Monday, 25 February 2013

DuBYE and off to SEEdney =)

I know it’s been a while since I last posted something on this blog – and after several people addressed me asking where the next post was, I guess it’s now finally time to get you up to date.

Leaving Dubai was a sort of relief really. The United Arab Emirates – as far as I got to know them – are a particularly traditional country with regard to their values and morals but want to be a country of innovative technologies, wealth and prestige – a country that has attained some sort of global modern spirit. It seems that Dubai is a city caught between the devil and the deep blue sea – quite literally. Even those two days in Dubai gave me a feeling of being at the mercy of the national authorities. The impression you get is deceptive and the temptation to behave like you would at home is big. That, however, could get you in big trouble. The sharia law plays a big role in the U.A.E. and even though I wasn’t faced with issues such as sleeping in one room as an unmarried couple, I felt the subliminal judgement that you can even see in the local people’s eyes. In short: Dubai and the U.A.E. – a place on earth to be regarded with suspicion even though the sights and the part of its culture that is available to tourists may suggest a modern society.
On the way out, we were running late by two hours. When we were finally up in the air, it was only one last glance back at Dubai (although it was a pretty amazing one) and then on to Sydney.

Dubai from above, taken out of the Emirates A380 during after take-off

World's Tallest Building - Burj Khalifa

Ahead of me was the longest flight of my life so far. Nonstop duration of the flight: 13 hours and 45 minutes. And again, I had some of the most interesting people sitting next to me. An elderly couple – he, originally from New Zealand, and she, born in Kenya to English parents and speaking fluent Swahili, were on their way to Auckland to visit friends there. They had lived in New Zealand, England, South Africa and Kenya setting up a restaurant, owning a pub or simply living the day. Their children were scattered all around the globe and with a daughter of theirs running a travel agency in Dubai, they had connections on every continent. All in all, the time went by quite fast – the food was good and opulent as always, this time with a dinner and a breakfast. Emirates offers a selection of juices ranging from orange and apple juice to tropical juices such as pineapple or mango!
And flying on the Emirates A380 was definitely an experience of its own! More legroom, less noise and a nose, landing gear and tail camera which was very cool since we were flying in the direction towards sunrise.

Emirates Personal Screen in Nose Camera Mode

The Blue Mountains from above
Having arrived at Kingsford Smith International in Sydney, I had to go through immigration – only that it was quicker than in Dubai while there was about double the amount of people waiting. And there I was… in Australia’s biggest city and – with roughly 4.6 million inhabitants – the biggest city I have ever lived in.

At the Opera House - a must on the first day, never mind the jetlag!
Bondi Beach, Sydney's most famous beach
And probably the most expensive one, too! A one-way ticket to the city costs $17 for a 10-15 minute ride on the Metro. Other expensive things include cheese ($6 for 150 g – and that was the cheapest Cheddar available) and other groceries (paying $27 for some toast, yoghurt, cereal and cheese is just ridiculous) as well as transport ($44 for a weekly ticket – that would be roughly 888.40€ for the semester ticket we’re used to in Germany – only that this ticket can only be used within the CITY of Sydney and not within the entire state of NSW) – and not to forget: rent! Single rooms are available from $220 per week, that’s 690€ per month. For a single room. In a flatshare. At the other end of town. Let’s just make this note: living in Australia has its price.
Thankfully, I was welcomed by Laura, a fellow student of mine from Germany who had already arrived a few weeks earlier. I don’t know what I would have done without her help – so THANK YOU so much! And I have to say… the Australian Wine Festival did a good job in helping me feel at home, too.

Wine and cheese and life is good =)

Now, I’ve already been here for a week and I’m starting to get accustomed to the Sydney way of life. I have to admit that the first couple of days were very hard – not only as far as the jetlag is concerned, but also due to getting homesick. I know I have chosen this path on my own and I am pretty positive that it was the right decision but nevertheless: home would have been more convenient because it would have meant less of an effort. This way, however, I was stuck in a 6-bed dorm with 5 other people I didn’t know, in a far from tidy hostel right in the city centre of a megacity 20,000 km from home.

And what a room it was that I was put into: three lads from Ireland, one from France and a girl from Sweden. The Frenchman was visibly relieved when I started speaking French to him and it was really nice to hear something different than English or German for once. The Swedish girl worked in a bar until late so there was not too much of a conversation taking place there – although it was fun to not tell her I understood some Swedish. My lord did she swear a lot! Oh yeah, and then there were the three Irish lads – four after the French guy left – who liked a good whiskey at night and a nice beer the next morning – despite their bad hangover from the whiskey night. It seemed to be normal to start playing the guitar at 12.30 am “but only for a half hour” (imagine the Irish accent here) which was to say: “for as long as nobody complains”. And so, they went out to a pub, coming back at 2.30 am accompanied by a gang of girls one of which stayed the night – in the bunk bed underneath mine, with the Irish guy. And all that was to be heard of them for the rest of the night was kissing sounds and intense breathing. The rest is left to the reader’s imagination. However, I hope it is now self-evident why I wanted to leave asap!

The happenings in the hostel gave me an even higher motivation to find another place to stay – and so, I looked for rooms, apartments and flat shares on the internet and in the university database. And what I found was a room in a family home where I’d be staying with a mother and her daughters who are, however, out and about for most of the time. The house is huge, located just off Kings Street in Newtown which is a 10-minute bus ride away from my university and only 20 minutes from downtown Sydney. During the viewing, I felt at ease right away: a large living room, a big (and of course fully equipped) kitchen, a backyard with a porch and a barbecue and of course: two pets. A cat and a dog! I was really getting anxious that someone else might move in but today, I finally got the call that – if I was still interested – this could be my new home for the next year! What a relief… Now I’m looking forward to moving out of the hostel on Wednesday.

And the orientation week starts tomorrow – so there’s plenty of new stuff happening at the moment… and plenty of new photos to look forward to!

I guess I’ll keep it at that for now – I’m sorry there are just a few pictures in this post but there are lots more to come I can assure you!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned – the adventure has just begun! ;-)


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