So, you’ve heard of culture shock?
Well, in the last…I’m not exactly sure how many hours, I have experienced it entirely and all at once. Except I like to call mine culture electrocution, mostly because it’s been a bit more intense than the average culture shock.
I guess maybe it’s not so much the culture.
Let me start on Thursday, at around 4 p.m. My flight from Dallas to Los Angeles is delayed by 30 minutes. No biggie. Still have plenty of time. Then it gets delayed again. And again. And again. Eventually we find out that our crew is stuck somewhere in Oklahoma City and they are trying to find an alternate or our crew, whichever comes first.
Finally we take off at almost 10 p.m. My flight in Los Angeles leaves at 11:30. But, we gain two hours. So, Los Angeles time, we left Dallas at 8. It’s a 3-some hour flight, meaning we end up landing at 11.
Me and a few other people, including a girl from North Carolina named Cassandra, are bussed across the tarmac to our Qantas flight which departs at 11:30. I realize suddenly that our luggage probably will not make it onto the plane. We did, thankfully. Then, we end up sitting on the plane for a half-an-hour working on an air conditioning problem. I figured this left enough time to get our bags onto the plane.
16 hour flight. Decent food, two meals, a Canadian Broadcasting Company reporter living in Melbourne to my right, a good selection of movies available (I watched The Reader, The Queen, and Rust and Bone) and nine hours of sleep. Which wasn’t bad, considering I woke up at sort of 5:30 a.m. (Pacific Ocean time is a little weird).
We landed, I negotiated through an awkward custom interaction between me and the passport stamp guy where he was saying “all done” and I was hearing “hold on.”
Only to find out that my luggage had not, in fact, made it to the country with me.
But they have only recognized that 2 of my bags didn’t make it, not 3, giving me momentary hope that by some weird chance, one of my bags was successful in traveling with me. This was misguided, and I then had to go report a third bag missing, which they added to my claim.
Next problem, they want a contact number, which I don’t have yet.
Next problem, they want a drop-off address, which La Trobe has been very, VERY unclear about supplying.
So they give me a file number and a reference phone number to call when I get those things. Which I still don’t have. Well, I kind of have an address.
I get my room, stumble through an awkward but typical residence check-in, then realize I’m in Mark Twain all over again–except there’s no elevator and less bathroom space.
I needed to get some clothes, so I ask for a recommendation on that, find out we need to go to Northland (which is a mall), which we take a bus to, which we need a MyKi card for, which we have no way of getting to a seller of MyKi cards. Our bus driver is friendly enough to let us lost souls get on for free.
The mall was overwhelming. The bathrooms were weird (2 buttons above the toilet, which I could guess at a reason, but had no explanation for which was which) and the food (I ordered pepperoni pizza) was extra spicy (good thing I packed Tums, oh wait they’re in my lost checked luggage) and the pepperonis looked weird. My chocolate milkshake was less shake and more milk. We eventually navigate the mall, I buy two outfits from Supre and some essentials from Target(. it has a period for some reason). We buy some myki cards so we can get home at least, praying we put enough money on them. Grab some groceries, and a few other odds and ends.
Bus ride home, successful. Met some Scottish ladies who also live in Chisholm.
Discover that my underwear from Target(.) still has a sensor on it.
Shower, find out that the hot water pressure is terrible, and can’t get a good balance between hot and cold (cold is needed for the pressure). The door to the bathroom doesn’t properly close, letting in an overabundance of freezing cold air. I just wrap my borrowed towel around me and scurry to my room, under the again-awkward surveillance of two Asian gentlemen.
I try to figure out my phone situation and learn that I need to go back to the store in the mall to get it “recharged” a.k.a. with minutes etc. And, on the bright side, the buses don’t run on Sundays. (Oh wait, that’s not a bright side)
I decided to retire before things got crazier.
I woke up at 6 a.m. and spoke with all of my parents who are experiencing Saturday afternoon. I think I have mostly missed the whole jet lag business, I’ll just have to slowly get on a proper sleeping schedule where I don’t wake up quite so early so I can go to bed slightly later.
And then I wrote this blog.