Exploring Beyond Sydney

Written by undergraduate student Eric Schroeder


Well, spring break has ended which means that I am officially half way through with my time here in Sydney, and well over-due for another blog update!

This past month in Sydney has been really good. Now that I’m all settled in and am feeling comfortable with my surroundings, I’ve gotten to do a lot more exploring. The Sydney metropolitan area is HUGE, after all, it accounts for nearly a third of the population of the entire continent, so there’s always unique places to travel too around Sydney Harbour.

I’ve really fallen in love with a suburb to the north of Sydney called Manly. Manly is just a beautiful 30 minute ferry ride across the harbour but it feels like it’s a world away from the bustling Sydney. It is a much more laid-back town with great food and beaches just as spectacular as the ones closer to the city center, but way less crowded.

The warmer weather is starting to bring in the tourists and crowds too, but I don’t mind it too much. How can I complain about it being 85 degrees when everyone back home is already heading into fall and a long winter? And now that I’m more familiar with the area, I feel that I know all the secluded spots where the locals hang out.

I haven’t just been spending my time in the Sydney area though. Before spring break I had the chance to go camping in the Blue Mountains, about two hours west of the city, for three days through an outdoor education class I’m in. Needless to say it was a fantastic experience, especially for someone who loves the outdoors. I got to see my first kangaroo (not counting the zoo) as well as beautiful waterfalls, valleys, and sandstone cliffs. The entire class is made up of international and exchange students so it’s a great way to meet other like-minded people who are trying to explore Australia in our limited time here, so it’s been a really easy way to make friends.

During spring break I spent a week in New Zealand and then five days back in Australia but in the tropical rainforest of Queensland with a few friends. New Zealand was absolutely mind blowing and far above any expectations I had for my time there. The landscape is even more diverse than Australia’s. We got to do everything from exploring empty, black sand beaches, to hiking up through the jungle, and even got to hike through a snow covered mountain that we were direly under-prepared for. Of course we also got to see first-hand some of the landscape settings for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, including Hobbiton which was a convenient 20 minute drive from where we were staying most of the week.

Queensland was fun too, even though I think we were all a little run down after doing so much adventuring in New Zealand. I got to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and hike through the dense Daintree Rainforest, and even got to celebrate with the region as the local team won the Australian Rules Football Championship! I can also say that I’m officially a pro at driving on the left side of the road, as I’ve now rented and driven cars in three different places without running anyone over.

After almost two weeks traveling around, it feels really nice to be back to my routine in Sydney. And my bed has never felt more comfortable! Australia is lovely year round, but things are really coming to life now that winter is over and spring is in the air. Daylight savings time means that we get another hour of sunlight too, so I no longer have to deal with the frustration of the sun setting before 5 P.M. like I did when I first came to Australia.

I’m really getting used to the way of life here. Even though things are always more hectic in the big city, I feel like Sydney is simply a lot more laid back than most places in the United States. And I’m happy to say that I’ve adopted some of this more easy going mentality. I even find myself picking up Australian lingo such as “keen”, “no worries”, “reckon”, and of course, “mate.”

I’m sure the future holds even more exciting adventures for me, and even though I know my time is starting to run short here with group projects and even finals approaching, it makes me appreciate the experience a lot more. I’ll be excited to report back with new stories in the coming weeks!