Sydney Round 2, Hostel life ain’t so bad

Sydney, I’m back. And where else would I check into than Zing backpackers in good old Kings Cross. I expected to only stay for a couple of weeks, but ended up calling it home for the next 8 months. I never thought I could live in a hostel for so long, but while I thought about getting an apartment a couple of times, I realised that a hostel was better in so many ways. Ok so the lack of privacy can be annoying at times, living in a 6 bed dorm does mean that people will be around all the time, crashing around at all hours and having loud sex a few feet away from your head. And the kitchen is tiny and the bathrooms are never clean and there are cockroaches everywhere…BUT, being surrounded by people all the time is both fun and comforting. You become a kind of family. There is a sense of community and a constant buzz that you don’t get in a shared apartment with 3 Asian girls who are always in their rooms on their computers with the door closed. And after a while you become so used to being around people 24/7 that on the rare occasions you have the dorm room to yourself you feel lonely and uncomfortable…where is everyone?! I need company!

I was desperate to find work as soon as I arrived as I’d spent most of my savings on the flight over and the first weeks rent, (hostels in Sydney are not cheap…), I expected the only work I’d be able to find would be the standard backpacker stuff like bar work or waitressing. But I had a half-hearted look on gumtree for teaching jobs anyway. And, as it turned out, there are loads of international English schools in the city and the first one I applied to invited me for an interview the next day. And just like that, I had a job. A proper job, doing what I love, teaching English. My students ranged from age 16 to 60 and came from all over the world. In my first class I had a handful of loud, confident Brazilians, shy, polite Japanese, wonderfully wacky Koreans and a few Europeans from all over the place. Sure there were times when living in a hostel was tough, mainly when I had lessons to plan, almost illegible homework to mark and had to be up at the crack of dawn while my dorm mates were chugging goon and staggering in at 4 in the morning and pissing in the sink. But looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I had a great job and great friends and after 8 months, when I finally left to take a road trip up the east coast, it was like leaving home.

Just a few things that come to mind when I think of my time Sydneyside:

  • The daily subway commutes into the CBD, feeling like a proper city dweller. (I come from a tiny seaside town, so this was a pretty big deal for me.)
  • All the great people I worked with and the lovely students I’ll never forget.
  • Beach days at Bondi, Coogee and Manly
  • Far too many 7/11 $3 coffee and muffin combos for lunch…
  • Spending every weekend in either Goldfish, KCHotel or O’Malleys (Why leave the Cross?!)
  • The occasional fancy Thursday at Ivy (thank God for 3 day weekends)
  • And finally making it to Ms Gs for bubble cocktails
  • Knowing the hostel courtyard closes at 10 every night but still complaining and moving as slowly as possible every night
  • And that one time they tried to change it to 9.40pm…not a chance
  • One disastrous Tinder date
  • Sunbathing off a hangover at the Andrew Boyd Pool in Woolloomooloo
  • And then having to face the horrendous climb back up the McElhone Stairs to Victoria Street…
  • Cockatoos. Everywhere
  • Watsons Bay Cider Festival
  • Newtown Festival
  • Paid trips to Taronga Zoo and Jervis Bay #teacherperks
  • Watching a movie with a picnic at the Moonlight open air cinema in Centennial Park
  • Christmas in Coogee and spending Christmas day on the beach
  • NYE, watching the fireworks from the top of a cliff in Rose Bay
  • Straya Day in the rain, learning to play Flip Cup (sort of like Beer Pong, but more fun)
  • Finding pre loved goodies on the cheap at Glebe Saturday Markets and strolling round the Rocks markets on sunny Sundays
  • Turkish Pide from Mr Deno and real Pain au Raisin from Douce France (Merci Sebastien for telling me about this little gem)
  • Running loop from the Cross, past Wooloomooloo wharf, through the Botanic gardens, up to the Opera House and back (never ceasing to be amazed at how beautiful this city is.)
  • Shark scare at Bondi, sirens on, mass freak out (except that one guy that literally did not give a shit and just kept on surfing.)
  • Vivid Sydney
  • Too many trips to Braza in Darling Harbour, Food coma in 3, 2, 1…
  • The regular sight of a cockroach in the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom not bothering you nearly as much as it should
  • Ditto when a rat runs over your foot. OK that did bother me slightly, but what did I expect if I decided to make a phone call in a back alley behind a hostel in KC? Privacy = pests running over your extremities
  • And last but not least…. the old guy that wanders around the Cross in his ‘Big Dick is back in Town’ tee. God bless.

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