time for my blog to catch up with me - the past two weeks in a few words:
St. Paddy’s with UWO friends. Sexpo. A newfound obsession with markets. Lovely weather making it hard to study. Miss you. Booked New Zealand. Best meal ever with Paul and Brit at Ms. G’s. Healthy eating. In love with Bondi. Homesick day. Bought a surfboard. Open bar. World Bar drinking out of teapots. Visit from Ryan and Cory. Took a tumble. Aquarium. Manly Beach. Hunger Games.
Thursday evening I hopped a plane to Melbourne. Not long after I was thrown into a dress and taken out by some Western ladies. Before I had left London, I met up with a girl Sam, who I had mutual friends with that told me she’d also be heading to Aus on exchange. So we met up at the Spoke and said we’d meet up once we were there. We’ve skyped a couple times in between about our experiences and by the time I got to Melbourne I felt like I knew her so well…we laughed when we realized it was the first time we were hanging out. I guess when you share such a similar experience with such few people you can really connect with those few people. These girls were great - the Western Kin program puts 5 people up in a house that they own in Melbourne each semester, so they have a sweet setup. They took me in for Thursday night and Friday night before Paul arrived, and took me around town. Friday, Sam and I went to St. Kilda, the coastal part of Melbourne with some shops and a beautiful pier lined with fishermen and cute little sailboats. We ate lunch on a patio overlooking the beach and got ice cream before heading back and hanging out for the night.
Saturday, we walked around the city and I got a better taste of what downtown Melbourne was like. There was a festival going on called Moomba, filled with carnival events and stands, and waterskiing competitions down the river. We kept walking and the girls took me to a place called Degraves street, which was basically and alleyway that was bustling with boutiques, cafes and restaurants! I loved this concept, and soon realized that there were these little artsy alleyways everywhere.
Artsy. If I had one word to describe Melbourne, that would be it. There was definitely a particular culture about this place. Everyone was so trendy, the architecture was really unique and modern while gorgeous older buildings still lingered. Old-style looking trams served as public transit. We saw the parliment building, some great malls and shops, the Victoria State Library, Federation Square, got a little lost and saw some great sights finding our way back. I soon realized that Melbourne was pretty compact and easy to maneuver (maybe its the use of all of those alleyways?), so much that I felt almost like I knew the streets better than big Syd’s!
Paul and Brit arrived that evening and I was ecstatic. To get to see a little bit of home was so comforting when I’m so far away from everything else. Paul’s friend took us to a great dumpling spot that was packed - definitely a local favorite because it was hidden in another alleyway that I’m sure no tourist would just stumple upon. We soon found out why it was so busy after tasting the food. Mm. He took us down the same alleyway to a bar called Section 8. It was an outdoor patio where you ordered drinks from a train container that was turned into a bar? So cool. Paul was immediately in heaven when he heard funk playing and our plans changed from going back to his place to staying at this bar until it was time to head to his own show.
We had a good time at his show that evening at a club called YoYo’s. They treated us well with drinks and dessert shots and giving us a VIP room that resembled an aquarium after Paul’s set.
The next day I brought them to Degraves St, where we ate a hefty lunch and afterwards did a bit of sightseeing and shopping. Paul’s friend invited us to a rooftop patio nearby so we ventured there for the most delicious sangria. There were so many people up there for a Sunday afternoon, hanging out drinking to music and a barbeque. It reminded me of the Sunday Sessions in Byron Bay..Ozzies seem to love their Sundays and kick back in a whole different way than we’re accustomed to. I like it.
Brit and I continued with some wine at the apartment they were staying at while Paul went to set up for Bastid’s BBQ. We met him their later at a bar called Laundry Bar; a less clubby, more artsy venue than the night before. Sam and Clare showed up and while we were enjoying so BBQ, so did the Trailer Park Boys? I guess they just arrived in Melbourne for an Oz tour and Paul rung them up to let them know he was here too. East coasters unite - it was a hilarious night, and Paul’s set was too awesome.
I was torn to be leaving the next day. This trip had been so easy; such a laid back, cool city, fam and friends from home, and good weather. But overall I just felt really lucky. Paul, Brit and I stopped in at a cafe for breakfast and strolled Chapel St. before I was on my way back to Sydney.
I left feeling so happy, so spoiled (thanks bro :)) and so thankful! I’m definitely going to try and get back to Melbourne before I leave, to check out the Great Ocean Road and enjoy the city once again.
AH. House hunting + o-week + exchange student festivities + living on a beach = no time to actually write down what I’ve been up to. My attempt to recap it all:
First week in Sydney
Not a fan of this week. I got back from what was one of the best months of my life and suddenly I was homeless, had a timetable to sort out, a huge foreign city to figure out, and a massive campus to run around. The worst part was definitely house hunting. For one, a lot of students had already cleaned up what was available, and also I had to accept that Sydney is deemed the 3rd most expensive city to live in. They weren’t lying. For what you would pay to get one of the nicest student apartments in London, I was shown a place that was the size of my room on Huron, with two beds, and the kitchen all in the same room. I swear you would probably hit the end of the bed if you were to open the fridge. As if that wasn’t bad enough, It was in a complex of similar rooms which with you shared a common bathroom and shower. That would be about ten people! That was definitely a discouraging showing. After stumbling upon some other pretty disappointing places, I finally found one in Bondi Beach that was clean, bright, and although small, I had seen so many places at the same price that were crap that I had to jump on it. And its RIGHT on the beach..a little dream come true for a beach bum such as I. So after a pretty lonely, overwhelming week, I was thrilled to settle into a place and meet some other students.
O-week and Classes
Orientation for exchange students was on the Friday before O-week, where we got a very interesting aboriginal presentation and some info on our new uni. While I expected it to be mostly about academics, a good portion of the orientation was about where were the best spots to surf, what the best bars are and where to travel during the school year. Useful I’d say. That weekend we enjoyed fireworks on Darling Harbour (every Saturday!), and meeting some other exchange students at thebars down there.
Monday was my first day of classes, but for some reason or another only one of my courses started this week. So I went to my first ever Ozzie lecture, and then was off to the beach with my roommate and his friends for the day. The classes I’m taking are: Molecular Bio of Nucleic Acids, Concepts of Physical Activity & Health, the Marine Environment and Introductory Italian (lol). I have Wednesdays and Fridays off class, and about half the amount of class hours that I’m used to; overall, Ifeel like it will be a pretty light semester FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE.
Bondi Beach is awesome. I’m so glad to have ended up here. Its a strip of apartments, shops, restaurants, cafes and bars all along the beach, and being a pretty famous beach, it seems like a lot goes on here. The first day I moved in there was a Vans skate competition going on at the skate park I can see from my window - the place was bumpin. Loud music, beautiful weather..I’ve never seen a beach so packed!
Tuesday was when the shenanigans began. We went out to a place called the Coogee Bay hotel for some beers and live music with some other exchange students, where we all planned to go on the exchange student booze cruise the next night. It cruised the Sydney Harbour so we got a really cool view of the Opera House, and the company that ran the boat had some pretty hilarious competitions to win daytrips, skydives, and bar tabs. Unfortunately since about 90% of the exchange students are from the US, they kept calling out for people from certain states to participate. Cmonnnn. We headed to an afterparty at a place called Scary Canary, a backpackers bar downtown.
Thursday was a beach party at the uni bar, and Friday we headed out to a house party in Bondi and then a bar really close to our place. I met some really fun people in the apartment building next to us through my roommate Isaac - some from Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Norway and the Netherlands.
Sydney’s Mardi Gras is a huge gay pride festival that happens each year, and we were told at our orientation that the city goes all out for it. Saturday morning we all hit up the nearest dollar store and got the necessities - glitter, masks, boas, and the boys all picked a flamboyant theme. By 2pm we were full of glitter, the guys looked outrageous, and we were getting goon into our system with plans to head to the infamous parade. When we got there it was messy in more ways than one - rain, stumbles, huge crowds..I had no idea that the celebration would be this huge. It seemed like the whole city was out supporting the gay community, pretty damn cool. We could hardly find a good spot to watch the parade from…which is what led my Norwegian friend Katrine to grab me aside and ask me if I wanted to sneak into the parade. You only live once, right? So we waited for an opening and booked it over the gate and got lost in the massive crowd of floats before the people yelling at us could see where we went. After celebrating and dancing with our new float friends, we bumped into our friend Mike dressed as a sailor who had done the same! How we found him in a parade of thousands of people still boggles my mind but we joined a group that was about to start marching and were off. Down the streets lined with so many people, running down giving them high fives, dancing, cheering, it was too funny. I still can’t believe we pulled it off. We ended that crazy night with some drinks on the beach around midnight and called it a day. When I went back up to get my bag from my friends’ apartment, I counted seven empty boxes of goon. 4 litres of goon in each…….another hi mom moment of this blog.
Hangovers were nursed on Bondi the next day, finally some sun after a few days of rain. We played some serious beach volleyball which was so fun, and cooled off in the water. Theres an outdoor theatre right off the beach that we had all planned to go to until around 6 when the rain began again. Damn.
Another week down.
My first full day of classes followed. I had my Physical Activity tutorial that was about setting fitness goals so naturally I got home and went for a run. There’s a famous walk by my house called the Bondi to Coogee walk, Coogee being another beach, and I had no idea how beautiful it was going to be! Woww, I have yet to take any pictures on it because I’ve only been running it (well, half of it), but I have to soon when I feel like walking the whole thing - the rocks along the way are so cool, and you pass by about five beaches in 6 km. It has a bunch of stairs and ups and downs and great views so it serves as an awesome workout. I’m motivated to be able to run the whole way and back without stopping by the end of the semester. That’s 12k, I’m very out of shape but I think its doable by June! Its in writing now so I have no choice.
I got back from my run and my neighbours called me saying I had half an hour to get ready and get over to their place before they left for the crab races at a bar called Scubar downtown. I was having one of the worst days since I got to Oz, so I didn’t question it and hopped on a train with them after showering. It turned out to be a really fun night, I somehow got chosen to run the crab races, where everyone bets on a crab for 1$. The bowl with the crabs under it gets lifted and the first one to reach the outer edge of the circular table wins. First place gets a Blue Mountains day trip, which is a pretty sweet prize. I got a free drink for helping out and danced on top of a booth all night until we decided to make our way to karaoke.
This wasn’t just any ordinary karaoke. We ended up in a korean karaoke places where they gave you and your friends your own room with snacks and its own karaoke set that scores you when you sing. There were about 15 of us and it was a riot. One of the funniest things I’ve done in Sydney so far, we will definitely be back.
I owed it to my body to stay in the next night. So necessary. I went for another run and sorted out some things for school, due dates etc., when I realized how fast this exchange is going to go by. I have to keep reminding myself to do it to the fullest while I’m here. Which brings me to the next exchange student event..an open bar night at a club called MyHouse. I met a lot of people this night which was great, some really nice Irish girls, and regular mixture of Germans, Italians, Swedes, and so on. Once again I enjoyed watching all of the different nationalities come together on the dance floor - its really funny to watch. American and Canadians with their bump and grind, the Italians with their fist pumping, the Spanish moving their hips in a salsa like step and the Germans that look like they’ve never been placed on a dance floor in their life.
One more day of classes and it was off to Melbourne! I was looking forward to hopping on a plane and being a little nomadic again for the weekend.