6 things I’ve learned in Melbourne in 6 months

As it is inevitably already August, I realized I am halfway through my (hopefully not last) year in Australia. I’ve lived mostly in Melbourne for the past months, trying to live somewhat ‘normal’ life, but with a refreshing one month holiday up north. I don’t think my Working Holiday experience has been like most backpackers’, but then again I don’t consider myself as one. Hopefully I’ll get to see more of my surroundings these upcoming months, but who knows. Here follows 6 things I have learned these past 6 months.

 

Got double suprised at work just because.
 People are extremely friendly. Of course this can vary from city to another and the outback is a whole other story, but in general Aussies and travelers alike are a friendly bunch with their “howyagoin” greetings and other funny stuff they say. One rather effective way of meeting people is the ever so popular Tinder-game. Just keep your expectations low and don’t expect to meet the love of your life, and you might end up with a few new friends (Or the awkward situation where you think you’re friends, and the other person has other ideas…)!

 

Keep your eyes open, you mever know what comes along
 Timing is everything. This applies to finding a job, a house, even friends! I met my best friends in H&m and on a tram, and I got my current job by walking past it before they had opened. When it comes to work, be persistent. If you are looking for hospitality jobs, even Instagram can help you (@cafejobs_melb)! I am still trying to figure out the sponsorship possibilities, oh dear, they do not make it easy. Some days I wish I was a radiologist or a brain surgeon, just to feel wanted here.

 

Sippin herbal tea in my yogapants before yin class
 Take advantage of cheap fitness trials. Or in my case, intro yoga/pilates passes. most yoga and pilates schools offer intro deals for about 50$ for (unlimited) 2 weeks. I have so far been to 6 different studios offering either only yoga or a combination of yoga and pilates. Besides the CBD, South Yarra is the mecca for stretching activities. At the moment I am doing a free 2 week trial at F45 Port melbourne, doing intensity interval group training, which is pretty much the complete opposite of yoga. I love it after the first class, but the location is rather inconvenient without a car.

 

All the things you learn by just walking around!
 Stay on top of your city game. There’s too many things to do and events to attend, new restaurants popping up, and don’t get me started on my endless “must go” cafe list. In terms of activities, I keep myself aware of my surroundings with newsletters from The Urban List, Broadsheet and TimeOut. If these three are not enough, Concrete Playground is a good addition.

 

My kind of supermarket
 Shop smart. Take advantage of the markets (Queen Victoria especially), and go there in the afternoon. Cheapest produce you can find, no doubt, and the experience is way nicer than going to Safeways or Aldi. I challenge myself not to drown myself in drink coffee every day, both to stay clear of the addiction as well as to save me some dough (to eat out more than ever before).

 

Brunch outside in the dead of winter, not freezing.
 The winter isn’t that bad (if you come from Northern Europe). I was dreading for Melbourne winter that everyone seemed to regard as being from hell, but seriously it’s not unbearably cold, and even during the chillest days you can always just layer up sipping your coffee.

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Best of Hong Kong

Everything good ends at some point. I have now been away from Finland for almost a year, living in another continent, speaking different languages and doing many things I could or would not do in Finland. Now it’s time to say hello to Finland for a while. Here are some of my favorites from the past 4 months.

Nature.

There is much more to the city than just skyscrapers
There is much more to the city than just skyscrapers

It is unbelievable how much more there is to Hong Kong than just millions of people cramped in narrow streets between tall buildings. One can easily find amazing nature, from mountains to beaches and natural reservoirs, even in Hong Kong island!

Atmosphere.

Perfect Sunday: Relaxing at the East Island Markets
Perfect Sunday: Relaxing at the East Island Markets

By far, my most favorite place in Hong Kong was the Sunday market in Quarry Bay. The market is closed down for the summer, but will return again in September. I wish there was something like this in Finland – this farmer’s market really reminded me of New York!

Events.

Perfect Tuesday night: art, bubbly and nibbles
Perfect Tuesday night: art, bubbly and nibbles

There is always something interesting going on, whether it is an art gallery opening, birthday party or pop-up store. The only thing is to know where, when and what is happening.

Random statues.

Teddies in Heritage shopping area
Teddies in Heritage shopping area

HK is a huge shopping mall. Usually the malls have huge, quite random statues, that change almost monthly. Often the motifs of the statues are rather interesting, and worth taking a picture (or two).

Random street art.

Noodle time!
Noodle time!

Rather than ugly tags, one can encounter rather interesting pieces of art from the streets and alleyways. Tin Hau and Sheung Wan are the best bet for finding something interesting.

Fruit selection.

Sousop and something else
Sousop and something else

The amount, quality and price of fruit in Hong Kong came like a gift from heaven, after being seriously fruit-deprived in Japan. Here I have eaten tons of various fruit every day: lately especially mangos, since they are ridiculously cheap and usually sold cheaper if you buy 3 or 4. Other than mangos, I’ve been enjoying papayas, pineapple, some durian, mangosteens, dragonfruit, melons and the conventional apples, grapefruits, kiwi and oranges. Time for some Finnish berries!

Coffee culture.

Teakha in Sheung Wan
Teakha in Sheung Wan

Little coffeeshops offering top quality coffee blends and single-origin beans are popping up around the city, and there are several companies offering coffee tastings and other events. In stead of the Pacific Coffees and Starbucks in practically every corner, some of the best places to get your fix are: Coffee Academics (Causeway Bay), Coffee Corridor (Causeway Bay), Common Ground (Sheung Wan), Barista Jam (Sheung Wan), The Rabbit Hole (Wan Chai) and those moving coffee companies that frequent for example the East Island Market: 8 Grams and Moving Coffee, for example.

Food.

Delicious Chinese vegetarian cuisine, mostly with mushrooms
Delicious Chinese vegetarian cuisine, mostly with mushrooms

There is abundance of international food in Hong Kong. My favorite restaurant is Mana!, which serves organic, vegan and gluten-free wraps and salads as well as raw desserts and smoothies. Besides Mana, there are few vegetarian restaurant, and plenty of Chinese vegetarian cuisine (which is textured soy and often rather slimy to my taste). Sushi buffets are aplenty and affordable, Western food is more expensive than Asian. The Asian desserts were also rather interesting, maybe I’ll dedicate another post to that.
Mostly I cooked myself: various mushrooms and sweet potatoes were my favorites. I did try veggie dumplings on few occasions, but most Chinese restaurants had meat in their dishes even if it is not announced in the menu.

Transportation.

Back to the old times
Back to the old times

I definitely am a walker, but when you need a different means of transportation, there’s plenty to choose from. My favorite would be the Star Ferry to Kowloon side – fresh air, nice views and less crowded than the mtr. MTR is by far the fastest way of getting from A to B, but sometimes you want to relax and watch the hustle and bustle; the old-fashioned tram is perfect for that. The double-decker buses can sometimes feel like being on a theme park ride, since the drivers are rallying like on a race. The taxi isn’t a bad option, either: super cheap and easy to catch – the only problem might be the language barrier. I would not bike in Hong Kong island, but in Shatin there is even a bike route!

These are just a few things I will definitely miss from Hong Kong. I could also list the great people and sports opportunities (mYoga with it’s views to Victoria Harbor, oh man). What are your favorites?