Sunday, 24 February 2013

First Day in Sydney

My first full day in Sydney, it poured rain all day long. The water was coming down in curtains that made it hard to see, then it would subside to a drizzle, then curtains again. I saw on the news last night that the city was actually hit by a superstorm that day. Many homes were damaged by the wind and rain. Also, in the middle of the night I woke up to thunder and lightning.
My view of the street on the first day

Bilbo stands against the rain
I had planned to walk to the university campus, but I decided to stay in until the weather improved. I set up my internet connection using a company called Big Air. The process was actually quite easy. What a relief to have a reliable means of communication again! I have never been so happy to have Facebook. It keeps me feeling connected to everyone even when I'm far away.

While I waited, I took some photos of my room and made my next shopping list. I went out and bought groceries and my bedding and towels the night before, but I keep realizing that there are more things I need to get. Setting up an apartment seems to require a lot of shopping. I've been buying stuff that I never would have thought about at home. Toilet paper and laundry detergent and cleaning rags amongst other things.

The rain eased up around noon, and I headed out to buy stuff and maybe try to set up an Australian bank account. There's a giant mall across the street with everything you can think of in it, and the Kmart and I have become fast friends. When I got there, however, I found out that the banks are closed on weekends, so I did more household shopping for myself. The stores were a zoo of students preparing for school. It was very busy and uncomfortable. People seem to walk in front of you or block you into aisles a lot, and no one apologizes to each other. One or two people said "excuse me." Is this a cultural difference in retail behavior between Australia and Canada, or was it just the rush of last-minute shopping in a big city? Anyway, I brought back saucepans, an electric kettle, utensils, dish towels, cleaning products, a microwave-safe container, a tea mug, a veggie peeler, a can opener and a frying pan. I should be set up to cook now.

Around four I talked with my family on the phone for a long time. It was wonderful to hear from them. It makes me feel less lonely. Afterwards I had supper and watched some Australian TV, including a rugby match between Leeds and Melbourne teams. I went out and explored the residence building a bit, locating the laundry rooms, rooftop, garbage room, gym, and mailroom.
The rooftop barbecue area. The AstroTurf  is swimming in water.

An unusual bird

An amazing sight! While I was wading around on the rooftop in inch-deep water, I heard some unusual bird calls. I looked, and there were two black birds ducking and swooping around the roof area. Their calls were human-like. I took a few photos, and when I looked it up later I found out they were Indian Mynah birds! I've never seen a Mynah bird outside a pet shop. Apparently they were introduced to Australia once and now they scavenge around cities. I will probably become a birdwatcher here, since Australian birds are so cool and different from the ones I know.

I also did my all-important room inspection with the forms the staff had given me. Much of the room's wear and tear is already recorded, so the staff won't think I did it. I did add notes to a few places. When that was done, I headed out to explore the neighborhood. It was still drizzling, but it felt great to be outside. There are lots of little cafes and pubs nearby, but all of them are too expensive for my budget. I did find a beautiful big bookstore with an upstairs level, and right next door is a used bookstore with a cafe in the back. I wanted to buy an old bird identification guide there, but it was $14 and I didn't want to spend the money. Moving on, I saw a sign reading "Just's Art Exhibit Opening" leading to an open doorway and a flight of steps. I wandered in and saw that it was indeed an art exhibit put on by some kind of church youth group. The art was secular and very good. I stayed to look, then left again.

After these adventures I headed back to the residence and hit the hay. I think I actually may be jet-lagged, because I fell asleep before I'd turned the lights out.

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