So, you are going to move to Sydney. You’ve booked your ticket, obtained your visa, and done research on the local area. However, there are going to be things that you are going to need to know about the life; things that can’t be learned on the government website or National Geographic. When I decided to move there, I knew nothing about the place except the standard, “there will be beaches, kangaroos, and sharks.” My mum, always one to use movies as enrichment to standard life advice, fully prepared me by forcing me to watch Crocodile Dundee one evening before my departure. I kicked up a stink, annoyed at having to watch the cheesy 80’s classic… (is it a classic??) However, during my first week in Sydney while attending a standard Aussie barbeque, a guy that I met pulled out a large cooking knife and uttered Dundee’s famous line, “You call that a knife? THIS, is a knife.”
WHERE HAD I BEEN TRANSPORTED TO?
Sydney was certainly a culture shock and despite having traveled all over the US and having lived in the UK, nothing at all could have prepared me for the life that I was stepping into.
So, here are some of the things to know before you go.
Where to Live: A.K.A over the bridge, or not.
There is a strange, yet permanent debate that divides those that live south of the bridge against those who live north of the bridge. In fact, one of the first bits of advice that I ever received was, “do not live over the bridge.” followed closely by a debate with someone who wholeheartedly advocated for living over the bridge.
Here is the lowdown. While real estate can be cheaper, the suburbs are adorable, and the work commute could be shorter for some than commuting from the other side of the bridge, there is still a little negative stigma attached to ‘over the bridge’ living. In fact, legend has it that if you party in the city and go home, you are likely to entirely lose your buzz by the time you get home. Essentially, the ‘crossing of the bridge’ signifies that the night is over. However, having said that, the views are also generally better, which almost always leads to extravagant roof parties. Quite the conflict.
Bills and Budgeting:
To piggyback off the housing theme, I bring you to bills and budgeting. I’m from America, and here, (at least in my experience), bills are paid monthly. My phone, my car, my rent, my gym membership, my insurance; EVERYTHING, is paid monthly. However, step into Sydney and you will find yourself in a world of endless bills. Rent is paid weekly, (sometimes fortnightly), bills are paid quarterly, phone payments are paid monthly, and gym memberships are paid weekly. Add into that your other random expenses, and if that doesn’t confuse you while budgeting out your paycheck and life, I’m not sure what will.
You think you are going to an English speaking country. You are wrong. Australians don’t speak English. They speak Australian. Allow me to define.
Australian- a version of the English language in which almost every word is shortened , every sentence is heavily punctuated with profanity, and there is a large usage of the letters ‘o,’ ‘ie,’ and ‘y’ as suffixes.
For instance, the word dog becomes doggo, afternoon becomes arvo, Christmas becomes Chrissy, and Lipton’s tea, becomes Lippos. However, despite the endless shortening and revamping of words, everyone knows what everyone is talking about. You will too in a few short weeks.
The Drinking Culture:
The Australians can drink. In fact it sometimes seems that every gathering, (even during the week), must always turn into a fantastic party where guests consume copious amounts of alcohol. However, when it comes to the weekend, all bets are off. Most people drink all weekend beginning Friday. In fact, a lot of companies let their employees off early on a Friday. However, if they don’t, it’s not uncommon for them to still allow the weekend to start a little early. Most offices indulge in some office drinking starting around 3pm, resulting in a happier than average attitude, and a less than productive afternoon.
There isn’t much to say here except that the food is phenomenal. Whether it’s Indian, Chinese, Thai, burgers, or simply dessert, the food is decadent, and people love to eat it. Unlike many places in the US, restaurant chains are not as popular in Sydney. Instead, people go and try small individual cafes and restaurants. They are usually amazing and if you ever leave, you will forever crave the food in Sydney. Except pizza… the pizza isn’t great.
The Creepy Crawlies:
The flies in Australia are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. I remember watch National Geographic as a child and seeing flies just sit on animals, people, etc. I wondered why they didn’t just bat them off. There are times in the year when it is like this in Australia. You just cannot bat the flies off. They are simply a different brand of fly; the strongest kind of fly. No matter how much you whip your hands around and try to swat them away, they just sit there. If they do happen to get swiped off your skin, they simply come back, and sit some more.
Also, there are the spiders. They are massive, they are poisonous, and they are the worst. I have arachnophobia and when I found a large huntsman the size of the palm of my hand in my bedroom, I left and didn’t return for a week. A better way of handling it would be to purchase some insect killer, or get a brave friend on speed dial for spider emergencies.
Well there you have it: the things to know about Sydney that you can’t find in the textbooks. Ultimately, Sydney is one of the most wonderful places and is certainly my favourite city of all time. It is exciting, beautiful, and one of a kind. If you can go, go. However, be prepared that if you have to leave, you will forever miss and wish to be back.
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