An Extremely Stubborn Bubble

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 8. Bubble, Sydney by Falynn1 Comment

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.


  1. Hi Falynn,

    I definitely agree with you that coming to a foreign country with a school isn’t exactly the best way to expose yourself to the place. Aside from the schoolwork that occupies most of our time, there are also so many available resources and people for us that are so much easier to access than trying to forge new relationships in and navigate your way through a whole new city. I’m glad that your trying to overcome this though! It definitely takes an effort to really put yourself outside your comfort zone and explore. However, there are also advantages to coming with a school instead of alone. I don’t know if it’s like this at Sydney, but I’ve found that NYU also hosts plenty events here in Prague that help us get to know the local people and culture (and a lot of these events also have free food, so why not?). There have been local guest speakers at these events to share their experience in the Czech Republic, as well as guest speakers for many of our classes. I find that talking to the professors or even just listening carefully to their approaches on things can help me better understand the culture here. Some of the NYU trips can also give great insight to the different aspects of your country. I hope this helps! Good luck with the rest of your semester in Sydney!

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