What I experienced the first few days I was home from Fiji can only be described as the absolute worst case of jet lag I have ever endured in my twenty one years of living. Having been awake for two days straight I slept pretty hard once I finally landed back in my room in Springfield, but strangely enough I was only able to sleep for a few hours before waking up again. For the next week I felt perpetually weary but was strangely unable to sleep. It was a very frustrating experience to say the least, and I wasn’t the only one affected. Mom and Dad had to go back to work that week, so they were forced into at least trying to sleep, but that didn’t make them any more successful at it. The Friday morning after we got home I found myself tired and exhausted but lying awake in my bed at 4:30 am. Having been lying there since around 12:30 am I decided it might be time to get up and do something else, and just as I was getting out of bed I heard something from down stairs. Turns out Mom and Dad were both up, suffering from a similar problem because before I could even make it downstairs mom had heard me moving around and called up to me asking if I was up. Since everyone in the house was up, we decided to cut our losses and just make breakfast even though it was still dark outside. So Mom and Dad and I had blueberry pancakes in the dark at 4:30 in the morning. Well into the next week I was still feeling weary consistently without being able to sleep. Since I was spending so much time not sleeping this left me free to do other things and as I did I began to notice lot of things that I had missed about home while I had been gone and some things I had begun to miss about Australia.
Things I missed about being home:
Mexican food: Yes I did eat some mexican food while I was in Australia, and what I had was amazing, but it wasn’t anywhere as easy to come by as it is in the states, and it tended to air on the expensive side. It was also difficult to produce Mexican dishes on my own since things like black beans were impossible to find in an Australian grocery store. I never thought I would miss Mexican food so much, but I really did.
My car: While city living certainly does not require a car, and it was nice to not have to think about parking or gas prices for a few months, I have enjoyed having my car back. It’s nice to be able to take trips on a whim and most of all I missed my personal time with the music on and the stereo cranked. I also missed the radio in general. Although, I most certainly did NOT miss the rush hour traffic.
My room: Having roommates is a lot of fun, but its nice to be back in my own personal and very purple space. It’s also quite wonderful to be in a full sized bed again because on my twin in Australia my feet went off the edge.
Cheap Alcohol- I got so used to paying $10- $20 for a cocktail that it has been a treat to be home where I pay $5-$10. I still can’t go into an ABC store without feeling incredibly nervous like I’m not supposed to be there. Even though I went to several bars and bought alcohol a few times while abroad, something about being home has me giddy and nervous about being 21 all over again.
The Rest of My Wardrobe: After having lived with the same two suitcases of clothing for five months it was delightful to come home to a closet of clothing that I hadn’t seen since February. I had forgotten I owned half the stuff I came home to!
Bananas: Due to the flooding in Queensland the months before I landed in Australia much of the banana crops of Australia were damaged or washed away. This caused a massive banana shortage, meaning that the bananas that were available were scarce and became quite expensive. When I left bananas had gotten to $12 AUD a kilo, making them almost as expensive as a prime cut of steak. Bananas as a luxury food item? Weird. It’s nice to be back on a continent where they seldom cost more than $2 for a bunch.
American Grocery Stores: In addition to black beans I was also unable to get regular cheerios, fruit pies, bryers ice cream and many other things I am used to in Australian grocery stores. The grocery sores I went to in Sydney were smaller and had much less variety than I was used to, not to mention groceries were far more expensive and the size of everything was much smaller. When I went to a grocery store for the first time in Virginia it was massive sensory overload, but it was wonderful. I have never been so excited to go to a grocery store as I was when I first came home.
No More Flushing Decisions: In Australia just about every toilet is two flush, meaning everytime you find yourself needing to flush you have to made a decision if you want a full flush or a half flush. Not that it was that much of a bother, but its nice not to have to ponder on wether or not whatever you are flushing down requires a full flush of water or only half.
Things I miss about Australia
Walking Everywhere: While it was wonderful to be back in my car, it meant that I wasn’t walking nearly as much and therefore I got very lazy and out of shape in the first few weeks I was home.
Cheap, Delicious Thai Food on Every Corner: Between living in Sydney and actually visiting Thailand I don’t know that I will ever be able to eat what passes as Thai food in the US ever again.
Included Sales Tax: While things were generally more expensive in Australia, the sales tax was always included in the listed price of everything so you always knew how much you were paying up front which was nice.
Sprawling Starry Skies: The number of stars you can see in the Southern hemisphere is incredible. All the constellations are different from the Northern hemisphere and due to the much lower levels of light pollution the visibility is incredible. I dare say no northern hemisphere sky view will ever be able to top it.
Everywhere Sells Pastries: Almost every sandwich shop, bistro and eatery in Oz sells pastries and has a wonderful selection of desserts that are made in house. Much of Europe is like this too, its wonderful.
Respect for the Environment: Australia seems to be about twenty years ahead of the US with all its green practices. From fuel efficient cars, power switches on every electrical outlet, half flush toilets, bans on plastic bags and bottles, to an emphasis on locally grown produce, recycling programs, and bio degradable plastics, they have far more respect for their environment and their natural resources. It just goes to show you how little we would have to give up to make these changes, as everyone over there seems to live quite comfortably. In line with this, all the cities I visited in Australia were all spotlessly clean. They seem to take great pride in having cities free from trash and grime.
Living in the City: I have never really thought of myself as being a city girl, but I really enjoyed living on the outskirts of Sydney. There was always something to do, somewhere to go, and something to see, usually within walking distance. Springfield seems terribly dull after living in Sydney for a few months.
No Chain Restaurants: Australians do not like chain restaurants generally speaking. There are very few chains to be found there that are not American chains., and even those are not very prominent. (except McDonalds, but there is no escaping that.) Coming home I began to notice just how many chains there are in the US and how few independently owned restaurants are in my area. I miss the excitement of walking into an establishment and not knowing what kind of food you would be served or experience you would have.
Adventures: While I was abroad I had this attitude that since my time was limited and it was unlikely that I would ever be back in Australia I should make the absolute most of the time I had and explore as much as I could and have as many adventures as I could. This led to many a great adventures, and I miss that. Being home I don’t feel any guilt spending the day indoors watching tv or running errands, whereas in Australia I would have been twisted with guilt to go through an entire day without having done anything memorable. Suffice to say life has been considerably less exciting since I returned to Springfield.
Vegetarian Friendly Cuisine: Almost every restaurant I went to while abroad had extensive vegetarian offerings. Many even had a vegetarian menu, I had forgotten how limiting being a vegetarian could be in the US. Australia is also far more health conscious than the US and their restaurant menus reflect this.
Tim Tams: Obviously.
People keep asking me if I want to go back to Australia, and while I did love my time there, there are so many other places in the world I am eager to see I don’t see wanting to go back any time soon. Plus the thought of enduring that 15.5 hour trans pacific flight again is in no way enticing to me. I feel like I might go back one day, who knows?