We’ve been able to get out and about around Canberra more, even though I’m spending my weekdays at school now. This first week at school has been mostly setting things up (like my computer), taking care of forms and paperwork, and finding my way around. The real work starts this week. And exciting side note, in finding my way around the engineering building, I passed a bulletin board with a flyer on it for West Coast Swing dancing!
Aside from waking up a number of times last Monday night, Pretty Boy and I are pretty much used to the time difference. We still get sleepy earlier in the evening, but we sleep through the night and wake up in the morning without any problems… or as without problems as Pretty Boy can be waking up in the morning. On Sunday, daylight savings ended here so the time difference between Minneapolis and Canberra is now 15 hours instead of 16. Its nice that the sun is up before I wake up now rather than after, but its another thing we’ll need to adjust to.
In our first few days, we only saw birds and spiders for wildlife, but after a full week, we’ve now had our first mammal sighting! It was… a rabbit. How terribly exciting. As for the spiders, Pretty Boy has taken to killing all the spiders we find in our apartment, because we just don’t know how cautious we need to be about them (as opposed to back home where we wouldn’t necessarily kill spiders found in the house because we knew bites wouldn’t be too bad and they do eat mosquitoes). Pretty Boy apologies to all the spiders before he squishes them, and we end up squishing one to two spiders every day. Mostly small ones though. The biggest spider we’ve seen inside the apartment was maybe the size of a penny. A pretty big, dead spider fell out of the window frame when I opened it the other day, though. Maybe three inches across, but thankfully it was outside. And dead!
I haven’t been bitten by any flying bugs yet, though we’ve definitely seen mosquitoes, gnat-like-bugs, and others that potentially could be biters. I was bit by some ants though. The ants here are crazy! They are everywhere, in really dense swarms, and they are invasive. We’ve seen patches of sidewalk that have buckled because of ants. If we are walking quickly, for the most part, the ants don’t bother us even if we walk right over a huge colony, but one time, we just weren’t moving fast enough and I felt I pinch on my ankle and looked down and my ankle was covered in tiny ants. A few swats and stomps got rid of them, and once the initial sting of the bite wore off, there was not swelling or itching or anything, but it was pretty unpleasant regardless. We haven’t gotten any in the apartment (yet, fingers crossed), but that might be because we’re pretty sure they spray the campus for ants. The biggest ant colony we’ve seen was by Lake Burley Griffin. It had several entry holes, some as big as half a inch in size, and spanned maybe 4 ft across. It was terrifying.
Lake Burley Griffin is a large lake formed from the damming of a river right in the middle of Canberra. It divides the city right in half into North Canberra and South Canberra. Campus, the city center, and all the apartments we’ve been considering are on the north bank, and we haven’t done any exploring in South Canberra yet, but that is where the nation’s capital and many of the museums are located. We’ve walked by Lake Burley Griffin twice: one in the evening while it was clear and sunny and once in the late morning while it was pouring. It reminds us so much of the chain of lakes in Minneapolis. People bike and walk and picnic by the lake and there are sailboats, tour boats, and kayaks on the lake. Its quite pretty.
Some other quick observations from our explorations:
- We saw a VW Amarok TDI pickup truck. Say what!?!? I want one.
- We found a place called Kenny’s in Dickson which had char siu and Cantonese style roast chicken and duck hanging in the window. We went in to get some char siu and found out they are a Cantonese noodle place (we love noodles) and they serve some dim sum (we love dim sum). We’re excited to go back.
- Cheap grocery store tea here is almost better than the expensive stuff that Dr. Sam orders special online at home, and its definitely better than any US grocery store tea. We bought a box of 50 earl grey tea bags for A$2.39, and we’re drinking lots of that.
- Lots of very artistic graffiti.
That’s all for now. We’ll update again soon.
P.S. Speaking of rain, today was the first day we’ve been here that it didn’t rain at all the entire day! Unseasonably rainy.