Now that I’ve gotten the obligatory Opera House picture out of the way, I can write about the rest of my vacation in Sydney. I was really excited to go to Australia because it’s winter there right now, and while it doesn’t really compare to East Coast winters, I could still wear sweatshirts and jeans. Also, I missed being in an English speaking country. While that might seem like a bad way to choose a vacation destination, it ended up being a lot of fun.
We stayed fairly close to Bondi Beach in a really nice neighborhood that made me miss America. It had western conveniences such as: vegetarian options! a health food store! well maintained sidewalks! Our first day there, my roommate and I walked into a corner store and stood there for half an hour exclaiming over tortillas, salsa and frozen dinners. I suspect the owner thought we were crazy.
One of the highlights of the trip was going to Hillsong for church on Sunday morning. I haven’t been able to go to church a whole lot in Malaysia and I really miss it (to the point that whenever I do get to go to church, I get teary eyed, which makes me feel like a sentimental old person). It was even more special to go to a Hillsong service. Their music has been a huge part of my church experience, especially when I’m abroad. In Malaysia (and previously in Uganda), I never really connect with the sermons because they’re so culture specific. But for better or for worse, many churches around the world play Hillsong’s music, and every time I heard those familiar chords, I miss home a little less.
On one of our days there, we wandered up to the Blue Mountains, a few hours outside of Sydney. We saw some beautiful sights, but it was there that I realized that the clothes that I packed for Malaysia did not really work for Australian mountain ranges. It was cold and terribly windy, but stopping into cute cafes and chocolatiers made up for it.
The rest of my days in Australia were spent taking an awesome walking tour, going to museums and generally finding the free things the city had to offer (Australia is an expensive country to visit, especially when I’m getting paid in Ringgit).
Australia was also fun to be in because the people I met actually knew where I was from! I even ran into a fellow Delawarean in the airport. It was incredibly nice to be somewhere that reminded me so much of home. Lest I sound like I only appreciated Australia for being more like America than Malaysia is, it was also interesting to see the differences between Australia and the U.S. For example, climate change is not widely accepted by Australians and I got into a conversation with someone there that included the sentence, “If global warming exists, then why is it cold outside?” I also saw a hilarious political ad on T.V., which featured an ominous music and white words on a black background which read, “Some people want Australia to have privatized healthcare. JUST. LIKE. AMERICA.” Though, if I had the awesome benefits Australians get, I’d probably make fun of America as well.