Sydney is very laid back compared to many major cities in the United States. It has a population of about 5 million people and is one of Australia’s largest cities. It actually houses 658 suburbs! Sydney is best known for its opera house and harbor bridge right in the heart of the harbor. It’s a very active city- I always see people running or out in parks working out. It actually reminds me a lot of Chicago! The real estate is extremely pricey in Australia, and due to this, most adults live with their parents until they are about 25 years old. Also, rent is usually paid weekly here rather than monthly. I thought that was interesting compared to how it generally is in the states.
Transportation around the city consists of cars, trains, buses, a light rail (similar to a tram), and ferries. On Sundays, all public transit is capped at $2.50AUD for the day, so that’s a great time to explore further. On Sundays, most of the other UMich students and I would check out a new destination, whether it be Manly beach, Bondi Beach, Watson’s bay, or Wedding Cake Rock.
The food around the city is absolutely amazing. There is a large Asian influence, especially where I was staying near Haymarket and Chinatown, so there was always a place to find good Asian food. Interestingly, there are rarely chain restaurants found in food courts or lining the streets of Sydney. Rather, there are many independent, healthier options. When looking for lunch, one could always count on finding a sandwich place, Thai food, a pasta joint, or a fish and chips stand in any given food court. One day during lunch, while in North Sydney, I tried out a burger place called Five Points Burgers. I hate to say it, but I think they did American burgers better than Americans did!
The people in Sydney are also great. Everyone is very laid back and friendly. Australians tend to have a bit more of a colorful (read: love to swear) vocabulary than generally heard on the streets of Ann Arbor, but once you realize and get past the fact they drop f-bombs freely, they’re great! One of the people I met while in Sydney is actually coming to visit UMich in October and I’m taking them to a football game!
Sydney is absolutely beautiful and I hope to be able to return someday- maybe even ffull-time time job post-graduation. If you ever have the opportunity and the means to study abroad in a foreign place, do it. Jump into it wholeheartedly because it will push you far out of your comfort zone and teach you who you are. Not only that, but you may realize that you’ve found where you really belong.