Sydney Expat Interview Series Part 3: Your First Day in Sydney

Sydney, Sydney Expat Interviews

This is the 3rd installment of the 18 part series based on interviews with expats living in Sydney. Each month, I’m sharing their responses to a different question. This month, I asked them about their very first day in Sydney. Australia is a long trip from anywhere else in the world, and often involves a sudden change in season, possibly “losing” a day, a fair amount of jet lag, and some sense of unreality that this is your new home. I remember my first day being a blur of  complete exhaustion coupled with elation at seeing the Harbour and Opera House for the first time. This is what other expats recall about their very first day in Sydney. 

Please visit the other great bloggers linked here once you’ve read this post (and commented, shared it, and liked Between Roots and Wing’s Facebook page, of course!).Sydney Expat Interview Series - Your First Day in Sydney


Question 3: What was your first day in Sydney like?

Name: Rachel
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 3 years, 4 months

It was April 2012 when I embarked on my biggest adventure. After saying farewell to family and friends and packing my life into a suitcase, there was no turning back… (extract below is from my travel journal):

I arrive in Sydney after a long but restful flight. Little do I know, but the real adventure is just beginning… I land ‘Down Under’ to a beautiful sunrise and my first three days of jetlag are spent venturing out of the hotel and exploring Sydney with my trusted map in one hand (old school habits, hey) and my camera in the other. My first stop is the obligatory open top city bus tour which takes me around all the tourist locations from the Opera House, to Bondi to Darling Harbor. I have to literally pinch myself as I first set eyes on the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – a truly magical moment.

Name: Julia
Country of origin: UK
Lived in Sydney: Nearly 6 years

Very jet lagged!! I remember arriving on a morning flight – by lunch time I had lost the ability to have a proper conversation with anyone and was babbling with my eyes closed!!

Name: Caitlin
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 8 months
Caitlin blogs at Where’s Wallis

I landed about 5pm from New Zealand and the taxi drivers at the airport laughed when I told them I was going to Bondi…apparently they’d been having a bet on where the blonde girl with a backpack would be going and that was the first choice!

Name: Dido
Country of origin: India
Lived in Sydney: 1.5 years

It was quite interesting. We landed at night and were picked by a friend who drove us to our pre-booked hotel in Pyrmont. By the time we reached the hotel it was around 9:30 p.m. The streets were quite dead by that time – coming from the chaos in India – it was a strange feeling to see the silence in a city which is apparently the most populated in the country. Quite scary. Then we went into the hotel and asked for the reception to help with a bell boy, as we had like 10 bags of luggage, and he said you need to bring everything on your own. Seems we were hoping for a grand welcome but reality hit us on the first day. Although, the hotel was really good and we had a luxury room with a welcome wine which was definitely a solace.

Name: Victoria
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 5 years
Victoria blogs at The Freedom Travellers

It was so long ago now, back in 2005, I was travelling and Sydney was my last stop before flying home to the UK. I remember thinking Sydney was the best city I’d ever been to, the harbour made me fall in love with it and I’m still in awe every time I see the Opera House. I thought to myself at the time “I could totally live here.” Fast forward 10 years and here I am!

Name: Ashley
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: 2 years (in Newcastle)
Visit Ashley on Instagram

My first trip here was about 9 years ago to visit my now husband so it’s a bit of a blur. I remember staying for a weekend in Kings Cross at Formule 1 (not Ibis Budget) and having the best breakfast at a cafe there. Little did I know that the cafe visits were a common thing in Australia. In Boston, cafes are few and far between because you can only sit outside so many months of the year. We went to the top of the Centrepoint tower and checked out Hyde Park. We also grabbed some Strongbow (which I had missed from my days in London) and hung out at the hotel. Like I said, a bit of a blur! Oh and we visited the Opera House and Botanical Gardens. Nothing like seeing the Opera House to make it a little more real that you’re on the complete other side of the world!

Name: Mollie
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 4 years

It was the City2Surf race. We saw all the runners in the street and asked the driver what it was and he didn’t know. Now, I find that pretty hard to believe. It is a pretty big thing here. We met friends of friends here and they brought us groceries, which was amazing. We had never even met them before. Then, they took us to Yum Cha, Chinese dumplings, for lunch. It was a great first day.

Name: Nom de geurre – “Bushranger”
Country of origin: Serbia
Lived in Sydney: 6.5yrs

I went straight to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia for the twilight sail racing event.s2

Name: Melissa
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 6 months
Melissa blogs at Leche Love

It was hectic and exhausting. Our flight arrived at 6 am, but we couldn’t check into our vacation rental until the afternoon. Most of the day was spent at the airport. After being on an airplane with a 5 year old for 17 hours, I think your brain melts. We finally got into our vacation rental and discovered Aldi soon after. And then slept. A lot.

Name: Shane
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Shane blogs at Sea Salt Secrets

I arrived at the end of July and froze in my shorts and tee (it was summer back home). After 24 hours of traveling and a 16 hour time difference, I was extremely jetlagged and didn’t get to take it all in straight away.

Name: Debbie
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 10 years

We moved here with a relocation package for my husband’s job. So our 1st 2 weeks, we were put up in serviced apartments at Milsons Point. It was a wonderful way to start our life here. Our 1st day we ventured out to Kirribilli for our evening meal. It was early August (so mid-winter) and we were wandering around in shorts and t-shirts laughing (very quietly) at all the Aussie wimps with scarfs and gloves on.

Name: Kirstie
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: Since September 2013
Kirstie blogs at Venga Vale Vamos

I arrived in the evening jetlagged and made my way to my hostel above a bar. The NRL Grand Final was on that night, so I sleepily rolled my massive suitcase into a bar packed with rowdy footy fans. After asking anyone and everyone for assistance, I finally found someone who could check me in. I later wandered out for food, only to find myself on Oxford Street, wild as ever on a Saturday night. I stopped by 7-Eleven hoping to find a cheap snack and was blown away by Australian prices. All a bit discombobulating on my first night!

Have you made an international move? What was your first day like?

Read Part 1: Expectations vs Reality
Read Part 2: The Most Memorable Sydney Day

4 thoughts on “Sydney Expat Interview Series Part 3: Your First Day in Sydney

    1. Cristin Post author

      Oh, you’re right – you didn’t! Blame my jet lag for the Twitter tag!
      It’s a wonder any of us can remember anything about our first day – its such a hazy time. 🙂

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