When arriving in Sydney, exchange students try to hit the ground running in regards to making friends. Students scramble to establish themselves in a group, make connections and feel secure. The tendency to stick with this initial group of people is incredible. Many, including myself, fall prey to this tendency. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to study abroad experience. Although studying abroad is about connecting with others, it is also about taking the risk to explore new places on our own and finding things out for ourselves. Do not misinterpret this as me saying that making friends is not important. It most certainly is important, but the study abroad experience is an individual experience. Spending too much time in familiarity defeats the purpose of why you left your home university. In my opinion, in order to get the full experience, you not only need to see this new environment with new companions, but you also need to spend time alone to experience it for yourself. So far, I have tried my best to continuously exercise this ideal by taking the occasional weekend by myself to explore areas around Sydney. This post will be covering the first part of my most recent solo weekend.
I wanted to get my weekend started on the right foot so I decided to visit the famous ANZAC Bridge after my last class. I had no plan in mind. At that moment, all I wanted to do was see the bridge. The walk was much longer than I expected but ended up taking me on a scenic walk along the bay. As I followed the path to a park, the bridge gradually revealed itself. As a bonus, the park that I arrived at was a dog park. So not only did I get a view of the magnificent cable bridge, I also got to enjoy the sight of dozens of dogs wrestling and playing fetch! I found a nearby bench to take in the scenery and bask in the sun. After a long time of relaxation, I noticed the sun was starting to get low. I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I decided to walk around the bay and go across the actual bridge to enjoy the sunset!
Once I got to the bridge, it was something else entirely. At the beginning of the bridge, there was a memorial and statue for the soldiers of the ANZAC. As I walked past the memorial I began to get a sense of the size of the bridge as well as the length of it. At the middle of the bridge I could see the sunset in the distance on one side, and the Harbour Bridge on the other. I had that triumphant feeling that I actually was studying abroad and have the opportunity to experience scenes like this. Eventually I got to the end of the bridge. I walked down the long winding ramp at the end of the bridge, realizing that I am now in the middle of a neighborhood outside of the business district. I just continued walking. I didn’t know where I was but my goal was to make my way to the city and make a loop all the way back to my apartment.
About a mile away from the ANZAC Bridge was the bridge that went over Darling Harbour. This, of course, is where many residents and tourists go for food, entertainment, and drinks. The bridge was cluttered with people coming home from work, on vacation, or just taking a stroll. By the time I made it to the end of the bridge, the sun was gone and it was dark. The lights of the city began to light up the streets. I continued my walk through downtown Sydney, passing all of the shops and bars that were filled with people happy that the weekend was finally here.
A simple trip to see a bridge ended up being an all day expedition around and through half of the city! I got back to my apartment and collapsed on my bed, resting before tomorrow. I decided that I will be waking up early to go hiking in the mountains outside of the city. Check out part two, which will be posted soon, to learn about my solo experience in the Blue Mountains!