- Melbourne feels like a combination of Montreal, Chicago and San Francisco to me. It is a huge bustling city, but not overwhelming or threatening. I feel very safe here and find the architecture and layout of the city very beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.
- Much like New Zealand, Australia has a much stronger middle class here. The minimum wage is about $15 an hour and the richest citizens are taxed up to 45% of their income. The unemployment wages amount to about $750 a week! What this amounts to is a large city with very little crime and homelessness. A city with lots of amenities for its residents and everyone is very well taken care of. Of course I like this. In my mind, no one needs millions and millions of dollars. The gap between the poor and the rich is so outrageous now in the U.S. that this enormous cultural difference here, to me, seems like a miracle. When everyone has what they need to live: food, shelter, security, etc. they are less likely to sell drugs, commit crimes and violent acts. That's that.
- Australians are extremely friendly and warm people. It seems like it is so easy to strike up conversations here and get to know folks. Also, Melbourne is very cosmopolitan. It seems there are people from every country in the world here, I like that too.
- The weather is just lovely!
- There is an energy here, a creative and cultural buzz that is resonating with me. I feel alive, inspired to create and produce. It's a similar feeling I've had in LA...
- They don't eat many fried foods! Fried foods are just a rare occurrence here. Late night snacks are souvlaki places for the most part which are just damn delicious and much healthier.
When I was in my masters program working on childhood obesity, Australia was the front runner in obesity research (particularly in relation to the built environment) and was at one time the fattest country in the world. The U.S. surpassed them a while ago, and as I look at the sea of people here I see very very little overweight/obesity issues. It is a very active lifestyle here, biking, walking, swimming, etc.
I worked with this group on Tuesday and just loved them. They are all very very talented and I will have the good fortune of being able to perform with them on Monday here!
I have a music show on Sunday here, unfortunately it is the same day as this huge St. Kilda festival and most likely won't get too many folks, but I'm still really looking forward to it :)
There is also this awesome Sustainable Living Festival from the 12-27 that I'm hoping to attend a number of lectures at. I like the dedication to environmental issues here. We've noticed that there are often no paper towels in bathrooms, and often no one uses napkins (serviettes). Also there seem to be fewer street lights possibly? And all trains and trams are electric.
Brian and I both really love it here and could see ourselves living in Melbourne. It's a possibility :) Brian has a meeting with the public library to interview them for his research paper. I'm sure he will charm the pants off of them :)
Hope all of you are well out there!