Monday, February 26, 2007

I Still Can't Believe that I am HERE

Sometimes during the day I have to stop to remind myself that I am in Sydney. It is truly a fortunate experience to be here right now.

Thankfully I came with four awesome people. I was a little skeptical coming into this trip whether we would all be close and whether I would actually hang out with all of them. All four of them have made the first week in Sydney an easier adjustment. I have met some kids who have come to University of Sydney by themselves, and from my own memories of going to University of Miami freshmen year, it can be a bit hard making friends in a new environment.

I get to experience summer twice this year. It is currently a sweet 70s, 80 degree sunny summer weather, and when I get back to Boston it will be an enjoyable July/August climate. We have made our way to a couple beaches in Sydney, Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. They were both beautiful. The lifestyle here is very similar to California's laid back beach mentality. Our journey to Bondi Beach took a bit of patience, one of the kids that came with us from the NU program loves to walk and refuses to ask for directions, we walked the entire 2 mile something up and down trek to the beach. While there was a cheap $1.70 bus ride that drops beach addicts right in front of the sand. Though I have found that walking does allow a lot more exploration of the town as opposed to other forms of transportation.

This past Friday night I got to enjoy a four hour harbor cruise. I saw the Sydney Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Skyline from the boat. This water excursion was provided by the school, which brought together all the international students at the University of Sydney. Saturday morning, three other NU students and I decided to take advantage of a wine and dolphin getaway to Newcastle. We got to visit three wineries. I have never got to go wine tasting or been to a vineyard before. Each winery was unique to themselves. The first one was a more relaxed place where we placed our elbows on sticky wooden tables and chairs sipping on coffee and chocolate liquors. The second a posh winery had terrible acoustics where we could barely hear the wine leader speak of delicious wines with hints of sparkling frizzante. The last winery was a self owned grape processor, the owner was the one telling us about his wine. He kept on making fun of Americans, he didn't seem to enjoy our loud ways. The next day of the weekend trip was a 2 hour boat trip out of Port Stephens to see some dolphins. It was great to see Flipper in its natural habitat, undisturbed by SeaWorld. We attempted to go sand surfing, but the sand was too wet from scattered rain showers. It was still nice to get to run up a steep sand pile, what a workout.

I have been here a week and it seriously feels like a month. I am glad that I still have four more months to explore this amazing country. I have yet to see the bridge, the opera house, or other signature Australian sights up close and personal. I still have to muster up the courage to venture into the city by myself for a nice walk. I was told that you always see something you wouldn't if you were traveling with a group of people.

My friend came to Sydney last semester thought the NU program. I asked her if she found any culture shock, she said that it was very similar to the US. Although there are many things that make the two nations alike, I have found the two countries two separate places from each other, that is why one is called the United States and one is called Australia. Even twins have two distinct personalities. We all have come so close to our death beds from not looking to the right when crossing the streets. Each time a car passes me I am bewildered as to why the "driver" is not steering his or her wheel. The English here alone is something to get use to. They use cutlery for utensils and notes for paper money. Sometimes I have no idea what Australians are saying. I nod my head in agreement, so I will not look like a fool. During orientation there were two sessions dedicated to teaching us international students the basis of the Australian dialect and the Australian slang. I am still working G'day, Cheers Mate, and No Worries into my speech.

Till next time make sure you laugh a little.