Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pathology is through the Dentist's Office??

I had to go to the doctor yesterday.  Everything is fine but I caught a stomach bacteria/virus/whatever somewhere along the way and I was finally ready to be done with it.  I guess it's pretty common for people who move around overseas.  I have a fairly sensitive stomach as it is so it was no fun for a couple of days but it gives me a chance to talk about my first experience with an Australian doctor!

I found a private practice close to my hotel and they got me in right away.  Here is my overly exaggerated versions of America vs. Australia doctors and it actually describes the basic differences of each country as a whole.  Also, remember I'm currently in the heart of the biggest city so that probably makes a difference too.

In America, we go to a doctors office.  They say hello and welcome you.  You proceed to check in at the correct time of your appointment and wait in the waiting room for while.  You fill out forms and they take you back to your exam room.  You wait for a while longer. The nurse takes your height, weight, blood pressure, etc.  Then you wait a while longer. Then the doctor sees you and asks how you are and why you are there.  You walk down the hallway to a nice, private bathroom probably with a little door that goes to pathology so you just leave your sample and it magically goes away.  You come back and the doctor gives you your prescription but tells you they will just call it in to your local pharmacy of your choice.  You leave. The receptionist says goodbye and thanks.  You drive to pharmacy.

In Australia, I walked into the office and the lady stared at me.  I walked up and said I had an appointment.  She gave me a form.  As I was filling it out the doctor came out of her office and called me in to see her.  She asked what was wrong.  I tell her. She was very nice and prints out a prescription and tells me I need to go down the hallway and punch in this code to get into the bathroom.  I leave the office and ask if I need to pay right now. Receptionist continues to stare. "Of course you need to pay," she says. "But it's not ready yet."  I look for the bathroom and find that it is through the exit door towards the stairs.  I punch in the code.  It has two stalls but I'm glad that I'm the only one there at the moment.  I come out and find that the way to the nurse in pathology is through the dentists waiting area (they are a full service place).  I peek my head in and ask if I'm in the right place.  I am after all waving a paper bag for pathology.  "Yes, go down through the office and hand it to the nurse," she says.  Thanks. Very weird moment but I really don't think anybody else cared.  I head back to my doctors office and walk up ready to pay.  Receptionist still staring.  "I need to pay."   "Oh yes, here you go."
I walk across the street and get the prescription filled.

The point of my story is that in America I don't think we realize how much hand holding is done in everything we do.  Sometimes we don't like it and complain but seriously what do we have to complain about?  In Australia, they say, "How old are you?  Alright here's what you do.  Good luck."  People seem to manage in both scenarios but I kinda wish it was a little of both.

Random stuff alert!!!!!
Yes, they really do love their Vegemite.  Stay tuned for video of my first taste.

What's not to like about this?  "USA" style Christmas trees!  5ft. tree starts at $60.  But everything in Australia is more expensive so I'm thinking this actually isn't too bad.  I think the sun must be getting to me.

So, our "Burger King" is called "Hungry Jack's" here.  Everything is basically the same. They sell whoppers, they do everything "your way", they have Frozen Coke (woohoo!). Did a little research and apparently when Burger King wanted to move into Australia they found that the name was already taken by a burger place in Adelaide.  So, the owner of the Australian franchises, Jack Cowin, picked the name and it stuck.  Good ol' Jack and his family also own all KFC's and Domino's here in Australia so I'm thinking the guy is pretty loaded. 

Also, the gas price just looks scary, doesn't it?  Take into consideration that the price is per litre and probably at least 100 grade. I think this means that it would be the equivalent of $5.34/gallon but you would probably get better gas mileage.  Not quite sure about my math. Anyway, the next time you fill up and complain about the price think about the fact that the U.S. is actually one of the cheaper places in the world to buy it.  Everything is relative. Be happy. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it...

It's been really windy here. Seriously windy. They had to postpone the Australian Open for golf because things were being blown over and they couldn't play.  But that was a minor story here because everyone has been talking about the radio DJ's and their crazy prank.  Seems like everyone in the world is talking about it. My mom says it's amazing how much she hears about Australia since I've been living here but I think it's probably just because she's noticing more.  Remember the whole forgotten country thing.  Start paying attention and Australians are everywhere!

But now that there is a major story and everyone is talking about those crazy Australians.  I did not hear the radio program but they were talking about it immediately and bragging about it until the nurse unfortunately took her life.  The whole thing seems unfortunate.  It was the male DJ's second day on his dream job.  He pulls an amazingly epic prank and is on top of the world before everything comes crashing down and now he will probably have to find a new career.  But, Australians joke about everything.  Not just royal baby news.  They have a "don't take yourself too seriously" kind of attitude. 

Just last week the Prime Minister Julia Gillard taped an "end of the world" video address as a joke.  She got up and seriously predicted the end of the world due to the Mayan prediction to promote a radio show.  Watch it here  Seriously, this is a people who don't take themselves too seriously.  Gillard is the first female Prime Minister of Australia not to mention the first openly Atheist world leader and nobody seems to notice.  Can you imagine if President Obama tried to do something like this? 

So, my point is this "radio dj" story is a tragedy.  But, they didn't purposely mean to harm anyone.  You could live here for a week and know that.  For real, because that's all I've lived here and I could figure that out.  Australians are funny.  Even when it's not funny they are trying to be funny.  And if you know me at all you know that this is my favorite kind of comedy.  I think I'll probably like it here. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Look what's in your backyard?

They call Australia the lucky country.  I kinda think the forgotten country is more appropriate.  It's like we are in a weird time warp down here.  All the media from the outside world is at least a month behind and usually more.  It's 2012 and I can speak with my mom real time over the internet.  Why is everything behind? It's not like they have to put it on a ship and send it down here anymore.  I really think the rest of the world does not give this country enough credit.  One company that does is Apple.  They own this country.  The prices actually compare with what they are in the US so maybe Australians are just used to paying more for better products? Anyway, they are everywhere and as an Apple fan I like it.
Bondi Beach

I took the bus out to Bondi Beach on Thursday.  Very cool to have beaches this close.  Amazing water and amazing people watching.  I didn't stay long as my pasty whiteness needs a little time to adjust to this stronger sun.  But I did get to meet the cast of "Bondi Shore".  They were the nice, young studs and girls sunbathing in front of me and I swear you could change the accents, put them in Jersey and boom, instant Jersey Shore.  GTL is everywhere is guess.

On Friday, I went to the Australian Museum.  It's actually pretty incredible.  They have a really great exhibit on loan from Russia all about Alexander the Great.  But the real exciting thing for me was the rest of museum. They have the most amazing collection of rocks and minerals! It fills two huge rooms.  It includes this amazing find that I can't believe everyone in the world doesn't know about it.  Maybe they do and I'm the one left out.  Anyway, scientists found fossil stromatolites in Western Australia and they dated them to be 3.5 billion years old. That's the oldest record of life on Earth if you are counting.  And you can actually go to Shark Bay in Western Australia and see living stromatolites that have been trapped in pools of water.  Crazy!  I would love to do this but considering that it's about 4000km away I was glad to be fascinated with the exhibits at the Australian museum.

Australians also have this cheeky way of explaining all of the things that can kill you in this country.  When we first decided that we were actually going through with this move I began researching Australia online.  Basically, I found 100 websites telling me all of the things that could kill me once I was there.  Oh joy! Spiders, snakes, whatever I'm sure they are probably exaggerated, right?

Huntsman Spider, don't worry they don't attack humans and eat cockroaches!

I make it to the "Dangerous Australia" part of the museum and they happily explain and show all of the snakes, spiders, sharks, jellyfish and crocodiles that are deadly and menacing and living in Australia.  But it's not like they are in my backyard.  Then I get to the "look what's in your backyard!" part of the exhibit.  Oh joy!  Huntsman spiders and Funnel Web spiders are creepy, crawly and scary, yikes!  But they are quick to tell you that it's been years since anyone has actually died. AND you can count on one hand the amount of people that die in Australia from all of these creatures combined.  Glad to know that. I'm sure those people were glad to hear that too.

I'm sitting here on Monday afternoon watching Sunday night football.  Kinda fun but once again, why can't I watch Nashville yet?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Think left, look right!

The biggest challenge I've had so far is getting used to seeing cars driving on the left side of the road.  Apparently the city of Sydney has realized that there are those of us that need help so there is "look left" or "look right" spray painted on the ground at most intersections.  Very helpful.  I've only had two near death experiences by crossing the road so I chalk those up to a much need adrenaline rush and move on. Needless to say I'm going to give myself a couple of weeks before trying to drive anywhere.

Today it really sunk in why we are here: infrastructure.  This a huge growth economy and they are having trouble keeping up.  We opened our bank account and got our phones turned on and there is a wait everywhere.  Banks open at 9:30 and there is a line out the door.  So many people are moving here that every property I've asked about scheduling an "inspection" already had a hold deposit down.  I'm not really sure why Australia is booming now but I have a feeling it has something to do with economy.  It always comes down to money, doesn't it?

Anyway, I think I finally have my coffee order down.  Important things first, you know?  I asked the kind lady at Gloria Jean's what everything meant.  Gloria Jean's is like the Australian version of Starbucks.  They have Starbucks too but apparently they didn't go over well so they've shut down most of their stores.  Starbucks is evil.  And acidic, but that's just what my stomach says.  Anyway,  she said, "you're American, yeah? I went on holiday there and ordered a Latte and they gave me a flat white.  Weird. No worries."  Then she was nice enough to break everything down for me.

Short Black or Espresso = single shot of espresso
Long Black = Hot water added to a double espresso
Americano = Upside down long black, basically just double espresso first then hot water, not really sure why this matters but coffee lovers seem to be able to tell the difference?  I seriously doubt that.
Cappuccino = 1/3 espresso, 1/3 streamed milk, 1/3 froth, served in a cup
Latte = Same as cappuccino with less froth on the top,  served in a glass
Flat White = Same as latte/cappuccino except less milk and froth, served in a cup

Basically it's the same drink in a bunch of different incarnations.  Any way you go the coffee is good.  So no worries :)

Splenda has not made it here yet so your options for sweetening your drink are adding a shot of vanilla for an extra charge, raw sugar, Equal and usually they have honey and caramel available.

Oh, I've also seen the Love Boat, MacGyver, Bewitched, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, King Of Queens, Green Acres, and any and all Ted Danson shows back to back.  Not quite sure what's going on with TV but the number one drama here is Revenge. About 5 months behind the US airing. A bunch of movie stars are in average commercials like George Clooney for Nespresso and Samuel L. Jackson for  And they have the same exact commercials for Progressive except the actors are Australian and "Flo" is "Kitty".  Yep.  Awesome.

Lots of pictures coming soon...

Monday, December 3, 2012's not just an insect anymore.

First of all, our toilet in the hotel is a Euro-style that flushes straight down. Bummer. But never fear because I immediately filled up the tub and watched the water flow down the drain.  The theory is that the water drains the opposite direction down here in Australia than it does in the Northern hemisphere.  This is apparently due to the Coriolis effect.  While this may be true for things such as hurricanes it doesn't seem to matter for little things such as tub drains.  I could use my finger to swirl the water either way but for the most part it did seem to want to flow in a clockwise direction.  So I will call my scientifically unscientific experiment a success since it was a really good excuse to take a long, hot shower.

Now that we have that out of the way on to the heart of the matter!

Australia is awesome! We arrived after a great flight on Qantas to a heatwave.  It was the first day of summer and seriously humid.  I was not expecting my hair to immediately spring up to its natural state of curly but there I am. Oh well, it seems like everyone here just accepts and deals with whatever weather comes their way.   No worries.  Which, by the way, I hear people say at least ten times a day.  And when I hear an Aussie accent say, "no worries", I actually stop worrying. Not really sure why but it works. No wonder they say it all the time.

The food here has been excellent. I really haven't had anything bad to eat.  The first place we stopped was a Thai food restaurant called "House".  It could easily be the best Thai food in Nashville so I was stoked to randomly find it.  Not that it's that hard to imagine. Sydney is a lot closer to Thailand than Nashville.  Anyway, it seems that the indigenous food in Australia is everything.  Turkish, Indian, Thai, Sandwich shops, Pizza, Mexican, if you want it, you can find it within a 20 minute walk.  Including KFC! I kept seeing ads for KFC on TV and for some reason am floored that there are so many locations here.

I'm currently watching cricket.  Steep learning curve here.  Australia just lost a test match to South Africa.  This is six days into the series and Ricky Ponting is retiring from the sport.  Apparently this is a huge deal.  As far as I can tell it's as if Derek Jeter played for the United States winning us baseball glory worldwide. It may not be anything like this but that's what I'm imagining. Oh, and this would also require baseball to be America's favorite pastime again but that's a different story.  Going to go head out and find another incredible place to eat supper!  Peace!