Fire and Ice; A City for Both

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 4. The Spirit of Place, Sydney by Flurin2 Comments

Before I came to Australia, I had heard nothing but praise about the experience of living in this country. This praise was universal, among the people in my larger friend group who had spent more than a couple of weeks here, which is quite unusual since my friends are geographically interspersed in the world. I had previously thought that it would be impossible for all people to uniformly see eye to eye on the subject of good city dwelling, but Sydney had proven me wrong. Up until they had told me about their Sydney experience, there always seemed to be a divide among my friends in regard to the vibe of a city. A city would either be too different or too similar from the place they were used to living in, so some would form a dislike for the place. For example, a lot of my friends, who have lived in Paris, find the city beautiful but the people too aloof and unfriendly. A frequent complaint I hear about New York is that it is too intense. The list goes on and on with a variety of cities having their own characteristics to complain about, but I have yet to hear a bad word about Sydney. I believe this general satisfaction doesn’t come from anything in particular here, but from the general essence I feel this city exudes.

Sydney’s feel is a curious one for me. Having always loved New York, but also having grown up in Zurich, Switzerland, what I am about to describe makes a lot of sense to me, but might not for other people. Sydney seems to be the perfect blend of the laidback nature found in many European cities and the high powered, go getter energy of New York City. The European energy I am referring to is that of the French ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, which is best described by a sort of nonchalance toward life. On the other hand, the New York City energy is similar to that of a high-powered salesman. New York has always been a city, which forced me to get up and do something everyday, and If I didn’t, then I would feel somewhat unaccomplished. Even though, for me personally, I don’t think any city could ever beat out New York City in terms of where I would want to live while in my 20’s and 30’s, Sydney has come the closest. I accredit this mostly to Sydney’s ability to blend the two energies above very well. To me Sydney feels like a city full of energy, which makes me want to go out and accomplish things, while also providing a more relaxed nature allowing me to be a little more laidback than I would be in New York. This blend is also why I believe many people who study abroad in Sydney love it. It is a city, which caters to a large audience. If you are a laidback type of person, then you can go sit at the beach as much as you like. If you are more high-powered, then there are plenty of classes, museums, clubs and other activities to enjoy. If you are in between, then you can easily alternate between having an easy-going day and having a full day. It seems to be a very balanced place to live.

In the end I will always choose New York’s energy over Sydney’s, if for no other reason than that I am myself more of an extreme person, however the idea of moving here permanently, at some point in time, has definitely crossed my mind a few times. Since moving here isn’t really in the cards just yet, I think I will at least take a little bit of this balanced feeling back with me to New York, when the semester closes out.


  1. Hi Flurin~!
    It is interesting how you have described Sydney as a mixture of New York City’s “high-powered salesman” feel yet also possess the laid-back casual nature of Europe. It must be because it is a city that is surrounded by a country that is filled with natural sights and animals. I have personally never been to Sydney, however from what you have written, I am definitely thinking of traveling there myself one day!

  2. Flurin,
    I am loving the dichotomy you wrote about here. I myself am from California, and often struggle in New York, because I like the intenseness, but miss the more laid back nature of the west coast. Your description of Sydney encourages me to visit! I’ve never heard someone describe the city as a place where you can have two such different energies coexisting. I very much relate to having parts of myself that appeal to both natures.

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