Wow, you have taken me for a whirl these past few days. One week ago today, it is Sunday in Australia, I was home and talking excitedly to every family member, friend, or random person who would listen about this amazing trip I was going to be taking to Sydney, AU in just a few days. I would tell them about the amazing internship I would get to complete here, I would make them jealous with my tales of beaches I would visit, I would even let everyone know that I planned to come home 14 shades darker then when I left. Among all the excitement and glamour, I knew it was going to be a long ways from home and that I would be gone a long time (little over 2 months), I also knew I would be traveling on New Years and spending 38 hours straight traveling. I may have known all this, but I was little prepared. I’ll be honest, I cried on my last night home. Scared I wasn’t going to make it there okay, afraid I was going to miss home too much, worried I wouldn’t have what it would take to live alone abroad for so long, and definitely already missing my family, friends, and boyfriend. The massive bag of mixed emotions and hormones that I was somehow made it to say goodbye to my family and boyfriend at the airport, but even then I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
After a 2.5 hour layover in snowy O’Hare on New Year’s Eve, we finally made it out of the airport and were on our way to LAX. We got there safe and sound and I got to enjoy the oh so amazing Percy Jackson Movie to pass the time. I was okay and ready to be on my way even then, worried, but ready. After a short layover in LAX which included the most expensive turkey melt of my life, we started to board the plane at midnight Chicago time. That was when it hit me… not only was I not kissing my year and half long boyfriend at midnight to ring in the new year, I was not celebrating or calling my family wish them a happy 2014. I was not drinking and celebrating a wonderful 2013 with my close friends either. I was going to be sitting on a plane for 15 hours more of travel to live alone in a country on the other side of the world. I’ll be honest, I started to cry again. Suddenly all the glamour and excitement wasn’t just talk anymore. It was happening it and it was already changing everything I knew, understood, was comfortable with, and loved. I was terrified. However, people start to crowd you and worry about you when you’re crying on a plane, most think you’re terrified of flying and I was offered quite a few sleeping pills from strangers who either a) were honestly looking out for me and wanted to help give me a smooth ride, or b) wanted to make sure I didn’t throw a fit at every bit of turbulence for the next 15 hours. Either way, after I somehow got myself to calm down and just take everything in one minute at a time, I managed to relax watching “The Butler” on my personally little TV screen on our massive AirBus. I fell asleep soon after the God awful dinner they served us, and with the help of Dramamine, I slept for 8-9 hours straight on a plane.. unbelievable right?
We landed in Sydney at 8:30 AM in Australia time, 2:30 Chicago time approximately. Everyone was left to their own devices on how to suddenly navigate our way to our apartments in Waterloo (A 20 minute bus ride suburb of downtown Sydney). Everyone was jet lagged, over excited, and overtired at the same time and navigated the sudden 80 degree muggy weather seemed like more than we could handle with at least 80 pounds of luggage each. However, withing the hour we all managed to make to the apartments, only to be told we had 5 more hours until we could check in, aka, nightmare number 1. We have not shower for going on 40 hours, we lived and slept in the same pair of clothes for the same 40 hours, and we have not eaten a solid meal for 20 hours… Last thing we wanted to do was go on a walking tour of Sydney in now 87 degree humidity in yet the same cloths and body odor we have been enjoying for 40 hours, but we did! And damn if we still weren’t impressed by the beauty and amazing views of the Sydney Opera House and Bridge anyway.
After the tour and our first meal in Australia, (mine left a little to be desired given I was attempting to be cheap in the 3rd most expensive city in the world), we go to go check into our apartments, which was a hassle to say the least, after an hour of ONE elevator, and 50 students with luggage for 2 months, we all got into our AMAZING apartments. I have no idea what I am paying for this lodging specifically, but I probably don’t want to know given it is WAY better than the Arbaugh apartment I left behind, sorry Augie.. My apartment specifically has a second floor, TWO balconies over looking the city, TWO large beautiful bathrooms, and the best part… a DISHWASHER! I don’t even have one of those at Arbaugh! I’m so spoiled here it isn’t even funny.
One thing I will complain about though, the food, in my opinion, is not up to par with the offerings in the States. Most of it is Asian, and I am biased, I am a limited Chinese food fan and not a big Thai, Vietnamese, or Korean fan, but other than that the food is much more bland to me and cooked with much less meat. That is probably the Midwestern, meat lover in me, but I do miss my burgers, pizzas, steaks, and especially bacon! Not to mention an average meal is about $14 cheaper end and about $32 for one person to go out to eat. My biggest expense hands down will be food, which is sad because I really do love food. For someone my size you would definitely not guess the amount of pizza I can throw down.
Anyway, I’ll continue with my timeline so far. The second day we spent more time with CAPA, the 3rd party company that helped us get jobs here, spent the morning in an orientation that explained some ins and outs of living abroad, some travel options, and PHONES. Oh my gosh if I wasn’t embarrassed by how important having a functioning phone with internet all the time was to me. I almost jumped the phone guy trying to get my phone to work in order to call home to family and text my boyfriend. I won’t lie, being in contact with home made it much easier on me to function here. I really needed to not feel alone in the big old world in order to really try and enjoy this beautiful country. After the phone working, we all managed to find the closest beach possible and sat our tired butts down on it for about 2 hours late that afternoon. It was STUNNING. I have posted pictures on Facebook if you are interested in seeing Coogee beach and all its cliffs and rocks to climb on, but I will also post them here if my technology skills are strong enough.
So yesterday and today (Saturday the 4 and Sunday the 5) I have spent with my butt in the sand soaking up WAY too many UV rays. As well as attempting to swim the in the Pacific, which I might note is freezing… all the time. It’s about 45 -55 degrees all the time with MASSIVE waves that can spin you over in them, drag you across the sandy bottom, and rip you back up in maybe one piece.. It is an adventure to say the least and not for the faint of heart. I also attended Saint Mary’s Cathedral this morning for 9 AM Catholic mass. The Cathedral is absolutely stunning, and that is saying something because I have been to a dozen churches in Rome, Italy including the Vatican. The service was wonderful and really helped me feel at home because it’s the only thing just like home that I have run into so far.
I guess I will wrap up this excessive long post, I promise not all of them will be this bad, it just took me a long time to get to an Internet Cafe here. I want to finish by noting just how difficult it can be to come abroad and live… it is not easy navigating transportation, finding food you can afford AND like, waking up in a new place every morning, and trying to stay in contact with the ones you love. That is why I want to give a shout out to all those who are supporting me and helping me through this crazy transition period. 1. My friends from both Augie and home that are Snapchatting and Facebook messaging me. 2. My roommates here in Aussie who are helping me everyday by keeping me busy and helping with the confusion. 3. My wonderful extended family that all wished me luck and are checking in on me via my parents. 4. My boyfriend’s family and their continued well wishes and prayers, I love you all. 5. My parents and their continued monetary, mental, and emotional help that has made this so much better every time I talk to them, I love you so much. And finally, my amazing boyfriend Austyn. You have dealt with as much separation pain and more than I have, have talked to me everyday, done everything you could to make me feel better and more confident here, and have truly been a blessing to me every day, I love you so very much babe.
That’s all for now, but I will be back after my Blue Mountains excursion and our boat tour of the Sydney Harbor. 🙂
Goodnight Sydney <3
Posted on January 5th, 2014 by Megan Funke
Filed under: Megan Funke