Melbourne is a Mistake

In the beginning of this year, I made a big decision for my life: moving to Australia. I planned to do it in June/July; and Northern Territory was supposed to be my first destination, because: I heard it was pretty easy to find a job in Darwin (June-September was harvest time, and they’re lack of fruit pickers), the salary was quite high, and everything was more affordable than any other states. Then shit happened to my working visa. It was delayed for four freaking months, thanks to Indonesian government. It was granted in October, when those fruits had been picked and delivered to supermarkets all over the continent. Bye, easy money! So I decided to go to Victoria instead. To Melbourne, the capital. It was a really brief decision, I made it in just a couple of minutes, two weeks before my departure.

And now I realize it was a wrong decision. Because Melbourne’s a very beautiful city.

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Beautiful Brouke Street Mall

Too beautiful if I have to leave and move to other cities. Yep, my original plan was to move from city to city every two months because I wanted to live in all six states. But now I can’t really see that coming. I want to stay longer in Melbourne. Six months, at least.

I want to absorb the vibe, the energy, and the color. I want them to blend in with my body and soul.

I want to be a part of Melbourne. Although it’s fucking hard to find a job here. I’ve spent hours and hours sitting at the State Library of Victoria with my laptop to browse vacancies and send out my applications to countless employers. I’ve walked for miles and miles to knock every restaurant’s door that has openings.

I thought I wouldn’t experience this when I first came here, because on my second day in Melbourne I was called for an interview at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Brunswick. When I told people that I had an interview on my second day in town, they were like, “Wow, that’s fast!” It was, and it went really well. I liked the employer, and I believe she liked me. She said she’d get back to me with an offering in a week, but that never happened. I was worried about how my “future” in Melbourne will look like, until last Friday night when I received a call from another restaurant. The manager, Nicole, invited me for a job trial at her restaurant on the next day. I’d be asked to serve the customers, and my performance was going to determine my employment chance. I felt challenged!

She said I had to wear a pair of jeans and a plain white T-shirt. I didn’t have a plain white T-shirt, so I rushed to MRP and got me one. I liked how I looked in that $5.95 T-Shirt, and I said to myself, “I’ll wear this outfit everyday because I’m going to get the job.” Not only that. When I arrived at the restaurant on Saturday evening, Nicole gave me a cool brown apron that (I think) made me look cooler. I wanted that apron, and this sounds pretty much like MasterChef.

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My $5.95 T-shirt

I enjoyed my trial. A lot. I greeted the customers, poured water to their glasses, took their orders and input them to the computer, cleaned up their tables, and handled the payment. I also loved Nicole. She taught me everything step by step, and I learned a lot from her. The staffs were also great. They gave me friendly greetings and asked who my name was. Nicole gave me another name, Frankie, because “Fikar” was too hard for them. I didn’t mind that, I even liked it. From now on I’ll be called Franke and don’t have to repeat or spell my name anymore when introducing myself to someone.

Overall, I fell in love with that restaurant. Anyway the name’s Le Bon Ton, a BBQ joint in Collingwood area, very famous for its oysters, Texas-style chili fries, Lousiana crab cakes, and brisket; and Herald Sun loved them all! I wanna work in that place. But too bad, I didn’t get the job. I thought I worked hard and learned very fast at the trial, but maybe they had a better candidate to fill that position.

Was I sad? Of course. I wanted the job not only because I need money to live in this expensive city, but also to keep myself busy. I didn’t come here for a holiday. And oh, I need friends. Some regular friends I can hangout with in a daily basis. I’m tired of having the same conversation with different people every single day: “Hi, what’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do?”

I want some sustainable conversation I thought I’d have if I get the job. I had a feeling I could be friends with those friendly staffs. But maybe it’s not my time (yet). But at least, last week I went to a beach-walking and BBQ by the sea with one of Melbourne’s traveler communities, and met some new people there. Hopefully one of them can be my next good friend.

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First time cooking & eating kangaroo!

Beside writing, eating is also therapeutic to me. So after taking my apron off (yeah, this sounds like a MasterChef right?), I went to a supermarket and bought one big bag of chips, plus two medium bags of chocolate. I walked down the street, all the way from Collingwood to Fitzroy with those new buddies to find other restaurants that have openings. I want to be a waiter so bad, and I know I should never give up trying. I’ll take this time as testing to my patience. I’ll try not to worry and stay positive, that was what my ex boss texted me this morning. And yeah, I did what she said. Magically, in the afternoon someone invited me for a job interview at 6 pm. I came there, and I secured a job trial schedule next Tuesday. That totally brightened my day, and I hope I’ll perform better this time.

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Foods never let me down

Uh ya, I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite spot of the city. It’s St Kilda Pier, featuring Melbourne’s skyline, fabulous yachts, and stunning sunset. And after it gets dark, you can see penguins!

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Serenity

 

Why the Fuck Did I Take This Trip?

I asked that question to myself when I arrived in Melbourne, earlier this morning. I felt strange. This is my first time being away from Indonesia without knowing when to return. So that was how it felt to fly with a one-way ticket. Exciting and scary at the same time. Scary? Yes, scary. “Leaving everything behind” sounded easy at the beginning; but no, now it feels so hard. I just realized, I gave up my job, family, and friends for nothing here.

How if I don’t get any job? Should I return to my mom’s house? My friends will hang out with their other friends; how if they forget me? How if no one wants to be friends with me here? How if… how if?

My world turns upside down after that six-hour flight. It felt so silent. No one speaks my language. No one speaks to me. I have to do everything on my own now. The streets are full of strangers. I know it’s going to be difficult. Why did I take this trip? Why am I being such an ass by challenging myself with this kind of shit? After I stopped calling Indonesia as my home, I’m technically homeless now. So this is the feeling of not having a place called home. And I can’t afford any studio apartment in this city.

My first random shot in Melbourne

My first random shot in Melbourne

I decided to stay at a backpacker hostel, way cheaper than apartment. I didn’t really read the accommodation description when I booked it. I just picked the cheapest I could get: St. Kilda Beach House for AU$24/night. So when Kim, the friendly receptionist, told me what I’d get in this hostel, I was kinda shocked.

I have a huge kitchen where I can storage my foods and cook there, free breakfast, free pancakes on Wednesdays, free luggage storage, WiFi (of course), and discount at its public bar. The bar is awesome! I can get $5 pizza every Monday-Wednesday, trivia games on Mondays, free comedy night on Tuesdays, poker night on Wednesdays, aannndddd… party on Fridays with $5 wine, $15 jug, and free BBQ!

The bartender, Emily, is such a cool girl. She’s Canadian. Bubbly and friendly; and she holds the same work visa like mine. I had a brief chat with her while enjoying my lasagna and beer this afternoon; about how she found the job and some employment advises for me. How this hostel treated me made me feel way better. There’s a hope I can call this place my home, be friends with people like Kim, Emily, and fellow backpackers.

Emily and the awesome bar!

Emily and the awesome bar!

Anyway I share my room with three girls: one from England, two from Germany. The English one, Charlotte, also holds the same visa like mine and Emily’s. We haven’t talked much, but maybe tomorrow I’ll ask her about how she got the job, the salary, and everything I need to know. She looks nice, but very tired. That’s why I didn’t want to bother her with my questions.

And oh, tomorrow I’m gonna have my very first job interview! A Sri Lankan F&B business needs a waiter, and I applied. The owner contacted me via WhatsApp and asked if I could come to her office. If I get the job, maybe I will feel less insecure, more confident. Yeah, I know it’s just a matter of time. I have to adjust so many things, and that takes time.

One of the adjustments I have to make is the weather. Today I learned a very important lesson, that I can experience FOUR different seasons in ONE same day! This morning when waiting for my airport shuttle, I definitely could feel the summer heat. I was a lil bit sweaty. After having a chat with Emily, I walked down to the beach in my thin T-shirt and shorts, confidently. But oh, it was a bit windy and cold.

After spending 10 minutes at the beach, my hands froze! It got colder and colder, I finally gave up and walked back to my hostel… while hugging myself. I’ve been spending the last 4 hours under my thick blanket, writing this blog post. I even cancelled my laser tag appointment with some people from Melbourne’s CouchSurfing Community, because the forecast said tonight’s gonna be showery and the temperature may even drop to 11 degrees. Crazy!

This is how my neighborhood looks like

This is how my neighborhood looks like

Thank God I bring my autumn jacket and winter coat, so tomorrow I’ll be ready to face its bitchy weather. Wish me luck!