So here are a few of the things we did not expect to find when we got here:
Being the first person down the cereal aisle at Costco at 10AM means that your face is the broom that sweeps up the spiderwebs that have been built over night.
Blockbuster is still a thing here. Like alive and well. I KNOW RIGHT? Yes, to answer your next question – they do have the internet here!
Female patients see female doctors. If I was to need, say, a breast exam? I could only see a female doctor to have this done. In stark contrast to my first breast exam in Canada during my first year of Uni, during which the my doctor examined the questionable lump in my breast, was unsure what to make of it, left the room to collect four male colleagues and one female colleague, and together the SIX DOCTORS (mostly male) examined the lump. [Turned out to be nothing – thank you for your concern]. Sidetone: It is possible that both of these surprising experiences were specific to a given clinic, but extrapolating wildly is sort of my calling card. So…
This one isn’t that big of a deal, but most of the carts (or trolleys as they call them here) have four fully rotational wheels, rather than the ones I’m used to in North America with two fixed wheels at the back. This means grocery shopping is an abdominal muscle workout just to keep the cart in a straight line. And I’ve run into more than one annoyed Aussie because I didn’t get cart driving lessons like apparently I should have. Oops. Hmmm, maybe that’s a business idea for us – cart driving lessons for ex-pats?
Speaking of business ideas – one this that has totally stymied us here is the cost of an oil change. In Calgary, you get your oil changed every 5000 km or every three to four months and it costs between $30 and $100 depending on where you get it. There are so many lube shops in Calgary – most of which offer a drive-in service. Here? No such thing. There are no lube shops. From what I can find so far, you have to make an appointment at a mechanic to have your oil change done. The cheapest rate I could find was $190, and that was with a first-time discount! They acted like they had given me a deal because they also checked my tread depth! Imagine! (It is possible that you need fewer oil changes here so they’re more money – but come on)!
Another thing we didn’t see coming is the overabundance of hair salons. Both of us noticed it independently. Every block (residential, commercial or industrial) has at least one hair salon. It’s true! Look it up! Find me a block with no hair salon and I will… I don’t know. I’ll do something.
Stores close so early! Like 5. Or 6. Or on Thursdays – maybe 7 or 8. I do appreciate this (as a former retail worker) [Dan’s sidenote: Marilee worked in a women’s clothing store for three months once]. But I still find it surprising, given that the sun goes down here between 5PM and 7PM. We have no idea what the Australian people do after dark until bedtime. The streets are empty when we go for walks. All the shops and malls are closed. The best we can figure is that they are at the movies. Or maybe this explains the existence of Blockbuster?
They don’t believe in hot dog buns here. If hot dogs are on the menu for a BBQ? They’ll be served on a piece of white bread. Wonder bread. It’s very weird. They have hamburger buns, so they know about the concept, but for some reason, hot dog buns just haven’t caught on. Except at Costco. But then you have to buy 36 buns. It’s a big commitment.
We were also surprised to find an RBC in Sydney.
And also they have Kmart here. $6 dollar electric kettles.
Cheese is way cheaper here. But they don’t have Beemster Gouda. Also we were surprised that bacon is much cheaper here.
This to say, many things surprised us about life here.