Rachel Down Under!

No worries, mate

Posted in Australia, Sydney by rssmith218 on August 8, 2010

I’m finally beginning to settle into my new life in Sydney, and I couldn’t be more excited. The past few days have been busy and at times a bit overwhelming, but I’ve met a ton of new people and it’s been a great taste of what it is going to be like to live here. I’m still not quite on Australia-time, and I have been getting really tired around 9 pm each night, so I have spent a lot of time pretending to be awake and engaged, but hopefully this will pass soon!

So, despite my constant sleepiness, what have I done so far?

The first night, I went to a birthday party for Ziggy and Mariana’s friend Giulia at a cute and very delicious Mexican restaurant (Mariana is Ziggy’s girlfriend and one of my housemates). Dinner was for 25 people and it was crazy and completely overwhelming. Ziggy and Mariana both got their PhDs from the same lab at the University of Sydney with the well-known scientist Tony Underwood (he retired this past year) and most of their friends have some connection to this lab. The lab is both huge and extremely international. Ziggy and Mariana alone are Argentinian and Brazilian, but at dinner, I met people from Italy, Chile, Australia, the UK, Germany, and Portugal, among others. Everyone is so friendly, but also loud and outgoing; I’ve been amazed at the level of energy and enthusiasm that everyone is able to maintain, though I guess that is probably just my jetlag talking.

I don’t think I’ve ever been around so many people from such different countries- I really like it! It is interesting to hear people talk about their respective countries and communication is very different; most conversations are held in English, but most people speak Spanish, and I have been struggling to understand. My other two housemates (Paolo and Gregorio) are also Chilean, so everyone in our apartment speaks Spanish except for me- they have been really nice about speaking in English when I am around, but I still feel bad that I can’t speak Spanish with them.

On Friday, I spent the morning trying to get my bank, Medicare and phone set up, which ended up being more of an ordeal than I thought, though it worked out in the end. Afterwards, I made the trip to UNSW to a “welcome party” at my new lab. I finally met my advisor, Emma, in addition to my direct supervisor, Graeme, and I can’t wait to get started. I went on a tour of the lab, and had a chance to meet most of the lab; unlike the lab at USyd, most people are from Australia, and everyone is again very friendly, though a bit more reserved. Emma was very chatty and easy to talk to- overall a very different vibe from my lab at Northwestern. There are many younger PhD students in the lab, and it seemed like it would be easy to make friends. Also, I talked to Graeme a bit about the project, and it sounds awesome- I’ll give more information later once I know a bit more.

Afterwards, Ziggy and I went to the USyd lab for a going away party for Mariana, who is moving to Perth next week for a new job. It was neat to see another comparable lab- the USyd lab is much bigger, though the lab space is about the same. From the lab, we headed to a nearby pub, which was fun, but we stayed out very late and I was exhausted.

Yesterday, I spent the day wandering around Bondi and running a few errands. I love that Sydney feels very European. Bondi Road, the main road between my apartment and Bondi Junction, the main shopping area, is full of restaurants and little shops. There are bakeries, chocolate stores, fruit and vegetable stands, seafood shops, and even a “fresh game” store.

I love that you can get everything locally. For example, yesterday afternoon I just popped into the corner seafood store to get fresh fish to put on the “barbie” for my first Australian barbecue. Ziggy cooked an entire cow leg and cow ribs “Argentinian” style, which was pretty cool to watch.

This post is getting long, but today I had the opportunity to go sailing out on Sydney Harbour! The woman that Thomas and I stayed with in LA, Jacquie, put me in touch with one of her friends, Lea, in Sydney and this morning Lea invited me to go out with her family on her sailboat. I walked to meet them at Rose Bay, and from there we toured Sydney Harbour, which, as you can see, was absolutely gorgeous.

Rose Bay, where the boat is held.

I’m on a boat! Note the Australian flag in the background!

What’s that I see? The Sydney Opera House?

Yep! And the Harbour Bridge!

Pretty nice. Tomorrow I start my first real day of work- looking forward to it!

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4 Responses

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  1. Lenore said, on August 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Organic Roo! Yikes!
    I want to go sailing in Sydney harbor! How fun is that!?

  2. Lisa said, on August 9, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Good luck with the work, and glad you have been getting things done. You’ll adjust to the time change soon enough, especially if everyone down there is keeping you on a busy schedule and not letting you take naps.

    And that sign makes me wonder…what kinds of non-organic meat are the other game shops around town serving?

  3. Thomas said, on August 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    YOURE ON A BOAT

  4. Lenore said, on August 9, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Ya got yo flippy floppies on?


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