It has been two weeks in Sydney, the place I have come to make into my home. The ride from the airport to my housing was quite entertaining. The 20 of us were drowning under bags until our arrival at Urbanest. My room is very nice. I have 5 flatmates, 4 of which were in my program and 2 I had roomed with in Cairns. The walk to school is about 30 minutes, but a little walking never hurt anyone. It is just different from my home campus at Chapman where I could roll out of bed and be to class in 5 minutes. I set right off to unpacking all of my things which took a substantial amount of time. When my first full day commenced in the city, it was straight off to tasks. I decided to open up a bank account with Commonwealth, one of the biggest banks in Australia to avoid the constant transaction charges provided by the lovely Wells Fargo.
I live in a sub region of Sydney called Haymarket, right next to Darling Harbour. It is a quaint area filled with precious restaurants on Cockle Wharf Bay and a place I have gone on a couple of relaxing walks around. Something new always pops out at me as a reminder to keep my eyes open. Paddy’s Market in Market City is a block down the street and an amazing display of the fresh produce provided by local farmers. It is also a bit cheaper than most other places here. A dozen eggs is $8 elsewhere, and I got some for $2.50. I believe I will get all my fruits and vegetables here for the remainder of my stay.
Speaking of food, I checked off almost everything from my Aussie Taste Testing Bucketlist. I completely my first Tim Tam Slam at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar, had my first meat pie at Harry’s famous Café de Wheels, tried the yeast-infested spread Vegemite and dined at Bill’s restaurant for a taste of his famous ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter. This is where all my research payed off. The Tim Tam Slam was amazing! Tim Tam’s are these Australian biscuits (cookies) that come in so many flavors that it is almost overwhelming. I have tried dark chocolate, original, white chocolate, honeycomb, double coated, carmel and white chocolate filled. To do a slam, I bit off the ends and sucked out the inner chocolate layer through a hot chocolate (aka pure awesome). I had a tiger pie at Harry’s which was absolutely amazing. It had mashed potato and peas on top and was filled with beef in a yummy sauce. It kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving. Bill’s hotcakes were to die for, probably the best thing I have put in my mouth, EVER. Aussie’s have an obsession for their BBQ’s. They consist of sausage on a slice of bread and some tomato sauce (ketchup) or bbq sauce. I have had my fair share.
The beginning of my first full week was O-week. A week of becoming orientated to uni life and accustoming myself to my new surrounding of the gorgeous campus I was soon to attend. All International students were greeted in the Great Hall, a magnificent building. During orientation, they named off countries and students attending would make some noise to represent their country. The U.S. had the most students for sure. There was also an aboriginal dance, only in Australia. After that we explored he campus. I love our Quadrangle. It is a glorious green space in the middle of a statuesque building that kind of looks like Hogwarts. I felt like such a tiny fish in a huge ocean. The campus is ten times bigger than my campus at home, but that is exactly what I wanted, something different and to go out of my comfort zone. The rest of the week was all about joining clubs and getting involved. I chose to join Bushwalkers club in order to have some more opportunities to meet people and explore Australia and the Wildlife Society to be able to volunteer with animals. There was a speed dating event to get to know other students and it was quite interesting. I got to know some pretty cool people and they all pointed out my accent.
I finally ventured on over to the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They were two landmarks I had been picturing for so long and it was so surreal to actually be there. I didn’t realize how close they were to each other either. When I touched the massive, sparkling sails of the Opera House I definitely got way too excited and had a moment of feeling completely connected to Australian culture. My Sunday night consisted of doing laundry for the first time since I had been here ($6 per load) and watching “She’s the Man” in the entertainment room of my apartment building with friends. It was comforting to watch a movie I had seen so many times at home. After a cozy night, it was straight into my first week of classes as university.