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Its the Little Things.

“You’ve hit the one month mark! So, what’s been your favorite part of Sydney so far?”

If I had a nickel for every time I’d been asked this in the past week, I’d have a handful of nickels.  But, if I had a nickel for every time I had a definitive answer, I’d probably have a paperclip, a dust bunny, and just maybe a half-stick of chewing gum, if I’m lucky.

In all seriousness, I know what people are expecting me to say when I receive this question. They want to hear a big event, such as the beautiful beaches, a rugby game, or the Taronga Zoo.  They want to see the excitement and thrill of Sydney condensed into one highly nourished tourism smoothie.  That’s what is expected out of a vacation abroad.

However, one month into my experience, it is finally settling in that this is not a vacation; we are living, working, and studying in Australia, battling culture shock and traffic jams along the way. When leaving vacation-mode and enter reality, you begin to see a deeper side of Sydney.

It’s the spray-painted graphic art adding positive vibes to our daily walks.

It’s the way the dogs waddle along with their owners, eyes, and tongues gleaming with happiness.

It’s the deep, alluring smell that you get from your favorite coffee shop, fruit market, or second-hand bookstore.

It’s the moments when you feel alone. And the moments when the ones you miss remind you that love, family, and friendship know no limits.

It’s the scent of growth and grass that looms in every corner for a couple of days after it rains.

It’s when you discover new heights with shades of green and blue so vibrant that you didn’t know they could possibly exist.

It’s the taste of new foods you might not particularly enjoy, but know you won’t get to experience anywhere else.

It’s the first sip of a Frozen Coke from Maccas after walking relentlessly in above 100-degree heat for hours with no shade.

It’s the tears you cry missing Valentine’s Day and a special birthday, and the smile that planning to make up for the missed occasion brings immediately afterward.

It’s the nervousness of going to work for the first day, or fearing you’ll get lost on the bus.

It’s the popping of bubbles on your tongue as you sip champagne at the Sydney Opera House.

It’s the relief as you leave the room of your University of Sydney’s final exam.

It’s the excitement that surges through your body in the hours before your parents arrive to visit you for a short trip.

It’s knowing that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that you’re not going to waste it.

“So, what’s been your favorite part of Sydney so far?”

“It’s the little things.”