Sydney looking back | In the Dark

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Sydney looking back | In the Dark


I am a bit jet-lagged, and don’t have the energy for anything too strenuous, so I thought I’d post a couple of reflections of my time in Sydney. Actually I wrote this piece yesterday but was so tired I forgot to post it!

The first thing I should say is that Sydney is a very fine city. I really enjoyed my time there. Although I had four weeks there are still many things I didn’t get to do. Had I been on holiday for a month I might have seen more, but I was actually working a lot of the time. Perhaps I’ll go back when I’ve retired! It was a last-minute decision to go, actually. I only decided in January to make the trip. Had I had more time to plan things I would have been more organized.

One issue with Sydney is that it is very expensive. That goes for food and drink as well as accommodation. I might have found a cheaper place to stay had I looked earlier, of course, but everyone there told me it was always difficult to find rental properties. A while ago I read a story about how and why many young Irish people are moving to Australia. Sydney is even more expensive than Dublin to live in, and there’s just as much difficulty in finding somewhere to rent. On the other hand, in Australia there is a lot more sunshine than in Ireland!

Sydney is also very cosmopolitan and culturally diverse. The most obvious sign of this is the huge range of different cuisines. I rented an apartment with a kitchen rather than a hotel room because I was there for so long that I thought I would do a significant amount of cooking. As it turned out, though, there were many relatively inexpensive eateries nearby, some of them very good indeed, so I didn’t cook all that much.

A Cockatoo or Three

Another thing that struck me at first was the huge difference in flora and fauna, especially the birds. I’ve mentioned some of them before but I should say something about the cockatoos. These are far more numerous than I’d imagined and are rather gregarious, often swooping around in large flocks. They are cute but somewhat deranged creatures, often very noisy and sometimes downright destructive. You don’t want to let one into your house. They are naturally inquisitive and use their strong beaks and dextrous claws to dismantle things. Like all indigenous birds, cockatoos are protected by law. I rather think they are aware of this immunity as they are very cheeky. Strange as they are, I got used to their squawking and screeching. I miss them a bit already.

Anyway, I’m now pretty much recovered from the jet lag – just in time for another flight. It’s going to be a busy ten days or so before I return to Barcelona. A student of mine has their viva examination next week. Although at Maynooth University the supervisor doesn’t attend these examinations, I feel I should be on hand to buy champagne and offer congratulations. And talking of congratulations, I just found out this morning that, after a number of postdoctoral positions, a former PhD student of mine has joined the staff at a UK university. I’m very happy about that – what special delight you feel when you hear one of your former PhD students has got a permanent job!

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