By Taylor Hartz, Staff Photographer and Writer

Sunset of Sydney’s beautiful habor./PHOTO VIA Taylor Hartz

At the start of the spring semester I had never traveled outside the country. Today, I find myself quite literally on the other side of the world, spending my summer in Australia.

After 32 hours of traveling, I went from Connecticut to Boston to Houston to LA, and finally to Sydney. The signs in the airport actually say “G’day” in addition to the customary “Welcome.”
Aside from hearing “good onya mate” at least twice a day and being called a “sheila” by the local barista, Sydney feels a lot like America. This city has the price tags and crowds of Manhattan, but the architecture and history of Boston. You almost forget you’re on the opposite side of the globe, until you see the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge or any of the dozens of beautiful beaches.

Technically speaking, it’s winter here. Although the Australian idea of winter is no colder than 65 degrees, it doesn’t stop locals from talking about where the best hot chocolate spots are or which pubs have cozy fireplaces to warm up by. I spent my afternoon tanning on the rooftop deck while the streets below were crowded with Australians bundled in parkas and scarves.

Our first two weeks have consisted of soaking up the city: finding Nemo at the Sydney Aquarium, cruising through the Sydney Harbour to catch our first glimpse of the magnificent Opera House and the “Vivid Sydney Festival” – a two-week light show across the city at night. All the biggest buildings are covered with lights and moving projections, while the fountains in the Harbour glow with color as they dance to everything from Queen to the Carmina Burana.

Over the weekend I discovered Manly, and subsequently equivocated it to being the Cambridge (of Cambridge, MA) of Sydney. It’s a charming little beach town with trendy restaurants and lots of well-dressed hipsters. We spent the afternoon on an exhausting, but breathtaking three-hour kayaking tour through three beaches, hiking a rock trail to a stunning lookout point over Manly Wharf, visiting the eery museums at Quarantine Beach and relaxing on a rocky mountain to watch the sunset over Shelley Beach.

In addition to all the adventures, I’m spending four days a week interning with Time Out Sydney magazine. As if writing for a respected and popular publication every day weren’t enough, I’ve already scored some great tickets to the Sydney Film Festival, a few theater shows and some exciting cabaret, Cirque du Soleil-esque club venues.

The next month and a half includes too many trips to count. This week’s calendar includes the FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Australia and Iraq and a trip to the Blue Mountains – where we’ll feed kangaroos, finally get to pet koalas and take the world’s steepest railway straight down into a rainforest.

After that, I’ve got a full schedule of wine tasting at Hunter Valley and a weekend spent shark feeding, sting ray petting, whale watching, mountain climbing, camel riding and dune surfing in Port Stephen’s! Our last stop is a flight down to Melbourne for a stroll down Great Ocean Road for a view of the 12 Apostles.

Needless to say, life down undah is exciting, adventurous and beautiful.