After 7 months of traveling, we are now finally in the Land Down Under, Australia. In our minds, it was going to be kind of like being back in the US for a while, just the Southern Hemisphere version of it. This is not necessarily true. Yes, there are similarities, but also differences; and there are expectations unmet...
1. We both speak English, kind of sort of. We often have to ask people to repeat themselves, spell something out, or just smile and walk away and then ask each other, did anyone understand what they said? Often this is no different than when we would be in a non-English speaking country and the person who we were speaking to would speak English to us.
2. We use the dollar and they use the dollar. Part of a dollar is called cents in both places. It only cost $ .70 US to buy 1 Australian Dollar – we like that! It does however, take $2.50 Australian Dollars to buy an “American Candy Bar,” we don't like that.
3. We drive on the right side of the road, the Aussies drive on the wrong side; oops, I mean the left side. This requires you to look right first when crossing the street and it also means that on walkways, stairs and escalators, people hang to the left just like the traffic patterns.
4. All of their food products have nutritional labeling just like at home, however, they don't have a line for calories but instead have one for energy. Since I'm always looking for more energy, this works for me!
5. The ADA, American Disabilities Act, must have conveyed to the Australian Disabilities Act for this is the first country that we have been to in our 7 months of travels that has cared for their citizens with disabilities to the extent that the US has. Clearly, traveling here with a physical disability would be much easier than any of the other countries that we have been to on this trip.
6. Sydney is an international city and has people of all nationalities living here. Just like in the US, if you see someone who is Asian, Hispanic, Black, Indian etc. it doesn't mean that they are tourists; here in Sydney, there's a good chance they are Australians.
7. Here, public transportation is for everyone. Regardless of the time of day or the route, the buses are filled with people. In the US, in most cities, public transportation is for the indigent i.e. for those who can't afford cars.
8. Once we decided to take along a computer, we were curious to see where we would have Internet access in our accommodations and where we wouldn't. Certain places were obvious: Tanzania – no, India – no, Thailand – no, European countries – yes, Australia – yes. Well, we have had Internet access almost everywhere so far, but here we are, in Australia, and this blog is being written at the local Internet cafe. Go figure. Expectations are just another word for premeditated frustrations!
We thought about how easy things would be once we reached Australia. Some things are easier, but some things are not. We are still travelers in a foreign land and with that comes challenges regardless of where you go. Then again, we have challenges when at home too, just different.