Prior to coming to Sydney, I had heard from friends who had visited some of the other Study Away sites that this ‘bubble’ existed. Students often find that the places in which they live and study in these cities through NYU somehow close them off from the true city they are visiting. This is something I kept in mind when coming to Sydney. It appeared that it was something everyone in my cohort considered, too. Throughout our first week, we discussed how we valued getting to learn the true character of Sydney and the people who inhabit it. We discussed our plans to explore all different areas of Sydney and the surrounding cities. We promised to take advantage of all the opportunities we would come across from NYU Sydney and the city itself. Naturally, two months later, that’s not exactly what has happened for us. Reality hit that we weren’t just here to be here, we were here to study.
We’ve become comfortable with our routine: walking the straight and fast route to class, finishing up homework at the same coffee shop as yesterday, cooking dinner in my flat’s kitchen. It doesn’t help that in the places a student spends a good chunk of time, home and school, I am surrounded by the same 50 people, all NYU students just like me. At NYU Sydney, we are required to stay at Urbanest, a student accommodation for mostly foreign students. On top of that, Urbanest placed all of the NYU students on the same three floors, completely separated from everyone else. In general, there are no Sydneysiders in Urbanest, since it is much more common to commute here. Our ‘campus’ is a building called Science House. It is only for NYU students and the only interactions we have with Australians at Science House is with the faculty and staff, which we greatly outnumber. When I’m not at home or in class, I do try my best to explore the greater Sydney area. However, exploring is usually accompanied by my roommates, making it less necessary to mingle with locals. Basically, the cards are against us mixing with locals. It’s something you need to put a lot of energy into. As for doing things in Sydney, I’ve tried my best to go to as many of the events that NYU hosts as possible, although sometimes it becomes a bit much. At first, I was motivated enough to sign myself up for just about every event. I have enjoyed all the trips I’ve gone on from this, but have lost the motivation to sign up for events that have gotten added more recently, prioritizing studying.
I have definitely made efforts to escape the bubble. I have made sure to visit various different beaches throughout Sydney’s suburbs, took a trip to Australia’s capital with NYU, and have spent time doing activities with my relatives who live close by. My friends and I have also utilized apps like Tinder and Bumble to ask locals about where to eat, what are the best bars to go to, and what events are going on. Although I haven’t met up with any of these people in person, they have provided me with some great advice and even led me to my favorite suburb of Sydney, Newtown.
It seems like after the first few weeks of being in Sydney, the cohort was on a downward slope, losing momentum and motivation to make the most of our time here. However, I believe we are on the way back up. Our fall break has just come to a close. I believe it was the little refresher we needed to get back in the mindset of being abroad. Since returning from Bali, my suitemates and I have planned a trip to Melbourne for a weekend. We also plan to go to a vineyard about an hour north of Sydney. With the weather picking up, there is no excuse to not visit more beautiful beaches. I think it is important to reflect on my time so far not just at the end but throughout my journey, so I can stay focused on accomplishing the goals I set for myself when I arrived. Although the bubble has been difficult to pop, it is something I will keep working on escaping.