From Sydney to Boston: Learning to Embrace the City Around Me

One of my friends pays her own phone bills, and if that doesn’t scream “adulthood” then I don’t know what does. And her independence does not stop there. Even though she is a college student as well, she does not live in a traditional dorm and instead pays her own rent for her own apartment.

She buys all her own food. To support herself, she works several jobs. She writes for publications around the world. Despite being the same age as I am, she graduates this year and is actively job-hunting.

You know what screams adulthood more than paying your own phone bills? Job-hunting.

Needless to say, my friend is the most independent and adult friend I have. I value her friendship immensely, as she is the kind of friend who makes you better by being herself. Over Winter Break, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit her. I forgot to mention earlier—on top of everything else that makes her so independent, she moved to Australia a few months after she graduated high school and currently lives in Sydney.

Sydney is stunning. While the winter—which, although warm, was still winter—dragged on in Boston, the summer sun was shining in Sydney. We visited the Opera House, which was a surreal experience. I attempted to find 42 Wallaby Way. We stayed out for New Year’s to watch the fireworks over the bay and promptly fell asleep on the train back home. We ate so much delicious food. We visited a farmer’s market. We finally got to go surfing—the first two attempts had been canceled, one due to a shark sighting. We watched the sun set over the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

We had a number of incredible experiences in Sydney for the two weeks I was in Australia. But the most incredible thing to me was how much the city was an essential part of my friend’s life, more so than I had ever imagined. Not only does my friend work there, but she also goes into the city frequently on weekends and nights. For her, Sydney seemed to be a part of her routine and everyday experience in Australia.

When I returned home to Boston before school started, I was struck by how this was not the case for me. The city remains elusive to me. Although Boston has always been a presence in my life—I lived in a suburb about 30 minutes and grew up hearing stories of my parents’ childhoods in the city—the city still seems like an unattainable dream sometimes. It is not a part of my routine or everyday experience like Sydney is for my friend. Instead, Boston seems—and has always seemed—like a place that only exists for occasions. A place to visit for a birthday party, a play, a homework assignment.

When returning from Australia, it felt like I had spent more time every day in a city that takes two flights and a day to travel to, than I had spent in Boston in my everyday life.

Reflecting now, this seems almost wasteful. How many opportunities and interesting experiences had I missed in the city? Yes, Boston can be expensive and takes time to travel to, but the experiences I have had in Boston have always made the trip worthwhile. But instead of visiting the city frequently, my daily routine now takes place entirely on campus.

To be clear, I don’t mind this. At BC I have eye-opening and interesting experiences almost every day on campus. All my friends are on campus, which is something I greatly appreciate.

But sometimes, when I feel weighed down by the midterms and meetings I have on campus, I find myself dreaming of the elusive city and wishing I could go explore. I can only hope to make Boston—which can seem so far, but is truly closer than I realize—as much a part of my everyday life as much as Sydney is in my friend’s. And maybe one day I’ll be able to pay my own phone bill as well.

Featured Image by Kelsey McGee/ Heights Editor