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Our First Weeks in Sydney

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Hello Family and friends,


It is Sunday night, July 11, 2010 and we are finally settling in on our last night at a hotel room in Sydney!  Yes, we finally got an apartment and we get to move in on Monday.  It feels like we have been here for much longer than 11 days, but that’s probably mostly due to the fact that I’ve already been working for a week in the Expedia office here (it’s very different than at home – but I’m loving it so far!).  My office is in the heart of downtown and I feel like I’m in New York City when I walk from the bus or train station to the office in the mornings/evenings during rush hour.  We keep thinking that Sydney reminds us of a mix between NYC, London, and California with the beach towns (but much nicer).

We’ve done so much in 11 short days!  So far we have set up bank accounts, gotten cell phones, explored most of Sydney including seeing Bondi Beach, walking the Eastern Beaches walkway, went to the Saturday Paddington market that is full of local handmade crafts including clothes, jewelry, art and much more, we also went to “The Rocks” which is another great area near the harbor and it also has an amazing large weekend market, we went to the Cinema downtown, ate dinner and walked through China town, we looked at at least 15 different apartments, bought a bed and basic home goods to start us of and so much more.

I must really trust and love Oscar because we put a deposit on a Studio in Paddington that he found before I even got to see it!  (Paddington is a really cute part of Sydney – just outside of the downtown area)  The rental system here is CRAZY.  You only have 15 minutes to go to an “open house” and about 10-20 other people usually show up.  The first one to put in an application and bids the highest gets it!  All of the apartments are VERY small to American standards and are VERY expensive too.  We knew this was going to be expensive living here, but we are really finding this out with the housing.  They rent by the week here not the month – which is more expensive and you really can’t find a decent place to live for much less than $350 a week.  BUT…Oscar did great and I love our little Studio in Paddington.  It’s VERY small, but it’s just what we need and it’s in a really charming street near lots of shops, great restaurants and walking distance to the downtown area (I can walk to work in 30 minutes).  We are very excited to finally get to settle down and make a home here.  The past few weeks we have been living out of our suitcases and been in transition, so it will be nice to have a “home”. 

Today we went to Target (FYI it’s not like Target at home – much smaller, less stuff, and much more expensive!) and we went to KMART (which turned out to have the best deals and things we needed – again everything here is twice as expensive, so it’s really hard to make yourself pay $75 for a set of “OK” sheets – when I could get some really nice sheets for $75 at home, so we are still trying to adjust to that), but we got some basic things and we will settle in more tomorrow and this week to see what else we need.  We also bought a new double bed mattress (we didn’t really want to buy a used one) and we will have a double bed pull out sofa (for whoever is brave enough to come visit us and doesn’t mind sharing a tiny apartment with us).  Anyway, it’s all coming together and it’s finally starting to feel like we are living here.  For a while it just felt like we were on vacation, but having to buy things like cleaning supplies and pillows makes it seem more real. 

Oscar and I are also feeling more like locals because we are starting to really get to know our way around and the ways of doing things here.  I’m sure we have lots more to learn, but so far we have learned the following… a lift is an elevator, if you want to take food “to go” it’s called take away, every one is your mate and “no worries” is the theme, always look right before you cross the roads (and probably look left and right one more time just in case), trash is called rubbish, the letter Z is called Zed, it’s a cinema not a movie theater, it’s holiday not vacation, and yes the toilet does flush the opposite direction!! J

Well, that’s all of the updates I have for now.  We are going to try to write at least once a week and update our photos as we have fun ones to share.  We miss you all and can’t wait to share this great city with you when you come visit!






Dear family and friends,


It’s been ten days since our arrival to Sydney and this trip already has proven to be an exciting adventure. We are happy to be here.


Our first days in Sydney were a little rough. We stayed in a small hotel in Randwick – a neighborhood close to my school and about 25 minutes by bus to the city. It looks a lot like some older residential areas in London. To our surprise, the weather was cold (around 40 degrees), cloudy and rainy. We thought it almost never rained here and the weather was always sunny, dry and warm. We definitely underestimated this city’s winter. However, the cold artic winds have been offset by the warmth of Sydney’s people. Everyone here has been extremely nice to us and unnecessarily generous with their support.


Our first weekend went by fast and Piper soon had to start working at the Expedia office in Downtown Sydney (also called CBD). That area of the city is beautiful and it looks much like Manhattan and Chicago. There are thousands of people walking quickly to or from their jobs. However, the work environment seems to be a lot more relaxed than in the Expedia office at home. Piper has been impressed by how people work hard but play much harder. Priorities are definitely more focused on employee satisfaction and quality of living. Perhaps, this is one of the most beautiful parts of traveling – it allows us discover that there are many different ways of living – not better or worse, just different.


I’m excited to go back to school. The University of New South Wales is truly a fantastic institution. It has really exceeded my expectations. This week I will be busy with a lot the orientation sessions and I’ll start classes on Monday.


One of our most significant challenges so far has been finding a place to live. The city is huge and discovering it has involved a great deal of walking, getting lost, asking for directions and remembering the comforting feeling of knowing the town where you live in. We went all over the place looking for a new home: Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, EastGardens, Maroubra, Bondi, Coogee, Clovelly, Glebe, Kensington, Kingsford, Potts Point, just to name a few neighborhoods. We finally found our new home in a beautiful area called Paddington. It’s perfectly located between Piper’s office, my school and BondiBeach. This neighborhood is full of boutique shops, book stores and cafes. Behind the main road, there are hundreds of charming townhouses connected by small welcoming streets and little roundabouts. Our studio is tiny, but we love it. It’s small but very cozy. We got a great deal in rent and the location is by far our favorite place to live in Sydney. Rent is expensive in this city – probably similar to what it is in New York and London. The money will pay for our little studio can easily be used to rent a nice 3 bedroom house in a great area in Orlando. In any case, we are happy with our new place and very excited about getting the keys today!


A lot of things are similar here in Sydney, and sometimes, they make us feel as if we were still in the US – perhaps just in a far city in the West Coast or in a state we have never been to. Nevertheless, there are many small differences that remind us of how far we really are from home and the 14 hour difference that divide us. For example, French fries are chips, chips are crisps, elevators are lifts, trash is rubbish, movie theaters are cinemas and babies are ankle biters. People don’t say “you’re welcome”, they say “no worries”. People don’t get drunk, they get pissed – but they still get pissed off if they are mad. Australians drive on the other side of the road – which has tested our sprinting abilities a few times already. Australians are passionate followers of all kind of sports, but the most popular seem to be rugby, cricket and Australian football. Dollar bills are colorful, shiny and water proofed. Orange juice is definitely not nearly as good as it is Florida. Coffee shops sell the most delicious meals like homemade lasagna or seafood Thai rice; they also sell coffee and pastries of course. Most restaurants are small and independently own. Most immigrants are Asian and Mexican restaurants are nowhere to be found. Toilets have push buttons on the walls like they do in Europe, but water flushes down in the opposite direction. Electric plugs are different from America and the ones in walls have individual buttons that turn the plugs on and off. Clothes and shoes are two or three times more expensive than they are at home – and for some strange reason, soup is that much more expensive too! We now live in a city where you can easily go to work from 9 to 5 and then spend a couple hours surfing or scuba diving in a beach minutes away from the office. Sydney is also abundant on culture and art – historic buildings, museums, concerts, theaters, galleries and craft shops are the nature of this city. This place is different from home, but we are very excited about living here the next year or more.


That concludes my presentation J I’ve been thinking about you a lot during my short stay in Australia. I hope that everything is going well in your side of the world. I miss you guys.










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Living Down Under

Sydney, Australia