Sometimes the Trains run late…

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 11. Travails, Sydney by Nicolas1 Comment

Unfortunately, often when simple inconveniences strike us, they seem to be at the most inopportune times that could possibly occur.  Perhaps the train is delayed and you are giving a presentation first thing at work; the printer runs out of paper just as you are printing the final copy of your essay; your laptop or phone dies just as you are about to finish that email, assignment or submission…

Luckily, NYU Sydney provided us students studying abroad with fantastic accommodations: our apartment/dorm situation has a modern kitchen, open and comfortable ommon areas, and individual bedrooms with our own bathrooms.  However, the only true complaint that can be formed about our dorm situation (which is called “Urbanest”) lies with regard to the electronic locking mechanism on our individual doors.

Last week, I woke up for class on Monday at around 9:30AM in one of the worst ways possible.  I had pink eye in both of eyes, and they were crusted over and swollen.  After rolling out of bed, and carefully washing out my eyes, I proceeded to exit my dorm room and make my way into the kitchen to have breakfast.  After a quick breakfast, I attempted to enter my room again but realized my door was now locked, and my key was inside my room.  I had known this issue to occur to a few of my friends here at Urbanest already but had yet to have it happen to me yet; the locking system on our doors, which is battery operated, often runs out of charge and needs to be changed.  Now, it was around 10:30AM, and I had class and homework due at noon.  Still in my pajamas, I walked down to the front desk all while praying that either a janitor or employee would be around.  After waiting for 15 mins, finally I saw an employee enter, and upon telling him of my situation he agreed to assist me in opening my door within the next fifteen minutes.  Finally, after being let into my room around 11:15AM, I rushed to get dressed, pack my belongings for the day and exit as soon as possible.

Given that my homework assignment was due at noon (which was as soon as class started) I knew that the only way to guarantee that I would arrive to class on time would be either through taking a taxi or the metro.  Sydney’s metro system is undeniably reliable and is commonly known for being fast, clean and safe. Compared to our subway system in NYC, it is advanced in practically every way imaginable.  As I waited for the train to arrive at Central Station, one of the largest stations in Sydney located adjacent to Urbanest, I began to worry when the train failed to arrive within 5 minutes.  After 10 minutes of waiting I truly began to panic. Finally, after 15 minutes, the train arrived and I began the 15-20 minute voyage to Circular Quay, the station located closest to the NYU academic building.

In some ways, I am lucky that an incident like this occurred later on in the semester, when I knew exactly how to get around in the city and had already gotten to know my teachers.  Early on, it could have been difficult or impossible to arrive to class at all, and it certainly would not have looked favorable in the eyes of my teacher if I were to arrive 40 minutes late on the first or second class.

When on a schedule and in a foreign country, minor inconveniences are inherently frustrating, and at times can even be debilitating to the plans that one has scheduled for the day.  However, in the end, inconveniences are simply a part of traveling abroad; sometimes, navigating these inconveniences can teach us life lessons in staying relaxed, being prepared and ultimately finding a way around issues presented before us.


  1. Hi Nicolas,

    I connect to this so much because there have been so many instances during my travels where I have just barely made my long-distance bus/bus to the airport because of a few minor problems that happen on the way there. Sometimes the subway doesn’t come at the time it’s supposed to. Sometimes we forget to press the ‘Stop’ button on the bus and miss our stop—even though the bus stopped at every single stop before that, whether or not someone had pressed the button. Sometimes it’s just really early in the morning, and we cut it too close to get a few more minutes of sleep. Sometimes we underestimate the time it’ll take for us to find where the bus is stopped in the station. Even though stuff like this has been made so much easier with apps like Google map, travel is so full of time constraints that any little mishap could easily turn into a huge problem down the road.

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