My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In the last issue Matt and I landed in Sydney Australia. After getting some much-needed rest we went to work looking for a car.
As it turns out, Australian banks and governments are pretty used to dealing with backpackers. We saw other travellers opening and closing accounts at the bank we went to, and found that, in 2013, the Immigration Department issued a staggering 249,231 working holiday visas. With a population of 23 million, the travellers account for a temporary 10% population boost each year.
Finding a car wasn’t too hard. At any given time in Sydney there are several travellers looking to sell cars a few days before catching their flights. Matt ended up buying a beat-up, old station wagon that came with low-grade camping gear and a portable hot plate for cooking. The fabric of the aged interior was falling off and had been secured with several tacks. But, at a cool price of $2000 for the working vehicle, we weren’t complaining.
In our last few days in Sydney I made sure to check out a fair bit of the city, including the downtown area, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and I even watched a giant military ship dock at the harbour. The ship had so many personnel on board that the harbour area was flooded with Australian Navy eagerly heading to shops and bars.
The Blue Parrot hostel was quiet enough that I could study. I spent a few hours between a hammock in the backyard reading and writing on my computer in the kitchen. Of course, being in King’s Cross, notorious for its nightlife, everyone starts drinking after dinner. After a bit of resistance I decided to join the festivities.
As one of the biggest wine producers in the world, Australia produces a staggering 750 million liters of wine annually. From what I can tell, it is the backpackers who drink a significant amount of it. If You’re staying in hostels in Australia you will inevitably hear the term ?goon?, which refers to giant, cheap boxes of wine frequently drank by backpackers.
While Matt avoided goon at all costs, I decided to give it a try. I have to say it doesn’t taste too bad, but, more than likely, You’re going to pay for it the next morning. By 11:00 pm I found myself feeling the jet lag and called it a night. Matt and a group of French travellers went out to a nightclub for, what I’m told, was an epic night of drinking and dancing.
The next morning we?or rather, I?woke up ready to hit the road. A few hours later Matt forced himself out of bed and we packed our stuff. After only four days it was time to say goodbye to Sydney and hello to Young, the cherry capital of Australia.