As one might expect adjusting to a new living space has come with some challenges. Especially since living in Sydney is a lot different from the US and housing expectations vary from what I’m used to.
Where we stay – BreakFree on George – has double rooms that are a bit smaller than what I’m used to living in and smaller than most of us were anticipating. However for Australia and especially for the central business district it’s located in, I believe the accomodations were quite normal. So despite being a glorified hotel, it is probably fairly representative of what a more affordable student accommodation in the area would be like. In Sydney, most university students commute to their schools because of high city housing costs so it’s hard to say for sure since I don’t have much to compare it to.
BreakFree is located in Haymarket on George Street, which is a major street in the central business district or downtown area of the city. This central location means easy public transport access to every part of the city which is important if you want to maximize your time. It is also a very manageable walk to the CAPA center where we take classes and has a lot of shopping and cafes surrounding it.
Our room consists of two twin beds, a sofa, and a desk for working at. We have a balcony which is a really nice feature and there’s a small kitchen. I recommend taking advantage of this because food in Sydney is quite expensive and saving money on food helps you spend it on experiences. There are two grocery stores within a five minute walk from the hotel so it’s easy to keep fresh ingredients on hand.
In terms of time spent at our housing, the obvious first question is how’s the wifi? It’s quite abysmal. Or at least it was, but CAPA told them to deal with it and surprisingly they did and it was up to US standards within a few days. So that’s good.
I don’t spend a lot of time at BreakFree because I’m always so busy living life, but it’s nice when I am there. I have an amazing roommate from Pitt that I get along with well and we have similar schedules. The main day to day irritation of BreakFree is that you have to swipe your card in the elevator to select your floor and for security reasons, your key card only gives you access to your floor. Since not all of us are housed on the same floor, this is annoying when we wanted to hang out, especially since taking the stairs in Australia constitutes an offence for tampering with a fire exit. We’re making it through though.
I think in the long run BreakFree is a totally adequate venue for the amount of time we’re spending here. If we were there for longer it would be a little bit difficult to maintain a healthy and sustainable lifestyle since the kitchen is mostly just a countertop with a built-in stove and there isn’t much extra room to keep your belongings. I think if I’d been there for a whole semester it would have been tough. However for a 7 week program, it gives us amazing access to the key points of the city and is at the heart of a bustling historic section of town so I am quite content. After all, the point of being abroad is to be out and about not sit in your room watching Netflix.