It is the fifth week of my program and it seems like every day I have a moment of realization that I am in Sydney. Each day I constantly remind myself to take a step back and appreciate my surroundings. Because I am mostly around CAPA students who are also American, it doesn’t truly seem as though I am that far away from home.
I have also grown more accustomed to living in Sydney. My weekly routine helped me become more comfortable with the area and organize my time. I especially became very familiar with the streets surrounding Pyrmont and Ultimo because of having to walk these streets to get to either my classes or my internship five times out of the week. Navigating public transport is also becoming easier in that I can easily use my phone to tell me which train, trolley, bus, or ferry to take.
I also am becoming more familiar with my colleagues at Espresso Communications. The agency has a small staff and an open office space making it very convenient to talk and see everyone. I am more confident in the work that I am performing, however, one area in which I am still anxious about is answering the phones. It is quite difficult for me to completely understand people with the Aussie accent. Hopefully, I will be accustomed to the accent soon enough!
Although very minimal, some moments in which I have experienced culture shock is with the service in restaurants and how Aussie’s live their life in general. Servers at restaurants are paid a reasonable salary which is why tipping is not required but recommended. Due to this, the service is much slower in terms of bringing back the check and replenishing the main water pitcher compared to back home. I also was surprised to see the large number of smokers even with a pack of cigarettes costing on average $25-30 AUD. Another concept that took me a while to get used to was how people are supposed to walk on the left side of the walkway. Especially on escalators in which the right side is meant for people to pass. The slang is also very interesting in that Aussie’s love to shorten words, such as arvo for afternoon, Macca’s for McDonalds, and biccy for biscuit.
The three biggest takeaways from the first part of my study abroad experience are (1) to make sure to take time for yourself and to not feel pressured to always be exploring, (2) go out of your comfort zone and try new experiences, (3) continuously appreciate where you are because time goes by fast.
I am going to delve a little deeper into these three takeaways. Sometimes I would feel pressure within myself to always want to take part in exploring with my friends, but I realized that it is okay to travel on my own. Because I became more comfortable with navigating the city by myself, I had no trouble in enjoying the time alone. There are a lot of new things that I come across that I don’t usually see in America, such as how Australia is known for their meat pies. I bought a beef and mashed potato one and it was absolutely delicious! My third takeaway goes along with most events in our life, however, it is always good to remind myself to appreciate every moment because I am almost halfway done with the program.
Unfortunately, I am coming under a cold, but hopefully will get better before I leave for spring break very shortly!