So, I gave up (temporarily) my New York City life for a new one in Sydney, Australia.
My arrival in Sydney was safe, but not uneventful. Sometime after take-off, the entire plane was awakened to learn that we would be spending the night in Vancouver, Canada…not part of the plan, at all. It had something to do with a sick pilot and a crew that would be working overtime even if we could find a replacement pilot somewhere. So we were all bused to a Marriott hotel in Vancouver at 3a. This added 36 hours to my already 36 hours of travel. I arrived in Sydney happy but wearing clothes I’d had on for three long days.
The upside of this change in plans is that I arrived at the Sydney airport at the same time my sister, Phyllis, did who was joining me to help kick off this new adventure, so we were able to travel together to my new temporary apartment. It was great having her with me as we learned to navigate this awesome city together.
I was lucky enough to find an apartment in Milson’s Point almost immediately and it seems perfect. It’s a 10-15 minute walk to my office and is surrounded by every kind of transportation I can ever imagine needing: the bus, train, ferry, a taxi stand, and GoGet (their version of ZipCar) are all steps away from my apartment. As is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It couldn’t be more perfect. And the view.
Sydney is just beautiful. I walk around this city in awe that this is now my life. It’s like I’m just bopping along and look up and am gobsmacked by yet another beautiful scene.
Now that I’m all settled, my next order of business is to get a social life. Much easier said than done, especially for someone like me. I’m an introvert, though most people don’t know that and they just think I’m unfriendly. So, on the recommendation of my good friend, Heather, I decided to join a few social groups. (Heather is my inspiration for taking on this Sydney adventure. Five years ago she upped and moved from New York to Dubai, by herself, and has made quite a nice life.)
I joined InterNations Wild Women on Top (hikers, not porn stars), and Meetup. I even joined Tinder. I’m not all that excited about any of them, though I’ve had nice outtings with all of them. My not being excited has nothing to do with the groups and everything to do with me and being surrounded by people I don’t know. I assume (hope) I’ll get over that at some point as I do more with them. What I do miss is hanging out with really solid friends and not just people I kinda know. Of course, building friendships takes time.
In the meantime, I had lots of fun last weekend joining a new friend (well, acquaintance, really) at Sculptures by the Sea, an international art show at Bondi Beach where sculptors from around the world display their work. Like everything else here, it was beautiful.
It’s funny. One of the people that I miss the most is this kid who lived down the hall from me. From the time she could walk, she would toddle down the hall by herself (sometimes at her parents’ urging, I’m sure), knock on my door and hang out for however long she felt like it. I think I miss her most because it’s the one relationship it’s hard to sustain. With all my other (grown-up) friends, we stay in touch via text, Facebook, email, FaceTime/Skype, and Words with Friends. That’s not quite possible with a four-year-old…though we try, using her mom as an intermediary. She’s really not all that interested in talking with me thru FaceTime, though.
Being in a new country and culture takes getting used to, of course. I’m enjoying noticing the small things that remind me I’m in a new place. A guy I met took me driving last weekend because I need to get comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the street. Unlike most of the world, Sydney drivers (and the Brits) sit on the right side in the car and drive on the left side of the street. I did pretty well, only once driving up on a curb when I turned!
A few other little US vs AUS things I’ve noted:
- Renters have to bring their own appliances. Having to buy my own refrigerator and washing machine makes no sense to me. I keep thinking about what I’m supposed to do with them when I return to the US in two years. (Selling them feels like it’ll be a real PIA).
- We pay for condiments. Even though ketchup naturally goes with fries and ginger with sushi, many restaurants charge for this.
- There are really nice public bathrooms…everywhere. You can even go into a restaurant or store and use their bathroom without buying anything. Just try that in NYC (except maybe at Starbucks and McDonald’s who are friendlier in this regard).
- They greet each other with “how ya going” (not “how ya doing”). It took me a minute to realize that the proper response is “I’m fine” and not “…walking to the store”.
- Australians can’t be bothered with saying the whole word, so they shorten them. Breakfast is brekkie, McDonald’s is Maccas, afternoon is arvo (I don’t understand that one), air conditioner is air con, football is footy, chewing gum is chewie…and so on. Every word seems to have a diminutive version.
- And this. Getting these confused could result in a really interesting conversation.
I am excitedly looking forward to the next couple of weeks, which will have me celebrating my birthday, some version of Thanksgiving (not a holiday here), Christmas at the beach, and Sydney’s world-renowned New Year’s Eve fireworks..all Aussie style.