It’s real! After sixteen hours of Advil-PM-induced-sleep, we finally arrived in Sydney, Australia on Monday the 24th of July! I’ve had six days in Australia thus far and it’s been quite an exhilarating experience.
When Bianca and I arrived at Sydney Airport, we had no time to breathe before making our way to customs and meeting our driver to bring us to our accommodation. Getting through customs wasn’t as bad as we expected. The line moved relatively fast and was super modernized. They didn’t even have stamps for our passports! But Bianca insisted on a stamp in her brand new passport, so one of the nice customs-officers personally stamped our passports! After getting our bags at Baggage Claim, we made our way to McDonalds to meet the driver provided for us free-of-charge through our host-university. The “Maccas” (as they call it in Aussie) was only a short walk down the main terminal and was super easy to find. About eight other Macquarie University students were waiting to get picked up and driven to their accommodations as well. We only had to wait a short while before everyone in our van arrived and we could head over to Macquarie University. It took about an hour and a half to get to campus and drop the eight people in our car off at their different accommodations.
There are about four different “dorm” style living complexes on campus. We dropped a girl off at Herring Roads Apartments, two boys off at The Macquarie University Village, a girl off at Dunmore Lang College, and another at an off campus accommodation like us. Bianca and I are living in a duplex in West Pymble. West Pymble is about a 20 minute bus ride from campus. We found these on a section of our host-university’s website that had advertisements of rooms rented out to students for relatively cheaper than the dorms. On one side of the house, there is a family of six and on the other side Bianca and I are staying with six other students. There are three girls from England, two boys from Australia, a boy from Bangladesh and another from Pakistan. Everyone is super nice and friendly! Bianca and I are also the only two in the house sharing a room. We got the master bedroom so it is much more spacious than some of the single bedrooms.
Taking the bus has definitely been something to get used to. We’ve downloaded an app that tells you when the bus is coming but it has been getting confusing because sometimes the bus comes a little too early or little too late. Our time management also needs a lot of work. We’ve been leaving the house a little too late to get to the bus stop! Being far away from campus has been a little tough for a few other reasons. Since we are not residents of the dorms, we miss out on a lot of the perks that the dorms have to offer. The dorms offer different events exclusively (or at better prices) for their residents, it is a super easy way to make friends, it’s gated off and some offer food packages! The thing that has hit us most is the being able to easily meet people. Orientation Week has introduced us to so many people, yes, but as soon as we get back to our house, it is like we are in our own world. Being in the “village” or in one of the apartment complexes is more expensive. We are trying to weigh the pros and cons, and we’ve determined that the cash we are saving on housing will be beneficial when it comes to traveling around Australia.
Sydney is super expensive. I honestly didn’t believe it when people told me that before I got here, but they were right. Groceries, clothes, public transportation, food, alcohol, and especially Ubers take a big toll on the bank account. I plan on getting a job too be able to use my savings account exclusively for traveling. I think I’ve decided to spend my “spring” break in New Zealand!
From the 24th to the 30th, the university holds an Orientation Week. It has included different events such as campus tours, library tours, international student arrival seminars about guidelines to surviving the school year and making friends. On Wednesday, they held an event called Speed Friendship. At this event, they conducted different activities and games to make us talk to other students and find people we could relate too. Almost everyone at Orientation Week is an exchange/international student. July to November is Macquarie’s second semester, so a lot of the full-time students had their orientation activities last semester. We haven’t met many Australians yet, but I think that will change once school starts. But we have made a lot of “friends” (and I say “friends” loosely because a lot of these people we’ve only had a few conversations with). We’ve met about five girls who attend Monmouth University, which is only two hours from Rutgers back home. We finally met the other student who is attending Macquarie from Rutgers, New Brunswick. It has been along time coming because we’ve been in contact with him since March over the phone. He is super friendly, outgoing and a nice reminder of home. We also met a few boys who go to York College and one of them only lives 35 minutes from us back in New Jersey. It truly is a small world. Besides Americans, we’ve met plenty of girls from Sweden, a boy from France, a few people from Denmark and even more from the U.K. One of the perks of this experience is making relationships with people from all across the world!
The campus is beautiful! This is the library!
During Orientation Week, booths were set up for clubs and sports teams on Wally’s Walk and in the Central Courtyard. Wally’s Walk is the main walkway that splits the north and south sides of campus. The Central Courtyard is the big area in the middle of campus for students to sit and where the food court and other student services buildings are located!
Bianca and I even talked to Macquarie’s cheerleading team! Since we were both cheerleaders in high school, we thought it’d be a cool way to meet people and spend time! The season also ends in November so that’s super convenient. First we have to make the team and see if we can make it work with our schedule. If we can’t get off for the two weeks of spring break then I don’t think we can do it!
Orientation Week has been really fun. It’s been a good way to meet people and get involved in on-campus activities. So far we’ve made two friends who we really enjoy being around. Tia is from Colorado and she is a lot like me. She likes to go out and have fun but not an excessive amount. She loves her friends back home but is super excited to adventure and travel. We also met Miranda, who is from PA and goes to school in Miami. She came with us to the zoo and was super friendly. It was nice to talk to someone who knew about the area back home. I’m having fun and taking it slow and steady. I’m excited for what the rest of the semester has in store.