Saturday February 6, 20165:30pm
DAY 3: SYDNEY - I got a job!!
Wow I don’t even know where to start. I only arrived on Thursday yet it feels like weeks have gone by, so much has happened. I guess a good place to start is at the beginning…
The flight was actually not bad! 15 hours in a middle seat does get old but at least it wasn’t the 26-hour total travel time my seatmate was doing, flying from Boston to L.A., L.A. to Sydney, Sydney to Melbourne. Breaking up my travel in California was such a great idea. The flight was mostly uneventful, except that I became great friends with the two people on either side of me - it’s hard not to when spending so much consecutive time in such close spaces. One of them worked for the Department of Justice tracking down money laundering in the drug trade! He had such fantastic stories. You really do meet the most interesting people on planes.
I’m staying in Sydney, in Paddington, with close family friends who used to live in OG years back. Paddington is a suburb a bit outside the CBD (Central Business District - aka the “city” part of Sydney) and is so perfect. It is full of art galleries, little boutique jewelry and clothing shops, cafés, tea rooms, and all the houses are in the same Victorian style that gives it such a quaint, delicate look. The small houses are built right up next to each other and all have matching terraces with wrought iron banisters with intricate floral designs. Lined up next to each other, the facades form an array of beige, brown, dark green, and burnt sienna, mixed in with a dash of bright red or vermilion blue.
I didn’t realize how much of an influence England had on Australia. Just looking at a map of Sydney I am overwhelmed with British names - Oxford Street, Chippendale, Kings Cross, Queen’s Park, Public Cricket Ground, Kensington Park. This should have been obvious, as Australia was discovered by Great Britain, who subsequently dumped her convicts to start a colony. It’s kind of like Britain but without the grey weather and with the kangaroos! Okay that’s exaggerating; I quickly am learning that Australia has a culture entirely of its own that is VERY different from England, and that Australians don’t identify with their British ancestry much anyway. Plus, I can see large influences from Asia and Indonesia here too, which adds a very interesting cultural mix!
I decided that I want to spend my time here working as a waitress, taking painting classes, and volunteering part time at the Sydney Youth Food Movement organization. I was really close to taking an internship at a marketing agency, that would have been very intense and great for the resume, but I thought about it a lot and I just realized that this is my one chance to do what I want. I only have one gap year, I am only 18 once, and I have a lifetime for serious internships and career building. Although I’m sure I would have really enjoyed the marketing internship and learned SO much, I already did two pretty serious internships this year and want to create a different experience. And it is going so well already! Yesterday, I went to explore Bondi, which is the most popular area for visitors because of its beautiful beach and trendy stores and restaurants. I roamed the neighborhood, going into any restaurant I liked the look of and asking if they were looking for wait staff or bartenders. With my CV in hand, I was expecting this to take a while, but I was determined to not give up. But guess what? By the 4th one, I had a job! It’s this really cool, hip restaurant and bar two blocks away from the beach called The Neighbourhood. I couldn’t believe my luck - I asked the bartender if they were looking for someone and he said that yes! they actually needed someone right away because one of the waiters just left without notice. By chance, the manager was in, and I had an interview on the spot, and I’m starting work tomorrow! Today was spent getting my RSA Certification (to legally serve alcohol). It was a 6-hour class that was so dull and dryer than sandpaper but I made some new friends who are also young travellers like me! I may even share an apartment with the French girl I met next month.
Aside from the work-search, last night I went to a house party in Paddington with Gemma, the 23 year-old daughter of the family I’m staying with. It was unlike most house parties I’ve been to, first of all because it was “Grandparent” themed so everyone was walking around with canes, wearing big eye glasses and with grey hair spray on their heads and beards :D. But what struck me was the house! It was so little and old-fashioned, with a tiny, narrow staircase leading to lots of compartment-like rooms. And there was an outdoor toilet/outhouse! It must be an original house from the 19th century. It was “heaps of fun,” as they would say, and I heard a particularly crazy story about a recent trip to Thailand that ended in a hospital bed with a split-open skull - he’s fine now don’t worry.
There are lots of little things that are so funny and different to me: driving on the left side of the road (it’ll take me a while to not automatically walk towards the driver’s seat side of the car), how they say “mozzies” instead of mosquitos, and “cheers” and “mate”, of course the Australian accent, meat pies and lamingtons… the list gets longer and longer each day. All in all - “The wind is blowing and I couldn’t be happier.”