Sydney, Week One: A Cultural Comparison

Jan 27, 2016 5:30:00 PM / by Julie Ritz

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring2016_From_Kisha_PAtel_-_Official_CAPA_Blogger_Image.jpegKisha Patel is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A political science and gender/women's studies major at Ursinus College, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

In this week's post, Kisha talks about cultural simialrities and differences she's noticed so far, and her urge to try new things.


I cannot believe I am writing this post actually from Sydney. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I am actually here.


I had plenty of expectations about Sydney but I had no idea what it would actually be like.

When I first decided I was going to Sydney, many people questioned my decision and asked why I “wasn’t going somewhere with a bigger cultural difference” and how I "wouldn’t be really absorbed in a different country experience because they speak English too". However, upon arriving in Sydney, I have found there is still a culture and language barrier despite it also being an English speaking country. Besides learning the slang, there are many cultural differences that have been something to get used to. This is the funny video about Aussie slang that CAPA showed us at orientation!

Video: How to speak Australian - Abbreviate Everything by hijosh

I still haven’t completely gotten used to the whole "using-the-left-side-of-the-road" thing and still find myself looking the wrong way when I cross the street. It’s so second nature for me to walk to the right, so I keep finding myself running into Australians when I am walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk or standing on the wrong side of the escalator.

Another thing I haven’t quite gotten used to yet is social behavior in Sydney. It is rude to talk or eat on public transportation and when our group of CAPA students gets on the train together, we usually start talking loudly and laughing and we usually get some looks from the locals traveling alongside us. I am finally starting to remember these cultural differences as I go along.

While we are still learning the ropes of living in Australia, my flatmates and I have been exploring Sydney and practicing our best Aussie accents.


Flatmates on a cruise of the Sydney harbour


Flatmates in front of the Sydney Opera House


At Bondi Beach after Orientation

My flatmates are amazing! We get along so well and I think I have spent more time with them than doing anything else. I am so glad that our different personalities mesh together so perfectly. We have been going out everywhere together between dinner, grocery shopping, bars, the markets in Chinatown, or just hanging out in our flat trying to learn how cricket works.

While my nerves about being in a new city have not completely subsided, exploring the city has helped. CAPA orientation gave us all the tools we needed to tackle traveling around and learning about our new home.

Between traveling to orientation, visiting our campus, and exploring the city to get to the harbour and beach, I think I have successfully tackled Sydney's public transportation. The trains are very convenient here and the lines are easy to navigate. CAPA also had us do a fun scavenger hunt to find Chinatown, the Central Business District, Darling Harbour, and Circular Quay, which forced me to understand my surroundings in Sydney and figure out how to get from point A to point B.


My Scavenger Hunt Group Celebrating Finishing at the Opera House Bar

As these first days are going by in Sydney, I am getting more and more excited about what is to come. I already love it here and cannot imagine going home. I am so surprised with myself because I am finding that Sydney is making me want to say yes to and try new things. I am writing this post sitting on the couch in my flat as my flatmates are discussing how we are all going to attempt to run a marathon together (and I am SO not a runner). I already have made a huge Sydney bucket list on all the things I want to do while I am here including skydiving & the Sydney bridge climb.


Just a Few of my Goals I Wrote On My Second Day in Sydney

I am so excited to see what is to come on this journey and start both my classes and internship soon. Until then, I will be exploring Sydney and celebrating Australia day!

Thanks Kisha!

Kisha's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.

Find out about the CAPA Sydney program


Topics: Sydney, Australia, Official Bloggers and Vloggers