The thing about being away from home for so long is that you have to undertake the mundane, ordinary, tasks of life. You have to go shopping, wash your clothes, eat and generally live. You are not on a two week holiday where by you can just enjoy yourself or a two week work assignment were you get everything done for you by the hotel. There remains the latter option for me on this trip, but the reality is that you want to do your own thing just because you are in the same place for so long. It is a way of bringing a level of normality to your life.
While I am working in Sydney I am staying at the Quest Apartment Hotel, Delhi Road, North Ryde, which is ideal for longer stays as you have more space than your average hotel room. The apartment has a bedroom, lounge, kitchen, bathroom and utility cupboard which contains a washing machine and dryer; all the comforts of home. Compact but perfectly comfortable.
The location of the hotel is not perfect as there is little, if anything, nearby. No shops within walking distance for those essentials. However, the railway station is just 10 minutes walk away providing a quick and easy transfer to the centre of Sydney, plus currently I have a car which means going to the shops at Macquarie Shopping centre is an easy option.
One of the big differences between home and here, and to be honest between home and any other country, and one of the things that often causes most confusion, is the name of shops and where to buy things. At home we have Tesco and Sainsburys; here we have Coles and, most strange of all, Woolworths!! This is probably only strange for those living in England where Woolworths went bust and closed down many years ago. Even simple things like what milk to buy makes you stop and think, whereas at home you just know. But at least the language is nearly the same, “right mate!”
Some items on the supermarket shelves are the same has home, which probably just adds a little to the confusion as so many are not.
The biggest advantage when travelling for work is that there is always somebody to ask. You have a client based in the country you are visiting who knows where to go and what to do. Hopefully you never will, but if you need a doctor or a hospital somebody will tell you were to go, who to see and how the system works.
So far the only thing that has really phased me on this trip, and it is a very simple thing, was when I tried to pay for my groceries. I put in my card and was presented with three option; cheque, savings or credit. As I was using my debit card linked to my current account I tried cheque – wrong. The correct option was credit which of course was the last one I tried!
It may be different from home, but it is certainly a great place to be.