So, barely a week has passed and much has happened already. In my first seven days in Australia I found myself a job, a flat, a bike, a bank account, a tax number, a medicare card (free healthcare), had interviews with temping agencies, began giving private tuition, and even had a potential offer of a job as a research associate on a genetics research project - more about this later though I think. Money was definitely on my mind as I was totally blown away at just how expensive Australia is now. Thanks to the weak pound and the super-strong Aussie dollar, the exchange rate is now 1.6 (it was 2.9 when I was here last time). This would have been extreme enough if it wasn't for the fact that the cost of living here has shot up anyway and there is a shortage of rental properties, driving priced up still further. A pint of beer works out at about £5; chocolate bar £1.50; 20 cigarettes £10; rent and transport are also more expensive than London. One thing that is miraculously cheap though is meat; so, needless to say I've been cycling everywhere, eating steak, and frantically hunting for jobs.
I really wanted to try out working in hospitality for various reasons, not least because it's sociable and flexible, but I had visions of getting good tips too. As a rule though, Australians don't tip, so I headed to the tourist areas of Sydney. In the end I did trial shifts at two places and had offers from both, so obviously I took the better paid option; and so now I am working as a waiter in an Oyster Bar just by the Opera House, overlooking the Harbour Bridge. The restaurant seating is completely outdoors, and there is a really nice feel about the place. It's actually a real pleasure just to be there. The clientele are mostly tourists, so the tips are good, and if I do enough shifts I should make very good money. It's early days though, so I will see how it goes [actually I have been there for a few weeks now and am really enjoying it, but more about this when I next write]. The tutoring is going well though, and I'm finding so many more clients here than I ever did in London.
The first few days were a bit weird. I immediately had that feeling of being underwhelmed by Australia, in the same way I did last time I was here. The place is generally dirty; people drive like they don't give a sh#t about anyone or the environment; men are generally boisterous and arrogant whilst women seem generally affected and bimbo-like. The 'culture' appears to be one of consumption and ignorance, and Saturday night out in central Sydney is as obscene and grotesque as that of any provincial high street in Britain, perhaps even more so. That said, whilst it is not one of my favourite cities, Sydney is starting to grow on me. I had the wonderful pleasure to stay in Merrin's flat for the first week in Bondi, which was a perfect way to start - thanks Merrin - and I have already met a lot of new friends. Also, whilst cycling around, I have often found myself stopped at the crest of a hill, momentarily mesmerised by the view of the city. The skyline is very impressive from certain locations, as you can see for my pics. Many of the small beaches and harbours dotted around are absolutely stunning, and the Centennial Park in the south is a beautiful place to be, full of very beautiful people jogging and cycling their perfect bodies around. The weather is improving and the atmosphere is noticeably lifting as we head into the festive season; I have a feeling that Christmas and New Year are going to be a lot of fun here.
I'm currently living in a traveller's lodge in Glebe, which is perfectly fine, and so cheap that I am saving huge amounts of money, but have found myself a fantastic one-bed flat to move into for December and January. The place is a proper plush pad, with a queen sized bed, plasma TV, open-plan breakfast bar kitchen and dining room, and a balcony; plus it has a massive sofa bed in the lounge for guests to stay in. I'm really excited about moving in, and it will be an ideal base from which my bro and I can enjoy Christmas and New Year.
So, work is the name of the game for now, but once the festive season is over, my bro and I will be leaving Sydney to head South, to Melbourne, Tasmania and beyond, for a summertime backpacking adventure.