Upon arrival in Sydney, Australia, I felt a little confused and disappointed. The first stop from the airport was Urbanest, our dorm building in Chinatown. For the first few days, all of my expectations were crushed. I felt lost and thought that I had made the wrong decision in coming here. I hadn’t seen a single native Australian and I felt isolated. The real “Australian Experience” felt very out of reach. Then I realized, I was deprived and hadn’t yet experienced the true “spirit” of this country. It was time to head out of my small bubble in search of the “real” Australia.
A couple days in, my friends and I finally found the time to head over to the beach, after a week of strenuous orientations. Bondi Beach was our first stop and the minute we stepped out of the car, I felt relieved. I finally felt the true “spirit” of this country with the sun beating down on me, surrounded by all the locals on the beach. The minute I jumped into the bright blue water, I felt a sense of genuine happiness and knew that I made the right decision in traveling ten-thousand miles to a distant, unfamiliar country. I was surrounded by locals who were all radiating with happiness. I immediately realized that living in a place that is covered in sunshine all year round is something to be embraced and celebrated. From this point on, I decided that the only way to get the true experience was to live like the locals by partaking in their favorite day-to-day activities. I knew that from this point on, I was going to take advantage of the outdoor activities during the limited amount of time that I have to explore such a big city. The possibilities were endless and none of the beaches that I have traveled too have disappointed me. Rather, every single beach is unique in it’s own way and all of them give me the feeling of overwhelming joy. The combination of sunshine, salty water, and the local experience is the ultimate trio.These three things are what finally helped me get over the doubt and disappointment that I had initially felt. I was finally aware of the true source of my happiness and I knew that the only way for me to experience the “spirit” of Australia was to live and think like a local Australian. Frequent trips to the beach, local outdoor markets, and music festivals were a few of the things that I decided to do in order to make the most of my experience abroad.
A few weeks into the trip, my friends and I decided it was time to go to our first local festival and engage with some locals. Upon arrival at Laneways music festival in Sydney, Australia I immediately felt awakened. The music, the locals, the high energy: everything made me feel as if I was dreaming. This was the environment and the place to be in order to embrace the local Australian experience. Everyone was dressed in hippie outfits and I felt inspired by just laying in the grass and looking at all the people walk by. I was surrounded by local food vendors, local bands, and local non-profit organization stands. The energy was extremely high and everyone was smiling. There wasn’t a single moment without dancing and laughter. It was a very social, welcoming environment and I got the opportunity to meet many locals who were all around the same age as me. Meeting the locals at Laneways music festival was truly inspiring because I got many different perspectives on things by comparing the way of life in America to the way of life in Australia. All the locals that I meant had very positive attitudes towards things and were all very optimistic. This general positivity helped raise the overall energy level throughout the entire festival. The “spirits” were extremely high and I was once again overwhelmed with joy. I felt as if I was one with the locals and left the festival with many new Australian friends and many new perspectives on life.
Another local experience that captured the overall positivity and energy of Sydney was the local markets at Glebe. Every Saturday the local residents and vendors all gather together in the little town of Glebe. These weekly markets gave me a sense of community and made me feel as if I “belonged.” Many locals were dispersed on the grass, listening to a local band play folk music. As I walked through the markets, exploring the variety of vendors, I engaged with several locals. Particularly, I talked to an Australian women who had recently traveled to India and brought over unique items to sell at the market. It was inspiring to meet this women because she shared her wisdom with me about how we need to approach every situation with an open mind in order to make the most from our experiences. From this point on I promised myself that during my time in Australia, I wasn’t going to waste any time in an environment or community that made me feel isolated or unhappy. I was going to attempt to spend a majority of my time surrounded by close friends, sunshine, locals, and beaches.