The wonderful part about this summer program is the fact that we travel to five of Australia’s major cities in just five weeks. The major turning point in our trip was leaving the outback atmosphere of Kakadu and venturing into the city of Melbourne. From Melbourne, we then moved on to its rival city, Sydney, giving us a taste of many of the different cultures that Australia has to offer.
We started the trip in a hostel in Darwin, and then ventured into the bush for a few days of camping. Although this time in the great outdoors was an experience that most of us wouldn’t trade for anything, the city is where we are happiest. We only spent three days in Melbourne, but that was long enough to see its character. Weaving through the streets, it was easy to see that the city is known for its art. Melbourne has tons of hidden alleys, unique architecture, and large sculptures. We spent one whole day wandering through the city, stumbling upon tons of boutique stores and restaurants and meeting fabulous people.
Our group came to the common consensus that the trip started us at the “bottom of the barrel” as far as living accommodations go when we were forced out of our comfort zones and into a cluster of tents. Camping was a true bonding experience, but being bit all night by the “mozzies” was not on our list of favorite things. And although the city of Darwin was fun for its nightlife, we could tell that Australia had a lot more to offer than what we were getting in the Northern Territory. Once arriving in Melbourne, we quickly noticed some cultural differences between the two areas. The locals in Melbourne were friendlier and seemed to be more accepting of tourists. We noticed that the city has a strong demographic of young adults and had a very “hipster” or “artsy” atmosphere. In Darwin, the main demographic of people appeared to be a little older, slower-paced, and carefree. All in all, the culture of Australia is very laid back though, and everyone is friendly. Many of the locals are extremely sarcastic and funny, which is what I was looking forward to when I came here. I came to Australia with the expectation of seeing beautiful sights and meeting wonderful people, and so far, my expectations have not only been met, they have been exceeded.
Just when we got comfortable in Melbourne, we moved on to Sydney, where we stayed in dorms at the University of New South Wales. Although none of us were ready to leave Melbourne, Sydney turned out to be similar in many ways. Culturally, the two cities are similar and the personalities of people have been more of the same. We have learned that the two cities are rivals in attracting tourists, and they use many similar tactics to bring visitors in. Melbourne had a slightly more unique character and charm, but Sydney has some of the main tourist attractions of Australia, and we have done almost all of them. We have done everything from attending a symphony at the Sydney Opera House to surfing at Bondi Beach. A few of us even did the world-famous Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb where we were able to see the city from a whole new perspective.
As we near the end of our two weeks in Sydney, we are starting to dread leaving. We have been sure to hit all the major tourist spots in the city during our time here, but we still aren’t ready to go. On the bright side, we are moving on to Gold Coast.
Allison Hunt is a student at Temple University and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Allison is currently studying abroad with TEAN on the Tourism & Event Management – Australia Summer Program.