Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Housing in Sydney

Finding accommodation in Sydney is apparently super-easy if you're a female Asian student looking to share a room on a long-term basis.

I'm none of those things, sadly, and that makes my job a lot harder.

I did find a room by myself in Bondi Junction, a conveniently-located transport hub, and almost took it – twice.

I met the people — a British designer and a French "cat-lady" — and got on well enough with them. It seemed a better situation than sharing a room in the industrial back-streets of central Sydney, but I didn't want to jump into anything so I asked for a day or two to think about it.

Actually, I was so impressed by the place that I pretty much took the next day from house-hunting, just glancing over the headlines and thinking how they paled compared to my little winner. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I e-mailed to say that I'd take it and discovered they'd given the room to a Spanish bloke who'd been recommended.

Gutted as I am, I can't do anything about it so I've gone back to searching. I'm disappointed in myself that I don't have anything else lined (and I already let go of the best room-share so far).

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Goodbye, laptop "Corse"

I mentioned that my laptop was broken. Now it's gone. And it's all my fault.

Although I figured that it would cost more to repair than to replace, I figured I'd get a quote on it anyway. I just needed to get the address of some local repair guys so I could get them to take a look at it. (Apparently LaptopTec are pretty good at repairing individual components rather than swapping out entire boards like most folks do.)

I put the laptop in a bag, got the address from the local cybercafé, then got distracted looking for a place to stay. By the time I was done, I'd organised a viewing at a nice place in Bondi Junction -- and left without my bag. The place had signs up saying "thieves are about" and "watch your stuff" so I kept checking it every so often, making sure it was still on the floor under my desk.

I obviously had some kind of brain failure, because I utterly forgot about it until I'd been gone for about ten minutes. Unsuprisingly, it was gone when I got back. I left my details at the desk in case it shows up, but I'd be foolish to expect it back now.

It wasn't much of a computer -- it was three years old, and about the cheapest that was going at the time -- so I'm not as fazed as you might expect. Heck, I'd seen enough posters up saying things like "help I've lost my laptop and my thesis/novel/music collection that I've been working on for years please return the laptop I'll give you money" so I was pretty big on keeping anything important in at least two places.

There's an old saying in IT: No backup, no sympathy.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sydney: First Impressions

I fought with ridiculously early flights, broken wrist straps, and angry French girls but I made it to Sydney in one piece.

I thought that we went in for "what you see is what you get" pricing* here Down Under, but I found myself haggling over the price of my hostel here in Chinatown.

I've been here a couple of days now and I've done little more than wander the streets. That's fine by me, though. Wandering is inexpensive (although the cost of aloe vera drinks keeps climbing) and healthy (apart from the skin cancer and traffic fumes), and in the old European capitals it was guaranteed to be interesting.

Here, I've discovered a lot of chain stores, dodgy ethnically-themed eateries, and heritage-plaqued buildings. Much like London, really. The only difference is that the heritage plaques read more like:

This is an early example of Federation Warehouse style of building. The builder and architect are not known.
instead of:
Charles Darwin, noted botanist and biologist, lived here when he was a student.
Oh, and the Oriental food here is actually pretty reasonable, as opposed the excessive blandness most of the middle-Eastern food in London.

I've missed not one but two improvisational comedy shows: the cheap one because I couldn't find the street, the expensive one because I was in an Internet cafe looking for accommodation.

Speaking of accommodation, I'm not having much luck on the Internet front. I might have to start calling the numbers on those little tear-off paper signs that people stick on lamp-posts.

Also, I'm rather disappointed that my laptop is now out of commission. I'm considering buying an Apple Macbook.

*A local shoe-shiner was interviewed in the Time Out, where he complains that people don't tip in this city.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daily updates

Since my last post, I've left the UK and gone travelling again. I've passed through Japan and Australia on my way to a wedding in New Zealand, and I've been visiting friends and family around the country while I'm here.

Right now* I'm in Christchurch. It's my home town, and the final stop on my New Zealand tour. It's been very weird being back. I'll shortly be heading to Sydney, Australia. I haven't had such great Internet access on the road, so I'm updating Twitter (and Facebook) from my mobile phone.

You can follow me on Twitter and receive all my updates.

* At the time I wrote this story, I was in Christchurch. By the time I was able to post it, I was actually in Sydney.

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