Christmas in Melbourne (Australia) felt really foreign to us New Englanders. It was quite strange to see Christmas decorations up, with leaves on the trees and 80° weather rather than snow, ice and cold.
It yielded a number of other things that were foreign to us as well. At first, was the feeling of whether we were both really speaking the same language. Cuppa (oh, you mean a cup of tea), brekkie (oh sure, I’d like breakfast), flat white (coffee) and on it went. And of course driving on the other side of the road including the infamous Melbourne hook-turn where when you turn right from the far left hand lane across 4-6 lanes of traffic plus the tram line your life flashes before your eyes. Seriously, with all your driving rules this crazy turn is legal?
One of the most foreign things was feeling like there are things everywhere that could kill you – having been warned about poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders, jelly fish, etc., I walked very carefully every where I went. I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the landscape and the bounty of flowering trees (I was also surprised to discover when putting my nose to the gorgeous, large flowers that most were unscented). The gum trees were unusual to us too, leaving piles of shredded bark below their naked trunks; with the volatile oils in them it is no wonder they have massive bush fires.
A delightful difference we noticed was that over the course of several trips into the city we did not see any people who looked obviously homeless. It seems that the Aussies believe that people belong housed and not living on the streets especially children and their families, a value I wish we would adopt here.