Something that caught my eye the moment I got to Australia was its cultural diversity. Initially, I thought Australia would be somewhat similar to the states, but this couldn’t be any further from reality. There is a notable influence in Sydney from a variety of countries. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from France, Sweden, Korea, China, Pakistan, Spain, Netherlands, Scotland, to list a few. And yes, i’m doing an exchange program so it is easy to meet people from other countries, but most of the people I have met aren’t necessarily in the program as well. You can walk down broadway and listen to five different languages being spoken in just one block.
Being in Sydney feels like a separate country on its own. It feels like a global hub, where people from all over the world meet. It feels like a country without a definite or exclusive culture on itself. Being so close to the eastern part of the world, there is a lot of influence from Middle Eastern and Asian countries; especially when it comes to food. There is an extraordinary amount of chinese, indian, mediterranean, japanese, and korean restaurants. One of my favorite places to go eat is called Spice Alley. It basically consists of over 10 little restaurants along a small street that offer a mix of asian dishes. You can find plates all the way from Malaysia to Japan. There are so many options to pick from that the first time I went it took me 20 minutes before I could decide what I wanted to eat.
In addition to high variety of restaurants, you can see the international influence in the supermarkets as well. Aldis and Coles both have their own aisle dedicated to international foods. You can find tikka masala paste, curry, and other amazing spices in that aisle. This shows how Sydney in itself recognizes the variety of cultures it holds. Thus, the people in Sydney at least are very accepting and welcoming towards other cultures.
Before I arrived to Sydney, I must admit that I had a stereotypical idea of what Australia would be like. However, I was pleasantly surprised that there was more variety to it. In addition, Australia changes a lot depending on the city or area you are in. If you move away from the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, you start seeing more of Australia’s culture as you enter smaller or less corporate areas. During my trip to Byron Bay, I was able to enjoy a very relaxed and local type of environment that I also enjoyed a lot.