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.