I arrived in Sydney, Australia in early July, before the start of semester 2, 2019. Upon, arrival I checked into a hostel near Sydney’s Haymarket suburb. The next day marked the start of a multi-day tour, which was run by Barefoot Downunder and organised by ANU Global Programs. Barefoot Downunder is a small Australian tour company run by an extremely passionate and caring couple.

            Before, the tour started we were given the opportunity to meet the other students joining the tour. All of the participants were exchange students going to ANU and coming from all across the globe. This was one of my favourite aspects of the tour. Meeting and talking with these students has provided me with a new view of living and culture among different walks of life. In a sense, a dose of world travel in a matter of days. On top of being a great experience, many of the students I met during this tour became good friends during my exchange.

            The tour kicked off with a Welcome to Country. Where our group was welcomed to the land by an indigenous representative. Following this welcome, we came together for a group dinner near Darling Harbour.

            Our first full day began with exploring the Chinatown district, where we visited a large indoor flea market with lots of fresh produce and also a few souvenirs. We proceeded on a walking tour of Sydney, visiting a few of the well-known attractions. Our tour guide for the walk was exceptionally well versed in the history of Sydney. I was quite surprised by the range of architecture throughout the city. A short 15-minute walk can take you from old colonial buildings to spectacularly designed modern skyscrapers. My favourite part of the walk was getting to see the notorious Harbour Bridge and Opera House, up and close. After the walk, we headed out to Bondi Beach. Filming for the famous Bondi Rescue television series only takes place during the warmer temperatures of the summer. However, even in the chilly winter waters, surfers were out and about riding the waves. We then proceeded to a lookout with fantastic views of the city and a stunning sunset.

            Our last day in Sydney started with a whale-watching cruise. Leaving Sydney Harbour was an experience in and of itself. Traveling underneath the Harbour Bridge and passing the Sydney Opera House was quite mesmerising. Once out of the harbour we had a spectacular glimpse of the cliffs along the coastline. It didn’t take long to find a pair of playful humpback whales. Our boat followed close by as the whales migrated north. After returning to the harbour, we stopped for lunch at Spice Alley, an Instagram worthy hotspot for Asian food. To end off the tour, we travelled from Sydney to Canberra. We received a few recommendations for activities around the city and then were dropped off to start out journey at ANU.

            I would recommend this tour to any incoming students. It’s a great introduction to Australia and a great opportunity to make friends with people from across the world, just like yourself.