Sydney is a sprawling metropolitan city, stretching from the Blue Mountains to the Tasman Sea (the city has 112 kilometres of coastline). Despite the sprawl, central Sydney is quite compact, very well served by numerous forms of public transportation, and easily explored on foot. Like many Australians, you will walk, ride the train, or take a local bus.
Sydney Trains is one of the largest metropolitan train systems in the world. The color-coded lines reach far into the suburbs. They are clean, fast and reliable — this is definitely the fastest way to get around the city.
Sydney Trains is a user-friendly system, easy to figure out even if you are unaccustomed to using subway systems in the United States, but it is best to consult the timetables found in every station for specific times. If you do not have a travel pass or Opal card and need to travel beyond your designated zone, you will need to buy your ticket at the station — there are a wide variety of ticket options available. Travelers caught without a valid ticket risk a fine!
Need to Know When Taking the Train:
- Each line has a color and name as well as a destination station at each end.
- Maps of the system are to be found at each station.
- Departure boards will direct you to the platform for your train and indicate the time of the next departure.
- Each platform additionally has an overhead board that indicates which stations the next train will stop at, making the system rather foolproof.
- An “Interchange” is where you can change trains if need be.
Sydney buses run just about everywhere in the city. While slower than the train, they complement the rail network by reaching suburban areas not accessible by train. Central Station is the main hub to buses, trains, and the light rail. From there you can catch the bus to anywhere! Since the Sydney bus system is vastly complex we suggest using apps such as TripView, Opal Travel, and good ole Google Maps. If you are up for a challenge you can always try to use an old fashion paper map.
At night when the trains stop these buses replace the trains and follow the same routes stopping at or near each Sydney Trains station.
The colorful ferries are as much a landmark of Sydney as the Harbour Bridge. This is surely the most pleasant way to commute on the planet! A ferry ride is an attraction in itself and is a must for anyone visiting the city. Services operate 7 days a week and connect Central Sydney at the Circular Quay (pronounced Key) Ferry Terminal with dozens of wharves on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River. There are color-coded lines that depart from various terminals at Circular Quay.
A German-designed tram, the Sydney Light Rail runs from Central Station to Dulwich Hill passing through Fish Market, Darling Harbour, and Chinatown. It operates 24 hours a day every day of the year. Tickets can be purchased at automatic vending machines at each station.
Taxis are relatively cheap, easy to flag down on the street (except when it is raining!) and an efficient way to get around the city, but can be pricey.
Need to Know About Taxis:
- If you book by phone or go over a toll bridge there may be a fee/toll charge added to your bill.
- Prices vary at night time.
- Tipping is not mandatory, but it is customary to round up the fare to the next dollar.
- Taxi rank stands can be found throughout the city center.
- Book your taxi in advance if you need it for early in the morning.
- Save the number of your favorite taxi company in your phone so you always have it on hand.
These private boats operate on Sydney Harbour and are a fun but expensive means to travel.
If you are up for it put on your comfortable walking shoes, take a stroll, and take in all the sites! Remember, driving is different country to country and it is important to be safe when exploring. Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Sydney so it is important to use designated pedestrian crossings.
Sydney has numerous bike paths open to the public to make getting around the city fun and easy. Bike rentals are available at numerous locations throughout the city, so brush up on your bike safety and enjoy a day out.
Since Sydney has such an elaborate transportation system there a few methods to get to and from the Sydney Airport. The Sydney Airport is broken up into two hubs: the Domestic and the International. We recommend verifying which one you will be flying in and out of when traveling to other countries or within Australia. However, both hubs are located near one another, so traveling to and from either is the same.
Train: The Airport Link connects the Sydney Airport to the city center. It takes approximately 13 minutes and can be accessed at the Arrivals level of either hub.
Taxi: This is one of the more expensive methods to get to and from the airport. When at the Sydney Airport taxi ranks are located outside Terminals 1 and 2.
Australia is a large, beautiful country with loads to see. When traveling within the country compare the different prices of the buses, trains, and planes. If you plan to travel to other countries be sure to check travel restrictions and requirements (some countries may require a tourist visa).
Being abroad is an exciting time, and once you’ve caught the travel bug, it’s often difficult to ignore. Being in a new place often conjures up a sense of curiosity that entices you to keep exploring. Traveling beyond your host city is a great way to continue to develop intercultural awareness and challenge yourself to take on new experiences. We encourage you to travel internationally, but also suggest that you set aside some time to travel within your host country as well. This will add depth to your experience abroad and enable you to see a different perspective of your host country. While you may be eager to travel as much as you can during your semester abroad, keep in mind that you will have to carefully plan your trips to align with your schedule and budget.
Sydney is a large bustling city full of rich history in every little nook and cranny. Yet, at the same time it is paving the way for the future as well in fashion, art, music, food, business, technology, science, architecture and so much more. Check out our CAPA Sydney Blog and Instagram below to see what CAPA students have to say.
Latest Posts from Sydney
- My Global City: An Evening at the Sydney ObservatoryMarianne Zarzar is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance major at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester. In this week's post, Marianne talks about her favorite My Global read more
- Living Abroad: Meet My Summer RoommatesMarianne is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance major at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester. In this week's post, Marianne introduces us to her lively bunch of friends read more
- How I Knew Sydney Was the Right ChoiceMarianne is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance major at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester. In this week's post, Marianne discusses how she made the decision to study read more
Latest Posts on Instagram
“Multiculturalism is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.”
Source: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions November 2013
A Brief History
You are probably already well along in preparing for your upcoming program in Sydney. Perhaps you have visited the city before, or maybe this is your first trip out of your country, and even out of your state. No matter what your expectations of Sydney may be, chances are that the city will surpass them and surprise you in ways that you never anticipated. We wanted to take this opportunity to give you a taste of one of Sydney’s greatest assets – its cultural diversity.
Before World War II, Australia was largely populated by Irish and English immigrants in addition to Aboriginal peoples. Following 1945, the country began receiving large waves of immigrants from all over the world, predominantly Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Sydney welcomed a particularly high number of immigrants, setting it apart as one of the most multicultural cities in Australia. In the 1970s, the country recognized the need for legislation not only to support but to celebrate this newfound “multiculturalism”. Since this time, cultural diversity has increased, and many neighborhoods around Sydney have developed their own unique ethnic identity: Blacktown, for the Filipino community, Ashfield, a predominantly Chinese community, Liverpool, which is a largely Serbian neighborhood, and Auburn, the home to many people of Turkish descent – just to name a few.
The following video demonstrates how Australia has changed over the years in regards to technology, social culture, and demographics.
Sydney and Australia have grown in numerous ways. If you enjoyed the previous video, then here are some more interesting facts that make Sydney the diverse city it is.
Top 5 countries of birth in Sydney: Australia, England, China (excluding SARs and Taiwan), India, New Zealand, and Vietnam
Religious Affiliation: Catholic, No Religion, Anglican, Islam, Eastern Orthodox
Languages spoken other than English: Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Greek
49.7% of people are married and 34.7% have never married in Sydney
As of 2011 Sydney is 50.8% females and 49.2% males.
62.1% of people work full-time in Sydney
Source (including images): Australian Bureau of Statistics released 2013
Reflect: How many different languages will you hear walking down the street? Count them one day!
People From Around the World in Australia
As seen in the statistics many people from around the world have migrated to Australia. Here is just a snippet of their stories and why they chose to make the journey to call Australia home.
Your neighbors might be from Japan, Russia, Lebanon, Ireland, Indonesia, Turkey, or the Outback. You might live next to a halal butcher, a Chinese grocery store, or a video store carrying mostly Bollywood films.
Reflect: Who do you think your neighbors will be?
Indigenous People in Australia
Indigenous people is an overarching term used to describe the following two groups of people in Australia: (1) Aboriginals and (2) Torres Strait Islanders. According to the 2011 Census more Australians are identifying as indigenous. Many Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders identify themselves through the areas of land in which the ocuppy(ied), relationships to others and their language and stories – which may be expressed in various ways such as ceremony, the arts, family, religion, and sports (Australian Indigenous Cultural Heritage, australia.gov.au).
It is said that the Indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest and have longest living cultural history in the world.
“Indigenous people divided the land up into traditional lands using geographic boundaries such as rivers, lakes and mountains. The knowledge about boundaries was passed down by the Elders to the younger people. There were no books and so the elders would pass on the knowledge by talking with the younger people and children, and through songs, dance, art and storytelling.” –Introduction to Indigenous Australia, Australian Museum
A distinction between the two groups is that people of the Torres Strait Islands recognize themselves as a mixture of Aboriginal culture from mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea.
How indigenous people refer to themselves varies depending on the region of Australia.
“The word “aborigine” (with a little “a”) means one of the original native inhabitants of any country. The word “Aborigine” (with a capital “A”) is used to describe the indigenous people of Australia. In Australia, many non-Aboriginal people use the terms “Aboriginal” and “Aboriginals” as singular and plural nouns for the people. Aborigines describe themselves using the various words which mean “person” from each of their own different language groups (tribes). A person from the Sydney region might describe themselves as Koorie, from Darwin as Larrakeyah, from northeast Arnhem Land as Yolgnu, and central Australian has Pitjantjatjara, Pintubi etc.”-Introduction to Australia’s Aboriginal Culture, aboriginalculture.com
Reflect: What is your cultural heritage? How has your cultural heritage been passed down from generation to generation?
“Curries, both inspired by Szechuan food as well as Indian and Thai curries shifted to mainstream Australian restaurant menus.”
Sydney has a vibrant food community but what many do not know is that traditional Australian food was influenced by many different cultures such as Ireland, Afghanistan, Europe, and China. If you enjoy learning about history’s impact on Australian food then read more at: Australian Food and Drink
Or check out CAPA Bloggers food favorites in Sydney:
“Whenever I took the bus to class, I noticed we passed by a place called “Pie Face” every few blocks. A little random, I thought, but maybe they’re just really into pie here? When I finally visited the store, I discovered that their specialties weren’t flavors like blueberry or apple, but chicken mushroom and mince beef.”
You might just be surprised to see what they are! Gelato ever so slightly different to what you taste in Italy and meat pies resembling shepherd’s pie from England. Read Jada Greens blog post: Jada Green’s Top 5 Australian Foods
Religion in Sydney
When thinking about religion people typically highlight the differences but culture is much more than religion and differences. The Australian Nasheed & Arts Academy spent a day participating in a cultural workshop demonstrating the similarities between Muslim and Jewish students. Diversity does not always mean different.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics religion is defined as “set of beliefs and practices, usually involving acknowledgment of a divine or higher being or power, by which people order the conduct of their lives both practically and in a moral sense.” Sociologist Dr. Andrew Singleton of Deakin University, Australia discusses the state of religion in relation to Australia’s young people.
Reflect: What do you think the religious views of young people in your home country are? Is religion on the decline? How would you define religion and spirituality?
Ready to learn more?!
At CAPA we appreciate the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students! We have compiled a list of resources to help you feel more at home in your new city. Included you’ll find information regarding major news sources and things to do in Sydney. You’ll also find resources for students going abroad as an LGBTQ student, students with a disability, students who have dietary restrictions, and students who are wondering how their racial and ethnic identity may be impacted in their new city.
This is only a brief introduction to your city and all it has to offer so please reach out to your program manager with any specific questions or concerns. At CAPA we pride ourselves on our ability to meet individual student needs and go above and beyond to ensure we offer the best student experience abroad possible!
Major news sources
Location specific “Things to Do”
Religious Services and Resources
LGBTQ Community Resources
Community Resources on Race and Ethnicity
Food resources: Dietary restrictions
- Religious Sites in Sydney
- Houses of Worship (Many Religions)
- Mosques and Islamic Centres in New South Wales
- Synagogues in Sydney
- Find a Church in Sydney
- Hindu Temples (Mandirs) in Sydney
- Sydney Buddhist Centre
- Hillsong New South Wales
- Sacred Footsteps – 5 Muslim Travel Bloggers
- NAFSA: Rainbow Special Interest Group
- Sexual Orientation Abroad
- Twenty10Sydney (Counseling, Support, etc.)
- GLBTI Resources City of Sydney
- Resources for Transgender and Gender Diverse students
- Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
- Nomadic Matt
- Bani Amor
- Racial & Ethnic Minority Students Abroad
- Diversity Abroad
- Natasha Guantai – Blogger of African-Australian descent on race
- China Cultural Center Sydney
- Aboriginal Heritage Office
- Creative Spirits – Resources and Information on Australia’s Aboriginal Population
- Australia’s Increasing Diversity
- Australia Human Rights Commission
- Travel Noire – Experiences of a Black Traveler
- @TravelLatina on Instagram
- Students with Disabilities Studying Abroad
- 12 Study Abroad Resources for Students with Disabilities
- Mobility International USA
- Abroad With Disabilities (AWD) Facebook Group
- Information about Accessibility in Sydney
- Mobile Accessibility Apps for Sydney
- 6 Tips for Managing Dietary Restrictions While Abroad
- How to Study Abroad with Dietary Restrictions
- 6 Things Every Celiac Should Know (and Consider) About Study Abroad
- Sydney Vegan Club
- Vegan Events in New South Wales
- Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Sydney
- Living Gluten Free in Sydney
- Gluten Free Restaurants in Sydney
- Kosher Restaurants in Sydney
- Halal Restaurants in Sydney