Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Oz

Life in Australia is strikingly similar to life in America. Sure, people here speak with a different accent and the money looks a bit like Monopoly money, but the cultures are remarkably similar. The slight differences between the two cultures pale in comparison to the cultural differences I experienced whilst in Asia. That being said, I’m looking forward to exploring the Outback, as I’m sure that will be quite different.

I’ve already settled into a semblance of a normal life here. I found accommodation in a house, sharing a room with two blokes from Northern Ireland.  Bills and Internet are included in the rent, and the kitchen isn’t perpetually crowded like the kitchen at the hostel where I was staying before. I found a job bartending, and while I’m not making quite enough cash to save enough money to fund the next chapter of my travels, it’s paying the bills and affording me a comfortable lifestyle.

It’s definitely a novel experience experiencing summer in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s nice and sunny outside, and yet there are Christmas decorations being put up in preparation for the season. There are some advertisements that seem really strange to me, because I am used to Christmas in the winter, such as Santa Claus on a surfboard. I also found a few wintery themed decorations, which also seemed weird, given the context of my location. All in all, spending Christmas abroad without the comforts and traditions of my family promises to be an unfamiliar experience.

Speaking of being away from home for the holidays, Thanksgiving has made me a bit homesick. Sure, I knew intellectually that it was an American holiday that was not celebrated outside of the US. However, now that I’m in a culturally similar country I’m acutely aware of its absence.  Sure, I’m still thankful for my life, my health, and my adventures exploring the world, but I was unable to secure myself a turkey dinner. Through Couchsurfing, a website which puts travelers in contacts with each other, I found a Thanksgiving potluck, but unfortunately I had to work.

Speaking of work, my bartending job is in an upper class suburb of Melbourne called Albert Park. I usually walk to work in the afternoon, enjoying the 45-minute literal walk in the park, and take the tram (aka light rail) home. It’s not nearly as fun as my last job bartending, which was in a nightclub. While I still want to find employment that I both enjoy and find fulfilling, it is clear that I have not found it yet. I plan on staying here through Christmas, and making another move in the New Year.

I’ve been contemplating many possible options. I’m quite tempted to do three months of work in regional Australia, making me eligible for another year of legal work and holiday in the country. If I work on a farm, or in a mine, or anywhere in some remote, sparsely populated region of this country, the government will reward my efforts by granting me a second year, usable any time before I am 30. More details on my next working move to come as they develop, but at the moment I’ll just say that I’m considering a few tough jobs simply for the experience of it.

Finally, I think I’ll be returning to the United States this summer. Two of my close friends are getting married (in two separate weddings) and I’m very keen to be in attendance at these events. Not only do they promise to be meaningful days for people I care about, but they also promise to be a good time. I reckon I could pop home to see the family, work a seasonal job through the summer, and then head back out to the wide world which I’m trying to see some more of. I know that it would take many lifetimes to see everything, but at least I'll know that for a while I did my best to see everything I could.

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