5 Signs Australia’s Got a Hold on Me
For the first time in a long time, it appears that I’m settling down. That phrase used to freak me out, but it doesn’t anymore. I’m more than ready to pay rent (still looking for an apartment, though) and shop for groceries and generally settle into Australian life.
It doesn’t mean a life without travel, but I’m finally trying to strike a long-term balance between travel and having my own home base. This week was a banner week in the ‘settling down’ stakes, as Jared and I did a few things that made me go, Ohmigod. Australia is domesticating us.
And you know what? That was okay.
5. Looking at desktop computers
I’ve been toying with the idea of upgrading my laptop to one of those fancy models that weighs less than a baby’s fingernail. While I was scrolling the apple website, mumbling angrily about how everything costs so much more in Australia, Jared had a light bulb.
“Why don’t we get a desktop?” he said. “The price isn’t much different, the screen is bigger and it’s more powerful.”
I was dazzled by this suggested change of plan. A desktop computer? What a novel idea. I haven’t had one of those since college, which was – wait for it – ten years ago. I forgot what it was like to have a life that facilitated a non-portable computer.
4. Job applications
I neglected to write about this, but when I sent in my visa application, I got a response almost immediately. My bridging visa will kick in on June 13th, and from that day, I’ll be eligible to work.
When I read that bit of news, I nearly fainted. I wasn’t expecting work rights until the actual visa was granted, about a year from now. Although I’m still working online, I’d like something part-time to get me out of the house and bring in some Aussie dollars. So last week, I re-vamped my resume and started looking for jobs – something I haven’t done since the last time I was here in 2009.
3. State of Origin
Australia is a sporty nation, to put it mildly. They like their footy. And competitions. And the mother of those competitions is the annual State of Origin between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons, played in a best of 3 series over the winter. I won’t go into the details, but it’s a Big Deal, especially for Australian males.
For an American import like me? Slightly less of a big deal. I have French class on Wednesdays, which was the night the game was on. When I told Jared I might not watch it, he fixed me with a solemn stare.
“If you’re going to live in Australia,” he said. “You’ll have to embrace the State of Origin.”
But that’s not the weird thing. The weird thing is that, when I drove from French class to meet him for the game, I voluntarily listened to it on the radio. The whole way. By myself.
On Friday, I successfully registered for a Medicare card, allowing me access to discounted (and sometimes free) public health services in Australia. As a nomadic American without health insurance, I have an unhealthy relationship with doctors and hospitals; namely, I avoid them whenever possible.
And now I don’t have to do that anymore. It’s like Australia pulled me into a big bear hug and went, “If you ever need to see a doctor, you go right ahead and do it. We won’t even make you sign over your firstborn.” Thanks, Australia. You sure do know how to treat your permanent guests.
1. Buying a vacuum cleaner
The number one warning sign that Jared and I have shifted priorities in our lives was this: we purchased a vacuum cleaner. Granted, it’s green and white, cost $39 and reminds me a lot of Leonard the ill-fated humidifier, but it’s a vacuum cleaner. We even went because there was a sale and inadvertently got there before the store opened, which seems to me to be the thing that crazy domestic couples do.
And as I stood there, lazily vacuuming the square of sample carpet in the vacuum store (because yes. there are entire stores dedicated to vacuums.), I thought about how I’ve been trying to avoid scenes like this for ten years.
Then all of a sudden, the years fly by and I’m the proud owner of a vacuum cleaner and a passport.
But my priorities haven’t completely changed – I still predict that the passport’s going to be a lot more useful than the vacuum cleaner.