Greeeetings from the southern hemisphere.  After a six hour flight to LA, a pesto mozzarella sandwich, a fourteen hour flight to Sydney, my first Australian beer and a quick one hour flight to Melbourne, we have finally arrived.  Our plane was like a small hotel; it was pretty comical to be honest.  The thing had beds in the front, maybe eight bathrooms, and yes, it had an upstairs level as well.  Unfortunately, I booked the second to last row, which according to some fancy, esoteric math, turns out to yield the rockiest flight experience you could possibly imagine.  The pilot casually hinted at some minor turbulence, but I personally felt as if I was sitting shotgun in Stu Lundy’s Corvette on some windy back roads.  Not a pleasant ordeal.  I turned to my iPod for the most soothing entertainment available, which resulted in me listening to In Rainbows and watching a Pat Kane highlight video over and over again.  Eventually, the pilot did in fact deliver us safely.  Let the five month study abroad journey commence.I sit here typing this first blog post at 5:51am, overlooking the courtyard, waiting for it to get light again.  Melbourne is sixteen hours ahead of Philadelphia (EST), but after a long day of exploration and subsequently botching some pre-go-out-and-drink nap time plans, I’m wide awake.  I’m here with my two buddies Alex and Jeff–

–who are currently sleeping on the floor.  They will be here for about a week, and will then head to Sydney for the semester.

I’m going to try to update this blog a few times a month.  I’m aiming to give a complete diagnosis of the city, definitely share a ton of stories, and maybe even dive into some stuff with a little more profundity and substance.  Life lessons and hypotheses, if you will.  Marty, I know this greatly excites you.  One love buddy.  To begin, I’m just going to detail some initials truths and impressions about the city and my living situation.  I’m living in the RMIT Village, north of the heart of the city, although technically still in Melbourne.  It’s like a 10 minute walk into the city center and a shorter tram ride, so they tell me.  I’m in a two bedroom suite, which comes with a small kitchen, bathroom, and double room with a sliding dividing wall.  Here is the view from my balcony, looking out onto the courtyard:

Tough life, I know.  The Village has a restaurant, small convenience store, gym, and a lounge area with some pool tables as well.  Good work Mom and Dad.  The students here seem to be a decent mix of Australian and American, and I anticipate some other nationalities mixed in as well.  My roommate is supposedly Australian, although he isn’t here yet.  Upon arrival yesterday, Jeff, Alex and I went to explore the city.  About two blocks away is this huge open market with fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, meat, fish, etc.  The goal is to buy the majority of my food from here, and hopefully get a little better at cooking.  I took some lessons from Chef Alex yesterday; kid knows what he’s doing.  In any event, a market is definitely a really solid thing to have close by.  We breached what seems to be the heart of the city, although didn’t make it too far in.  There appears to be a ton of Thai/Korean/Indonesian influence, as we found these supermarkets and restaurants literally everywhere.  Apparently, only 75% of Melburnians are Australian, with the rest being from elsewhere.  Definitely seems like a pretty eclectic bunch livin’ down here.  The people so far have been very friendly, although nobody seemed to know where we could find a supermarket.  In addition, the city is conspicuously clean, and just has this very fresh, succinct vibe to it.  More on this later.

Since we are all upstanding intellectual college students, the first thing we concerned ourself with was obviously alcohol prices and suppliers.  We made our first liquor run in the airport, as instructed.  The lady asked us if we were 18, we said yes, and then she laughed and said “sorry, we are supposed to ASK,” hah.  Soo yea, Australians are probably just as relaxed as I’ve heard.  Later, we set out to figure out the beer situation in town.  Unfortunately, and this is really quite a big unfortunately, it is expensive.  A pint of basic beer (think Budweiser, maybe Yuengling) will run you about $5-8 AUD at the bar, which is something like $4.50-$7.50 USD.  Not sweet.  We’ve been told that Australian students do serious work on the much more accessible boxed wine (think Franzia), which is loving referred to here as “goon wine.” If you are reading this blog, you probably know me a little bit, and if you know me a little bit, you probably know that this nickname has me all sorts of excited.  We have some in our fridge, reviews to follow.  Finally, Melbourne is known for some pretty erratic weather.  It was 70 and rainy yesterday, and is supposed to be about the same today.  The next few days should be something like 85 and sunny (yawn), so hopefully we’ll hit the beach.  This thing is getting long, and we haven’t really done anything yet.  Next blog post will have some stories and a bunch more pictures.  Tryna get my photojournalism game uppp.  Miss and love you all.  Get at me on Skype/e-mail.P.S. Swine ’09 Puklin? More like Bird Flu ’10.