I had only been living in Sydney for six days, but on my first Monday in Australia, I began studying at the University of Sydney. Luckily, the first week didn’t involve any work at all – the actual lectures began in the following week, meaning I had more time to enjoy Sydney.
The week began with an introduction talk for incoming international students held in the Great Hall. It was a huge hall which would easily fit into Oxbridge, which is strange since the architecture of the building is older than the country itself. There were freebies on the seats so it was certainly worth going!
After a ‘Welcome to Country’, a way of showing respect to the aboriginal ancestors, the Vice-Chancellor gave a speech of welcome on behalf of the University, which was followed by other talks, which were less interesting so I can’t remember them all that well. Ending the ceremony was a series of dances performed by the Spirit Brothers, an aboriginal school group. It was great to see the respect for the local culture, and it was a cool way to be welcomed.
We were provided free food for lunch (always a good thing when you are a student) before heading off to an induction for single semester exchange students. A lot of this was a repeat of the lecture we had in the previous week, but this included an icebreaker challenge (a typical getting-to-know-you bingo game).
During the talk, we watched a video about Aussie slang (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDb_WsAt_Z0), which is basically shortening the original word and adding the suffix ‘-ie’ to it. There was a quiz after this, and I got through to the final! In the tiebreaker, I answered the question right, but the other people didn’t fully understand it so we had to replay the point, meaning that I lost. The prize was a cool university-branded gym bag! I was robbed!
The international students’ office had organised for some local Australian animals to be brought onto campus for everyone to meet! There was a Joey (baby Kangaroo), a Koala and a Wombat (my favourite because it was so fat and furry). I set my Facebook profile picture as me and the Wombat (with someone telling me it was a Wallaby) and it ended up being my most liked photo (I feel popular)!
In the evening, there was a social event for everyone in Manning Bar, the social hub of campus. We couldn’t work out how to get in, and I think we ended accidently sneaking in because no one checked our IDs. There was more free food! There were a few games but they weren’t particularly interesting so the rest of the time was spent socialising.
More treats were to be had on Tuesday, as various day trips had been organised across the city for new international students. I had selected to go on the trip to Manly, one of the Northern beaches. To get there, we had to first get a bus from the university to Circular Quay, and then get a ferry as Manly was on the other side of the harbour.
Unfortunately, the student tour guides who had accompanied us didn’t really have any idea of what they were doing, so we didn’t do much when we were actually in Manly. There was the Australian Open surfing competition, but before long that had finished for the day. We found out that the final was on Sunday, so we resolved to journey back again!
To finish of the international students’ welcome was the ‘Welcome to Sydney Party’, again in Manning Bar. For those who know me, clubbing and myself are not two things normally associated, but I thought I’d give it a go since I was on the other side of the world! The doors opened early in the evening because of Sydney’s lockout laws (I think it was at 7:00, which is completely unheard of in the UK).
The night was really enjoyable! There were a few dance-offs going on in the centre of the dance floor; some were amazing, others were not. I remember that there was one man dancing with an umbrella, which was a very strange sight to see. Afterwards, we headed off to Side Bar which was not too far from campus. The bar is basically in a basement and has a really cool vibe. Side Bar has a live band playing every Tuesday night, which certainly makes a difference to the normal music you hear in clubs. After walking home (it wasn’t a long distance away), the great night finally finished as I got into bed and fell asleep.