I've lived in Australia all my life. Even having moved around quite a lot, I'm used to things having a reliable price-range that I can work around and a stable ratio between one item and another. With the exception of seasonal fruits and cryptocurrencies, things generally retain a relative value.
Cue American pricing. High school econ taught me that consumers are supposed to actively choose, but the reality of it has been drastically different for me since I got here. That relative value I've been relying on just doesn't seem to apply here. I set myself up with a spare week in New York prior to orientation at GW, and was shocked to find that things just didn't line up at all—a food cart avocado can be $1, with the cheapest tortilla chips costing $4. I had no idea I was coming to a country where I can load up on guac but have to be stingy with the chips.
I got this platter for $5 in New York―one block from where CVS charges $3 for a pint of milk
Australian supermarkets vary in price, but this is on another level. People will literally charge you double what the store down the road is charging like it’s nothing. If we had that, there'd be a city-wide run on one chain until the other had closed down or conceded to within ~10% of the competitors' price—and they'd have to beat them on something else to stay in business. It was this variance that led most of us to Walmart; a decision I’m still on the fence about.
Having been to big-box stores throughout Australia I thought I knew what to expect, but their designers’ ability to construct lanes a half-inch wider than their trolleys is a piece of cost-cutting design that still makes me shiver. It didn’t help that we went a few days before start of semester, so basically every essential homewares item was sold out—culminating in some questionable communal cutlery calls.
Something needs to be done about the spoon-to-bowl ratio
Putting that aside, O week has been extremely positive. The ExO leaders and the exchange staff each had useful stuff to bring to the table, so I didn’t resent the daily meetings. Gotta say we probably didn’t need an hour-long summary of every food option on campus though, particularly when the conclusion was “people like different food”.
Presentations and orientation are a necessary evil, and I’m glad we had an organised group to run it. The painful parts weren’t the fault of GW; The guy serving me at BOA definitely had a sly grin as he signed me up. The best parts were also particularly notable. This is a spectacularly aesthetic city; it seems like any picture taken on the mall comes out great by default.
O week presentations are the gift that keeps on giving
Here’s to Syllabus week...