The First 100 Days

I remember the first two weeks felt like 100 days, now 100 days feels more like two weeks. We've found a groove, hit some bumps (literally) and have learned a lot about ourselves and the rest of the world.

One of my friends wrote me the other day and casually said that things in the US can be pretty frustrating too. She's right and that changed my perspective about things. Thanks, Dawn Eves. This post is for you.

Ten Everyday Things That Are Different That a Month Ago Were Annoying, but Are Now Entertaining

(I dare you to shorten that and still get the point across.)

1. There's lots of math. Being dyslexic, my math skills are far from stellar, but throw in a completely different measuring system and my head spins. Temperature, weight, distance, speed, volume and currency are all different from the US. I've got weight down - 1 kg = 2.2 lbs. But, I struggle with, well, pretty much the rest of the metric system. I've memorized some key temperatures - 350 F is roughly 180 C, 15 C I need a sweater, 20 C I don't. Gas is $1.50, so you might think, oh that's pretty good. It's not. That's liters. It is really $6.00 a gallon. But, then you realize the conversion is only $0.78 AU per $1.00 US. So, in US$ its $4.68. Lucky for me, when it comes to conversions: there's an app for that.

2. It seems perfectly acceptable not to wear shoes. Every time I go to the grocery store someone is not wearing shoes. I've seen it on the bus, walking down the street and the playground. Adults, kids - doesn't matter. Maybe its the mom in me, but it just seems dangerous (and a little gross).

3. They abbreviate a lot of things. Some of them don't make a lot of sense to me, but I'm liking it. Breakfast is Brekkie. Singapore is Singas. Hong Kong is Honkas. McDonald's is Maccas. Sarah is Sars. Karen is Kez. And my favorite - Afternoon is Arvo.

4. General driving stuff. I find road and directional signs lacking. It took me three laps to get out of the parking garage at the zoo yesterday. Tessa asked me if I knew we were going in circles. (I'm writing all of her comments down so I can annoy the crap out of her when she starts driving.)

You also can't turn left on red unless indicated (that's the equivalent of US's right on red). And there are very few places that they will let you turn right. I can go a kilometer or more down a major road without being able to turn right. Buses have the right of way and they will pull out in front of you like a drunk Ralph Kramden. But, in general people obey the traffic laws, so it is getting easier.

5. Things run by the state or municipalities are pretty well organized. I went to the dump and it was surprisingly clean and run well. They gave me a map and I was out in no time. (Well, actually, the guy at the gate loves Colorado, so it took longer than it should have.) The NSW Roads and Maritime Services (ie. DMV) was extremely efficient and modern. Two things that I expected to be terribly unpleasant were not in the least. (This is more something that could have been really annoying, but wasn't)

Jack approved meerkats.

6. Speaking of trash... the garbage trucks in my hood are all automated. Meaning they are regular garbage trucks, but they have an automated arm that comes out, grabs the bin and dumps it in the top of the truck. There's no one riding on the back picking up bins and tossing in trash. Therefore, you cannot overfill your bin and you cannot put out anything that doesn't fit in your bin. There are pluses and minuses - saves on wages and is efficient, but sometimes all the trash doesn't dump out of the bin so I still have a half full bin and there's always bits of trash on the street we have to pick up after the truck comes. Trash day is Friday and it is the highlight of Jack's morning to watch the arm come out and grab the bins as we walk to school.

This is my beach walk on my day off on Fridays - after trash pick up.

7. The pharmacies are very efficient. In my experience, prescriptions are filled in a couple minutes. Most of the medicine comes in boxes, not pill bottles - so they looked at me really funny when I asked for a childproof cap. The pharmacist puts your prescription in a basket and you carry it up to the front to checkout. Do not take it out of the basket! I don't ask questions.

8. Most of the time, I pay for a shopping cart (trolley). I put a $1 or $2 coin into a box on the handle and the chain holding my cart to the one in front of it releases. When I bring it back and reconnect it, my money pops out. Clever. My American brain first thought it was to keep people from stealing the carts, but its really about efficiency. (Seeing a pattern? Efficiency.) I keep a $1 in my car and have threatened all who dare take it. Grocery stores are also attached to all the malls, so you can push your grocery cart all around the mall picking stuff up - very convenient.

9. I don't even know...

10. I haven't figured out the postal service. (They do not participate in the efficiency theme.) Sometimes they'll deliver a package and sometimes I have to go get it. The postmen around my area are all on motorcycles so they don't carry packages. They drive across lawns and put mail in everyone's mail slot. There's not really any kind of FedEx or UPS. I've seen vans from different couriers that have delivered FedEx packages from the US for me, but I think my only option to send something to the US quickly would be the post office. (On a side note: Amazon will not be successful here if they cannot figure out the postal issues. A couple times, guaranteed two-day delivery took four days and was out for delivery 3 times. Somehow Ebay seems to have sussed it out. )

Our Postman - he objected to a side shot for some reason.

There's so many more things I keep thinking of as I write this - my condenser dryer, my ever-growing collection of bromeliads, the fact that they sell pool chlorine at the gas stations... there's so much more that I could bore you with, but this is probably more than enough for now.

We've rented motorhome and will be driving up the North Coast in a couple weeks all the way to Noosa (where they do not make yoghurt). I can't wait to share that adventure with you all!

Round trip: 2,200 km (1,367 mi) in 9 days.

(Taking bets on who cries first)

I used up all my "Aussie Speak of the Week" words above. Sorry - will catch you next time.