A Wonderful Journey: My Sydney Experience
Somebody said ‘Life is a wonderful journey!'
Coming to Australia was a fulfillment of a high school dream of having a scholarship education abroad. It is also the fulfillment of a childhood dream of seeing the uniquely designed and iconic Sydney Opera House and later realized that it is a stepping stone to see the interesting Maoris of New Zealand.
I was working with DILG for 8 years and I have known about an Australian scholarship from colleagues. Secretly, I know I will have my chance. It came in 2012. After submitting my documents to DILG Central Office, I knew this one was meant for me.
Because I was confident that I will go through the rigors of application process including IELTS successfully, despite pressures, I started researching about what life would be in the new country, where my bus stops , where the other scholars live, where the shops and of course, where the beautiful spots in the country were. In short, I was buckling myself for the trip even before IELTS and university acceptance. As a mother, I started delegating tasks to my husband and see if he can handle our three-year old kid alone. It turned out he is as able as I am.
The ticket came and my adrenaline soared. This is it!
I arrived in Sydney Kingsford Airport on a sunny morning in 22 January. Sydney was exactly the place I imagined it to be from my research with the internet. Sydney has fresher air, cooler breeze, clean waterways and vast greenbelt areas, well-maintained parks with so much flowers and trees, well designed playgrounds, pedestrian walkways, quaint sub-urban areas, polite people and more affluent. This must be paradise and everybody deserves to enjoy and live in a place like this. I wish my country would be like Sydney someday.
It was love at first sight. Standing in front of The University of Sydney’s The Quad is exhilarating. I was overwhelmed and I have to slap my face just to check if I am not dreaming. I was hugging its centuries- old brick walls and find myself saying “hello!”. I also love the Uni’s other centuries buildings, its hidden gardens and paved walkways.
I came to study Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS). I fully understand that I came to fulfill a contract and I intend to make it good. More than a duty or obligation to do, it is also journey of discovery. I have realized that I was in a bubble, a very small one. My view of reality is very myopic when there are bigger issues in the world.
Part of my challenge is the ability not to be emotionally get carried away whenever I read the case studies in my course readers. While I lament on critical issues in peace and conflict, gender, in democracy and development, and what not, there is that consciousness that these issues are also real in the context of my country. “What can I do?” is an overarching question that plays at the back of my mind. I knew I need to start in home-my country. This strengthen my commitment to have my Re-Entry Action (REAP) implemented.
Dealing with homesickness was easy for me. I knew why I am in Sydney- to learn, unlearn, enjoy a student life with lesser cares and worries, and enjoy the new place that I will call home for year. Every time we introduce ourselves at class openings, I say that ‘I am on a mission to be a better public servant in order to become a better nation builder when I go home.’ I embrace my coming as well as my going. I said my hellos on January and started working on my goodbyes on July. It was not difficult to adjust upon arrival as it was easy to leave. Preparedness is the key in all things. To know what’s in store, anticipate what could happen and prepare for the financial or emotional turmoil it may entail. In this way, I get to enjoy my day to day activities, as well as the pressures in my essays. The tears, sleepless nights, beating deadlines, homesickness and the excitement that the Sydney adventure gave is all part of a process of being.
I also live in my ‘here and now’, I enjoy the sights and sounds, the company of friends and most of the time, I enjoy my ‘me’ time, where I am alone and enjoying my own company. Life is great!
Perhaps I live like this because I trust my husband and confident that my ‘Nanay’ takes good care of my four-year old kid much more than I would have. In all the wonderful things that I experience, I never forget to utter a silent prayer of thanks for my husband’s support. It indeed pays to choose your spouse well.
What I would miss of Sydney are the picturesque coastal walks; the aroma of freshly brewed coffees in the morning, charming pocket gardens; brightly coloured parakeets and lorries nestling on the palm trees near our house; salmon and advocado filled bagel; that small homey Greek café at Abercrombie Street; instant picnics at Victoria Park; swimming in Bondi and Bronte; lounging inside the Opera house; lying down on freshly-mowned grasses at the Royal Botanic Garden or sitting at Mrs. Macquarie’s chair overlooking the Sydney Harbour; the sight of colorful catamarans at Rushcutter’s bay; Saturday markets at Eveleigh and its roasted beef burgers that goes so well with Columbian black coffee; movies at Hoyts and the beer tap at Forest Lodge every after class; the 9 dollar steaks at Royal Hotel; watching sailboats at The Gap and the fish and chips at Doyle’s at Watson’s Bay; the vintage stores at Newtown; and the quaint houses at Glebe before the baywalk near ANZAC Bridge; the lobster with creamy cheese at The Sydney Fish Market; my favourite wine-Moscato where its only in Australia that I can afford to drink it even on a daily basis; the baskers at George St; Sunday-after-mass cocktails at Darling Harbour and the leisurely strolls at the Chinese Garden of Friendship; tree-lined streets and paved walkways; century-old churches with melodious choir singing in Latin Mass style; efficient bus and train rides; and random people holding the doors for you.
My inspiration to put your Australian experience to good use and make a difference is the wonderful experience that I have in that beautiful land ‘down under’. I believe our country could have a piece of what I enjoyed and of the things that I missed except the soothing climate. If only our people would have discipline, our country can soar to great heights. Working with people and local government units, I could, with great certainty say that our country is replete with the essential public policies to create a better environment and economically vibrant and resilient communities, but without discipline these will remain policies not realities.
I put my faith in Filipino families to nurture disciplined and patriotic people, by building stronger and peaceful communities and safeguarding the integrity of our families and children, we will be better than what we are today. I always believe that as a government official I have a critical role in bringing about change. I am part of the process of development so that development as a product would come into a seamless fruition.
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