It's a judge free city

17 June 2011 

It’s a judge free city. Which explains why know one batted an eyebrow (alright, except for me) when the waitress requested a signed release form for dinner’s leftovers. Or why an entre of kangaroo blended in naturally with the various other options listed (from salmon and pasta to pizza and crocodile burgers).

I am an observer in a foreign country; It’s natural to notice differences and easy to judge without understanding. That’s not the trap I wish to fall in.

Matt, our group leader, was the one who stressed Sydney’s role as a judge free city. Although, he was referring to the city’s legalization of prostitutes and to the container of needles often found in public restrooms. (To which he clarified that Sydney does not have a heroin problem. Steroids and insulin are, in fact, the most common use for these needles. I didn’t catch why people drop off needles in the bathroom… Matt mentioned something about sanitation. Still unsure how used needles correlates with cleanliness. Prostitution, on the other hand, was made legal to help curb sexual violence. To which it has. Additionally, the legalization has made prostitution a recognized career. Sick leave and benefits are all part of the package.)

Today was my first day upside down. The clouds seem to move faster here, although that could be my jet lag goggles talking.

My group seems fantastic. There are seven girls and two boys so far. Two additional girls will join our program this weekend. The first girl I met was Jewish; It was a great comfort. The other participants are far from it, however I’ve wasted no time in educating them on the concept of keeping kosher. One girl seemed confused, so I reverted to the “I’m vegetarian when out” description.

I am living in a service apartment (a hotel apartment) in Bondi Junction (an area technically a part of Sydney, although privileged enough to have its own zip code. I noticed we took Oxford Street to get to Bondi… I purchased my blue shoes on the Oxford Street in London!) Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full size kitchen, a living room and flat screen TV. Oh, and balconies on each of our rooms. Balconies with a view… A view of the spokes of the opera house’s roof peeking out through the Sydney skyline. A view of the Sydney Bridge towering over the harbour, a backdrop to the Sydney skyline on its left. It’s a spectacular view. Breathtaking when we got into our apartments this morning and equally as phenomenal this evening.
It's difficult to see from the picture but the bridge is in the background and the opera house is directly in front of it.
We ate breakfast at a cafĂ© in the mall that served everything in chocolate. (The mall is directly opposite our apartments, and owned by Westfield. We have a Westfield mall back home, although that one is a one story mall with limited options. The Westfield here has five floors [I think] and includes a full size Target, grocery store and movie theater [tickets are $AUD18! So ridiculous. Well, ridiculous for any movie that’s not titled Harry Potter and is not coming out July 15].) I gorged on two nutella, banana crepes. They were completely worth it.

We spent our afternoon on a walking tour of the city. Matt’s plan was to keep us awake for the day, part of the battle against jet lag. The city is such an incredible blend of… everything. There were moments that I could picture myself in Europe, other times in downtown America. We walked through Hyde Park, taking a moment to enter the ANZAC War Memorial. We took a “toilet” break at the Art Gallery of NSW and continued through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Merely a few minutes away from what Americans would call “downtown,” the gardens provide an escape into a peaceful ambiance in the beauty of nature. Well the beauty of nature until I saw the bats. Which I thought were massive, leather black bags hanging from trees that seemed to come straight out of a Disney, horror/ Halloween movie. They were frightening. 
The ANZAC memorial is on right with part of the skyline on the left. These are the actual colors, no editing! Doesn't the light seem to shine brighter?
We continued our walk through the gardens. Matt had two hamburger buns, which he shared with our group. It was for the birds, parrots to be exact. About fifteen of them swarmed in, beautiful white birds with yellow Mohawks. And they landed on top of us… on our arms, shoulders, one of the guy’s heads. I only had one come to me… I can’t say I particularly enjoyed having a parrot perched on my shoulder, but it was a remarkable experience. 
One of my roomates... The birds SWARMED to her.
Not exactly a recognizable landmark, but there are the shoes. And a parrot. All standing on Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

 At last, we arrived at the harbour. Our first close look at Sydney’s icon… the Opera House. I think I expected it to be larger… not that it’s a small structure whatsoever. Pictures just warp my sense of perspective. The structure is magnificent…. Directly on the harbour, which made the winter breeze quite painful. Matt explained that the spokes of the roof are meant to represent clouds and the brown frame symbolizes cliffs. The opera house as a whole is meant to embody and characterize Sydney’s harbour.

We eventually walked to the other side of the harbour, caught a ferry, had dinner on Darling Harbour and made it back home. By then, our group as a whole was so finished. Jet lag had officially won over.

It’s almost 10 pm… I really should have gone to sleep about two hours ago. We have orientation for our internships tomorrow. Should be informative.

Until then, I’ll be enjoying a fantastic and much deserved night of sleep. Jet lag is not welcome tomorrow morning.

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