Getting over jet-lag is the first step to becoming an expat. And in the haze of jet-lag, you might not be in the best mindset to make smart, informed, quick decisions that set off your journey in the right direction.
But I did the thinking for you. Here are the top 7 things I learned in the first 7 days of living in Sydney:
- If you don’t sleep on the plane ride over, it’ll take longer to adjust. I’ve spoken with friends who have done the trip and didn’t manage to sleep on the plane (crammed next to strangers in false nighttime lighting? I can’t imagine how they couldn’t do it…) Whatever it takes, try to get a 8 hours. Your body will thank you.
- Need to get caffeinated? Don’t order an Americano. This country takes coffee culture seriously, and moving 101 is respecting a new culture. Try a long black or strong flat white. And anyway, they do iced drinks and cold brew nowadays, so you can sip your way to homey, hopped-up happiness.
- Pick up your Opal card at the airport. Public transport uses the Opal card and you can set it up so that it automatically tops up before you get too low. Focus on learning the routes, not on how you’ll pay for the trip.
- SPF 30 won’t cut it. Granted, I’m fair-skinned and I burn baby burn. But when I came over with SPF 30, I thought I was being conservative. Nope. Wrong. Australia is under the whole in the Ozone layer, so there is zero protection. You don’t find sun like this in the Northern Hemisphere. I invested in SPF 50 and still have to re-apply religiously. You’ve been warned…
- Don’t go nuts on groceries. This country is healthy, period. The people are fit and the food isn’t full of preservatives. It sounds so obvious, but food goes bad here if you don’t cook it quickly. I made the mistake of going jet-lag grocery shopping (debatably a worse decision than going hungry grocery shopping) and can’t cook my food fast enough before it goes to waste. Not to mention that the food scene here is next level, aka temptation to eat out is on every corner… literally.
- Swim between the flags. In Sydney, beaches mean business. They’re pain and pleasure, they’re striking beauty and harsh madness. I decided to move to Sydney 80% for the beach life and I’m so glad I did. But the waves crash hard and the rip tides are severe. When the lifeguards say swim between the flags, they mean it. Stay where the people are and if you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t go out too far. That being said, swim swim swim! The water is crystal clear and you can hear it calling your name if you really listen.
- Before leaving, organise but don’t overdo it. Before arriving, I made a lengthy checklist so that I felt as prepared as can be. (Check here for checklist!) But part of this move was to get some rest from the constant overthinking, overanalysing, over over over lifestyle that I led in NYC. The bottom line is that no matter what, people here have done it before and are willing to help, whether they’re fellow expats or born and bred. There’s no problem that you can’t fix when you arrive.