Monday, September 17, 2007

The buying of a car

Driving. The left side of the road thing is coming a bit more naturally at this point and we decided to take on the car buying process. Some people really like the buying and selling of cars; unfortunately Eric and I don’t enjoy either process. Where is the Australian version of Matt Brenengen when you need him?

The first thing one needs to do when buying a car over here is throw out any preconceived notions of realistic auto pricing. Australia imports everything at a steep premium and cars are no exception. Most cars are twice the price of a US vehicle. Because of the cost of car, cost of gasoline, and limited car parking in the city, we have decided to become a one car family. We set out to test drive anything that looked like it wasn’t HUGE but could be good and functional for my work stuff, transporting any visiting friends and family, and general road trips. I have been seeing dealerships all over the place when I am lost coming home from work (a daily occurrence). Unfortunately, because I was lost at the time, we couldn’t find any of the dealerships when we drove around. They weren’t listed in the yellow pages under any header, we don’t know the number for information (something you never think about until you need it), and everyone we talked to pointed us in a different direction. After two hours of driving around we had used ½ a tank of gas and done nothing productive except eat a fantastic bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. We were in good spirits and our predicament became funnier by the minute. When we finally decided to give up and have a late lunch, we rounded a corner and found a Honda dealership. One test drive later we bought a nice used Honda CRV. It seemed to fit all our needs and we just couldn’t imagine spending all our time in search of a car. The only detriment is that the car is silver…the color I said I’d never buy again because statistically it is the color that gets hit the most. If you need proof, just ask me. Oh well, it’s great in every other regard.

Oh, and did I mention that the car has seat heaters? Seat heaters are a feature Eric and I both longed for in the cold MN winters and now we are in a country with mild weather and we have seat heaters. Go figure.

With car purchase done, next comes a place to live. We have found housing for the next six months in a furnished apartment in a district of the city called Toorak. Apparently, from the reactions of people, it’s like telling them we are to live in Edina, Crocus Hill, Summit Avenue, Aspen, Evanston, or Tiburon. “OOOOOoooo” they coo, “Toooorrrakkk”.
I just think Toorak sounds like a great name for a cat.

We plan to move in next Saturday if all goes well. Eric can’t wait to get out of the all-brown-all-the-time hotel. He spends much more time there than me, so I guess I can’t blame him for wanting to move on.

Work is going well and now that we have our Aussie Visa’s, the pressure is on to become independent. Since it’s the same job I did in the twin cities, it is very similar here. In many ways it’s like the same play, same characters, but we are now doing a road show in a brand new country. Learning my way around the hospitals will take time and getting to know all the staff at all the hospitals will take even longer. I realize now how simple it was to get something done if I knew who to speak with. Now I have no idea who to speak to and I’m not sure I’d understand them anyway.

My accent is a real problem for the patients and that is something I could not have foretold. Many of the patients at the public hospitals are first generation Australian immigrants and they understand limited English and then only that with an Aussie accent. I kept telling one particular patient to wait in the hallway and he simply stared back at me with a look of panic. I may as well have been speaking a foreign language. Finally, my colleague yelled out, “to the corridor with ya” and the patient happily obliged. Note to self, the word “hallway” is meaningless here.

Additionally, I seem to miss out on the quick witted humor that bounces around the cardiac cath lab. They use a lot of slang and I just miss out on the jokes. One of my favorite slang terms they use is “POM” which refers to a British person. It’s short for Prisoner Of her Majesty. Perhaps we should use that in the US.

I still haven’t figured out if they have a nickname for us. Maybe I don’t want to know.


tjossem820 said...

I love your writing style, Beth & with Eric's talents along those lines, too, perhaps you & he should write a book together about your experiences in Melbourne!
Miss you! Love, MIL

Anna said...

I love reading your blog and find it interesting to think about some of the things my parents were probably thinkings when we made our 4 cross-cultural moves. From a child and teenager's perspective, things are a lot different!
Elizabeth - it's funny that it probably took me a good 6 months to understand the British accent and slang when we moved to Liverpool, and I never figured out why women were sometimes referred to as "birds". It does come, but I think it was almost more frustrating to not be understood when you are speaking the SAME language. With a different language, these are the things you expect, but when it's the same language, it's frustrating.
Brandon, Sally and I miss you both terribly (eyes welling up just thinking about it) and I think about you often as you are experiencing all the fun and not so fun things of a brand new life in a brand new country. We love you!

Anna said...

PS - The "For Sale" sign came down yesterday. We will officially be here when you come back! Is it a bad sign that I have already started a month-to-month countdown???? : )

Jepstr67 said...

Thank the powers that be that both of you are well educated excellent writers. Do you have any idea how painful this would be for the rest of us if you were not? Great stories! Do you need me & my truck to help you move on Saturday? Oh wait, all of your stuff will fit in your very small car!!!

When I had been in London for a month, I could mimic 3 distinctly different Brittish accents. It was interesting to test to see how different things were when they thought you were one of "them".

Ana Orrison said...

I always thought that POM stood for Per Our Majesty, and that people called them Poms because that's what they said ALL the time. "We are here to enforce a tax per our Majesty." I like Prisoner better. Just don't tell my dad. :)

kakarandy said...

E & E!

What fun to live through the two of you vicariously! It brings back all the fun (and frenzy) of living abroad! The best part is, that when you look back at your early "bloggings" a year or two from now, you will probably laugh at the craziness of the early months of your new Australian adventure!

Keep them comig! It truly is fantastic to hear all that is going on.

And Elizabeth, don't forget: "That wasn't a yes or no question that I asked you!" A little bit of English as a second language...Irish style, do you remember?!!

Marcus said...

Ok, the hallway story is funny!

AmyKay said...

At least its a honda...I miss having co-element compatriots.

teirmiter said...

I finally logged on and was delighted to read what you two have been experiencing. It reminded me a lot of my year in England. Still when I visit my sister in Scotland, I get weirded out about being in the passanger seat for long road trips. I look forward to hearing more. Thanks for taking the time to write this down. It will be great to look back at later!

Burt said...

Cool stuff, escapees. It's hard to relate to 90 degrees while wearing a t-shirt, sweatshirt and fleece...all at once...though. We're thinking of abandoning Panera for some other venue. They've d/c'd our peanutbutter because "corporate" took over this store and won't allow it. They also ran out of dark roast coffee today. It may be off to Camille's for the genius crew. Keep up the good posts!

Lori said...

Things have changed so much...I last knew Elizabeth, as only "Beth" and Eric, as an engaged and very engaging man, as well. Congrats to you both on the wedding and the big move. I laughed at your airport mishap with the banana as well as so many things in your blog. I love the added photos and definitions of the language. It's a shame to say, but I most likely will keep up with your happenings more now, than when you were only 5 hours away. My kids keep asking if your "old" friend posted any more photos of the land down keep them coming, we are all amazed at the beauty. It must be a wonderful learning and growing experience.


Lori and the kids