Sydney, the city of the world famous Opera House and the spectacular harbour! Australia’s most cosmopolitan city has often been included in various lists of the most liveable cities of the world, a thoroughly deserved nomination for a truly wonderful place. Be it the mild and temperate climate, with only about 15 days in a year on average having temperatures of 30 °C or more, the fabulous beaches and wonderful parks, the thriving shopping and entertainment scene, or the global cuisine, Sydney has something for everyone and caters to every taste and preference.
From humble beginnings to high rise buildings
It all began more than 200 years ago, when captain James Cook landed what is believed to be the first European fleet on Australian soil, though he would have had little inkling of what a bustling metropolis this intended settlement would turn out to be! Sydney’s original indigenous inhabitants though, go back around 30,000 years and evidence of their rock engravings and carvings can still be seen, amidst all the urban chaos, in the Hawkesbury sandstone area. After a few violent protests against British settlement, things began to settle down by the mid-1800s with the gold rush and consequent mass migrations ensuring a steady stream of immigrants from all over the globe. The multicultural nature of the city is in great part due to these events of the late nineteenth century.
Development has continued fairly rapidly ever since, the advent of industrialisation and its consequent benefits such as modern transport and infrastructure playing a major role. Walking along the world-famous Sydney Harbour, the beautifully laid out parks and gardens and the Central Business District today with its almost unlimited opportunities for shopping, leisure and entertainment, one can appreciate just what has gone into the making of a world-class city in just over a century.
Sydney today is not just Australia’s financial capital but a true city of the world in every sense - technology and industry-wise, with regard to the standard of living and yes, with that all important ingredient to make sure young, eager minds regard it as a popular destination: top quality education.
An educational hub
Not surprisingly for a city of its stature, Sydney is home to a number of world-class and internationally reputed institutions
of higher learning. The list includes Australia’s oldest university, the University of Sydney (estd. 1850) and other prominent names such as Macquarie University, University of New South Wales, Australian Catholic University, University of Western Sydney. Some other distinguished universities which are based elsewhere in the country but have campuses in Sydney are the University of Wollongong, University of Notre-Dame Australia and Curtin University of Technology.
Apart from the large universities, Sydney also has plenty of VET (Vocational Educational and Training) Institutes and TAFEs (Technical and Further Education). These are government-funded institutes where certificate and diploma courses are offered in a whole range of disciplines including hospitality, business, the creative arts and vocational subjects such as gardening, plumbing, bricklaying and interior decoration.
The whole of the New South Wales region, and Sydney in particular, has a long history of providing students with opportunities to hone their practical workplace skills and proficiency in the English language through education at the VETs. In a lot of cases, education at a TAFE acts as a pathway to a degree at university. The university preparation courses and the wide variety of English language programs on offer make these extremely popular choices for international students wanting to study in Australia. Notable VET and TAFE institutes are Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, Sydney Institute of Technology and Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, among many more.
The fun part
It’s not all work and no play though - far from it. Sydney’s vibrant nightlife provides students with plenty of options. From strolling down Darling Harbour, Kings Street, Oxford Street and Circular Quay and sampling the multitude of bars, nightclubs and restaurants to taking in a performance at the Opera House and hitting the music hubs spread throughout the inner city areas, Sydney offers mindboggling varieties of leisure and entertainment to all who pay a visit or live in the city.
For the more culturally and artistically inclined, Sydney’s internationally renowned museums and art galleries and cultural festivals throughout the year are a treat for the senses. Whether it’s the Australian Fashion Week or the Bondi Beach sculpture exhibit, or the numerous music and theatre performances, you will never be short of things to do on a weekend, or indeed the year-round.
As with most places in Australia, there is a great reverence for the outdoors in and around Sydney and why not, with such fine weather and fantastic locations to explore! Fabulous beaches, beautiful open spaces, quiet yet spectacular getaways - Sydney has it all. Choose from a surfing lesson at Bondi Beach or a nature walk at the Royal National Park or you can go fishing, sailing or kayaking at one of the many adventure spots surrounding the city.
Eat, shop, stay!
Sydney’s culinary delights are another major attraction. After a hard day’s shopping at the CBD or at the designer and lifestyle stores at the Pitt Street and Market Street, you can take your pick from the staggering variety of food options available - five-star harbourside restaurants, pubs, quaint little eateries, boutique cafes and the like offering everything from Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese Continental and Indian cuisines to unique Australian specialities. Those with a sweet tooth can head to Black Star Pastry in Newtown for the chocolate pastry and visit Adriano Zumbo’s Lab in Rozelle for the special chocolate, Cocoon.
As expected for a city with such a diverse demography, Sydney offers plenty of housing options, especially for students from overseas. Homestays, besides being a popular and economical option, also offer students the chance to experience life in an Australian home firsthand and also improve their English. UniLodge, a specially built student facility to those students who do not have the option to stay on campus, is another good option. There are also plenty of fully-furnished apartments for rent, which can be shared amongst a group.
Sydney is at the forefront of a lot of exciting and dynamic developments in education, art, commerce and lifestyle - there’s no better time to be part of it all and reap the rewards of what promises to be a fulfilling experience!