Back to Australia (Apr 23-June 7): Melbourne and Sydney

My time back in Melbourne went extremely fast, and the first part of it was the most stress that I had felt in a long time. I was hoping to get back into the swing of things as fast as I possibly could, so I wanted to move into a new flat so that I could get back to work (since I ended up overspending during my time in Asia). In order for me to get a new flat, I needed to have enough money for a damage deposit, as well as my first month’s rent. I had enough in my bank account for one, but not the other. Originally, I was offered my room in my old place (which I was extremely excited about), but then my flatmate/landlord said that I’d only be able to stay until mid-June because she was planning to move to Europe. Therefore, I didn’t see the point in moving for a month and a half, since I’d end up being in the exact same situation when I came back to Australia from my Canada visit. While I was in Asia (a couple weeks before getting back to Australia), I asked my parents if they’d be able to transfer money to Australia so that I’d be able to afford a new place, but when I landed in Melbourne, I received a message from my mom asking for my bank details… meaning the money wouldn’t arrive in my bank account for at least another three days. I had four house viewing appointments set up for the following day, so I instantly began to panic (I tend to over-react when things don’t go as planned). Jess graciously allowed me to stay at her and Vic’s place for a few days (they were planning on getting a new tenant the following weekend, which gave me 4 days). Jess and Vic were both at work when I got there, so I let myself in, showered, and relaxed until Jess got back from the farm. Liah was with her, so Liah and I ordered some dinner and we all chatted until I couldn’t stay up any longer.

The next day, I started my apartment viewings. The first place was in Balaclava (the neighbourhood next to my old neighbourhood) and would be with two girls (one from the UK and one from NZ). I had a big gap until my next viewing, so I first went to the library to FaceTime my mom. I started having somewhat of a panic attack because all I could think about was that if I liked one of the houses, I wouldn’t even be able to pay for it. My mom email-transferred me some money to my Canadian account (which would still take awhile to receive) and then I used Transferwise to transfer $1000 that I already had in my Canadian account. Afterwards, I decided to walk to the Medicare Centre to reapply for my Medicare. I ended up being there for an hour and a half (and therefore had to show up to my next viewing late), but after waiting for 50 minutes, sitting with a lady for 40 minutes, and being on the phone (and on hold) with the headquarters because the lady wasn’t sure if she could give me Medicare for another year, I finally ended up getting it! She said that because I left the country, she wasn’t sure if I could have it again. However, the headquarters said that since I wasn’t gone for longer than six months, I could keep my Medicare (thank goodness!). I went to the next viewing, which was another 3-bedroom and needed all new tenants. It wasn’t very homey and was far away from all public transportation, so I crossed that one off the list pretty quickly. The next one was by far the nicest and was in my favourite area. I’d only have one roommate, and he didn’t seem to be home very much. However, he still had a lot more viewings and said he wouldn’t make a decision until the weekend (which is when I’d want to move in). The last place I looked at was a lot more run-down, and I’d have two roommates who were both British. I didn’t love any of the places, but I was also desperate to get into a new place. I headed back to Jess and Vic’s place to think about what I wanted to do. I had also gotten an email that I had received the money from my Mom in my Canadian account. I decided to transfer another $1000 over to my Australian account just in case. I knew that with Transferwise, I couldn’t do transfers larger than $1000 or they’d ask for a bunch of verification documents. However, I didn’t realise that this meant you couldn’t transfer more than $1000 within a 24-hour period. Once I tried to transfer that money, I was asked to provide a bunch of documents : a passport, a bank statement, and a proof of my Canadian address. The only document that I had with my Canadian address was my driver’s license, but they emailed me the next day and said that it wasn’t a valid document. That night, the girl from the first viewing wrote and asked if I would be interested in moving in because she was getting other messages, but wanted to ask me first. Even though it was further than my old house, it was the cheapest place, so I told her that I’d move in. The next day, I sent her the deposit (which was basically all of my money left in my bank account), and then I was hoping that the money for my first month’s rent would arrive the following day. As I said before, Transferwise declined my driver’s license as a proof of address – they needed a piece of mail that was sent by the government (a tax return, GST cheque, etc.). I wrote back and said that all of my mail had a PO Box, and they replied that they don’t accept PO Box addresses. I then asked if they could just cancel the second payment because I technically didn’t need it, but then they emailed again and said that because I’ve already been asked for verification, I’d need to provide it before any transfers could go through. I told them to cancel both of the payments, and said that I’d use a different company. They wrote back and said that both of my payments were cancelled, and I went downstairs to talk to my friends about other companies to use to transfer the money. I decided to go with OFX, but when I went to transfer the money, I saw that the $2000 was gone from my Canadian bank account! I wrote Transferwise and said that the transfers had been cancelled, but that the money was gone and they emailed back saying that they’d need a proof of purchase from my bank, with their bank information, my bank information, and the amount of the transfer. It was then that I got extremely upset. I wrote back and asked why they’d take the money in the first place, when they didn’t receive the correct documents. I FaceTimed my mom and was at a loss – I was ugly crying and I’m sure that my friends could hear me downstairs, but I didn’t know what to do. My mom decided to wire transfer some money. I knew it would take at least 3 more days for the money to arrive, and I didn’t have enough time for that. Vic was waiting downstairs for me to talk about it, and then I wrote some of my other friends about what had happened and how stressed I was. Thank goodness for Liah, because the next day, she offered to lend me $1000 to pay for my first month’s rent. Also, that day (Thursday), the $2000 had shown up in my Canadian account again and I received an email apologising, and saying that I could make a transfer if I provided proof of address for my Australian address (so I just used my old address). Finally, things were looking up! I had a flat (and could pay for it!) and the other money was on its way so that I could pay Liah back. I was offered to move into the flat on Saturday but since it was my birthday that day, I decided to move on Sunday instead.

On Friday, I made some birthday cupcakes img_5039-1and then Jess offered to drive me to Nathan and Sabriena’s house to pick up all of my stuff (which had been stored there for over four months). We drove to my old flat to pick up my laptop and bedsheets, and we kept everything in the back of Jess’ truck for the weekend (hoping no one would take it). On Saturday, Jess and I went to the South Melbourne market to buy some stuff for my party. Jess is so great at hosting, and made a huge snack platter to go with the cupcakes, and we made a huge pitcher of Caesar. It was so nice to see everyone again, since I hadn’t seen most of them in over four months!

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On Sunday, I packed up the last of my stuff and Jess drove me to my new flat. I spent the day moving everything in and then met up with Allen for dinner since he was moving back to Taiwan that week.

I was ready to start work on Monday and made my way to Flinders Street for 7:30am, as usual, but I didn’t receive a call. I was really upset about it because I felt like it was going to be a repeat of last year, when I didn’t receive a call for two weeks in December. I started researching other teaching agencies and even set up an interview with one of them. Later that evening, my agent called and apologized because she had just read my email (from Friday). I hadn’t signed the contract to guarantee me work because I wouldn’t be there for the entire term, so I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to sign it. However, Hannah said that I could and I’d be guaranteed 5 days per week until I left for Canada. With me signing the contract, it meant that I couldn’t work for any other agencies so I had to cancel my upcoming interview with the other agency. However, my agency lived up to their word, and I received work every single day until I left for Canada! I talked to a lot of my other friends from the agency, and most were only getting 3.5 or 4 days each week – some hadn’t gotten a five-day week during that entire period! However, at the end of last year, they had sent out a survey, and I answered it quite honestly, so I’m wondering if that’s why they gave me work everyday.

My time in Australia was filled with quite a few events, including two of my Canadian wing nights, and a new tradition of weekly Bachelorette viewings. I also got to go to the two-part Harry Potter play, which was really cool! It was like a play mixed wth a magic show – I was wondering how they got away with certain tricks! I also went to a couple events to meet some new people, and met up for a few lunches, dinners, and birthday parties.

My time in Melbourne seemed to go so fast, and I already had to leave before I knew it. And unfortunately during the end of it, I started getting sick and losing my voice completely. I decided to take a couple of days off during my last week because I didn’t want to spend a 24-hour trip being sick.

During my last weekend in Australia, I had booked a trip to Sydney to go to the Vivid Festival, which is a light show throughout the city. The day before I left, Jess also bought a ticket to join me, which was an awesome way to spend my time in Sydney. Even though we booked at completely different times, we ended up being seated next to each other for BOTH flights (with an aisle in between us), so that was a great coincidence! Lucky for me, Jess is also a planner (she took over planning the Canadian Wing Nights while I was gone) so for the first time, I let someone else plan a trip for me. We arrived in Sydney at about 2:30pm and then had to make our way into the city. It’s crazy cause my flight to Sydney was only $102, but my transportation to and from each airport was about 80 bucks! Jess and I checked into our hostel, which was called Asylum Backpackers and cost $72.90 for three nights (one of the cheapest we could find). Unfortunately, a common occurrence that happens in Australian hostels is that you’re put in a dorm with people who are living there long-term. So in our 6-bedroom dorm, four of the people were living there long-term. Therefore, laundry was strewn around the room, as well as baking supplies(?), hair products, etc. The people were definitely making themselves feel at home! That night, Jess and I went to Bar Luca for burgers, and then we found cheap tickets to a 90-minute 80s dinner cruise for $32 each. We got a free drink upon arrival, and had a huuuuuge buffet! If we had known there’d be so much food, we wouldn’t have went for burgers beforehand, so we were both stuffed by the end of it! It was nice listening to all of the 80s music and seeing all of the lights of the Vivid Festival from the river during the night – it was absolutely gorgeous! When we finished, we walked around the Vivid Festival until it closed at 10pm and then walked back to our hostel. It was absolutely freezing that night, so I’m glad that it warmed up for the rest of the weekend.

On Friday morning, we took a boat to Celsius Coffee, where we had an amazing breakfast.

Then we walked around the area for a bit, stopped at Wendy’s Secret Garden, walked through Luna Park, and walked across the bridge to the main part of Sydney.

We then walked along the boardwalk to the Opera House, and through the Botanical Gardens. We got to Frankie’s right before happy hour, so we were able to get some cheap pizza and drinks until their happy hour finished. We then walked to a Mexican bar to catch another happy hour, but it was so packed! We decided to explore another section of the Vivid Festival that night, and then finished our night having some cheap Mexican food at Guzman Y Gomez.

On Saturday morning, we took the bus to Bondi Beach. It was supposed to be an uglier day that day, but we were pretty lucky and didn’t have to worry too much about the rain. There was a Farmers Market in the area, so we got lunch and coffee, and then started the walk from Bondi to Coogee. We took our time and stopped many times along the way, so when we finally made it to Coogee, we were thirsty and hungry.

We stopped at a hostel bar for drinks and then decided what to do next. There was a cheap(er) theatre about a 30-minute walk away, so we decided to go for Vietnamese food at a restaurant nearby (where we got 25% off), and then go to Rocketman at the theatre, which was so good!

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Neither of us had realized that Elton John’s life was the way that the movie portrayed, and it was really well-done! We walked back to the hostel and went to bed earlier, since our flight would be at 8 the next morning.

I only had four days left in Melbourne when we got back, and I was busy every night until I left. This was the week that I had to take two days off because even while I was in Sydney, I wasn’t feeling too well. However, I felt fine once I headed back to Canada. But I’ll save that for another post! Love always