5. Introduction to Sydney
An introduction to my life in Sydney and some highlights from the first 3 months of my year abroad. Views to make your mouth water and beaches galore: WARNING: Side effects may include insane jealousy!So I'm sitting on a rock, overlooking a bay, as the sun goes down while I write this, pretty idyllic. I think my mum and friends from home think that my life here resembles a long, continuous thread of similar perfect, Australian experiences on account of what I excitedly babble down the phone at them whenever we talk: and they wouldn't be far off! None the less this month has presented some challenges, firstly I had to move house much earlier than expected and, as discovered, finding a suitable student room in Sydney is easier said than done. Secondly I have had to deal with two large dental emergencies, which involved a lot of pain and endless expensive phone conversations with British insurance firms which left me with a whole new appreciation for how good we have it with the NHS! It is easily underestimated how unbelievably complicated it is to solve problems like this from the other side of the world/without mum to solve it for you! Nevertheless, the teeth are in the process of being fixed and I have now moved in with my Australian friend Millie for the rest of term. Millie is an absolute gem and our friendship is the result of my very first, very brave move to talk to someone in a lecture! God knows why she gave me the time of day as my first line was "it's very cold in here." Anyway, I am so glad that she did as we are now very close friends. So, Millie and her parents Dale and Michael have very generously let me share their house with them for the next 6 weeks. The house is in a beautiful area called Balmain, with it's leafy streets, mis-matched coloured houses and more independent bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at; I think it may be my favourite suburb of Sydney! And if you can believe it, I still have a view of the harbour bridge from my room!
I think it's probably time to talk about the real reason that I am here, whilst pool parties on roofs and trips up the coast are perks, my main purpose for this year is to attend the University of Sydney. My study abroad institution of choice was definitely the right decision. I love everything about the Uni from the adjoining beauty of Victoria park with its lakes and Palm trees (also the location of my gym and outdoor swimming pool!) to the impressive quadrangle modelled on Oxbridge colleges. The Uni is very much a campus style with everything in a hub like Exeter, rather than spread out like many city universities. Whilst the campus set-up means you get a proper student community vibe, the Uni is actually very central and has stunning views into the CBD. It is easy to get to Uni wherever your staying in the city, it takes 5 minutes on bus from central station and is a 5 min walk from Redfern station which runs central line trains. The surrounding suburbs are also awesome, Glebe and Newtown are two of my favourite areas of Sydney. Both arty and quirky, Glebe contains some of the coolest cafes and restaurants in Sydney - a new favourite of mine is Saphos - a second hand book store/aladdin's cave which opens up into a fairy-lit courtyard that serves tapas out back. Newtown has a different vibe, it is weird and wonderful. It's closest British comparison being Camden, Newtown is always buzzing, it has some great bars, amazing shopping and about 100 Thai restaurants. This is also the location of the office in which I have interned this term at the Nature Conservation Council. In terms of Uni life and academia I find it strikingly similar to the UK system: from which it very clearly gets its template. This is great because it means I have slipped quite happily into the swing of things. I also find that the level of teaching is very high which I appreciate. There is always a great vibe around Uni, the students - like in Exeter I have to say! - always seem very happy. On a sunny day everyone sits out on the many lawns in the centre of campus and the central cafe - Taste - is always brimming with people sitting outside and having a coffee (or afternoon beer) with friends.
I have also recently had a couple of adventures outside of Sydney, one down the coast to visit my best friend in the world Kate, and one up the coast with the girls to the idyllic Port Stephens. I have far too much to say about these trips for this blog and a lot of video footage so I will save that for another day! I think I have written enough for this post, but I know I can't even begin to do justice to this experience. Life in Sydney continues to be a dream. No doubt I will have plenty more to blast about next time, so for now, if you'll excuse me I have to go pack my shorts and bikini for a weekends festival up the coast... Mumford and Sons IN the sun, yes please!