Australia

Day 3 – Grocery Shopping @ Coles

It’s surprising each time how long it actually takes me to get over jet lag. I’ve been falling asleep about 10 PM and then waking up about 2 AM. I usually fall asleep 30 to 60 minutes later and then make it to about 6 AM.

Focusing on meeting people

Now that all of the basics have been taken care of, I’m spending more time looking at how to build a social life here. With avenues like Facebook, Meetup, and other online connection points building a life in a foreign place has become much easier than it would’ve been just 10 years ago. I’m still not sure exactly where everything is though.  Knowing if I can get to the meetup spot is still a challenge. What’s my geography improves, it’ll be easier to find and connect with people. God bless Google Maps.

Grocery Shopping

Having been a product of the suburban lifestyle most of my life, I never really thought twice about grocery shopping without a car. I’d drive my car to the store, park in a parking lot, and then emerge with a set of groceries neatly packed in bags to take home. Today was a lesson in how to be efficient in space management.

I first stumbled into Nandos in South Africa.  I was stoked to find it here.

I first stumbled into Nandos in South Africa. I was stoked to find it here.

Coles is one of the major grocery stores here in Sydney. Think of it like Safeway or Kroger back in the states. There’s one right across away from the office that was easy to get to given my limited knowledge of the area. One thing I will say, shopping carts are clearly smaller here in Sydney. You don’t have to commandeer this giant shopping cart through an enormous store. I had a hand carry basket that was mounted to a small pushcart that was very easy to navigate through the store.

New reference points

Routine can be a wonderful but entrenching thing. We take for granted the routine of our lives and often times forget to make decisions that are relevant for today rather than doing what we’ve always done. Grocery shopping is a simple task. You walk into a store and put things into the cart you want to buy. The complex part we defer to routine. We generally know what we want, why we want it, where it is in the store, and how much it costs. Over here, I got to revisit each of those things in a new light.

adventures_at_coles-4In software they teach you that that the worst way to search for something is to start at the beginning and look for each item to see if it’s the one you want. Ironically, I find that is the best way to go grocery shopping. I start at asile 1 and work my way down to asile 97. The reason that works though, is that I passively know what all of the things look like that I want to buy. I can casually scan and pick out things I “need.” Having a list would make this more financially efficient, but hey, step-by-step.

I really wanted to buy a bottle of 409 to clean the counter tops. Many of the brands here are different. I’m sure it’s probably the same stuff inside of the bottle but the labeling, packaging, marketing is similar but subtly different. I found my way to a bottle of Mr. Muscle. I’m guessing the inside of it is exactly the same as Mr. Clean. But hey, why not have a new brand?

What really impressed me was how expensive food is here (or cheap food is in the United States). This is definitely the first time I paid $11 for a packet of bacon. Weights and measures are all different here as well. Food’s weight in kilograms and priced an Australian dollars. I guesstimated AUD/kilo was about twice USD/pound.

Australia as a country is way out in the Pacific Ocean that doesn’t have large amount of agricultural land. The center of Australia is known as the Outback, the desert that is not suitable for farming. Most of the agriculture happens along the coast or food is imported from other places in Asia. I wanted to buy local if I could and spend time looking for the “made in Australia” logo. My roommates informed me that it’s a marketing ploy. “Made” means that Australians were involved in the process but not necessarily produced on the mainland.

adventures_at_coles-3

Checking out was a process as well. I’m still not fully comfortable with the money. Australian currency is all different sizes and the coinage does not map to what we have here in the United States. The one dollar and two dollar notes are actually coins. The five dollar and 10 dollar bills are made of plastic and all of the non-coin currency is of different colors. In a number of ways their system is superior to ours.

Sydney doesn’t have the $0.10 per bag rule we pride? ourselves here in the Bay Area. After I checked out, I was back I had to figure out how to pack everything into my backpack and minimize the number of bags I was taking with me. A walk down the street, through the train station, over the bridge, then down the hill, and I was done. Now the basics are taken care of, future trips to the store should be much easier and less dramatic. 🙂

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