1—I am not “hardy.” Maybe I should have recognized this before; but I am just not one of those can-do, full-of-gumption people who powers on despite fatigue, hunger, and loss of sleep. No. When I am hungry, I get cranky. I like my nine hours of sleep, thankyouverymuch. And I am still suffering from jetlag so severe that all I can do is sit on the couch, wearing a hood, complaining about being cold and tired until my fiancé offers to get me soup to shut me up. If this were the 1800s, I’d be dead of consumption. Or apoplexy. Or whatever weaklings died of back then.
2—I could listen to tree frogs sing every night. I was truly moved by Australia’s beauty. Sydney is a stunning city, interwoven with harbors, parks, and bridges. I loved Melbourne, too, which, because of its narrow byways, cobblestone streets, and sidewalk cafes, reminded me very much of a European city. (Brisbane, I didn’t get to see ANY of your fair city...or I’m sure I would love you too!). But what I liked best was the thrumming of what I think were tree frogs, as well as the many bizarre bird calls that occasionally scared the sh$t out of me when I was strolling through the streets.
3—Australian wine is delicious. So is Australian coffee. But you will pay dearly for it. Truth be told, I had known about the coffee already. My favorite coffee place in Brooklyn, DUB pies, serves Australian-style coffee. Fun fact: I actually thank DUB pies in the acknowledgements of Before I Fall, for keeping me hopped up on caffeine and ready to work. As for the price...WTF?? Australia is hands-down the most expensive place I’ve ever been, and I’m counting Jimmy’z in Monaco! I come from New York City, and I was shocked.
4—Books are a cross-cultural language. I suppose this is true of any “special interest” group (weird to think of reading as a special interest, but it is), but I was really struck during my travels to the opposite side of the world that the love of books, the experience of reading and being swept away by story, is transcendent. It renders cultural and even linguistic barriers negligible—everyone understands when you say, “Harry Potter changed my life.” And yet because of that, my time abroad felt weirdly and wonderfully mundane. Book people are the same all over the place.
5—As Dorothy said, there really is no place like home. :)