I began my journey from Jacksonville, Fl where I departed at 7:30 PM on the 4th of July. The previous few days had me feverishly packing a suitcase I bought 2 days before my flight and taking care of all the little things that needed my attention before leaving for 5 whole months. My girlfriend, Haley, was kind enough to aid me in packing and sorting myself out before departure. We took a few pics of my family and I by our doorstep a few hours out, drove off to dinner, and I said my goodbyes in the airport. After hopping on the plane to Houston then writing my previous post, my name was called over the intercom in the Houston airport saying I needed to board my flight, whoops! (I still had 20 minutes until takeoff, so it wasn’t all that bad 👌)
Boarding that plane really was kind of like stepping into a time machine. The next time I was to step off would be 2 days later on the other side of the planet. It was an 18 hour plane flight and with Sydney being 14 hours ahead, I left on Wednesday and arrived Friday morning; it was the longest night ever, literally! I sat next to two native Aussies who were visiting family in Texas and I had a ball getting used to their accents and comparing the different lingo our two countries commonly used. The food was actually pretty appetizing and despite only being able to get two hours of sleep, the flight went by pretty quick with a book and some movies. Before I knew it, I could see the sunrise out the window over the vast Pacific Ocean and about an hour later, we made touch down in Sydney. The gentlemen I was sitting with were even kind enough to give me the window seat for the last hour despite being assigned one in the aisle.
It was nothing short of a relief to step into the airport, but I was also a bit disoriented since I had been up for many hours and it felt like it was sunset not sunrise. It was July 6th now (kinda just… skipped Thursday), and my first order of business was to run straight to the nearest restroom to be relieved and check the famous conception that the toilets spin the other way. I was underwhelmed to see it just went down, no rotation at all, ha! After getting currency exchanged and getting a surprisingly amazing phone plan deal, it was time to find my way to the hostel.
But before that, let me just express how much I love the currency in Australia. It is delightful to look at, it is waterproof, tear proof, has clear bits, is super secure, AND, most importantly, if you make a log-log graph of the value of the currency versus its volume, it has the most accurate best fit line out of ANY currency in the world #mathFTW. Anyways, as I was saying: Uber was the go-to and after a bit of confusion, since my phone was still figuring out how to be a phone again, I found my driver, who turned out to be from Sudan, pretty sweet. He wasn’t too talkative which was fine since I was enjoying the view from the LEFT side of the car. I felt like I was in a self-driving vehicle! I had to pay a way overpriced fee unfortunately, but hey… at least I got there, right?
I was in a strange state of being, not tired but not really awake; my body just felt confused. After checking into the hostel I went to my room to find 5 girls in the middle of it; I was confused since I didn’t really know how hostels operated, so I just plopped my things down in a nearby corner since there wouldn’t be a bed available until 2pm (it was 9am at this point). I probably would have just fallen asleep somewhere had the hostel not been awesome and offered a free walking tour around Sydney. This motivated me to keep on going. A group of people gathered in the lobby and we went out for a tour around the city. I met Sarah who studies at Harvard and we just kinda stuck together for the tour since we both didn’t know anyone. We saw gardens, a huge cathedral, city life, china town, and the highlight: Sydney harbor and the opera house. It was nothing short of surreal to see it for the first time. Being the incredibly famous structure that it is, it just felt magical to see it with my own eyes. I had a tasty lunch at the “Opera Bar” which is located, you guessed it, right next to the Opera house. There was such an absurd amount of seagulls trying to steal a bite of our food since it was an outdoor restaurant that the staff provides little cages to cover your dish with when you’re not eating it.
After quite a bit of walking, I retired to my room where I surely would have fallen asleep had it not been for some loud people speaking German. I’m really glad they were though because I would have fallen asleep and been messed up even more. I met some lovely mates, including Nina from Austria and Gregor from Germany. I had to do homework for an online class, but afterwards I met them in the kitchen where they were kind enough to share dinner with me. We then ended up playing a card game called “wizard” in the room. It was lots of fun, especially just meeting the new people and not being totally by myself. There were 8 of us to a room. I think I fell asleep in a record .71828 seconds that night.
I slept in quite a bit and had a slow start to the day. Once I eventually got up, Nina, Gregor, and I went to the train station where I got myself an Opal transport card and was able to ride the public transport. It was really fun riding it through town. We went to the opera house and admired the harbor bridge for a bit before wandering around the nearby gardens and then a free museum. My favorite part of the museum was the aboriginal art since it was a medium I had never seen before and it was native to Australia. By this time our stomachs were growling at us, so after dropping off Gregor at the hostel since he wanted to sleep, Nina and I went to Chinatown to check out the market and then got food at a vendor. I tried a dish of laksa which is a type of noodle with vegetables, creamy broth, and chicken; super delicious! I had a great time with Nina as we got to know one another a bit more and spend some time together. We eventually made our way back to the hostel where I got to meet Rob. The program I’m supposed to be with in Sydney is Semester in Australia or SiA; I arrived a bit early so was on my own for a couple days, but Rob is one of the coordinators, so it was a pleasure to meet him. Like the night before, we all played wizard again, shared stories, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. My first few days settling into Australia were off to a fantastic start and I only had more to look forward to in the coming days! Life down under was looking pretty sweet for someone from the land up over. 🙂