Sydney — The dream location without an explanation.
From London to Berlin, to the final destination of Sydney, Australia. The dreamy sunshine haven, a place I longed to be one day. The 6 years of built-up fear, other life events, I day dreamed about it since 2012, up until in 2018 — when I finally made it. Sydney bound. It’s been one year deep in the Sydney sider living.
Here’s a rundown of how it happened…
Throwback to a moment in London, inside stuffy Liverpool Street Station in 2013. I hold (and say goodbye to) a moment where I was hysterically crying to two best friends premature of a quarter-life crisis, saying I wanted to move to Sydney. They hugged me and advised me to do what was realistic. Feeling thrown off by life, I was further confused by this as most things to me is deemed possible and I generally followed the idea of “living life to the max”. I believed you make life as you want it (still believe), but my question..
How was what you want in life achieved without understanding what you want in the first place?
From there, I found a spare room online, transferred a student £435 for it on a Wednesday, and moved to London on the Sunday. A whim for clarification. I absorbed a lot in the fast-paced over-populated city — professionally, personally and gained closure to some struggling emotions. Chapter closed. Great confusion overcome. Great enough to propel to the next life challenge (maxin’ it out)… Beloved Berlin. I gained further experience in change, shifting life and making things work whatever the weather (literally).
Pre-move to Sydney. My expectations consisted of high temperatures — chillin’ 80% beach time, 20% work, living in my many bikinis I brought, BBQs with heeeeaps of mates, drinks in the sun and being surrounded by fun people. Woohoo! Life. Is. A. Party. Right?
I sure that’s some people’s Sydney experience.. But mine shaped in a different way. Brand NEW emotional struggles came of this life — and to tip it off my friends and family back home think I’m “living the dream” and having the best time all the time. But if having social stress and anxiety about not meeting or being invited out with heaps of my mates by the weekend and in reality I made about 4 friends, then 2 of them left Sydney, then it’s barely a dream — more of an anxious nightmare of why I traveled so far to feel alone.
But hello Bondi Beach. The beach of dreams. A bright sunny day, 11th August 2018 (Winter), “the first sunny day in winter” I was told. A great day to be sitting on the grass overlooking the entire beach landscape. But why so sad? Living in Bondi with the white Brits, made me question..
Did I just swap all my loving family and friends for a sunnier beach version of England?
It indeed felt so, but on the other side of the globe. For two weeks, I was itchy and irritated as I envisioned this experience in my Pisces day dream head for years to feel like the best thing ever.
I had to majorly shift some expectations. I was jet-lagged and hindsight says, I was tired and took this into consideration during my weird ‘I-don’t-like-this-place’ phase. It definitely took some time to adjust.
The two weeks went by, I began freelancing on Pitt Street (in the ciddy). I described Sydney CBD — London with palms trees. Work and surroundings were familiar and I had purpose. It helped that a colleague was from York and my boss worked in the same ad agency as I did in London.
Familiarities are essences that help you settle in anywhere new, so I began to appreciate.
Now, with one years Sydneysider knowledge accrued, Sydney CBD is definitely not London with palms trees. Sydney is slower, smaller and more breathable, or just breathable in general, less skin cells in the air y’know — but still with tall, happy, proudly swaying palm trees.
It is a sunny place, all year round. The weather is a game changer which highly effects your mood positively all year round. It’s mid winter now, still sunny, and it’s getting a little breezy at its 14 degree temperature. This means wearing a jacket over your t-shirt and jumper, a hat and scarf is the max requirement. Goodbye Berlin thermals. Or still, you can wear shorts and flip flops (thongs) as some crazy or lazy Aussies do.
Work was a big driver to settling in and chasing some life goals. I freelanced for the year, networked in the new city with recruiters, companies and landed contracts where I wished I could’ve split myself up to be able to work for all the different places. I also enjoyed showcasing my expertise in every interview and meeting I went to, it’s challenging proving to others what you’re capable of in the space of 30 minutes. With that year gone, my working holiday visa got bumped up to a temporary short skilled working visa (482 TSS), which lasts up to 2 years, with option to renew after. I’m now a full-time Product Designer for a fintech company. A very competitive industry right now in Australia, with many smart solutions in online banking and digital finance.
Quick one year facts:
- My landlord (and first housemate) is a 63 year old life coach who ordered take out for every single meal. (I didn’t learn as much as I hoped).
- Lived two weeks in Bondi (which is a cool thing — near the beach!) aka Bondi bubble — if you live there, you don’t exit.
- ‘Arvo’ is afternoon, not short for avocado. People say this in work as well.
- I’ve never actually heard anyone say ‘sanga’ yet in a sentence, aka sarnie / sandwich.
- I went to Bali and Singapore during my working HOLIDAY visa — amazing.
- So far visited: Melbourne, Adelaide, Byron Bay, Airlie Beach, Whitsundays.
- On the list to visit: Tasmania and NZ.
- The Waterloo apartment overlooks Moore Park (a sea of green trees) on the East side, and killer sunsets on the West side.
A year pretty much touches the surface when living somewhere new. You’re grasping work, the different suburbs, new people and living situations. A year isn’t quite enough, I haven’t finished with you yet Sydney. (I’ll rinse you for everything you’ve got!). With a few expectation crisis’ out of the way, I have to be present with where I am and understand I’m here for now. It’s easy to dismiss what’s happening where you are at the moment when you’re chasing the next job, trying to find new friends, somewhat naturally criticising yourself as you go along AND thinking about what you’re missing back home. Right now, I’m in Sydney. Right now, I have 2 friends (joke, I have a few more) which will build as I go. Right now, I’m sat on the landlord’s 90’s beige chord upholstered reclining chair and made very dry vegan blueberry scones. All great things to appreciate.
If I haven’t summed up my move to Sydney already, it’s that — it’s pretty easy from one side when you accept all around you, and it can be pretty darn difficult in general if you compare what you expected to reality. In reality: food is good, living is good, weather is good, culture (Asian) is good. I have a heartbeat, that’s good.
There’s so much more to tell about living in Sydney. Living in a majority Asian Chinese community in Western white society — NEVER experienced before. Being in a room of all/mostly Chinese people (that isn’t my family) was brand new for me, I notice because I’ve been the only Chinese person in the room since 1990, year of birth. This is for another blog post.
That’s one year in Sydney down 🇦🇺👋