Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flashback - 2000

With the London 2012 Olympics just over, I reminisced about the time I was studying in Sydney during 2000. It was an exciting year for me : Not only I get to experience campus living abroad, I also had get the chance to experience the Sydney 2000 Olympics itself!

I was there to finish up my final year in UTS. Together with a large group of students from my twinning program, most of us stay in Ultimo, a suburb which is within walking distance to both our campuses in Haymarket and Broadway. Despite its rather rundown and shabby state, Ultimo is in fact a very convenient place for us to also get to Chinatown, Sydney Fish Market, Darling Harbour, and even Star City casino!

Our abode in Sydney - Casamia Apartments

Most of us settled in pretty quickly and we don't really feel homesick as there are so many friends in Sydney. We did our weekly grocery shopping at Paddy's Market, and any other foodstuff we need we will either get it from Thai Kee Grocery shop at Market City, or Bi-Lo and Coles at Broadway Shopping Complex. Eating out is really expensive in Sydney, but we manage to find some affordable places for lunch such as the food courts around Chinatown or the roast chicken shop just outside Casamia. We have some favourite places, such as Kum Fook restaurant for Dim Sum and Saigon for Vietnamese food. Surprisingly, I didn't crave much for Malaysian food during my time over there. As for shopping, I've became a regular at the Esprit factory outlet shop in Market City. Sometimes I can get a really good deal for their baby tees and bags.

Apart from lectures, studying, examinations and completing assignments, we also made sure we had a lot of fun in Sydney. On the first two weeks upon arriving in Sydney, I already went to Star City casino, visited Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, attended Bryan Adam's concert (thanks Mr Woo for the free ticket), travelled down south to Wollonggong (followed my buddhist friends to visit the largest temple in the Southern Hemisphere), and experienced my first (and probably last) Mardi Gras parade which was held during that time. The Mardi Gras parade was certainly gave me a huge culture shock - people distributing free condoms like candy, topless female bikers and a giant float the shape of a particular male anatomy on the streets!

The only PG-13 rated photo taken during Mardi Gras LOL

Another culture shock I got was going for the movies. Unlike here in Malaysia where the seats are numbered and based on what is printed on the ticket, Australia cinemas practice 'free seating', which means you go in and choose your own seat. I can't recall which movie I saw first, either Mission Impossible 2 or X Men, I almost could not get a seat next to my boyfriend. There were 8 of us, and it was impossible to get a row for eight, so we split up into two rows instead. While it may appear to work in Australia, I doubt it will be the same in Malaysia. Chaos will happen if we are allowed to choose our own seats in the cinema!

When I first went over summer just ended. Then came autumn and winter, my least favourite seasons. It rained almost every day during autumn, and the skies were mostly gloomy. Winter was just horrid, the temperature was just reaching 10C but I was already freezing cold. We used the heater so often our electricity bill just shot up over the roof :( The only thing I liked about winter was that we were able to go on a skiiing trip to Thredbo.

Part of our skiing gang together with our instructor (in red)

It started when one of our friends saw an advertisement for a 3D2N stay + skiing lessons in Thredbo. It was really cheap as at that time it was early winter and snowfall was not expected to happen yet. Well, fake snow or not, might as well take the opportunity since it was a bargain. 14 of us signed up the package. Guess what? By a stroke of luck, there was heavy snowfall the day before we departed for Thredbo. So we finally get to experience REAL snow after all! Skiing is a tough and tiring sport, and to maneuver where you go is so difficult! During my first attempt downhill I rammed into a group of snowboarders like a bowling ball hit the pins. Ouch! Some of my friends fared much better. In fact, one became an expert by Day 2! Despite all the aching muscles when we were back, all I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed that trip very much.

By the time it was spring, the most heavily anticipated event of the year had arrived - The 2000 Sydney Olympic Games! Our university also gave us one month break so we could enjoy the Games. Yay! But that also meant tighter deadlines to submit our assignments. Boo! The minute it was announced that we could purchase tickets to watch the games, my boyfriend and I queued up at the ticketing booth near Broadway for nearly an hour just to buy tickets for the Games! Imagine that time there were no such things like iPad or iPhones so if you were to queue up alone, you better bring along a friend who you could chat with, or a book so you wouldn't get bored. We bought tickets to watch the women's volleyball group match, women's soccer semi finals and one with the atheletic games (can't recall which one). My boyfriend also bought tickets to watch badminton but I didn't buy that one.

Group matches for Women's Volleyball

The women's volleyball match was held in Sydney Entertainment Centre, which is walking distance from Ultimo. We enjoyed watching volleyball so much we ended up buying tickets to the semi-finals (I think). Thankfully the exchange rate was very favourable then so it didn't really burn a hole in our parent's pocket even after conversion.  The women's soccer match was quite a hilarious one. We got the really cheap tickets, so we ended up watching the match at eye level (Usually the best seats would be the ones with bird's eye view of the entire field). Can't really enjoy the match because I don't know what was going on most of the time!

The most memorable one of all has to be the one at the main stadium. We went to the Olympic Park early so we could walk around and take silly photos, such as the one where we were seen 'holding' the torch on our hands :) Unlike the crowd in the previous matches, the stadium was a full house. As we bought an expensive ticket we were able to see what was going on in the entire stadium. The crowd were busy cheering on the atheletes, we did the mexican wave a few times, the atmosphere was just fantastic. I need to dig back the ticket stub to see which event we were there for though...

In terms of entertainment, I listen to the radio a lot over in Sydney. There were lots of Destiny's Child, N'Sync, Kylie Minogue, Madison Avenue, Backstreet Boys, Spiller (that Groovejet song), Bomfunk MCs, not to mention lots of dance music too. If there is one song to sum up year 2000, it has to be 'It's My Life' by Bon Jovi. In fact, we still sing this song whever we go for karaoke! I rarely watch TV, except on Mondays where they have Friends and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mr Ng and Mr Woo introduced me to Age of Empires 2, so I ended up playing that game a lot, either on my own, or with them. We also played The Sims as well, but dropped it halfway through because everyone is playing from the same computer!

While I really enjoy my life in Sydney, one thing is for sure - I am very grateful of my friends who were there with me. I made new friends there, some whom we still keep in touch until now. I believe these are the people who really made a difference, as compared to if I am staying alone in Sydney. There's of course my dear boyfriend too, well he is now my husband, haha. I look forward to the day I will get to visit Sydney again, but this time I'm bringing DC along with me. Perhaps after 2015 as UTS would have completed constructing all its buildings by then.


mangomoon said...

looks film-ish to me, shot on a digital camera?

n i l e e y said...

haha, that time no digital camera yet, all shot on film. I scanned these photos :p

Lilium said...

Hey..I was there in summer 2000 for holiday. Did you know I also studied at UTS? I was in the Feb 2007 batch but didn't go to Sydney due to the economic crisis. Only completed up to third sem and transferred to HELP.

n i l e e y said...

Really? Didn't know you studied in UTS as well! 1997 you mean? hehe...

Lilium said...

Yes..1997..hahaha! Even Audrey Wong (Leong Chi) was from there.