I can’t remember exactly where I left off but Sydney has been great! The students are amazing. Everyone is very friendly and really keen. The breakfast was quite busy and everyone seemed really happy to be there.
My favourite part of the OzTREKK Orientation was as the University of Sydney's Chris Lawrance and I were greeting people in the Sancta Sophia lobby, a girl walked in with her parents. I told them to go ahead and they could grab some food. They didn’t want to bother her and I told her that some other parents were sitting at a “parents” table. She turns back to them and holds up her hands and says, “Dad, I think I need to do this alone.” It was so adorable!
I then walked out with two parents back to the street and they were both raving about Adam and Sarah (one dentistry and one medicine student) and all the support that OzTREKK provides to parents and families. So, thank you, both (and Nic, who works behind the scenes)!
A funny thing: Chris asked we start the tour early because he was driving to Adelaide afterwards and we talked about leaving at 10:30. When I introduced Chris at the breakfast, he clarified that everyone was to meet at the front door at precisely 9:50.
Anyway, another student comes in about 9:45 and I said to him that he’s got a couple minutes to grab some food and then we’ll go out. It was funny because I assumed that 9:50 meant that we’d leave about 10 and Chris was giving time to coordinate 50+ people and fill up water bottles, etc. That was entirely incorrect and the tour started exactly at 9:50. I had to text to find out where they were (I was with the late-comer). I shouldn’t have been surprised!
Anyway, Chris was really great and encouraged students to join clubs, get out and meet other students, etc. The University of Sydney campus is giant (I forgot how big, actually, as it eclipses Melbourne) and so we didn’t go everywhere but it was OK. Chris had taken great lengths to get into MacLaurin Hall and the Great Hall on a Saturday, which was great. Suzanne (Semester in Australia) said those buildings are never open. I was actually getting a little bored waiting for the guy to unlock the room (we probably had to wait for 10 minutes, which Chris filled with history). I assumed the other students were, too. But every time I looked, they were totally engrossed in Chris’ story. Not to mention as soon as the rooms got opened, all cameras went up. It was a pano party!
We had a few students from last year and I noticed they came on the tour. I asked why they came and Mike says, “Are you kidding me? I’ve been here a year and I’ve never been able to get into this place. It’s kind of cool to see where we will graduate.” That was great. Oh and Chris was, obviously, the best tour guide of explaining interesting things about the room and the shields and the wood and the you-name-it.
After that it was OzTREKK Shuttle time. The shuttle in Sydney was very busy and there was lots of interest. I nearly lost my marbles after driving an hour to get to Costco (which is, like, 5 km away, but traffic was horrendous). I got over it, though. The 12-pack of croissants, chocolate protein powder and the roasted chickens seemed to be real hits at Costco. Anyway, I ran three full days of shuttle (starting around 8 on a couple of mornings and ending as late as 10 one night). I really liked that because I felt that this group made use of the shuttle the most! They were really great for me to get my feet wet, though. I now dream of the pathway between Abercrombie (a street where we’ve probably got 10+ students living) and IKEA or Costco. Oh yeah—IKEA was a very popular destination as well.
Overall it’s going really well! All the students were really thankful for the help (without the van in Sydney, it virtually eliminates a Costco or IKEA visit) and, again, a lot of them made use of it, which was great!
Oh and I found the most delicious chips I’ve ever eaten in my life. They are “Red Rock Sweet Potato Crisps Green Chilli & Coriander.” That discovery made me quite happy and may impact my desire to be healthy on this trip. If I can manage to figure out a way, I’ll bring you guys some.
Seriously. Life changing.