Okay, now that that is out of the way!
Today I started room hunting. This is my current biggest stress here, and I am looking forward to being housed before the other students come here in a week. I don't want to jinx myself on the first day of hunting, though, so I'm not going to say much about it all....except a few things.
First of all, finding lodging here is called "Inspection". So official! I find this very amusing, since it's in many ways just as backdoor as in the US... not very official at all. That is, if you are looking for a room to share from flatmates.
What is official about the process, though, is if you are looking to rent a place by signing a lease. While in the US you normally give the landlord a deposit to hold, here the government holds it for you, and deducts costs of damages incurred while you lived there from it. Hence, "inspection".
Today during during my inspections I found that it's very mixed bag of what's available and what you get for the same price in different areas of the city. Some places I saw were gorgeous and cheap and conveniently located, while other places were kind of dumpy and far removed yet super expensive. I'm not entirely sure how the market controls this at all here. So, please keep your fingers crossed and pray loudly and with heart that I land one of the former forms of lodging during my stay down under.
Anyways, this all meant most of my day was sitting waiting for - or in - buses. You know what? It might be a pain to figure out which buses to take and walk to the rather random bus stop locations...but the bus system really does work fantastically well here! The buses often ride in bus-only lanes and tunnels, which means getting around really isn't too upsetting or variable. And the ride is pretty smooth.
But the sprawl! Everything is very spaced out here in Brisbane. It is, as I have said, a suburban-heavy city. Most building are houses, and all others outside of the Central Business District (CBD) don't go beyond 7 floors. A car would probably be useful, if it wasn't so damn costly to keep on the road (gas here is about $1.50 per litre...or $5.69 a gallon...and parking fees are no joke). And if only I didn't dislike driving cars so much. I am going to have to get used to a lot of wandering and walking to bus stations.
I ended my evening walking through CBD, as I'm drawn to the high-rising buildings and concrete jungle. Surprisingly I rather liked what I saw! Beautiful buildings were chilling out here and there between long strips of shops and restaurants. It was very clean!! I always find cities that are very clean kind of fascinating. How do they keep it so clean with so many people pacing the streets?? The feeling and layout of the inner city also seems pretty charming. At the very tip of the CBD peninsula is a botanical garden open to the public; I relished walking through the heavy greenery with birds flying around me.
Something nice that happens regardless of where I am here is people coming up to me to chat. A number of times people have started talking to me while I'm walking to my next destination, and it has been very pleasant conversation. One shop owner started talking to me about the recent shark attack that killed a surfer on the coast further south (okay maybe that wasn't so pleasant) as well as great options for experiencing the country during my stay.
And later this evening as I strolled through the green gardens with my earbuds playing music, an old man approached me, pointing excitedly to my side. He kind of looked like a person who might be ignored for being a "loony old man talking in public". I pulled out my earbuds, though, and found out he really had something to say to me!
"Do you hear them?!"
"The curlews! They're calling to each other. There are maybe eight of them that come out at night in here. Sound really eerie, don't they?!"
I listened to the background, and I heard a super strange, highly pitched wail. It kind of sounded like a violin crying, or maybe a kid howling in a playground. I have never heard anything like it.
"Yeah, they do. Thank you for stopping and showing me that."
I might start wearing my earbuds less often around here.