Sydney is, in general, an easy place to live in. It is a first world, English speaking, western city. Sure there are some difference; things actually close here (usually around 6 pm), and people ‘talk funny’, but in general, Sydney is very much like New York City. In fact, I often think of Sydney as a healthier NYC. It is more green and laid back, safer and more easy going. It is also a very active and health conscious city; most people are quite fit (which makes sense given the number of gorgeous beaches in/near Sydney). This brings me to my first tip: stay active. There are a million ways to do it, be it running, surfing, yoga, zumba, etc., etc. Not only will it keep you healthy and confident, it is also a great way to meet locals.
A second tip is to be prepared to cook. Sydney is extremely expensive, and $20 meals will add up fast. On the flip side, the produce in Sydney is usually quite fresh, and if you know where to go (PADDY’S MARKET), you can get your tasty fruit and veggies for pocket change. The next tip is to get a job or internship, or anything that pays. Though things are very expensive in Sydney, it is counterbalanced by the high wages: minimum wage in Sydney is a glorious $16.87. Get a job, meet some locals and fatten up your piggy bank for a fraction of the effort it would take in the States.
Another tip however, is to keep your schedule free. I would say the best way to do this is by taking less courses (3 max, or 2 if you are doing an internship). This applies for any study abroad site. When you are abroad, it is important to have time to travel. You will have plenty of other semesters to take courses, but when’s the next time you’ll be in Australia?? You’re going to want to go explore every chance you get, and it frankly sucks to have to stay in on weekends doing the same busy work you do in NYC , knowing that these amazing opportunities to travel are passing by.
That brings me to my next tip: GO TO NEW ZEALAND. Spring break is probably the best time to do it, but if you can stay in Australia after the semester ends, I would highly recommend you spend a week or two in New Zealand. New Zealand is (in my opinion) the most beautiful country on earth. Rent a car and spend a week driving through Middle Earth. Kiwis (the locals) are probably the most friendly, happy people you’ll ever meet. Furthermore, New Zealand is an immensely popular destination for backpackers (in Europe and Australia its common for college students to take a gap year and just travel), so stay in hostels as much as possible and make new friends. The three things I’d say are must do while you are in New Zealand are: go skydiving (or any extreme sport), visit ‘The Shire’ in Matamata, and spend some time hiking.
Lastly, my tip for any future Sydneysiders is to not be scared. Before coming to Australia I heard about a thousand times that EVERYTHING WILL TRY TO KILL YOU. Drop bears, snakes, giant spiders…the list goes on and on. First of all, drop bears are not real. They are a made up creature meant to scare visitors for the amusement of Aussies. Now you know. Snakes, on the other hand, are quite real and extremely poisonous. They are however, not very dangerous. They rarely attack and even if they do, if you stay still, you will almost never die. In fact, there is approximately only one death every 100 years. Spiders though…are huge and everywhere. Its terrifying and disgusting but that’s just the way it is. Aussies never seem to even notice them, so, like with most of the difficulties you might face while living in Australia, the best attitude to have is to simply suck it up and move on. Do that and you’ll fit in just fine mayte.