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.


You know the feeling when your 1 day weekend turns into 3 days and you have all the time to do whatever, just as long as it doesn’t involve going outside or any kind of physical activity? And you feel like your head is exploding and nasty secretion is coming from your nose or blocking the way out? The last time I had a flu was winter 2014, when I was living alone in Helsinki. Now it hit me again, and with a force natural remedies cannot cure in the situation where one would just like to do just about anything but spend a long weekend undercovers watching endless amounts of Netflix (I had to get it eventually, just for this occasion). I was glad to get yesterday and today off work, since my eyes were so watery I basically looked like I was crying all the time, and even standing up was a bit of a struggle. Head filled with liquid is a heavy head indeed. Today I felt a bit better (6 day medicine tablets and 2 night tablets later), but just going to the market to buy groceries felt like a sporting effort.

Lessons learned these past few days:

  When sick, eat good food. You might not taste anything, so your if your food at least looks pretty, you might enjoy it more. Put chili to everything: it’s good for you and you can’t taste it. I made a smoothie the other day, with black pepper and turmeric among other immune boosting ingredients, that was actually rather delicious. It didn’t save me from getting sick, but I’d like to think it made some difference at least.

Get home delivery, if you’re too tired to cook. I craved lentil dahl yesterday so I made it since I had all the ingredients in hand, but today’s hopes for curry would definitely go online or via phone.

When you can’t do anything, embrace it. Watery eyes might prevent you from reading, but you can soak in the bath. Or if you don’t have a bath, steam breathe. Or stare at candles. I definitely struggle with just being. Feels like such a waste of time, all this nothingness and piles of tissue paper. What a waste.

I have been extremely frustrated for not being able to do my more or less ‘boring’ everyday stuff like yoga and work, so now I will definitely appreciate them more once I get back on track. When getting sick, I also encourage you to go to a pharmacy to buy proper drugs that someone recommends, and not just crawling to the cornerstore and buying whatever they’ve got. That’ll save you money and shorten your misery. 

More things I love about Melbourne

Previously I summed up my top 3. things about Melbourne, but the list gets longer and longer. Bare with me, folks. 

1. The ‘winter’. Sure, June and July are the coldest months of the year, instagram is full of cozy “baby it’s cold outside” posts and Urban List lists bars with a fireplace. Sure, its not t-shirt weather (all the time and every day), but baby this is not cold. Just put a jumper on and buy a proper jacket, man. I haven’t even used my beanie since May, and even then it was mostly indoors (because some houses are freezers). 

Wintery morning walk to work.

2. New things. For now it is the new job that keeps me occupied 60hrs a week, but also the new stuff that’s everywhere to be found, if you just keep walking.

The National Gallery, right next door. Wall of flowing water, cool eh?

3. Aussie ways. They have different sizes for clothes, so when H&M gets mislabeled underwear (EU size aka something I understand), they are sold for 3 dollars. Score! Winter night market in July, selling hot mulled wine. Aussie language. Random discussions with random people in random places. Random stuff in general.


Every day learn something new!
4. Yoga (trials). I wonder how long I can practice yoga without committing to a studio: most places offer two week intros for a reasonable price. I want to be sure to choose the best one, so for now I am yogashopping. And to be honest I think Pilates is a better workout anyway, though practicing forearm stands is pretty intense. Anyway, doing yoga is sweet as.


Move yoga in the CBD, interesting variety of classes.

  5. Smashed avo and poached eggs.

Every single self respecting breakfast offering establishment has smashed avo and poached eggs on their menu. Period.

mid winter

As my friends and family celebrated Juhannus in Finland, with practically no night at all, here in down under we had the shortest day of the year. It didn’t feel too unbearable (in fact I didn’t even know about it): yesterday was the opening of my new job place, Laneway Greens. After the opening shift I was ‘pretty’ tired and decided to indulge in a bubble bath, followed by 11hrs of solid sleep. Oh boy I needed that sleep!

I have finally managed to find myself a home, one where I don’t have to share everything with 6 Italians or go to my closet of a room through someone else’s bedroom. Getting here a week ago was an interesting adventure, one I hope will never have to happen again. I am happy in Southbank, within walking distance to the city, to work and to all trams and trains. Couldn’t have asked for more (besides a jacuzzi and a gym with free weights, but the outdoors pool in the courtyard will make do).

Shortest day of the year, view from the balcony.
Shortest day of the year, view from the balcony.

Usually midsummer is the time for de-stressing and relaxing, and I must admit that after the past few weeks’ of homelessness and uncertainty with the new work, life is getting on it’s tracks. I have felt way better and more relaxed because of the lovely people and excellent classes at YogaXTC. If I still lived in South Yarra, I would definitely not let go of this gem! Now I need to find new exercise routines, luckily I have some options lined up already.

The best mat sessions.
The best mat sessions.

This winter (HA!) has been the easiest of my life. This afternoon after going grocery shopping in South melbourne market, we had a cup of coffee and laughed about the fact that it is the dead of winter, and it’s 13 degrees and sunny – Better mid winter weather than mid summer weather back home! I can totally handle this. Finland makes one tough.

City view from Northcote, Sunday strolling to my favorite foodstore.
City view from Northcote, Sunday strolling to my favorite foodstore.

Traditional oshougatsu and osechi ryori

Back in Beppu, I now can only dream of the holiday season which was filled with good company and cooking exiting foods that have a long history and each represent something important. This year was my first new years’ eve to miss fireworks and it was all in all quite unlike any other; in a good way to say the least. In addition to eating toshikoshi (New Year’s) soba and other treats at midnight, I added a small Finnish twist to the holiday: sparkling wine at the turn of the year.

Cozy way to welcome the New year
Cozy way to welcome the New year

The traditional Japanese way to spend the New Year includes going to a shrine, but since it was cold and I was tired from all the cooking, we decided to watch the New Years’ show on tv. Good decision! I also missed the first sunrise of the year, which is another popular tradition. On the first few days of the year, millions of Japanese pilgrimage to temples to wish luck for the new year.

Jubako filled with home-made onishime, traditional osechi ryori
Jubako filled with home-made onishime, traditional osechi ryori

After getting lost in the super market with all the last-minute osechi grocery shoppers, we started cooking for some of the various Japanese osechi ryori. In our table, there was for example the pictured nishime to represent good foresight, and many other dishes for other purposes.

Sashimi and various osechi ryori in the jubakos
Sashimi and various osechi ryori in the jubakos

Kuromame (simmered black beans) to work hard; “mame mame shiku hataraku”
Kazunoko (salted and marinated herring roe) for fertility
Kuri kinton (mashed sweet potatoes with chestnuts), the golden color of which is a wish for wealth and good fortune
Tai (sea bream) to bring luck due to its’ name, which resembles medetai: auspicious and joyous
Kamaboko (fish paste cakes) also ward off evil, and cleanse the spirit
Tazukuri (tiny crunchy fish) for abundant harvest

We also had a version of the ozoni soup, which varies from region to region.
I was in charge of making few dozen not so traditional harumaki (Vietnamese fresh spring rolls), which turned out quite well! For dinner we had oden made from scratch, which was definitely better and healthier than any oden I can imagine: in stead of the deep fried fish paste, the stars of this dish were daikon radish, shirataki noodles, fresh tako (octopus) and boiled eggs, among other less-processed ingredients.

Oden, onishime and buri shabu shabu
Oden, onishime and other “left overs”

In a way, this holiday resembles Finnish way f celebrating Christmas: it’s all about family and food. This food was thousand times better, though! I was constantly told that I could be Japanese, which for a foodie like me is of course a big compliment. After eating this well for a week, it might be a “slight” shock to come back to the dorm life…

More travel treats to come, there are loads!