One month has been passed since first time I arrived in this country. It was Saturday morning, 19 July 2014 my flight with Garuda Indonesia landed in Tullamarine Airport, international Airport of Melbourne. Using airport pick-up provided by The University of Melbourne, I reached my temporary accommodation in Brunswick Suburb, one of the most favorite area for Indonesian Student to live in as this area has many facilities comply with Moslems need. There are Halal Butcher, Halal Supermarket, Halal Restaurant (even some western restaurants in this area have halal certified). Brunswick is also easier to reach by Tram, one of the transportation means that is well-known around Melbourne as the area is also comfortable and like ‘traditional Australia’, not too crowded yet still close to the heart of the city. After 1 week living in temporary housing, I moved to apartment in the city area, which is very different compare to Brunswick. Melbourne CBD is surrounded by modern building and facilities like shopping center, office and bar. It makes this area like never sleep even in the middle of winter. The atmosphere is surely different compare to Brunswick. However, the ‘crowd’ of city for me is helpful sometimes. Twice a week, my class end at 8.30 pm and living in the city made me feeling more save to reach home. Although it doesn’t mean that Brunswick area is not save and city is better, but realizing that there’re still some activities around while going home is much better than feel so quiet area like Brunswick.
For newbie like me, living in Melbourne is very convenient regardless the cold weather that I need to deal with myself since I came from tropical country like Indonesia. You don’t need much time to understand how every thing is going in this city. Melbourne, like other city in developed country, has many public facilities that allow new comers to adjust easily with its situation. Here some useful information that may help new comers to understand Melbourne :
1. Public Transport and Myki Card
Melbourne has three means of public transportation that commonly used by its citizen. There are Tram, Train and Bus. They are provided as PTV (Public Transport Victoria). This transportation is very well-managed and well-scheduled also. We are able to know the schedule of departure, do the tracking even plan the journey. We can find out every detail of transportation using http://ptv.vic.gov.au/ or using PTV app in our Mobile Phone.
For using this transportation, we need access using Myki Card. It costs AUD 6 to buy this card. We can get it in the Myki Counter in station or through convenience store like 7-eleven and other store with Myki Sign. To top up My Money or buy Myki Pass, beside 7-eleven, we can also using automatic Myki Machine that is provided in several Tram Stop or Station. There are two kind of Myki Service : Myki Pass and Myki Money which can be used in those three. Myki Pass allowed us to pre-paid the service by paying for particular time (7 days, 28 days or 365 days) while Myki Money is more like e-money which will be charged each time we get on those public transport. Even if Myki Money adopts charging system like e-money in other country, there is difference that need to understand. Myki money will only charge the passenger in two ways : 2 hours fare or one day fare. For the first charging, we need to pay for 2 hours trip, which means, we only need to pay once if we get on public transport within 2 hours. Our first touch on of the day will create a 2 hour fare product. If we continue to travel after 2 hour fare expires, a daily cap applies. There are two zone of transportation that will be charged in different fare. The detail of this Myki and Fares can be found in http://ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki/ and http://ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/metropolitan-myki-fares/
In every bus and tram, there are Myki Reader to touch on and touch off. Make sure that you do this process when you get on the public transportation (for train, this applies to enter the station). The touch on is necessary for all means while touch off is only for traveling by bus or tram in zone 2. Touch on means you touch the card while get into bus/tram, touch off means doing same while drop off bus/tram. In doing this procedure, I dont find any direct monitoring for every trip. However, there’are some PTV Officer who do the inspection in particular unexpected place (can be in tram stop or inside the tram or bus) who will check our latest Myki Activities. If they find u snot doing touch on/touch off, the fine will be applied. It will cost us AUD75 and AUD 215 (CMIIW).
2. Monitor Weather Forecast regularly
One thing that now becomes habit for me since I live in Melbourne is weather checking. Melbourne is well-known with its weather fluctuation. In same days, there may be possible to experience rapid changing of weather. I personally used weather app in my mobile so I can monitor this condition hourly. It is very helpful to guide me when I should go out (especially for leisure time) or just stay at home. Sometimes, the moderate temperature is ‘deceptive’. The temp is quite high yet the real feel will be much diffeyorent. It is because the cold wind can flow anytime. So seeing the sun shine very bright doesn’t guarantee us to become less cold because you also consider the wind as well.
3. Relatively cheap fruits and very expensive vegetables
In Indonesia, I barely found expensive vegetables. The expensive ones will not cost you more than Rp3.000 for spinach or Rp50.000 per kg for shallots. However, in Melbourne, this vegetables and its kinds will cost you much higher. Beans is approximately AUD8 per kg, while shallots can cost us AUD15 per kg. However, grapes is very cheap here. You only need to pay around maximum of AUD4 to get 1 kg of grapes, the price that you’ll never get in Indonesia for this kind of fruit. For buying these kind of products, there is place called Queen Victoria Market that is quite famous not only as a market but also as a tourism attraction. Lucky for me, this place is close to my apartment. it’s only 10 minutes walking.
4. Supermarket and Payment System
One thing that amazes me when first arrive in this city is how the people put their trust to each other. If you come to the Supermarket and bring some bags with you, you don’t need to go to bag care counter. You can bring your bag with you even that you just came from other supermarket and buying some stuffs that also being sold in that place. Most of them don’t do any checking even I believe they still put surveillance camera in some spots. After taking your stuff, there also self-service payment machine provided. Just come to that machine, scan the things that you just take, and pay it using card or cash. This is something what I feel has huge difference compare to any other country include Indonesia. In my opinion, to implement this kind of system, the provider must have high trust to the society. It’s true that there’s still possibilities for thief to steal something. However, if we talk about the system, I’m still very impressed with this system and culture.
5. Multicultural City
Melbourne is very multicultural city. That is one thing that help me for being comfortable to live in this city. When knowing that I will live in western country,to be honest, I felt anxious. As a Moslem I predicted it would not easy for me to become minority since for all of my life, I live in country with majority people is moslem. However, so far, I found it is easier than I expected. Coming to Melbourne, I don’t find a city with majority of western people. So many Chinese, Indian, Middle East People even Indonesian. With my style as Moslem woman with hijab, sometimes someone greet me with “Assalamualaikum, Sister” even we don’t know each other. I experienced that in the market with the seller, with bus driver even with stranger passing by. Somehow, it made me feeling safe and happy to be here. My identity as moslem woman unites me even with the people from somewhere I don’t know before.
6. Great and Friendly People
Since first time arrive in this city, I found that most of Melbourne Citizen (The western people live here) are very friendly. The immigration officer is gracious and even greet me with “Selamat Datang di Australia” (literally in Bahasa), the driver who pick up u very first time which is very helpful, the shop keeper and cash register in Supermarket who give their big smile in serving us and always say “How Are You Today ?”, and so many kind people around. Even one of my friend meet some stranger who offered him an umbrella while seeing my friend not bring one in the middle of rain.
So far I experience many interesting things that made me believe that it’s right to award this city as one of The Most Livable City in the World. I have found many good impressions since first time I got here. It is true that there’s no absolutely safe place in this world and I still need to aware and careful living in the foreign country like this. However, for good thing I have felt so far, I believe, I will consider 1.5 years in this city will be very meaningful and valuable for me …
Melbourne, 19 August 2014