Flying to Australia, one very quickly finds themselves in a sort of temporal limbo; three eight-hour stints in the air, broken up only briefly by a one-hour stopover in Dubai and Bangkok, desperately attempting to wind your watch forward while trying, unsuccessfully, to maintain some semblance of composure. After two months living in Sydney, it is undoubtedly the flight here which is the worst thing about Australia. I arrived at 7 a.m. local time and ignored all the many signs pointing me in the direction of those great Sydney landmarks, desperate only to reach my accommodation and have a very long lie down.
Three days later I surfaced, finally ready to explore this city which was to be my home for the next eleven months. My university accommodation is located on the western outskirts of the University of Sydney campus, roughly ninety-minutes’ walk from the Opera House. Of course, having finally shrugged off my extensive jetlag, I opted to walk it. I was not disappointed by my choice; my route took me through suburban Sydney and along the waters edge, all the while with the sight of the city ‘scrapers as the background. My route took me right across Darling Harbour, which despite being full of tourists surprised me by having many reasonably-priced restaurants (the only time I would ever be happily surprised at the price of something here).
After a lunch with a considerable view, I continued walking into the city proper. The scale of Sydney is surprising; as someone who is used to the fairly low-rise buildings of Leeds and Edinburgh, craning my neck at the multitude of skyscrapers around me quickly became irritating. It was also at this point that my Google maps decided that, despite its infinite resources and multi-billion-dollar satellites, I was no longer detectable. After my little blue dot had bounced its way across my screen, informing me that I was simultaneously back in my accommodation and Bangkok airport, I gave it up as a bad job and decided to head deeper into the city – my logic being that the direction that seemed less likely to lead to Circular Quay and the Opera House would be the correct one. I was right. After about twenty more minutes of walking, I suddenly stepped out of the shadows and emerged at Circular Quay. The glassy vista of water, framed by the Harbour Bridge on the left and the Opera House on the right, was a welcome sight after the repetitive concrete of the city. It is amazing how a bit of sunlight and a waterfront immediately makes a city more picturesque; it might be I have got too used to the grim, drizzly nature of Scotland.
This was my first foray into the city of Sydney, and an experience reflective of the entirety of the past two months I have now spent here. Surprises, left right and centre. In the intervening weeks I have made many more friends than I could have expected, spend far more money than I can afford, and enjoyed myself no end. One learns very quickly that this is precisely the Australian way; its not work hard/play hard, but rather work hard in order to play hard. You have to be willing to put in the graft, before you can enjoy yourself. Even though my accommodation is full of mostly international students, here for either a single semester, or like me a year, this attitude seems to have permeated its way throughout.
That the 24-hour flight is but a haze in my memory is testament to the sheer number of things I have done since then; trekking in the Blue Mountains, watching Wallabies vs All Black rugby, surfing at Bondi Beach – and that’s without mentioning the fact that I’m actually supposed to be going to University here. Hopefully I will post something about that in future (although I’m currently planning trips to Tasmania, the Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand, so I doubt it).