First Thoughts on Australia

As you’ve probably guessed by the title, I am in Melbourne now. In the event you put bets on to how long it would take me to get over Jet-lag, hope you bet zero: I’m already adjusted to the time zone difference. Which is good, because there’s already been plenty to learn.

Since this seems to be one of the common questions, no, toilets don’t flush “the other way” here. However, they do flush differently, granted that conclusion is based on having only used three toilets so far, all of which flushed straight down, no swirl or any of that stuff.

In regards to phones, Verizon doesn’t seem to cover the suburbs of Melbourne (or my residence just does’t get coverage). On the upside, there are public phones all over the place here, which coming from Philly, is rather remarkable. Telstra comes off as the Verizon equivalent here, and I’ve picked up a pre-paid SIM from though. But if you forget to unlock your phone before arriving in Melbourne, that doesn’t help much (I still need to call Verizon to fix that).

As for libraries, I’ve only been to the State so far and it was insanely easy to get a library card. You don’t need one to access the WiFi though, which is nice. However, any public WiFi here (so far) comes with a time and bandwidth limit. And those limits seem to be really small (bandwidth wise anyway). As for time, seems like 30-45 minutes is the norm around here. The computer terminals at the State Library came in 15 minute or 60 minute time limits. The library itself is huge. It’s not a lending library though, and it seemed like most of the space was actually exhibition space (which is fine by me though as they were quite cool).

Getting around here is insanely easy, just remember to tap your myki (think of a MetroCard or Charlie Ticket). Given that 7-11 seems to be all over the place here (I’ve seen more of them than Starbucks), recharging a myki is pretty easy too, just don’t expect your bank card from the US to work apparently (and yes, I told my bank I would be overseas). Melbourne is home to the world’s largest tram network and it’s really easy to figure out. Information signage is plentiful, especially in the city, which even has digital displays counting down to the next tram. I can’t vouch for Metro as I haven’t been on it yet.

TV is rather interesting. Channels (the basic ones anyway) are just called their channel number. As for TV programming, a surprising amount of it is actually from the US. Commercials aren’t the cheesy, annoying ads we have in the US, nor are they non-stop drug ads either. A couple of them are rather funny.

I think that’s about it for now. I originally meant for this to go out much early this week, but I’ve just now gotten enough time at the library to post it up.