Bye Bye Sydney!
Today is Friday, June 14th. Tomorrow will mark the two-week anniversary of our arrival in Sydney, and we are already leaving. I am writing to you from the airport terminal at 5:30am, in a slight fog from lack of sleep and pre-flight stress. We are only really leaving for the weekend, to see the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, however these two weeks in Sydney have already been a whirlwind. I arrived here with two other Northeastern students and we have spent every spare minute seeing a new part of Sydney. From the Fish Markets, the Opera House, hiking the Blue Mountains, the Botanical Gardens, and the Glebe Markets, we have been going non-stop.
Lucky for us, right now we only take one class and it only meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That leaves us plenty of room for day trips, weekend trips, and evening adventures. One place that has managed to capture our attention and draw us back time after time is VIVID, a festival put on once a year by the city of Sydney. It goes on for about a month, and we got here just in time. The entire city comes to life every night, particularly around Sydney’s many harbors. The food markets are a great spot to eat and offer everything from Turkish Gozleme and French fudge, German stroopwaffles and Spanish Paella.
On our first full day here, we decided to do a bus tour to get a feel for the city, and it was definitely a good choice. The tour guide gave us tips we would have never known otherwise, such as the fact that all public transportation is only $2.70 on Sundays, even for the ferries which can get up to $15 round trip. Also, we learned that instead of paying for an expensive harbor cruise to see VIVID at night, we could simply take the ferry (for a total of $2.70) and see the lights just as well after a short trip to Manly beach, on the other side of Sydney.
Deciding to take this tip, we hopped on the ferry to Manly. The adorable beach town was worth a trip on its own, but what we were truly entranced by was the ferry ride back to Sydney Harbor. As the ferry approached, the lights flashing in the distance grew brighter and clearer. The sky was illuminated with pinks, purples, greens and blues. The water with filled with brightly lit boats blasting music. The Opera House shown bright with vivid (pun intended) and ever changing designs. I felt like a kid seeing Disney World for the first time. I was captivated by the beauty, the music, the sense of welcome. It was truly the best way to be introduced to Sydney.
The most important thing I’ve learned so far, is talk to people. Talk to locals, talk to friends, talk to anyone who will listen. Unsurprisingly, people love talking about their experiences abroad, so before I left I asked anyone who had been to Sydney what their favorite part was, what tips they had, where they stayed and for how long. I was lucky to meet a few girls who had done NUin Sydney that previous semester, and just by asking a few simple questions they gave me tons of suggestions of their favorite things as former locals. Once here, we talked to as many receptionists, tour guides, and random people and got some great advice. Without their help we likely would not have done some of our favorite things. It has made me feel that even 10,000 miles from home, I still have people supporting me and helping me find my way, all I have to do is ask.