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And So My Journey Begins

My first week in the expensive city of Sydney has been eventful, to say the least.

It took me about three days to get over my jet lag–I often found myself falling asleep by 6pm and then waking up before the sun did. I didn’t mind the waking up early part though because it really gave me a chance to get the most out of my days.

We spent the first few days doing orientations & sightseeing–don’t do this, here is the CBD, lemonade is really sprite–the works. Oddly enough, during much of these I found myself relating plenty to Jamaica. Granted, I knew part of the reason so many things are similar to home is because of the British colonisation, but I didn’t expect to be driving around in the hills of Sydney and thinking “Wow. This looks just like Norbrook.”

Thanks to those comparisons, I got homesick quite quickly. It took me by great surprise as I have always been independent and alone. I’ll admit, though, that it is extremely easy to miss Jamaica I am just not exactly sure why. I guess there is just something about the place that leaves me always wanting more.

As the days went on, my roommate Sam and I did our own exploring. The first feat we took on was trying to find a phone service called Crazy Johns, which is apparently the only service in Australia that offers Blackberry internet service. (Everyone here has an iPhone, unfortunately.) It didn’t take much time for us to find the store, as Aussies are all really friendly and willing to help, and inside we were greeted with “do you want the one that works, or the one that doesn’t?”.

Apparently, the prepaid plan works for internet but will just automatically stop working if you dare make a phone call or send a text. (I know you are making a confused face now, which is the same face I made in the store. I have no idea either.) But anyone with sense would go for the one that works, right? Well, the problem there was that it was not a prepaid service; which meant I needed an Aussie resident whose credit they could approve and whose name would be put on the bill.

Aha, the catch.

Luckily, I thought, my cousin was with me. And for $35 with unlimited internet and Vodaphone to Vodaphone (Crazy John’s is like a sub-company of Vodaphone) I couldn’t want it any better. Unfortunately, though, she was not approved. Why? Because she already has a Vodaphone. So here I am, writing this from my internet-equipped Blackberry, a week and a half in and unable to make a phone call or send a text.

I am going to Crazy John’s today.

In addition to the phone service search, we also went around trying to find our internship sites, which for me was much more complicated than for Sam. By the time Monday came, I was already used to using public transport and had pretty much a good grip on how to get around in the CBD (downtown) and where everything was. My job, though, happened to be in the complete opposite direction where I hadn’t been before. Since my “interview” was not until Wednesday, I decided to use my Tuesday to make some test runs, and I’ve always been good with directions so I figured it would be a breeze.

It wasn’t.

I was walking back-and-forth on Bourke Road for hours, after it took me about three bus rides to get off at what I thought was the right stop. Then, 5pm came around, which meant the sun was saying goodbye to the city, and I found myself by warehouse and construction sites with no newsagency in sight. I immediately felt like this whole thing was a hoax and that the place I was looking for didn’t exist.

The next morning, the day of my interview, I decided to take a taxi. I figured there would be no better way to find where to go than to get in one of those. Furthermore, considering the address is basically right on the street I live, I didn’t feel like I needed to take the bus that the website told me to take because it unnecessarily went around the world and then left me to walk a long distance. The taxi was a good idea, even though it cost me about $12. (They charge based on how long you’re in there, not how far you go.)

Going home wasn’t as easy. Determined to find an easier way, I purposely hopped on the next bus I saw and somehow ended up in the ghetto after asking the bus driver how to get to Waterloo. I was not as much afraid as I was out of place. It was night-time and I was prancing through the town in my full white business suit, a huge salmon-coloured purse and heels, with no real idea of where I was going. Eventually, after about a two hour journey that began just down the road from where I live, I made it back to my place. The next day’s journey was not so pleasant either. It took me about 45 minutes to walk to work. For those who know me, you know I hate walking, but when in Rome…

That evening my co-worker offered to help me get home. She takes the bus too but since she knew her way around she thought she’d accompany me.

We ended up in the ghetto again; but this time in a darker, more residential area and were walking through it much longer than I had the day before. That time, I definitely had to draw for my mace, but I did feel better knowing I was not alone.

By the third day, I figured it out–and I finally got a chance to actually enjoy the internship.

I am writing for a publication called the Wentworth Courier, which is a news magazine that covers the Eastern suburbs. In my first week I did interviews in person and on the phone, and managed to stitch together four stories that will be published in this week’s issue.

Needless to say, I love the placement–and I cannot wait to see my name in the publication on Wednesday.

#jetlag #experience #Australia #timezonedifference #exchangestudent #studyabroad #Travel #cultureshock #sydney

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