What Surprised Me Most About Sydney, Australia

Sydney Ehmke is a student at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sydney, Australia.

Most of the time when we intend on taking a trip to a foreign place we do a bit of background research. So what did I do for Australia? I watched Finding Nemo on repeat and listened to Down Under by Men at Work around the clock, of course.

(Jokes, jokes.)

Though in all reality, there is only so much pre-research a person can do. The rest of the trip is meant to be discovered. This, my friends, is where the surprises begin to spark.

The Weather

Winter + Australia… What is this nonsense? Believe it or not, it gets cold in Australia. Night time in particular, the chill can become so discomforting that cuddling with a rabid koala for warmth sounds like heaven.

The Language

Sorry ladies, no man will be calling you “Sheila” if that was something you were looking forward to. But no worries, hearing someone refer to their buddy as “mate” is still all the rage.


Nemo cannot be found in the Sydney Harbour. Darn you, Pixar.

Sydney Habour and Opera House’ Nemo isn’t here, but maybe we’ll see Dory.
Sydney Habour and Opera House’ Nemo isn’t here, but maybe we’ll see Dory.

The Accent

I knew an Australian twang would be just as charming as ever, but no one told me hearing, “Pleasure to meet you, darling”, would make me giggle on the inside like a little school girl for ages.

The Lack of a Taco Bell

If there is one thing I miss about America, it is having a Taco Bell everywhere I turn. If you think you might endure withdrawals without this fattening, perfect for late-night-munchies, five-star restaurant, Australia is not the place for you.

Kangaroos and Koalas

The first day I arrived in Australia a koala fell out of a tree and just about attacked my face. Next thing I know it, a kangaroo attempted to box me as well! Then two months later I wrote a blog and made up a story about these animals attacking me. What am I trying to say? For the city of Sydney, the amount of kangaroos and koalas one would hope to see might be a disappointment. But don’t fret, there are plenty of zoos around to visit these critters.

Kangaroo at Rainforestation' Don't tell him, but several weeks later I had a kangaroo burger.
Kangaroo at Rainforestation’ Don’t tell him, but several weeks later I had a kangaroo burger.

While these surprises managed to occasionally catch me off guard, perhaps because I am at times naïve, I know there are many more to come. Let’s see what you’ve got, Australia. I’m down for the ride.

Want to read more about the life down under? Check out “4 Places to Visit While in Cairns, Australia”