So Long, Sydney!

Hello everyone! Sorry I’ve been MIA; end-of-semester projects + final exams + spring semester registration + planning post-semester trips/applying for visas + moving out of my apartment + other day-to-day responsibilities = very busy and stressed KP! But now that I’m officially on SUMMER BREAK (or winter break? I guess I get a little of both?), I can finally update y’all on a few things I did in and around Sydney before the semester came to a close.

The squad and I love to save day trips for Sundays because on Sunday, and Sunday only, all public transportation in Sydney (buses, trains, ferries, and light rail) is capped at $2.60 for the day. So one Sunday we made our way to Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest national park and one of the oldest national parks in the world! It’s known for its rugged coastal cliffs, but has beautiful beaches and eucalyptus bushland as well. We decided to hike to Wedding Cake Rock, which is white due to iron leaching and uniquely shaped like a slice of cake. (Wedding Cake Rock looks like cake? Shocker, I know.) Apparently the iron leaching causes the sandstone to become dangerously soft, and the entire rock formation could collapse at any time. In an attempt to dissuade thrill-seekers from climbing onto the rock, it’s blockaded by a metal fence, but just like everyone else who makes the trek to Wedding Cake Rock… we jumped the fence and climbed onto the rock. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were hiking along The Coast Track, which is 26 km (16 miles) one-way… WE HIKED. SIXTEEN. MILES. It’s meant to be a two-day hike, but online it says that it can be completed in one day if you’re “super fit,” so go us and our super-fit-selves. My feet have never been in so much pain, but the view was definitely worth it.

Remember when I visited my friends Jack and Rebekah in Tasmania? Well they finally made their way to Sydney, along with Jack’s parents! They invited me over to their Airbnb for dinner one night, and the home-cooked meal and time with hometown friends was much-needed. I hadn’t seen Jack’s parents for almost a year, so it was great catching up with them, and it really was home away from home for a few hours. We even got to watch the fireworks in Darling Harbour from their deck!

My friends and I wanted to soak up some Harbour views before our time in Sydney came to an end, so we went to Circular Quay one night for dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants, then stayed to watch Badu Gili, the light show featuring Indigenous art that’s projected onto the sails of the Opera House.

I know in one of my past posts I wrote about meeting a guy in my class who’s studying abroad at UW next semester, and it turns out that there’s a girl going, too! They asked me to meet up with them for brunch one morning so that they could drill me with questions about Madison and what to expect. If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s talk about how much I love UW (all of my friends here can confirm that I never shut up about it), so it was really fun getting to tell them all about the sports and the academics and the pride and the traditions. I’m definitely bringing them to Roast for their first cheese curd experience, because what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t??

Last but not least, we made sure to celebrate Friendsgiving! Being away from our families during Thanksgiving was difficult, but thankfully we had each other to make up for it. We all chipped in and made the must-have Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, creamed corn, sweet potatoes, and apple crisp. Before we ate we went around the table and shared what we’re thankful for, which pretty much turned into a lovefest and us talking about how much we’re going to miss each other after this experience is over. We really did become a little family over the short period of time that we were in Sydney; my study abroad experience wouldn’t have been the same, or nearly as good, without them, and I’m going to miss them so much. Aleks is the cutest and made us all friendship bracelets in Australia’s national colors so that we’ll always have a piece of ‘Straya and the squad with us.

It’s hard to believe that my semester at USyd is already over. Everyone always told me that my semester abroad would fly by, and wowwee were they right. It was definitely bitter-sweet saying so long to chilling out in the quad on sunny days, stress-eating banana bread way too often, and watching sunsets from my spot at the lib. I stressed a little (JK, a lot), learned a lot, and made some unforgettable memories and lifelong friends along the way. I can say without a doubt that studying abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made, and it was an experience that I’ll never ever forget. RIP USyd, you’ll be missed.

Thanks for reading!

– KP