It’s been a little over a week since my last blog entry, and as expected I am beginning to feel more comfortable in my new environment. I’m starting to get my bearings and as I settle in I have been able to find more activities to occupy my time. And believe me, with training once per week and games only twice a week, there is plenty of time for me to fill.
My most immediate priority has been to find work, most likely of the part-time variety (which here is called casual). Surprisingly, casual workers routinely earn higher wages than full-time employees. However, full-time employees do have the benefit of health care, paid vacation time, and job security. For my intent and purposes, I surely will not be disappointed to earn a higher wage for less work for the six months that I am here. Still, I have not yet found work, which will likely change some time this week as I should have an opportunity to interview for Rebel Sports (the Aussie version of Dicks Sporting Goods). If and when I am hired, hourly wages are different based on age, not years of experience. Because I am above the age of 21, I will likely make about $20/hour as a floor salesman. Yes, that seems like an absurd amount of money for the subsequent job requirement, but the minimum wage in Queensland is about $16/hour, and the cost of living is much higher than in the states.
Quick side note: Australia is broken into five states and two territories. From an outsider’s perspective, the influence that the state governments hold compared to national parliament seems astounding. I rarely hear anybody speak about the national government, and it seems that every state has its own standards and bylaws concerning all matters of living. The states are more independent from one another than you can possibly imagine. I guess it’s because the states here are so much different from one another in landscape and citizens, even more so than in the United States. But I digress….
Generally, my estimation is that everything costs about 30 percent more here, so the wages obviously reflect accordingly. However, because I am not paying for food or rent, I should be able to save a large chunk of what I earn and bring it back with me to the States. For that reason, I am very eager to get my share of what I consider an inflated minimum wage. Yes, I am eager to work. And yes, I realize how crazy that sounds.
In addition to looking for work, I have spent the past week or so exploring two of my favorite activities to do anywhere in the world: the beaches and the nightlife. During the summer it gets very hot and humid here, and while many people have pools, on the Gold Coast, most seem to enjoy days off at the beautiful beaches here. I went with a few friends to Surfer’s Paradise, a tourist-driven city that reminds me a lot of South Beach in Miami. As the name would suggest, it was a beautiful area. The beach itself was fine white sand, stretching roughly twice the length of Narraganssett Beach. Interestingly, lifeguards quarantine all of the water-bound population into marked off 50-yard stretches of ocean, most likely to manage the sheer numbers and protect swimmers from the violent under current. What seemed funny to me is that instead of using whistles and hand signals, lifeguards at Surfer’s use 4-wheelers and megaphones. It was amusing to watch them ride along the water’s edge, shouting through the megaphone, “Hey, you two blokes there in the blue trunks! You’re too deep. Come back to shore.” Definitely a different way of handling the situation than I am used to, but comical nonetheless. I will be going back to Surfer’s (which is about a 30-minute drive south for me) to experience the nightlife this coming Saturday, and I am sure I will report back for anybody considering a Gold Coast vacation.
This past Friday after our game, some of the guys from the opposing team (who I played with in Santa Fe) took me out in the Valley in downtown Brisbane. It was my first time in the city, so I had no idea where we were and simply followed. As with most city life, bar hoping is routine, and festivities don’t typically start until around midnight. After all, bars and clubs alike are open until 5 a.m., which is a far cry from McKinley’s in East Greenwich, where 1 a.m. is all you get.
Surprisingly, the dress code is more strict here than anywhere else in the world where I have gone out. Collared shirts and jeans are a must, but the kicker is the footwear, no pun intended. Sneakers or boat shoes won't cut it; for most of the clubs and nicer pubs, black or brown dress shoes are required. Lucky for me, I have no issue taking the extra time and dressing the part. The night finished with a cab ride to the casino, which is right in the middle of the city. I am not a big gambler, but I cannot say the same for my Aussie mates, who routinely won’t call it a night until they are up or down a couple hundred. On top of what we all spent at the bar, I can’t imagine the dent in the wallet the following day. By the end of the night, it was close to 6:30 a.m., which is way past my bedtime. However, after the free cab ride home (my mate works for a local cab company), I had no issue passing out as soon as my head hit the pillow. Can’t wait to do it again next weekend. Hopefully next time around, I’ll have some work money to throw around a bit. Who knows, maybe I’ll play a hand of Blackjack. Just one hand though – don’t worry Mom.
Until next time, G’day mate from down undah….