Well I have arrived in the beautiful country of Australia. Coming in was vey exciting because I got to see very iconic things like the Opera house and the Sydney harbor bridge. After customs (Which was easy and quick) I got my phone plan and relaxed at the airport for a couple hours while waiting for a train and to check in to my hostel. For those of you thinking about a hostel as a sketchy, run down, unsafe place – this was definitely not that. For as cheap as it was they had very nice facilities and the place was highly populated with many people my age which was comforting. I stayed in a 4 person, shared, female room. Although I didn’t meet my sleep mates until morning before they left. It was two girls from Switzerland just traveling around the world. They were going to New Zealand for the next three weeks. The most interesting part, however, was that they didn’t have an set plan for where they were going and where they were going to stay. I have been so blown away by the culture already. I have met quite a handful of people who graduated high school and are just taking time to travel or do whatever with no specific plan. They just pack a bag and leave home anywhere from 4 months to a year. What a lifestyle!!
After checking in and settling down a little bit I decided to relax for the day because I didn’t feel awake or energized to really see anything. I figured it’d be best to do those things when I could really take in everything and enjoy, so I decided to go to Bondi Beach for the day. It was a recommendation by the people I sat next to on the plane, and the Sydney information booklet. It is a very popular beach that has lots to do like very cheep surfing lessons, swimming, tidal pools, beautiful rocks and outlooks, and many little shops and restaurants just off the beach. I rode
the railway then took a bus and ended up meeting a local Sydney resident who told me a little bit more about the beach and things to do around Sydney and we exchanged contact info for when I come back to Sydney. The public transportation system here is very similar to the subway and buses of New York City. You can purchase an Opal card (the equivalent of a Metrocard) and load it with as much as you want and when you get on and off a railway or bus you tap it on a machine to calculate the fare. This is just one example of how the transition has been easier – Australia, especially big cities, are very westernized. Just like New York City, Sydney has very big buildings (the first thing I saw was the Ernst & Young building just like the one in time square), lots of buses, and people.
After getting off the bus I walked up and down the street just off the beach and found myself in a little restaurant with a nice salad and a glass of beer. Ironically the bartender didn’t even card me, which was almost frustrating because I wanted him to because I am now of age. After eating I went and laid on the beach for a while and then continued to walk along the beach and the rocks that line the little peninsula. On my way back to the bus I stopped for a happy hour drink then headed back to hotel. I found a small shop that had toiletries for very cheap and even bought some perfume as I hadn’t brought any with me. I also found a target like place and went to look for sheets but didn’t find any I liked so I decided to wait for Armidale. Eric and I met for dinner in the lobby and headed to a sushi restaurant for dinner. He had never tried it so I opened him up to the world of Asian cuisine and after we met some of Eric’s friends for drinks at the hostel. These were all people he had met just through the hostel which was nice and it kind of made me feel young and adventurous again. I discovered a new kind of boxed wine called Goon. Apparently its very big here and very cheep. We played “Goon Pong” then headed to the bars and I was finally CARDED!!!!! And of course let in. It was so nice to be able to purchase a drink with no worry of getting in trouble. Anyways we played a round of pool the hit the dance floor. We danced and hung out for about 2-3 hours then headed back. I found the two girls in the room so I slipped into bed and passed out.
This morning Eric and I packed up our bags, met for breakfast in the café downstairs, then hit the train station where we almost missed our train cause Eric didn’t buy a ticket in advance, but we made it. On long trains here there are assigned seats so we of course sat in the wrong ones but were eventually moved to another car where we could sit together. We’re now into hour 4 of our 8 hour journey to Armidale. At least this is a very scenic ride. The country side is absolute gorgeous!! Beautiful terrain, animals, and clear blue skies.
Well that’s all I have to say about my activities, but at this point I would like to let you all in on some very interesting things I’ve learned about Australian culture.
- They do not tip in Australia unless it’s great service as more of a reward instead of a courtesy.
- There are so many Asian people in Australia… way more than I would have ever expected.
- People drive on the left side of the road.
- The steering wheel is on the right side of a car.
- Traveling without a plan is a totally normal thing.
- Meeting other people in a hostel is a very open and normal thing.
- Staying in a hostel is a very normal thing – Even families do it.
- People don’t say sorry for little things, like cutting in front of someone. Not because theyre being rude but because nobody really cares and its not a big deal.
- Pedestrians do not know how to J-walk – people looked at me like I had 3 heads when I walked across the street with a green light and in between cars.
- Everyone here (at least in Sydney) is seriously nice and genuine.
- The money here is very similar to the Euro with coins and paper money as big denominations of cash.
- Public transport is easy and similar to that of NYC
- Tim Tams (chocolate wafer kind of things and its known as an Australian thing) are very good, but I haven’t tried veggiemite yet.
- Cheers is the in thing.
- One cannot walk out of a store with alcohol past 10
- One cannot enter another bar after 1:30 am. This means you can stay at a bar until whatever time, but you can’t hop around or go someplace new after 1:30am.
- Even security guards at clubs and bars are super chill. Even train conductors who left a minute or two late to make sure Eric and I got on the train (and they weren’t even pissy about it)
- Aussie is pronounced Oz-zy.
- New slang includes cheers, Rubbish, the Luo, mate, good fun, and other proper language
- Official times are in army time but nobody talks about it like that. For example, if its 5:00 they will say 5:00 instead of 1700 hours.
- Stay away from swamps beause that means there are frogs which means that there are snakes that will bite and poison you.
- Take a tour with a guide who knows nature because there are lots of plants that are poisonous as well.
- Skydiving is still amazing.
- Coles is the Australian “Target”.
Well that’s all for now folks. Till tomorrow when you get to hear about my first experiences at UNE