Submitted by Meg Bauer-Abroad101’s Global Ambassador on the Gold Coast
Before I left, I got $200 Australian dollars from AAA. I only ended up paying about $230 American dollars since the exchange rate is so close. It cost me $12 to convert the money. I planned on using my debit card for pretty much everything anyways. It’s good because my bank doesn’t charge me international fees every time I use it. Thank you, Citizens Bank!! The only thing I pay is the exchange rate. For example, I bought a shirt for $12 here, and it ended up being $12.67 due to the exchange rate. I decided not to open up a bank here, because I’m only here for about five months, and I figured that would be too much hassle.
My first time I went to the store, I was in complete sticker shock. Everything is so expensive here!! I didn’t pack any of the essentials like shampoo or toothpaste, because I figured I could just buy them at here. That was a mistake. The same exact shampoo I have at home is $5 there, but it’s $15 here!!
I usually spend a lot of time finding sales at this super market, called IGA. A week’s worth of groceries costs you at least $25, and that’s not counting extras like shampoo, toothpaste, snacks, cleaning products, etc. That $25 means you bought things on sale. I, personally, only buy things on sale. So I never know what I’ll be making for dinner until I buy something on sale. I normally buy bread for toast in the morning, veggies/fruits (whatever kind is on sale), and noodles. I can’t make big intensive meals because it’d be way too expensive to do that. My diet here is pretty boring. I normally eat a lot of soup in the US. I figured that’s what I’d eat here too. A can of Campbell’s soup is about $3.50. I can get the same can in the US for $2 at most. Also, I thought fruits and veggies would be way cheaper here considering it’s warm all the time. I was wrong. Fruits and veggies are actually more expensive here than in the US.
A night out can also be pretty expensive. First is the taxi, which can be cheap or expensive, depending on how many people you have. If you can fill a taxi, it might only be $2 a person each way. Every pub has a cover charge too. It’s usually $5 or $10. Drinks at the bar are also expensive. Oh, and drinks are smaller here. A mixed drink can range anywhere from $5 to $15. You can get a pitcher of cheap beer for $10, during happy hour specials. At the Bottle-o or liquor store, alcohol is also very expensive. You can get cheap boxed-wine like goon for $15, and you get at least 10 drinks out of it. One good thing is that a lot of pubs have ladies night, which means free entry for ladies. I take full advantage of those nights.
After a night out, of course you’re going to want food. There’s a lot of little food places open in the wee hours of the morning to get food. An Australian kebab is $10. An Australian meat pie is around $6. Both are delicious and worth getting after a night out.
I know my bank account is declining each day, but I’ve been saving up for this experience for a long time now, so it’s worth every penny.