My first night in Perth, Western Australia, was pretty mellow. I landed around 6:30 and Gary, our adviser, picked me up from the airport. I accidentally sat down in the driver’s seat … this whole driving on the other side of the road/car thing is going to take a while to get used to.

I checked into my housing and met my new roommates right away. They are all Australian, 3 guys and 2 girls. They have all lived here for a semester and are all close friends but they are welcoming me right in. The woman in the housing office told me they have been so excited and have been waiting all day for me to arrive. They even blew up balloons and wrote me notes all over a whiteboard we have in the kitchen. I kind of assumed everyone would have roommates as nice as mine, but after talking to the other Americans, they have barely met their roommates.

I woke up early yesterday morning and unpacked for a while. I met up with the rest of the SMU group and the other Americans at 10:30 to be picked up and go to the mall. It was so comforting seeing my friends from SMU. They had arrived earlier the day before and had already gone to the grocery store and went out the night before where they met some of the other Americans. I guess Gary is responsible for about 30 American students, so we all had the chance to meet each other.

We were picked up and taken to a mall about 15 minutes away. In the next week they’re going to set us up with bus passes so we can go over there on our own. The mall wasn’t too different from American malls except that the big stores were Kmart and Target instead of something like Macy’s. Most everyone went straight to the phone store, but August and I grabbed some food, then went to Target. Food here is surprisingly expensive. I ate a quesadilla from the food court and my meal was about $13, which is even more in US dollars. I guess I’m going to have to learn how to cook at some point.

I was hoping to find everything I needed at Target but it was so different. The majority of the store was clothes and they didn’t even have a pump hand soap. We only had 2 hours so we grabbed a few things and hurried to the phone store. I now have a $20 Australian phone. It’s hard to adjust to after having the iPhone.

After the mall we were taken to campus to the building Gary works in. We each went over the classes we’re taking and we got out student IDs and walked around the student center. We then went to the aboriginal study building where a man gave us a brief presentation and introduction and after we had a bbq. They seem to eat a lot of sausage at their BBQs, and I have yet to see shrimp on the barbie. I was able to get my boxes from Gary after the bbq, then August and I and another girl went to the grocery store for some essentials. I’m disappointed they don’t have Jiff peanut butter but they have plenty of Vegemite – ick.

I did a bit more unpacking last night and was happy to have my old bedding (even though I forgot sheets). I have a few hours till we meet with the group again. I think today we set up bank accounts and figure out the bus system. Another long day I’m sure.