When I first arrived here I stocked up on maps, leaflets, free guides and anything I could get my hands on to fill myself with inspiration and new ideas of where to go, what to do, who to meet and bla bla bla. Little did I know it would take me soooooooo long to find the funds to be able to actually DO all those things!
The thing that struck me the most was the reference to “Marvelous Melbourne”, as described in many of my guides. It seems this is a city that is very proud of itself and isn’t afraid to let people know. The Melbournites pride themselves on style and culture, claiming to be the cultural capital of Australia. Many of them have no qualms about telling you this is undoubtedly the best city in Australia, the rest are just for visiting. The problem is that when you are looking for a job, you simply can’t appreciate this. You actually grow to dislike living in a place that is apparently too wonderful to give you a job and you fail to notice just what is surrounding you.
That old phrase “you can’t see the wood for the trees” rings so true to me now, because I realised that I hadn’t seen any of Marvelous Melbourne since arriving. I had been rushing up and down streets looking in every window for a “Staff wanted” sign and not taken any notice of the cool shops, cafes and bars those signs were in. I had spent every tram journey craning my neck looking out for the correct tram stop and watching out for ticket inspectors as I couldn’t, of course, afford to pay for my journey and I had speed walked through every district in Melbourne heading to interviews, desperately trying to spot numbers above doors or names of places I hoped I had written down correctly over the phone. In truth, I had probably visited more of the city than your average tourist, but not actually seen any of it.
I was walking to the tram one evening after enjoying a meal at my friend’s house, going round the outside of Flagstaff gardens when I had the distinct feeling I wasn’t alone. I knew there were no humans around, but the rustling noises to my left had me curious, so I stopped, for the first time since I had arrived to look around. Then I saw a possum at the foot of a tree enjoying the crust of someone’s leftover sandwich. We looked at each other for a second before he scampered off up the tree with his sandwich. On closer inspection I saw that he wasn’t alone. There were about 8 of them up and down the trees going about their business and not to bothered when I whipped out my camera.
To any Australian, this won’t be an unusual scene, nor a significant moment at all, but to me it was the real start of my time here, when I started to see the wood and the trees.