the MCG!

In other news, we've found a place to rent, signed a one year lease, and moved in the few belongings that we have here with us.  Our container ship is somewhere in the East China Sea, so at least it's in this hemisphere, and hopefully in a few weeks we will have all of our "stuff".  We had a slight issue with the place we are living, as someone broke into our vacant townhouse (this was a few days before we were slated to move in) and stole the alarm system (yes, the burglars stole the burglar alarm by ripping it out of the wall in about 8 places, then proceeded to rip a few of the blinds off of the walls, and decided to take the "Welcome" mat from the front porch).  Mind you, we are living in a pretty nice neighborhood, so this was rather surprising, but the homeowner and leasing company responded quickly and we've since had the locks changed (the police think it sounds like a disgruntled former resident).  Of course this break in has me second guessing the 'hood but I think this really could have happened anywhere.  We are living in Maribyrnong (mary-ber-nong) in a very convenient location close to public transport, a large mall, a gym, and a river that has a biking/running trail next to it, so I think ultimately we will be happy here.  These are pictures that were used for "staging" as this house was recently sold, so unfortunately it probably won't look quite as nice with our things in it!
Yes, that's turf in the middle of our house! 

Not sure what we are going to do with this study-like space, but we think it's pretty cool!

House is to the left, to the right is our 2 car garage, which is rather amusing since we don't own a car!

The rental market is VERY competitive in Melbourne.  Basically you go to an "open inspection" for the place where you'd like to live.  You and other couples (sometimes 2 or 3 and sometimes 10 or 15) have 15 minutes to walk through the apartment/house and decide if you'd like to rent it.  If you like it, you put in an application, or basically a "bid" and you are competing against the rest of those couples for the chance to rent the place. We got lucky with the place we are renting, as someone had signed the lease and was ready to move in and then backed out, so they needed to find someone quickly and we happened to be in the right place at the right time.  We think we were "competing" with a couple of college ("uni") students and a married couple with a pet, so I'm assuming that we were the "best" choice out of those options for the landlord.  Anyway, we are excited to start making our house a "home"!