My First Week as a “Sydneysider”

Kallie Vinson Sydney Internship Program, Australia


June 5, 2019
Currently Studying at: Sydney Internship Program, Australia
Homeschool: University of Kentucky

G’day everyone!

So today makes it officially one week that I have been in Sydney, and honestly, it is flying by. Yesterday I started my internship with The Big Issue, which is a not-for-profit organization that really gives back to the community in an awesome way. Many of the vendors are homeless, and the role of TBI is to provide them with some sort of income to help them get back on their feet and out of their current situation. Vendors come in and buy magazines at $4.50 a piece and then resale them for $9, keeping whatever profit that they have made that day. I really like the organization’s purpose, I think it’s quite wholesome, and a way of giving back without just giving handouts. The staff here are amazing and willing to help you out with any problems you may have; if you happen to take part in this specific program and get placed with The Big Issue, know that it is a wonderful opportunity to learn, as well as help an organization committed to doing good.

As far as the city goes, Sydney can be immensely overwhelming to someone who isn’t from a huge city, and unfortunately, both my hometown as well as my college town don’t necessarily rival New York City in terms of biggest cities in the US, so I was intimidated at first, to say the least. However, I am adjusting to the city and learning how to get around, both on foot and using public transport. Fortunately, the Arcadia staff showed us the ins and outs of all of the transportation options in Sydney within our first 12 hours here. Speaking of which, the 14-hour time difference is killer. Luckily, I used this past weekend to catch up on any missed sleep and really adjust to Sydney time.

I do have to say, I had second thoughts about coming to Sydney, and I was honestly scared. Unfortunately for me, I had a 12-hour layover at LAX which was absolutely brutal, especially when you’re traveling alone in an airport you’ve never been to before. My mom told me I could come home, but I realized that it would be the worst mistake of my life to come home then. I would’ve had to rethink my entire life plan of moving to New Zealand, because if I couldn’t even handle Los Angeles, how would I have been able to handle a whole new country. I will say if you get stuck in that same boat of just being absolutely terrified, take a breath and realize that what you’re doing is for the betterment of your own life and absolutely no one else’s. Therefore, by passing up the opportunity at the last second you’re only hindering your future. You have to go through what you feel is the worst of times, to get to the best of times. My favorite Australian saying, one I coincidentally have not heard an Aussie say yet is, “Get Amongst It” I have been reminding myself of this a lot this week.

Embarrassingly enough, the saying used to be in my Instagram bio before I was even really “getting amongst” anything. I do have to say a lot of things in Sydney are expensive. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, and they aren’t exaggerating when they say that. Many of the other group members are traveling a lot to other parts of Australia and New Zealand, and I think one person even mentioned Bali? I think that that’s really awesome for them, but since my time and money is limited here in Sydney, I might have to wait to do all of that.

All in all, coming to Sydney was a terrific idea on my part. The Sydney Opera House gets a lot of recognition for being the place to go and see, but I feel as though Sydney has places like that all throughout the city. The city’s beauty and cleanliness almost brought me to tears. If you like or appreciate architecture, Sydney is a great place to come because it truly has it all. I highly recommend visiting the Central Park Mall, the building itself is gorgeous, and it has so many shops, including Woolworth’s which is a grocery store you’ll have to become familiar with when visiting any part of ‘Straya.

Some other tips for people visiting any part of Australia are to really research your area if you know where you’ll be staying. Make a list of places you would like to see, and get as much of a feel as you can for the area you’re staying at. By doing this, it will help you to be less overwhelmed, hopefully. I also recommend watching some Australian YouTubers or celebrities and familiarize yourself with the accent. It’s not the hardest accent to understand by any means, but it’s easy to listen to an Australian speak and not understand a word they’ve said. My last tip is to look up some Aussie slang because trust and believe, it will be used. Asking an Australian to explain it isn’t hard if you don’t know what they’re saying, as many of them are really easy going, but just for reference.