By Adrienne Cytto, Staff Writer
This past weekend, I did a lot of reflecting on my time here so far and took the time to just step back and relax. Sometimes when you’re in a foreign city (or on any vacation, for that matter), you’re so busy going to all the sights, taking pictures and moving at a such a fast pace that you forget to take it all in.
While I do have so much to think about in my last month and a half here – student teaching, spring housing assignments, graduation – I realized one of the best things you can do while abroad is find a time, even for just one afternoon, to take it all in and see what an amazing place you’re in. On Saturday, my friends and I decided to take a break from work for a few hours, get a coffee and walk around Hyde Park, the oldest public park in Australia. The first thing we saw when we got to the park was the Pool of Reflection leading to the steps of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) War Memorial.
The ANZAC Memorial commemorates the country’s first major military involvement in World War I. It was so interesting to visualize the symbolic and important events that took place in WWI from the a different perspective, after learning so much in our Australian culture class about the ANZACS and Australia’s military history. As we walked around the memorial, we saw engravings on the wall of all the major battles and cities that Australia was involved with in the war including Gallipoli in Turkey, as well as many other European and Middle Eastern cities. Now the memorial commemorates all who have lost their lives while serving Australia in war.
We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on a bench in the center of the park by Archibald Fountain just watching people go by. Our time spent out in the city really made us think about how glad we were to be in Sydney and travel across the world to immerse ourselves in a culture that sometimes can seem very similar to America’s, yet different and unique in so many ways.
As we were watching people, sometimes we forgot that we were in a different country and did not expect foreign accents to come out of people who were walking by or talking on the next bench. It was almost as if we were sitting on a bench in a park in New York or Boston instead of in Sydney. In a way, it kind of makes sense that America and Australia would seem somewhat similar, especially since both have historical ties to Britain.
While there are so many amazing and beautiful places I have been to so far in Australia, I think taking the time to immerse yourself in the history and culture of the city helps give you a stronger connection to where you are. It helps you understand what you see around you and helps you appreciate being there in that moment.
The history and foundations of Australia and Sydney in particular were right in the heart of the park, somewhere so close to our new home, yet we never really took the opportunity to see it. It’s days like this that remind me how lucky I am, and I look forward to making the most of the rest of my semester here.