Martyn Megaloudis is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.
In this week's post, Martyn shares his first-time experience using public transportation in Sydney and what his commute to his internship placement is like.
I want to officially start off this post by talking about Sydney’s transportation. I wanted to talk about something that at face value may seem “boring,” because something that I quickly realized this week is that studying abroad isn’t a total transitional state. I still have homework, I still have to take the train and the bus to my internship, and I still have to deal with monotony. Obviously, there’s quite a bit of shake-up living in an entirely new country but there’s also a strange sense of familiarity in my day-to-day life that I personally wasn’t expecting.
4The biggest difference that I’ve had to deal with so far is the way you’re charged. At Pitt, you pay once you hop on the bus and that’s all you have to worry about. In Sydney, you tap your Opal card (transportation card) once when you get on a bus/train/ferry, and then you have to tap once again when you get off—that’s how they calculate the fare. I’ve nearly jumped back into a bus at least twice because I forgot to tap off when I was leaving. It’s a bit easier with trains considering you can’t walk out of the station without doing it, but it’s still something to get used to.
I want to say, “Oh, public transport is so much better than back home,” but to be fair my time spent on Sydney’s trains, buses, and ferries have been great. Central Station, the main hub of transport near my apartment has the same essence of Grand Central which is appreciated (again with the familiarity). In fact, on my first day back from my internship, there was a full orchestra playing in the hall—giving the end of the day an unneeded but appreciated sense of scale and theater. However, I have encountered a few hiccups in travel that I’ll explain after I describe my daily route to my internship.
My internship placement (more to come in a later blog post) is based in the town of Illawong, which is about an hour-and-a-half away from my Urbanest living quarters. I have to take Train 8 from Central Station about 10 stops south to Padstow station where I then go to a bus stop for around 10 to 20 minutes for the 962 bus (or the 92 if the 962 doesn’t show after a while) for around another 25 minutes to the town of IIIawong. Then, I usually walk to my internship site, passing by an assortment of beautiful homes, local shops, and supermarkets, and at least one high school.
Like I mentioned before, this suburbia landscape I travel through isn’t the glamor and culture shocking journey I’d thought I make; it’s familiar and, in no intention of sounding dissatisfied or unhappy, similar. I think it’s in the slight modification, such as Opal cards and the conversations that one overhears on public transportation, WHERE the study abroad experience truly rests. Sure, I am going to see amazing sights while I’m here and create lasting memories, but I’ll also get to interact with a culture using the familiarities from my own home as a throughline.
However, on my FIRST day traveling for my internship, I was halfway through the aforementioned train journey when they ended up kicking out all of the passengers due to “maintenance issues” on another train further up the tracks. Alone, in the middle of suburbs of Sydney, I decided to explore the platform—which after a minute or two was just a train platform in the middle of nowhere. It was also a train platform that also barred no shelter from the morning winds that had shown up that day.
My experience with the bus has been slightly better. Since I mostly take the bus to my internship location, which is located in a very residential area of Sydney, I’m more often enough alone on the bus not counting a few late high school students.
I’ve been trying to avoid public transportation in all honesty in an attempt to get the most and see as much of the city as possible—which is something that I do in every city I travel to. Yeah, a 20-minute bus journey is nice and convenient, but an hour walk through a foreign place? Give me that any day of the week. It gives you the ability to see things you may have literally driven past and allows you to truly see the city on your own terms.
Martyn's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.