I have really been enjoying studying in low-key and quiet Brisbane. The area’s peaceful lifestyle has made my learning experience much more enjoyable than my previous degrees in NYC. Why? Because I can simply tune out the world while I’m writing large papers and not feel like I’m missing out on life. In NYC, that nagging guilt for not enjoying the city to the fullest while studying was constant.
It has been said on many occasions, though, that Brisbane is not the most thrilling city in the world.
The most prominent attractions in the city revolve around nature hikes (only during the daytime) and the growing urban foodie culture. Most non-food activities and events are restricted by limited engagements, like a festival’s weekend presence, or its unreasonable distance from/through public transport.
This did not bother me during the semester because I was busy working on assignments and learning. I had a packed schedule of classes and homework.
The last two weeks, though, I have led my life with the lack of schedule only had when unemployed and/or on school holiday. Because of this, I have truly felt the absence of activities that NYC’s constant running list of (vibrant and diverse) options used to keep me interested. My habitual aimless wanders in NYC are not easily accomplished here because things are spread out over a large stretch of hilly land and patched with shops that close early (I’m talking 6pm). Whatever options are available are pretty expensive because, well, I am in Australia.
Brisbane is a cool city when you have a car because the fun things are accessible more easily and less at the mercy of a changing bus schedule and long hikes from stations. I do not have a car (read that as I do not want and cannot afford); exploring and finding fun things to do can be pretty unreasonable. The bus system works, but I get carsick, and getting from one place to the other can take an hour in the buses (to compare, driving would only take 20 minutes).
I sorely miss the NYC subway system, since I could easily read a book while getting from any Point A to Point B situation. Just the other day I wanted to go to a novel salt therapy spa I found through Groupon – it took over an hour to make my way 8 miles, and consequently I won’t likely return despite how much I enjoyed it (it was great).
This all has been teaching me how to cope with less – something I never really had to learn in a city with a revolving list of free events. Entertaining myself is taking more effort and research, and I am having to accept more quiet evenings with just my laptop, my books, and me. Other hobbies cost money I’m not able to sacrifice with my budget or travel times that still seem unreasonable; running hurts too much with my painful arthritic feet (thanks, ballet).
I have to admit that it has not been the easiest transition. Don't get me wrong - I still like Brisbane and think it is a pretty town with great people. I just am currently feeling a bit homesick for NYC and my active lifestyle.
I am finding I am more easily pleased with whatever I do manage to do, luckily. Petting a puppy while walking to the bus can my day a great success. There is a fundraiser book festival happening this weekend, and I excitedly combed the massive and full tables in the huge convention center for a heap of books to bring home that will keep me company. I may even go back tomorrow.
I missed a big event to tour a newly-opening highway tunnel, and I felt partially devastated that I was unable to go.
In some ways it feels like the universe is working on me in a way so I could be happy living in a quieter area outside of my beloved NYC. To show me that suburbia doesn’t have to be a death sentence – a belief I’ve held onto firmly for the last fifteen years. I have not let go of that belief yet, but I can start seeing that maybe it’s not as fatal as I have felt before.
But if you know of any fun free/affordable activities in Brisbane I don't know about, do share!!!