The last few days I have spent getting my bearings on the city. Now I have a solid mental map of the city. I have a much better mental map of Sydney than I do even Boston. Funny even though I live in Boston I haven’t yet really studied the streets. This year I learned where Coolidge corner was, after two years in the city.
Yesterday I woke up at 10:30am and by chance while peering out my bedroom window I saw a delivery man waiting outside of my building with my lost bag. I ran down and opened the door for him. To my surprise he didn’t have my mobile phone number and hadn’t alerted anyone he was coming. If I had not seen him out the window by chance he would have left and left me without a bag.
Now I have more underwear, short, my books and sun hat. I can finally settle into my room. So I feel much better, previous to yesterday I had been washing my underwear in the sink and hanging it out my window to dry.
So now that I have all my stuff and have my bearings on the city I am ready to begin my brief little life here. The internet at the Uni is useless at times. Some days it doesn’t work other days it does. I had to pay 120$ for service, yet it doesn’t even work. The entire day of January 17th there was on internet. McDonald’s is the closest free wifi and just like all stereotypes of America the local McDonald’s is full of American students using the wifi.
My tele is broken. Since I don’t have a TV I have taken to my small radio. I listen to the radio to absorb Australian culture. I walked aimlessly around the city listening to the radio. Since it is summer here, all the songs that are currently popular in America. “I whip my hair” and “ Like a G6” are all summer hits here. The radio is a good way for me to interpret culture. In Australia they just released a new Pepsi called Pepsi Raw. A Pepsi that comes from organic/fresh ingredients. I’m gonna have to try this.
Also the Aussies say that they have a growing Lebanese population. Unlike London, Sydney doesn’t have any visible covered Muslims. However, they say that the population is large. I found a radio station that calls the Muslim Call to Prayer. So I guess there are enough Muslims here to require this, but unlike London where there were enough Muslims to warrant the loudspeakers outside the mosque, in Sydney the Call to Prayer is just on the radio.
The coolest radio station I found was the Aboriginal radio station. They played all kinds of music, but most importantly they talked about native issues. I learned today that in the Northern Territory the law states that the first four hours of class must be taught in English, then the rest of the classes may be taught in the native tongue. Since the implementation of this law the aboriginals drop out rate have gone up. The aboriginals have a level of autonomy in the center of the country and they even have their own flag which is flown at all major government buildings across Australia. It really surprised me. I saw a huge mural in the city of the aboriginal flag and the face of Martin Luther King. I guess that they want the same equalities that all oppressed people want. The radio station announcer said that the radio station wouldn’t stop running until “my people are free.”
England and Australia are playing a major round of cricket matches and I have started to watch them. I got inspired and I went out and bought a cheap cricket set. A new friend of mine named Ben and I went to the local park, the same one where I saw bats, and we played cricket. On our way out of the building to the park a professor stopped us and led us to a parking lot behind the school and taught how to “bowl” cricket and play the game. I think I might like this game, I am gonna organize a game of cricket via Facebook with all the people here. I doubt many people will join, but those that do will likely be the sort that are here to learn about Australian culture and not just drink.
Some of the student both boys and girls are here to get partying and clubbing out of their system. I was much more into going out when I was in London, but since I have gotten most of that out of my system I don’t have the same enthusiasm about going out that they do.
Today the best thing happened. This was the highlight of the trip. After coming back from playing cricket, I got a call from my best friend Michael Novotny. Michael had been my best friend in Japan. He and I were the only exchange students at Nagoya High School. Since he was the only person I could be myself with in Japan he and I formed a very strong bond. We say that we went through hell together. The last time I saw him was when he boarded a bullet train in Nagoya to go back to Tokyo and then on to Australia.
Michael was on break from his work at a tourism centre. He told me that he would come to visit me in Sydney from Melbourne next week and that coincidently his parents would come too. His mother and I had spoken a bit on the phone for the last three years. So I am sure that she also wants to meet me. I have been calling him twice a year since we parted in Japan.
Talking to him was great, because he was so welcoming. His family seemed excited to finally meet me. I feel like I have a place that I am welcome. A place where I’m not out of place, but welcome. This feeling of being welcome was the best feeling I have had since arriving. Michael told me that I was welcome to stay with his family in March during my Spring break. He also invited me to his 21 birthday party. I’m excited to see a great friend of mine after so long, and I’m really thankful that his family will take me in. In a way it will be like I have a host family for one week. I will learn a lot about Australian culture by living with them. This experience will be more beneficial to me than any island travel.