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Discovering the Culture While Studying Abroad in Sydney

July 01, 2024
by Jake Kalinowski
A beach with people sitting on the sand and standing and swimming in the water

From Surfing to Delicious Produce Markets, Exploring Sydney’s Culture 

So far my time studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, has been marvelous. I’ve been enjoying soaking up the warm sunshine and exploring all there is to see and do in Sydney. It is a wonderful city booming with activity and culture.  

One of the biggest parts of Australian culture, especially in a coastal city such as Sydney, is the surf culture. In fact, 2.5 million Australians surf recreationally. I visited Bondi Beach the same day I arrived here in Australia. There were many surfers catching a wave and it was neat to watch.  

A sandy beach leading to the bright blue ocean, with vegetation in the foreground

Bondi Beach, NSW: Australia’s most famous beach for surfing. 

A beach with people sitting on the sand and standing and swimming in the water

Shelly Beach, NSW, Australia. A calm bay which is popular for snorkeling, scuba diving, or just floating around. 

The next day, my friends and I headed over to Manly Beach. There was a crew competition going on which drew the attention of a large crowd on the beach. Since it was crowded we walked along this beautiful walkway along the cliffs and edges of the beach.  

People facing away from the camera walking down a path with the ocean in the distance

Walkway on Manly Beach coastline. 

It was unique because here in Australia, not only do people drive on the opposite side of the road than they drive on in the States, but the same rules apply for pedestrians. This was a bit of a culture shock at first when I arrived, but already by the second day I had gotten the hang of which side of the path is appropriate to walk on.  

A study abroad student standing in front of plants with a church in the background

Me in front of the Christ Church St Laurence Anglican church in Haymarket. It is the principal center of Anglo-Catholic worship in the city of Sydney, where Anglicanism is predominant. 

On Sunday morning, my friends and I woke up early to take a yoga class under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There were 80 or so Australians taking the class that morning. It was energizing and spectacular looking out at the Opera House and harbor as we moved through our class. Yoga is something I love practicing at home, so it is nice that it is also a big part of Australian culture and way of life here.  

A group of people on mats practicing yoga on grass under a bridge

Yoga under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

After the class, we explored the area and stopped by a wonderful market. There were so many exquisite and unique things here, from paintings to homemade wraps made of beeswax to keep produce fresh longer. There was homemade jewelry and the best food—from Thai, to Mexican, to Italian, this market in Sydney had it all.  

People shopping at an indoor market filled with produce for sale

Paddy’s Markets in Ultimo, Sydney. Produce is sold here throughout the week from all-local farms in Australia. 

All of the Australians there were super friendly and eager to share with me their work which is also something I have noticed about their culture here—how welcoming Australians are to visitors. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see. 

People walking around an outdoor market

Outdoor market at Sydney Harbour. 

Three flags on tall flagpoles in front of a large ornate building

The University of Sydney’s beautiful campus with old English-style buildings. From left to right, the Australian flag, the Aboriginal flag, and the Torres Strait flag. These are important symbols that represent the country’s origins and identity. Australia has a troubled history with Aboriginal people, but has recently been working to make amends to heal this relationship. 

In the evenings, I’ve noticed Australians love to be outdoors as much as they can. One evening there was an outdoor movie night right at Darling Harbour underneath the skyscrapers. It was wholesome to see a whole bunch of Australians gathered together to watch a movie. It showed me their strong sense of community and relaxed lifestyle. 

A group of people sitting in front of a large screen outdoors at night with buildings lit up around them

Outdoor movie night at Darling Harbour. 

More recently, I went to Coogee Beach with some friends and we saw a natural pool where the seawater gets recycled into the pool as the waves come in. This design and concept is something I have not seen in the States and seems unique to Australian culture. I’ve noticed a lot of Australian designs are focused around practicality and sustainability.  

People at a beach with a swimming pool set into it

Natural swimming pool at Coogee Beach, NSW, Australia.




Jake Kalinowski is the Content Creator - Photographer in Sydney, Australia, and is currently studying at University of Delaware.
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