I arrived in Sydney, Australia on Friday, July 17, 2009. Quintin Rares, a GBCC 2009 participant (University of Sydney team), picked me and my friend Meredith at the airport to take us to Hunter Valley. Quintin also brought Franz, a full-degree study abroad student from Germany, and a resident at St Andrews. Hunter Valley is located 2-3 hours away from Sydney, it is a beautiful wine valley with acres and acres of wineries, cute restaurants, and hospitable resorts.
Meredith and I spent a couple nights in the C.B.D. or city (synonymous for downtown). My cousin, Chris, lives in an apartment complex in the heart of the city and has a breathtaking view of the Darling Harbour and city skyline. At night, he took us on a walking tour of the city. Everything seemed larger than life and very surreal. At 11:00pm, the streets were bustling with business(wo)men, teens, nightgoers, tourists, etc; the streets were lit up with nightlife lights, sky-scraper buildings, and small-locally owned shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Meredith and I moved to another hostel, Billabong Gardens, in Newtown to be closer to campus. Billabong was very accessible – a minute walk to the bus lines and a 5-10 minute walk to the University of Sydney campus. King Street, which runs through the heart of Newtown, is very similar to UW’s “Ave” – just 100 times better and bigger. There are three Thai restaurants every other block!
Judith, who Meredith exchanged messages with on Facebook prior, was also a resident of Billabong. She is from University of North Carolina. Throughout the course of 1-2 weeks, Judith and Meredith looked at several places to live all over Sydney.
Meredith and I shared a room with 4 other residents – some students, some backpackers. A few of them were from Germany (there are a lot of Germans in Sydney!) – at this point, I met more Germans than I did with locals. We spent several nights cooking dinner together, singing along to songs Martin and Rene (German roommates) were playing on the guitar, and checking out Sydney attractions.